Keys to Cutting the Nets in 2011


by Craig Yamada, Editor-In-Chief

Summer school is officially in session. The freshmen have arrived on campus and have already started summer classes. Scrimmages and open gyms have commenced. Pac 10 predictions have been released. UW is the unanimous pre-season favorite to win the Pac-10.

 Now it’s time to examine how Romar will lead his Dawgs back to Pac 10 supremacy. Here are the ten keys that I am looking for in UW’s 2010-2011 squad:


1.       Senior Leadership

Coming off a year where we had one lone senior in QPon, 2010-2011 figures to be that much better with three impact players playing their last year in purple and gold. Overton, Holiday and MBA will all see significant minutes and are all expected to make huge impacts on every game.  Expect all three players to be more vocal this year and lead by example from the outset.

Much like last year, I expect Venoy to be the first player off the bench to help change the pace of the game. He will likely be the player Romar relies on at the end of the game to handle the ball and knock down pressure free throws. Holiday and MBA will be looked upon to help ease the scoring load off of IT this year. Holiday will look to continue to improve his jump shot and become a threat on both sides of the ball. MBA will be coming off a strong summer showing in Europe and will look to establish dominance in the post.

2.       Winning on the Road

In 2009, road wins were hard to come by in the early going.  With seven straight road losses to open the season, many Dawg fans were beginning to awaken to a harsh reality that UW could struggle to make the Tourney last year.  Non-conference losses included a nail biter to Texas Tech and a route at the hands of Georgetown. UW then opened the Pac 10 season In dropping road games in pairs to the Arizona and Southern California teams, and a loss to Cal in Berkeley. With a strong finish to the season in stealing a win at Stanford, blowing out WSU in Pullman, and sweeping the Oregon schools in Oregon, they were able to salvage the rest of their season in third place in the Pac 10 and a remarkable Pac 10 Tournament championship.

Boys, call me greedy, but let’s not be so dramatic this year. Let’s not get caught up in the parity that was last year.  My blood pressure is still in recovery mode. Losing back to back games on the road will not get us to the promise land this year. I expect UW to hold serve on all home games this year with the squad we have in place, given maybe a two game buffer (Arizona and USC are tough teams). I foresee a sweep of the Bay area, Oregon schools and WSU on the road, and  at the least a split of the Arizona and LA schools when they are on the road. That in itself should be enough to help UW secure the top spot. With a possible record of 14-4, UW should be atleast a game ahead of the Pac by season’s end. Easier said than done, but I think this should be realistic.

3.       Freshman Contributions

Three talented true freshmen, a redshirt frosh, and a walk on Freshman will be looking to make an immediate contribution to this year’s squad.

CJ Wilcox has been labeled as the “complete package” by many critics and will have a lot of expectations given all the hype this season. IT and Gaddy have both claimed that CJ is the “best shooter [they] have ever played with or against.” That is a huge compliment given the huge talent they have been playing against these past two years.  CJ will be looked upon to be a 3pt gunner and jump shot specialist. After operating one year in the Romar practice system, CJ will be looked upon to step up immediately and plug in the hole that Elston Turner left behind. He will battle Suggs for time all season long.

Terrence Ross is arguably the most athletic player we have on this team sans MBA. He is explosive and his shooting ability comes as advertised. IT has already tweeted that “TROSS is Gooooood” after his first scrimmage with him. Ross will need to bulk up and get his defensive skills honed to the NCAA level before he makes a big impact. He has the largest upside of all the Freshman in my opinion.

Aziz N’Diaye needs no introduction as he will finally give UW an athletic inside presence that they have lacked for sometime. Aziz’s offensive skills are raw at best at the time being, but his main focus will be rebounding and blocking shots. Expect a lot of lob alley oops to this athletic big man all season.

The wild card just may be Desmond Simmons. The early reports are that Simmons has a surprisingly good outside shot, good ball handling for a guy his size and does all the little things that most guys don’t do on defense. He seems like a game changer and could be a reliable option off the bench at the 3 or 4. We still don’t know if he will redshirt this season, but it sounds like if he doesn’t he will see minutes because of his work ethic.

And let’s not forget about our newest walk on, Antoine Hosley. Antoine will look to follow in Will Conroy’s footsteps in being an impact walk-on. From video footage, it looks like he has the quickness to help the Dawgs, but will have plenty of competition for minutes.

4.       Gaddy playing with confidence

This is definitely a broken record, but Gaddy is expected to have a coming out party this year after having a year of NCAA experience under his belt. Gaddy may not be the flashiest of players on the squad, but he will do the little things to get UW victories. Many overlooked his passing abilities last year. Many highlights of MBA, Breshers or Gant finishing strong last year were a result of a dime by Abdul Gaddy. His lack of scoring was the only thing people noticed.

Working with Ryan Appleby with his shot this summer, I expect Gaddy to be a triple threat in driving to the basket, dishing the ball and knocking down an open jumper when he has the space. We all know he is capable because we all have seen him do it time and time again in his prep years. It’s purely a mental game with Gaddy at this point and I will look for him to play his game this year instead of going out and trying not to make mistakes. Gaddy is hungry for the season to start and should be eager to shut his critics up.

  5.       Gant and Breshers: Fresh Start

Darnell Gant and Tyrese Breshers will both have chips on their shoulders following their 2009 campaigns. With the departure of QPON, UW will look to one of these two to fill the immediate need at PF. Breshers was coming off an injury last year and didn’t look to be in the best shape last year as he played sparingly due to fatigue and foul trouble.

Darnell Gant struggled last season as well as he didn’t look to have the same game we saw his freshman year. Look for Gant to rebound this year and reclaim his game from his first year.  If Gant can get his baseline jumper down, he could be a real threat on offense.

Both players have proven to play good defense, with a slight edge to Gant given his ability to stay out of foul trouble. Gant has proven to be an offensive presence in the past and Romar will heavily rely on his experience to help relieve pressure off MBA in the post, much like he did for Brockman.

I will look for Breshers to be in better game shape and more acclimated to the speed of the NCAA game. If Breshers can stay out of foul trouble and get his post moves in order, he could be dangerous down low.

6.       MBA refining his post presence

MBA, this is your year. You made the turn half way through last season  and you gradually morphed  into the player that Romar dreamed you would become. Now it’s time to dominate the post like we all know you are capable of.  My biggest recommendations for you this year:

  • Continue to move slower when making your post moves (Don’t rush your shot)
  • Master the drop step and assert yourself
  • Use the up and under move a la Jon Brockman when possible
  • Don’t shy away from contact
  • Get to the stripe and make your free throws

7.       The Tri-Fecta Trio

UW now has three legit long range shooters that can bust any zone in half.  The trio of Suggs, Ross, and Wilcox will likely be one of the most interesting stories heading into the season.Who will get the lion’s share of PT? Based on the latest scrimmage reports, Suggs looks to be more assertive with the ball and is trying to be more than just a jump shooter. Wilcox is shooting the lights out as expected. IT reported that his teammates “get mad when Wilcox misses a shot. That’s how good he is.” And Ross’ athleticism has been hyped on multiple reports. He has a smooth stroke and release and has the range to be successful next year.

The main difference from last year is that at least  2 of our 3 shooters have the ability to create their own shot. ET and Suggs were stationary shooters last year and UW will be looking to add more depth to their gunners’ offensive games.

Expectations are for Ross to be IT’s main back up at the 2 and for Suggs and Wilcox to battle it out at the 3. But given that the 2 and 3 spots are interchangeable, look for all three players to play both spots. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Romar slide Holiday down to the 4 spot and have one of these three break the starting rotation. Who will win the battle?

 8.       IT continuing to play a hybrid PG/SG role

IT will lead the team in scoring next year. Count on it. But the side of his game we were all pleased to see toward the end of the year was his passing ability. After being benched against Arizona following poor play, he began to open up the floor by finding the open man in following games.

And as a result, UW began a huge run to close out the season. Given the multitude of offensive fire power next year, expect IT to average at least 5-6 assists a game to help break games open. He will still get his, but he will still showcase his PG abilities to make his teammates better.

9.       Full Court Pressure Defense

Reminiscent of the Bobby Jones, Tre Simmons, Nate Rob and Conroy era, full court press should be a higher priority for Romar out of the gate next year.

UW has proven to have one of the quickest teams in the country whose suffocating defense is almost unparalleled in the Pac 10. Look for Romar to exploit younger Pac 10 teams with full court pressure to help turn the ball over and score in transition. We saw many successful changes in games once he upped the pressure full court last season.

10.   Don’t just show up, Play Hungry

The bulls-eye is already on our backs. There is no turning back. The Dawgs need to play with a sense of urgency every time they set foot on the floor as they will get every team’s best game day in, day out. They struggled early last year with living up to the hype brought upon them by pre-season projections. They seemed to just go through the motions expecting their talent to win games. The hunger finally kicked into gear mid way through the season.

If they can start out of the gates with swagger and hunger, they will be in great shape. My guess is that we will see a new approach to the season this year and no opponent will be taken for granted.



Thanks for coming!