by Craig Yamada
The Huskies returned home with the same swagger they showed in the Virginia game in Maui. It was not a perfect game for the Huskies, but they did plenty enough to handle the Long Beach State 49ers. Without swingman Scott Suggs tonight, Lorenzo gave CJ Wilcox the first opportunity off the bench tonight. And he took full advantage. Wilcox scored a game high 20 points while going 6 of 8 from beyond the arc. Seven players hit double figures in this game as the scoring load was well balanced through out the night.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning found himself in a unique spot this season to open the game: the bench. Romar chose to go with Aziz N’Diaye at center tonight with Darnell Gant at PF. This definitely sent a clear message to MBA that just because he is a senior and one of the leading scorers will not merit him starting minutes every night. N’Diaye’s efforts in Maui definitely won him the starting spot with his energy and his “do whatever it takes” mentality. However, it didn’t take MBA too long to get going as he dominated the middle of the floor tonight by going 7-7 from the field for 14 points and 5 rebounds.
The T-town connection of Isaiah Thomas and Abdul Gaddy is proving to work wonders on the floor. Both players played exceptionally well tonight. Isaiah Thomas was back to his old tricks as he found seams in the defense and scored on tough takes to the hole. He also shot the ball from the top of the key with his jumper as he scored 19 points on 8 for 17 shooting. Speaking of shooting, when did Abdul Gaddy become a spot up shooter? He left me shaking my head in awe tonight with his shooting performance. Gaddy went 7 of 9 from the field, including 3-3 from deep to tally 17 points on the night.
The Huskies handled the 49ers with ease tonight and they look primed and ready for a rematch with Texas Tech on Saturday.
Miss the action? Check out these highlights compliments of UW:
Let’s take a look under the hood of this game:
- 3 Point Shooting: The bombers returned on Thursday night. Not since the Virginia game has UW shot so well from beyond the arc. The Huskies shot 14 of 26 (53%) from 3 point land tonight. Five different players stroked it from deep tonight, led by the 6 poured in by Wilcox. Isaiah Thomas was 0-5 from deep but made his contributions from inside the lane tonight. And yes, Darnell Gant continued his hot streak from deep, going 2 for 2. We now have 8 legit threats from 3 on this team. Not a bad weapon to have when people dare to play zone against UW.
- Making the Extra Pass: In Romar’s last press conference, he reflected on the Kentucky loss and how there was too much individual effort. Not today. UW made the extra pass around the perimeter with ease today and played unselfishly. As a team, the Huskies dominated Tuesday’s game by sharing the ball as they tallied 24 assists. Venoy led the charge with 8.
- Rebounding: The Huskies did well in limiting second opportunities for the 49ers tonight. They won the rebounding battle 36-30 tonight and were much better on the defensive glass than what we saw in Maui.
- Free Throw Shooting: UW didn’t find themselves at the stripe to often on Tuesday, however they converted 60 % when they did step to the line. Not a bad percentage, but most fans would like to seem them upwards of 75% for games that will be more competitive
- Perimeter Defense: UW seemed to struggle a bit tonight in closing out shooters. Granted the 49ers drained a handful of tough shots from the arc as they went 8 for 19 from deep. However, I did notice that some of our guys drew a lot of ticky tack fouls because they couldn’t stop their man from taking them off the dribble. Lucky for them, the UW bigs stepped up with seven blocks to help plug the middle.
- Turnovers: A lot of bad passes were made today as a result of miscommunication. At times a screener would not roll off the screen to the right spot and turnovers were generated. UW turned the ball over 15 teams tonight, which kept the 49ers somewhat in the game in the early going. UW will need to cut down on these against tougher opponents.
- Terrence Ross: Tough game for T-Ross today as he went scoreless from the field today. He struggled to find any rhythm on offense and has likely taken a back seat to Wilcox moving forward in the pecking order. But to his credit, he tied for the team lead in rebounds with 6 on Tuesday night. Just an off night for T-Ross. He will mature soon enough.
- Aziz’s Hands: First off, Aziz is a beast among men. Since he has set foot on UW, he has rehabbed his knee, over come a broken nose, and suffered a cut lip which required stitches. Aziz should go Bill Lambeer with a plastic mask to increase his intimidating presence. However, one area Aziz can improve is catching passes on the offensive end. Overton found him down low time and time again but was not prepared to catch any of the balls thrown his way. Once Aziz can take those passes and go up strong, he will be huge difference on the offensive end. Guards may think about just alley ooping to Aziz more often than not.
Montlake Game Ball Award: CJ Wilcox
CJ takes the cake with his offensive performance tonight. Wilcox made me look at my friends tonight and say “ELSTON WHO?” As blasphemous as that may be to say, Wilcox was simply worth the wait and is making Romar look like a genius for making him red-shirt last year. He is comfortable with the offense and is showing flashes that he can do more than just shoot. CJ has shown an ability to pump fake the three, and drive to the hole. I would love to see him do that on a regular basis. Once CJ can take the ball into the lane with confidence, he will be very tough to defend. Prior to the season, IT mentioned that the team got upset whenever Wilcox would miss a jumper, simply because it doesn’t happen often. We are seeing evidence of that now as the season is progressing. Give Wilcox more than 1 foot of space, it’s going in. Though it’s still early, Wilcox is looking like the best 3 point threat UW has ever had. Sorry Ryan and Tre, it’s time to move over.