by Craig Yamada And I thought this was going to be..."/> by Craig Yamada And I thought this was going to be..."/>

School’s In for Summer


by Craig Yamada

And I thought this was going to be just another Monday. Let’s be honest.  Other than the small handful of you who find solace watching the Mariners struggle to maintain mediocrity, there are literally no sports to watch during the long summer. The Washington Huskies completely unveiled their entire team for next year at North Seattle Community College this evening.

Not having any access to open gyms during work hours, I was delighted to find that nearly all of next year’s squad is participating in a local summer league that plays in random Seattle locations each week. Abdul Gaddy and Aziz N’Diaye watched from the crowd today but gave support where it was warranted. Gaddy was sitting on the bench directing traffic for his new teammates and seems to be stepping up his verbal leadership. Reign Man Jr. was nowhere to be found today as I heard he is still battling illness.

After walking out of the gym, I was thoroughly impressed and had one thought going through my head as I pulled out of the parking lot: Lorenzo Romar has hands full with tough decisions this year. He is rich with depth and talent and will have to allocate minutes accordingly.

Game 1

Their were two different teams that came out to play on Monday night. The first game consisted of the younger cast members of the 2011-12 Huskies. It featured three of the six freshman: Tony WrotenJernard Jarreau, and Hikeem StewartTerrence Ross and Darnell Gant completed the starting 5. The other three players looked like high
school players who seldom played tonight. Here were my notes from the game:

  • Terrence Ross: Ross has gained some muscle over the last few months, but still looks pretty lean. But does it really matter when he is this good? Ross was a man among boys tonight. Ross continued the same kind of game we saw in the North Carolina game in March. He got to the hole with ease with his cross over. He was able to juke his defender at will and spin off for a step back three on a couple of occasions. He was knocking down some crazy shots tonight that made you scratch your head. He also received a monster alley-oop from Tony Wroten on the baseline during an in bounds play. Ross looks poised and ready to take the reigns of this team. He was perfect from the foul line tonight. His athleticism is off the charts. There was one play where he took his man off the dribble down the baseline, spun, and somehow was able to quickly get up in the air for a one handed jam. He missed however. But even his misses looked amazing. Believe me, enjoy his talents while you can. P.S. – Ross may be our best post option. I’m not joking.
  • Tony Wroten: Wroten put on another clinic. However it wasn’t his passing that had fans going wild. He essentially had his way with any defender he faced. He goes 120 MPH to the hoop and no player could contend with his power and creativity near the rim. His shot looked decent today and his release seems to have improved some. He knocked down a three and a jumper. Most of his damage was done at the foul line and by taking the ball to the rack. Of course he had one or two passes that left me in awe. He had a few too many turnovers, but mostly because the team was trying to put on a show in the early going. After seeing him dominate today, Romar is going to be hard pressed to not start Tony. If Gaddy comes back full strength, he will have some definite competition for that starting PG role. His 6’5″ frame is a matchup problem for any team he will face. Gaddy will likely be that calming influence on the court to start the game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Wroten finishes the game. His team was in a dead heat with the opposition today. Wroten took over toward the end of the game by taking the ball strong to the rack off the dribble. He was incredible. He likely was today’s top scorer (Ross was 2nd).
  • Jernard Jarreau: Jernard showed some signs of brilliance today. He was 2 of 3 from the field today as he knocked down some mid range jumpers with his sweet stroke. You could see his PG skills on display today as he handled the rock very well. He definitely altered several shots in the post, but had some troubles getting rebounds. He definitely has some muscle building to do in order to play at the 4 spot. I see him more as a large wing as opposed to a legit 4. I don’t see him backing down players in the Pac-12. He has the stroke and the KD comparisons are definitely not out of left field. He has the opportunity to a very special player if he can gain some weight. I won’t automatically assume redshirt for this guy just yet. He has a whole summer to bulk up. He could really add a new dimension this year if he can find his niche with this year’s team.
  • Hikeem Stewart: With the team that was on the floor, Stewart was kind of the forgotten man on the floor. He definitely has a good handle on the ball and has great court awareness and vision. His niche today was his ability to penetrate into the lane and kick out to open shooters. He’s a very unselfish player at this point. I was hoping he would assert himself a little more today as I know he can shoot with the best on the team. At this point, Stewart looks like a likely redshirt candidate with mass log jam at SG this year.
  • Darnell Gant: All the reports on Gant have been confirmed in terms of him being more vocal. He was directing traffic on defense. He was telling Jernard and Hikeem where to be in terms of their defensive assignments. From that perspective he has really stepped up. His post game was less than to be desired today. He looked to be making a concerted effort to score inside today but found little success. Might have been an off day for him. He did knock down a couple of treys today from the corner. He rebounded well and had a rim rocking jam from the hands of Tony Wroten in the first half. He still has some work to do in the post, but the desire is definitely there to improve his inside game.

Game 2

The second game was a surprise treat. One reason was because Isaiah Thomas made a cameo and led a team of current and new Huskies on to the floor. He joined Desmond SimmonsCJ WilcoxScott SuggsMartin Breunig, and Andrew Andrews. Former Husky, Clarence Trent, also joined his former teammates as a center today. Isaiah Thomas pretty much dominated the opposition today and scored around 60% of his team’s points. He was entertaining as always and had two jaw dropping missed dunks. His shot looks much improved and was knocking down shots with consistency.

Here are my notes from the current Dawgs:

  • Martin Breunig: Breunig could have easily been the biggest surprise of the night for me. I went into this game not knowing what to expect. Martin is a savvy player. He may not be the most athletic guy on the team, but he uses the shot fake to get any shot he wants on the floor. On a couple of occasions he was able to pump his man in the air and blow by to finish at the rim. He also knocked down an open three. He definitely flourished as a face to the basket player. Many compare him to Darnell Gant in terms of his style of play. But I think Breunig may be more versatile. Gant is definitely more athletic hands down, but Breunig can create his own shot with consistency. Other than Wroten and Simmons, he looked to be the most game-ready freshman for this season. He is well built and can finish with the best of them around the rim. He didn’t post up too much tonight. He also rebounded well and was able to score a couple of put backs on the offensive glass. The only area I saw for improvement was his free throw shooting. Hopefully it was an off day today.
  • Andrew Andrews: Depending on the health of Gaddy, I would be hard pressed to have this kid ride the pine all year long. If you are comparing Stewart vs. Andrews at this juncture, Andrews wins that battle hands down. He plays with a lot of confidence for a freshman PG. He has great handles and can stop on a dime to make a three pointer. He looked like a hybrid of IT and Gaddy tonight. He got to the hole at will and dropped a couple of nice dimes in the process. He definitely does bring back that Will Conroy style of play, but he is much more polished at this stage of his career. Romar definitely found a hidden gem and he was a joy to watch, especially when IT was off the floor. He took over the game at times during the game and he is making a legit case for solid minutes this season.
  • Desmond Simmons: Simmons shocked me today. Not because of his non-stop motor and rebounding. But because of his jumper. He connected on 4-5 from the field today and even connected from deep. He is much more than the “Dennis Rodman” of this team. He is a legit threat from all over the floor and is a reliable scorer down low off of rebounds. His release looks a lot better than what I saw at the beginning of the year. He does give it his all at all times on both sides of the floor. UW fans will love this guy. He may not be as quick as Bobby Jones, but he has a better looking jumper and may be one of the best built players next year. He will find big minutes as an energy guy next year. I can see him fulfilling a J-Holiday type roll in the near future. He definitely will do everything necessary to win games and I can’t wait to see this guy play again.
  • Scott Suggs: I don’t know what it is about this guy. Every summer I read about him flourishing in pick up games during the summer. He was a different player than the spot up shooter I have grown accustomed to. He created his own shots quite a bit today with his cross over. His handles have definitely improved and his shot is as good as ever. Once he learns to assert himself like he did tonight, Romar can definitely justify giving him a larger share of minutes. He must have had close to 12-14 points today off his jumpers.
  • CJ Wilcox: CJ was off with his jumper today, but he made up for it with his defense and rebounding. He must have been the leading rebounder on the team today. The athleticism that Griffin touched on in June was ever present this evening. No more apparent than a break away dunk he broke up at the rim on a huge block which brought Aziz N’Diaye to his feet to celebrate. The one area that surprised me the most was how much better CJ was handling the rock. He shook his defender more than twice today with a wide array of jukes. He got to the rim with ease for a couple of nice lay ups. We all know what CJ can do, I am just waiting for that same consistency day in and day out.

All in all, this team will need to keep playing together before they start to gel. But one thing is for certain, Romar has the talent necessary to make a solid run this year. How far we go is all dependent on the maturation of our freshman and the work our veterans put in for rounding out their post game.

All for now.