by John Chase
Name of the game. Too little too late. Big props to Derek Williams who blocked the game winning shot by Darnell Gant. I’ll have to wait for a replay to see if it was a goal tend or not, but from what I saw initially it looked clean. UW came back from 9 down at half and 12 down at one point in the second half. UW had a 4 point lead at one point, but couldn’t finish the game off. We shot ourselves in the foot once more. Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton both had break away plays blocked by Arizona due to pure laziness and poor communication. You have to go strong to the basket. No excuses. At all. 5 missed free throws. Arizona only missed 2. Do the math. We win by 2, 6 if you count the two break aways that should have been made.
Home cooking was around, but not the reason we lost. Arizona was shooting hot and we played lax defense in the first half. MBA had a posterization over Derek Williams that should have been an And 1 shot, but no foul was called. Tie game if that is called. On the other end Derek Williams was getting weak calls all night. As bad as that is, those 7 missed points is why we lost.
Offensive rebounding is another reason why we lost. 16-6 in Arizona’s favor. 35-22 overall. Terrible. Despite forcing 7 more turnovers and blocking 10 shots and picking up 8 steals we lost. 16 extra opportunities for UA. 10 extra over UW. We did not box out and this led to fouls against us and And 1 plays for UA.
Arizona was hot from outside. 8-10 in the first half, 11-18 overall. UW was 5-16 with C.J. Wilcox hitting all but 1 of those 3 pointers. Williams was a perfect 2-2 and Lamont Jones was 3-6 from outside. We did not extend our defense well in the first half and UA capitalized by draining shots left and right.
Every stat seems to say we should have won this game, except rebounding. So when it comes down to it that was what killed us. Our normally strong rebounding support did a poor job helping MBA on the inside. Aziz N’Diaye hardly played the second half (or the first for that matter) as he picked up his fourth foul early in the second and had 3 quick ones in the first. Darnell Gant started in place of Aziz, but was subbed out 3 minutes in after a few backdoor cuts led to easy points.
I should amend that last statement. Rebounding and free throws. Both teams attempted 18 shots, UA made 3 extra. I.T. missed 3 free throws. Including the first of a 3 point foul and 1 from a technical given to Solomon Hill. The technical foul shot never should be missed. No one is around. Ignore the crowd and put the damn ball in the basket.
MBA played out of his mind along with I.T. They were slow in the first half, but the second they were much more productive and efficient. MBA had 3 straight lay-ins/dunks off of assists by Isaiah Thomas. MBA finished with 24 points, 9 rebounds, 6 blocks, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 4 turnovers. Isaiah Thomas had 12 points, 9 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 turnovers.
As good as MBA was he missed some easy bunny shots, a few he rebounded and put back in to his credit. He finished 12-19 from the field and did not attempt. ONE. SINGLE. FREE THROW. I’m not saying he gets fouled every time, but there is no reason a post player with 19 attempts and 24 points does not see the free throw line at least once. Derek Williams was 8-17 from the field and he shot 9 free throws (made 8).
C.J. Wilcox came off the bench and scored 19 points on 7-11 shooting, 4-8 outside the arc. He was hot tonight. He is looking good once more.
UW has 20 assists to UA’s 11. Another category we dominated. The difference, again, was rebounding. Darnell Gant had 5 rebounds to assist MBA, but no other player managed more than 2 after MBA and Gant. Pathetic.
A slow start made this game difficult to come back from. Arizona got up by 10 early and UW made several runs in the first half to cut the lead to 5 or less. At one point, UW was down only 4 points and made 4 defensive stops in a row, did not score on a single one of those opportunities. 3 of the stops ended with UW jacking up a 3 point shot, one of which Wilcox air-balled. The other two were both long and bounced into awaiting Arizona hands.
Arizona did a pretty good job of keeping I.T. out of the lane and I.T. did a great job of finding open teammates to finish. Still, it drives me mad how many easy free throws Thomas missed. I.T. finished 4-9 from the field, 0-2 from the arc.
UW was terrific defensively in the second half, but it was too little too late. When they got the lead, UW got a little sloppier on defense and this led to a pair of And 1 shots for UA, something I think UW only saw one or two times the entire game.
We had every reason to win and once more we fell. This loss hurts a lot. Not only does this drop of from title contention, effectively, but it also puts us on the bubble in my mind. We haven’t picked up a huge win, we’ve dropped bad games to UO and OSU, and we are 10-5 in conference. We have no choice but to win out if we want to lock in a tournament bid. We have not learned how to close a game. USC is the lone time we have held onto a late lead to win. We have not gone into half down and come out to win yet either. This does not bode well for the NCAA. Injuries have killed us. Our once deep team is getting pond thin and we can’t afford anymore injuries or mistakes.
What Needed Improvement
35-22. That says it all. 16-6, that is painful. How many times did UA shoot a bad shot thanks to strong defense only to have Arizona rebound it and put it back in for the easy shot? Too many times. That is how many. MBA was strong and Gant was strong. That was all we had. Aziz was in too much foul trouble to be effective at any point. The rest of the team was just plain weak on the box out and rebound.
Free Throw Shooting
This stat also hurt us. 3 misses more than UA, 1 point loss. Make any one of those and its a tie game, make 2 and its a win. No excuse for missing. Not in a big game like this, especially I.T. who has been so strong this year. Terrence Toss and Wilcox both missed 1 free throw. Free throws win close ball games and Arizona made theirs, we did not. We lost. They did not.
With the exception of C.J. Wilcox, UW was terrible from range. Holiday was the only other Husky to make a 3 pointer. 5-16 is not up to our standard. We should be 8-16 or 9-16.
What was Good
We had 20 assists and only 11 turnovers. I said we needed 10 or less to win and it looks like that was the case. Venoy Overton had a critical turnover when we were up 2. He threw it right into the hands of an Arizona player. They went down and got the And 1 to put them up 1 point. It ended up being the game changing play. Instead of up 4 we go down 1 and finish there. Silly turnover, bad ending.
MBA, Holiday, and I.T. all played strong. Gant ad Wilcox were also tough and contributed in big ways. We could have used more rebounding from Holiday, but he managed 11 points, hit both his free throws and shot 4-8 from the field (1-3 from outside). He also had 1 steal, 1 block, and a turnover.
Second Half Defense
Strong play in the second half, but it was not enough. We got over the hump only to give the lead right back. We get up and give it up way too easy. I said in the preview we could not let UA go on a run let ASU. Well, UA did go on a big run to start the game and they won. Its hard enough to overcome an 8+ point lead. Its even harder against a talented team like UA.
Player by Player Review
Not his strongest game, but a pretty good one overall. His shot was decent, he played strong D, but he didn’t rebound well. He had a few moments where he did not box out well. He made his lay-ins this time and did not miss the easy ones. We needed him to rebound the ball 5+ times, he only managed 2. Ouch.
A decent game as well for Overton. You don’t want to blame him alone for the loss, but the missed break away (due to a block) and the dumb turnover were both costly plays that changed the dynamic of the game. He had 4 assists, 6 points, and 2 steals, but the 3 turnovers hurt us big time. He had some nice passes, but the turnovers loom too big to really appreciate them.
I’m going to give him the MVP. He should have had an And1 shot on the dunk over Derek Williams. He had 4 shots where he was fouled and no call was made. Its tough to win games when your post players aren’t able to get to the foul line. He played a very tough game and interacted well with I.T. in the second half to battle back into things. You can’t ask him to do much more than he did. 6 blocks, 3 steals, 4 assists. Huge numbers. Add in his 24 points and its a fabulous night. His 3 turnovers weren’t even that big of a deal because his other stats were so strong.
Did not play.
Did not play.
You can’t blame him for getting blocked. Williams is a phenomenal athlete and played great help defense on that play. Darnell had 7 points and 5 rebounds. 2 blocks and 1 assist, 0 turnovers. Great play from him tonight. He had a fantastic put back rebound to keep us in the game.
You really can’t ask I.T. to do much more than he did, but he did miss 3 free throws and an easy lay-in (blocked). 9 assists and 12 rebounds. That is wonderful offensive production. He was tough on defense for a majority of the game. He played Jones tight, but Jones hit some big shots despite the hand in his face. I found it odd that Romar kept I.T. out of the game when UW got up 4. In my mind, that is where you want I.T. in the game to bump up the lead and put the choke hold on. Instead, Overton stayed in and turned it over. I.T. came in soon after. Honorary MVP. He makes his free throws and he is MVP. He makes his lay-in, he is MVP.
Non-factor. He played extremely limited minutes due to high fouling, only one was complete nonsense that I noticed. Only 2 rebounds and 2 points. He needs to step his game up. He is out post option next year and we need him to play big.
Did not play.
5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist, 1 turnover. 1-3 from the field and 3-4 from the line. You can’t expect him to make all his free throws and you can hardly blame him for the loss when he shot 75% from the line. Not his greatest game, but decent enough. He had a great put back off an MBA miss, showing those bursts of brilliance we need to become consistent performances.
19 points tonight, 7-11 form the field, 4-8 from the arc. No rebounds and 1 assist. He did not have a turnover, which is great. He was an offensive demon tonight and overall was good on defense. He had some problems getting his hips in the right place to force his man towards the top of the key or sidelines.
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. This was our shot. This was our time. We had every reason to win. We had every opportunity to win and we couldn’t pull it off. That fact alone will kill us come Selection Sunday. We have not made a convincing argument that we will be a competitive team in the NCAA and at this point a win out of the remaining 3 conference games is a must to get in the NCAA. I am hoping for a 10 seed at this point. If we can win out and win the Pac-10 tournament we could get up to a 7 or 8 seed, but without a convincing finish it is hard to argue how deserving we are of great seeding. To call this year underwhelming is an understatement. Every chance to dominate and we shoot ourselves night in and night out. There isn’t much time to correct these problems, but it has to be done. not enough pressure defense in the first half, in my opinion. Down 9, got to pressure the ball. At least throw a three quarters court press. Make them work a bit, slow down the offense. Even a half court press would have been nice to see. Can we win the Pac-10 title? No, it would take a miracle. UA would have to lose 3 of their final 4 and with 2 games at McKale center I just don’t see it turning out that way. UW would have to win out. UCLA would have to lose 2 to 3 of their final 4. The preseason favorites drowned their hopes in Oregon and are paying for it now. My heart is torn and I hope this team can finished with 5 or 6 straight wins to get into the NCAA and get to work in the post season. Can this team make it past the Sweet Sixteen? Sure. Will it happen? I’m not convinced at this point. They play plenty of teams strong and down to the wire, but they can’t finish. For one reason or another they cannot finish. For me this is coaching. Plain and simple. I love Romar, but I’ll be damned if the teams inability to finish isn’t in part due to Romar and crew’s coaching. They have to do something to inspire confidence ad make the team into winners and not close losers.