by Griffin Bennett:
I sat down with the Seattle Times’ Percy Allen who is the beat writer for the Husky basketball team. If you’re reading this blog, I probably didn’t have to tell you that. If you’re looking for inside access and the best news source for the team, everyone knows that Percy Allen’s blog is the place to go. Not knowing what to expect going in, we ended up talking for almost two hours and he shared with me some great opinions and perspectives from a man who has a look behind the curtain. Here’s a preview of the whole interview that will be posted early next week. In this excerpt, Percy gives his opinion on the Huskies recent road woes.
Griffin Bennett: Can you talk some of the Husky fans out there off of the ledge?
Percy Allen: I’ll try, but I don’t know if I can. 5 out of 7 home games left in conference; that’s it right there. We haven’t seen, so far, that they won’t play well at home. So there’s that and that’s big. Other than that, we’ll see. I think this is, for me, the fun part. This is where I get bashed by Husky fans because I’m not a UW ‘fan’. I didn’t go to the school, and I like Romar a lot and tend to root for nice guys, but I think this is the fun part. Things have been taken out of their hands and the road now goes through Tucson. It will be fun to see how they respond. Will they make it? I don’t know because in times from adversity, from what I’ve seen, this team shoots threes.
GB: Why have the Huskies struggled against the zone recently?
PA: Early in the season, they didn’t see a zone against USC and UCLA because they don’t play one. So they only saw one on the road at Cal, and they destroyed them. It’s just percentages: sometimes the shots go down, and sometimes they don’t. Then also, teams have changed their scouting and have packed it in ever further. They won’t let Bryan-Amaning go off knowing that he’s their only weapon in the post. Teams know that if he’s not scoring inside, then they have to score from outside.
GB: Romar didn’t seem show too much emotion on the sideline on the road. Did you notice that at all?
PA: No, I haven’t heard that. In Pullman he was absolutely calm, but I thought that at Oregon State he expressed some and almost drew a technical at one time. I’ve only seen him take off his jacket once, and that was last year against West Virginia. He’s normally calm and I don’t think there was any difference.
GB: Has the demeanor of this team changed during practice this week?
PA: Not this crew. They understand where they’re at but they’re close to each other and enjoy being around each other. I haven’t seen any panic or worry from them this week.
GB: Should Romar be switching up the starting lineup? If so, what would you change?
PA: I wouldn’t think so. I only get to see so much of practice, so I wouldn’t think so. At this time you need to look at the bigger picture. I don’t think it’s time to experiment. I know the whole ‘start Terrence Ross” movement is gaining some steam here, but I wouldn’t. I don’t think he’s ready.
GB: If you had to rank your top 3 problems with the Huskies, right now, what would they be and in what order?
PA: I know the buzzword of the day is defense but if I’m calling it, the top would be wing-play. Offensively, I just think it’s too hard on Isaiah right now. He had a fantastic stretch for four or five games, however the coaches in this league are paid a lot of money and they do a pretty good job of scouting. They’ve figured him out some. Isaiah at the top of the key with the ball was something that we hadn’t seen before. Now they’ve seen it and, we can thank Ken Bone for this, they said “we’re going to put two guys out there and we are not going to let him drive from the top of the key and everyone knows he’s left handed.” What I have seen is that they are forcing guys like Holiday and Suggs to beat them and they are willing to live with that. They’re betting that they won’t make it, especially on the road. The wings are catching and shooting. They don’t do much after that and they need to do more. I’m sort of tipping my hand here, but I think it’s a big game for Holiday. It’s Holiday’s time. He’s a senior, a captain, been in the program, has the opportunities, and he has the respect. It’s his ‘Quincy Pondexter-moment’. All eyes are on Thomas and Bryan-Amaning, and it’s going to come his way. [Against Cal] he is going to be guarding a freshman. Allen Crabbe is a great freshman, but still a freshman. Holiday has got to take over. To summarize, from the wings there’s not enough slashing, not enough creativity and too much catch and shooting.
Secondly, I’d say the defense. It’s been too difficult facing half-court offenses. This team has to get out and make games track meets. They need to get their hands out and get deflections because that’s just what they do.
Thirdly, I would say fire and leadership and all of that. Some of that has been lost here, and it shows itself in losses but not as much in wins. In these three losses here, you haven’t seen that sort of fire. The Oregon State game was that way, WSU [game] was flat, but that crowd in Pullman had a LOT to do with that.