by: John Chase
Another game in which the Dawgs had every reason and chance to win, but beat themselves into defeat. This was one of the sloppiest played games I have seen in quite some time and as it turned out the Huskies were much, much sloppier. UW finished with a season high 24 turnovers. 24. Wow…you will not win a game turning the ball over that often. WSU finished with only 12 turnovers.
The Huskies had a 44-28 rebound advantage at the games end and were destroying WSU on the second chance points. We simply could not shoot in the second half and we could not handle the ball at all. The Dawgs started off 1 for 9 in the second half and finished 37% on the night.
The Cougars ended up in a tough zone defense that forced the Huskies into taking half their shots from range (31 of 62 shots were for 3 points). The Huskies hit well in the first half, but like the rest of their shots they struggled in the second half, ending up 11-31 from 3 and 23 of 62 overall.
Isaiah Thomas shot horribly from the field (3-13), but he hit a pair of 3 pointers to quell the Cougars runs and went 11-12 from the free throw line. He could not hit his dribble drive and when he went in, rather than getting a foul, he turned it over. I.T. had only 5 assists and 7 turnovers on the night. That won’t win you any ball games.
Klay Thompson finally got hot against the Huskies despite early foul trouble in the second half. The law of averages was on his side and he finished with 25 points.
Reggie Moore was the real star for the Cougars in my opinion. He had 18 points including 9-10 form the free throw line. He also had a team high 5 assist. He did the most damage to the Huskies, not Thompson. He was the X-factor the Cougars needed. Along with Faisal Aden off the bench, Moore was key in holding the Cougar lead while the usual Cougar stars rode the pine with foul trouble.
The Husky player of the night had to be Terrence Ross. He finished with 14 points including 4 of 8 from range. He was the lone Husky without a turnover.
Our biggest problem was ourselves and the fact that we could get no post production. The Cougars did a great job of double and triple teaming MBA and MBA forced up shots he had no reason to take. MBA also forced up shots from well outside what I would consider his range. He could not get an open shot and he could not score what he attempted.
UW did a fantastic job getting fouls on all the right players. DeAngelo Casto fouled out along with Abe Lodwick and Brock Motum, while Thompson finished with 4. They just couldn’t get fouls on the drive and it killed us. With Isaiah either missing or turning it over on the drive the Dawgs really had no choice but to resort to outside shots.
The Huskies got down early in the second half when they couldn’t make a shot, but made a slow and steady come back eventually cutting the lead to 80-74. The Huskies then made 4 straight defensive stops, but did not make One. Single. Basket. It was terrible offensive execution and in my mind was why we lost. The Cougars then came down on the next possession and Klay Thompson hit a dagger three pointer that sealed the game off.
If not for solid defense by our own players, this would have been a 20 to 30 point blowout. Sure we hit 11-3 pointers, but that doesn’t matter when you give the ball up 24 times.
After a solid night from the line, MBA stunk up the free throw line, once again finishing 4-8. He also went 1-8 from the field. His one redeeming factor was the 11 rebounds he picked up.
While the refs certainly did not help our cause tonight, they were inconsistent on both ends and to blame them would be avoiding the real problem and truth to the game. The Huskies simply did not play their A-game basketball and allowed the Cougar’s zone defense to really trouble them. Justin Holiday had 4 turnovers and at least 3, if not all 4, were completely dumb and senseless turnovers caused by soft, lazy passes through the middle of the key that were easily picked off. Scott Suggs had 5 turnovers as well and a majority of his as well were terrible passes that never should have been made.
What was Bad:
This lost us the game, plain and simple. We out rebounded the Cougars by 16. We had a decent number of assists with 12. We had 5 blocks and 8 steals. We hit 11 3 pointers. All great stats negated by the 24 turnovers the Huskies suffered. Lorenzo Romar has said 14 turnovers is their maximum. If they can stay under 14 they will win the game. What do you know? We went 10 over and lost by 7. Surprise, surprise. UW has got to get it under control on the road. The sloppy tempo got set early, but without Abdul Gaddy we really lack a leader who can come out and calm the team down to get them in the rhythm they need to be at.
Our 3 bigs combined for 17 points, lead by Darnell Gant with 9. Gant actually had one of the better nights finishing with 7 rebounds as well. To be fair, Aziz only played 9 minutes and went 1-1 from the field and grabbed 5 rebounds. For only 9 minutes those are some pretty decent numbers. It really came down to MBA not being able to get a shot off and the Huskies not doing a great job of breaking down the zone to get him some open looks. On the other side of that, MBA did a terrible job when it came to shot selection and even had an airball from about 12 feet out when he attempted to hook shot the ball in.
What was Good:
Rebounding: 44-28. 14-5 in the offensive board category. This should have given us a commanding lead, but as I have said countless times by now; the turnovers absolutely demolished every positive thing we did. Justin Holiday led all players with 12 and had a double double tonight. MBA had 11 and Gant came off the bench to give us 7.
Free Throw Shooting: I am somewhat hesitant to put this here, but in all reality MBA was the only one who hurt our stats. The Huskies finished 23-29 with Holiday and I.T. combining for 17-19. Gant hit both of his shots. You make those 6 shots and suddenly it is a 1 point game and well within reach. You have to make your free throws if you want to win games.
Defense: Despite the final score, our defense was not why we lost. We forced 12 turnovers, a respectable number, and held WSU under 50% shooting. Whereas the Huskies could not hit contested shots, the Cougars couldn’t miss. UW did a pretty good job of defending Thompson, but he finally found his groove against us and finished 9-18 including 3-6 from range. Hats off to him for stepping it up.
Player by Player Reviews:
Venoy Overton: A bad night, not quite unexpected. He got in foul trouble early and played a team low 8 minutes tonight. He made his lone shot attempt, but managed to commit 3 turnovers in that short span of time and dished out 0 assists. He did pick up 2 rebounds and 1 steal, but those really don’t justify the poor ball handling. Grade: D
Justin Holiday: 16 points and 12 rebounds is normally a successful evening, but when you take into consideration his 4-12 shooting from the field and the 4 turnovers versus only 2 assists, it really wasn’t that fantastic of a night. He had 5 offensive boards, which helped the Huskies stay in the game, but had nearly as many turnovers that disrupted our offense and momentum several times. Grade: B. Much like Isaiah, as I’ll mention later, he kept us in as much as he kept us out.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning: If it weren’t for his rebounds, MBA would be getting a D as well. He picked his shots poorly, he was poor at the free throw line, and he had a pair of turnovers. He picked up 2 blocks and 2 steals and only committed 2 fouls, but on the night we needed him the most to make smart decisions and score we just didn’t get it. As I said, the Cougars did a good job preventing him from getting good shots, but he had not reason to force attempts that hadn’t been falling all night. I would not go so far as to say he took a step back in his game play, but mentally he was not all there tonight for one reason or another. Grade: C
Brendan Sherrer: Did not play. Grade: N/A
Scott Suggs: Much like Holiday, this night could have been considered very successful if not for overall poor shooting and turnovers. Suggs had a pair of very nice pull up jumpers and finished with 12 points on 5-12 shooting, but he went 2-8 from range and committed 5 turnovers while only picking up 2 assists. He played defense on Thompson at times, but does not have the lateral quickness to keep up with him, leading to a few more open shots for Klay than I would ever like to see. Suggs also had 2 carrying calls tonight. He may have played point guard in high school, but after 3 years of not handling that duty at the college level has really shown. He does not handle the ball well enough yet to be a decent point guard option for the Huskies. This hurt us tonight with Overton in foul trouble. Grade: C+
Darnell Gant: Definitely one of the few successful players tonight. His presence off the bench, along with Ross, was how we stayed in the game. He played 29 minutes, picked up 9 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, a block, and 2 turnovers. He shot 3-5 from the field, 1-2 from range, and hit both his free throws. He did not force up shots, he did a pretty good job of handling the ball, and found open teammates, something he normally does not do. Like Holiday and Suggs, Gant was guilty of poor passing that led to steals and turnovers.
Isaiah Thomas: Bleh. What a poor night. Despite scoring a team high 19 points, Isaiah was one of the main reasons the Huskies lost this game. Isaiah played like he did his freshman year, over penetrating, selfish, forcing shots, and turning it over way too often. He hit some big 3 pointers in the second half, but started the game 0-9 or 0-10. His free throw shooting was what allowed him so many points. I believe he should have shot a few more, but that should not have mattered in this game. 5 assist and 7 turnovers. Not good at all. His 3 steals were all ineffective as well, as I do not remember a single steal that resulted in a made basket for the Huskies. Grade: C to C-. As much as he hurt us, we wouldn’t have been in this game without him.
Aziz N’Diaye: Aziz picked up 4 fouls in 9 minutes. The zone defense kills him and he commits fouls left and right against them. He was playing well to start the game and had a great rebound he put right back in off the glass. With 5 rebounds in 9 minutes it is not hard to say that the Huskies could really have used him tonight to help offset MBA getting over defended. Without Aziz in play the Cougars were able to pack the middle and were more than happy to let us continue firing blindly from range. Aziz still lacks the body and foul control we need him to display.
Antoine Hosley: Did not play.
C.J. Wilcox: Did not play. Wilcox was out with a concussion suffered in practice after Aziz accidentally hit him in the head with an elbow off of a rebound. Could we have used him tonight? I’m not sure. We were hitting decently from range. Our bench had pretty good production. It was really our post play and ball handling that hurt us and C.J. is really not a factor in either of those as he does not handle any point guard or post duties. Our once amazing depth has really started to shrink up on us. Not good. Grade: N/A
Terrence Ross: I am giving him MVP honors for the Huskies tonight. He didn’t have a USC style game where he completely wowed everyone and put the team on his back, but he did damn well near it. 14 points off the bench in 22 minutes. He was by far the best shooting, hitting 50% overall and from range. His 4-3 pointers kept us in the ball game and he did it with a hand in his face on one or two occasions, something I’m not sure any other Husky tonight could say minus I.T., perhaps. His 0 turnovers is another big reason I am giving him props. He had one iffy pass to MBA that ended up getting stolen away, but that was more MBA not catching the ball well and the Cougars reading the pass. Grade: A
So what can we take out of this game? We still are in first place, albeit tied with Arizona. We have a road series against the Oregon schools next week and Arizona will be facing off against the Bay area schools, California and Stanford, on the road. UW can not afford to let either of those games slip between their fingers. It did not really surprise me to have lost this game. WSU plays tough at home, its a rivalry game, UW had 4 straight wins over them, and it was a much bigger and important game to the Cougars than the Huskies. They wanted it more and they played much better, I’ll give them that much. That being said, despite 24 turnovers and 37% shooting we were still in the game with 5 minutes to go. Down 4 with 4 defensive stops in a row should have put us in the lead by at least 2 if not 4. This is the second game we have been behind at half and we have lost both those games. We haven’t yet shown the ability to come back and win a tough one. This could hurt us later, yet at the same time it is better to suffer this kind of loss now than late February or March.
The Huskies let the fans get in the game and in their heads. They couldn’t get over the proverbial hump. Several times they cut down a double digit lead to get within 4 or 5 points only to turn the ball over and kill their momentum. Scott Suggs had a pretty good look at a 3 ball to cut the lead to 3, but like almost every other shot he took that night, it rimmed out.
I’m trying to stay positive, but this was a prime week for the Huskies to take a one game lead for first place, move up in the rankings, solidify their name in the national title race, and prove they can gut it out on the road in a very hostile environment. This is something that still holds us back. We are a fantastic team at home, but unlike the other great teams in the nation right now, we still struggle mightily on the road. The wins over USC and UCLA gave me hope, but the loss at Stanford and tonight versus the Cougars show a team still developing its road identity. Turnovers were the reason for losing both the road games. We have to control the ball if we want to win. The game against Arizona will be monstrous in terms of the title race, our seeding, and national perception of not only the team, but the league as well. I could very well see us losing at Arizona and finishing 15-3 on the season. What that means is no more slip ups and no more shooting ourselves in the foot. We have to hope this loss shows the Huskies how important their team play is and how important slowing the ball down sometimes can be. Don’t rush the game when you aren’t hitting shots.
Normally I would talk about hoping Arizona loses one this weekend in an upset, but when it comes down to it, it really shouldn’t matter what the other teams do. So long as we win, we will succeed. So UW needs to sweep from here on out. Going into Tuscon with an 11-2 record will be very important as UW currently holds the tie breaker over Arizona.
So heads up Dawg fans, as bad as this loss may feel now it could do a load of good later on this season. We still have 9 conference games to go, 5 at home, including a rematch against WSU. Pack the House, bring it loud.