UW wrangles the Gauchos 87-80


by: John Chase

Well that was a stressful win. That much is certain. UW had a 10 point lead with 4 minutes to go only to throw it away by giving up two straight 3-pointers and two lay-ins. All of a sudden it was tied at 77 in a span a hair longer than a minute. All this out of a timeout by UW. Where was the game plan? I can understand a 10-0 run, it happens, but not out of a timeout and not in the final minutes against a mid-major.

The refs started out decent enough in the first half. They were atrocious in the second. Between several very poor calls and misses as well as UW missing huge free throws at the end of the game kept this much closer than it should have been. Four straight free throws were missed with under a minute on the clock. Unacceptable.

Thankfully, Romar pulled Tony Wroten(who was playing out of his mind) after missing his third straight free throw in the closing minutes and put in Desmond Simmons who is an excellent free throw shooter. Wroten was 4-9 on the night. Not going to work. Not at all.

UW came out with a 4 guard line-up featuring Tony Wroten with Aziz N’Diaye on the sidelines due to his knee injury. UW came out in the second half with C.J. Wilcox on the bench and Desmond Simmons in the starting 5. This was a good move as Wilcox was cold tonight and we needed a big man in the post to shore up the defense. It paid off as UCSB had 26 points in the paint in the first half and only 10 in the second.

Tony Wroten. He is the best, most frustrating player I’ve ever seen. Yet he is the heart and soul of this team. We have been asking who’s this teams leader. I have an answer, Tony Wroten. Say all you want about the turnovers, as long as he keeps playing this way I am OK with it. Keep it to 5 and under, that is my limit. 27 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist (more on this later), 5 turnovers, and 1 steal. I’ll take that stat line. He could have had 30 if he made his free throws. He was visibly upset with himself after missing the last 3 free throws. This was great to see. It means he is starting to take the free throws seriously and understands what kind of impact free throws have on a game. He had a monster slam after juking out his defender with a sweet fake pass. I thought for sure it would be on SportCenter, but sadly it was not. His assist, however, was.

Terrence Ross. When can we get a full 40 out of you?? Yet again, it took a huge second half for Ross to break double digits. Ross had only 2 points in the first half. He tallied up 14 in the second half and finished with 5 rebounds, an assist, two steals, and just one turnover. Ross nabbed the number 2 spot on the Top Ten with another vicious jam courtesy of Tony Wroten. It would have been number 1 if not for a great 3/4 court shot that swished at the end of half. Hard to argue against that. Wroten lobbed up a beautiful assist that Ross turned into a full 360 jam. Absolutely monstrous. Ross went 4-4 from the charity stripe with all 4 coming in crunch time. He hit 2 of 4 from deep and shot 5 of 12 on the night. Wroten had 21 shots compared to a combined total of 17 for Wilcox and Ross. I like that Wroten is taking the initiative and getting to the rack, but Wilcox and Ross are our best shooters and need to have more opportunities.

Desmond Simmons had another stellar night and continues to impress me with his solid shot and great work effort. 9 points on 4-5 shooting including a dime from deep, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals. He did miss his lone free throw, which was infuriating simply because he is a solid player at the line. Simmons best plays often come defending in the post where he deflects passes left and right. Both of his steals came from deflecting passes and chasing down the loose ball. If Tony hadn’t willed this team to victory tonight I would be expecting Romar to throw Simmons in the starting 5 simply because of how much of an impact he has on the game. I think Simmons is one of the more underrated and valued players on the team and possibly in the Pac-12. Game in and game out he performs well.

Abdul Gaddy silently shot his way to 17 points. I didn’t even realize he did that well until I looked at the post-game stats. He only had 1 assist, but given the fact that the team only had 8 assist on the night it hard to expect him to get much more than that. Gaddy was 6-10 on the night and drilled 2 of his 3 3-pointers. He also tallied 2 boards and 0 turnovers. Not bad. He looked much more aggressive tonight and seems to be taking a page out of Wroten’s book.

Darnell Gant was all sorts tonight. His 2-7 shooting was sub par. He was 4-5 from the line and ended with 9 points and 8 boards, 4 of which were offensive. That was great to see, especially with N’Diaye out of the game. He also dished out an assist and had a steal, going without a turnover tonight.

C.J. Wilcox all but disappeared tonight. He took only 5 shots and hit just 2 of them. Wilcox had picked up 4 fouls with over 15 minutes to go in the second half, which in part contributed to his lack of opportunities. Wilcox needs to get aggressive and attack the hoop. He has a fantastic inside shot that is underused. He still seems to have the streaky mentality where is he cold he can’t get hot, if he is hot his shots just wont stop draining through the net.

What Needed Improvement:

  • Free Throws – 19-30 from the line is atrocious. I plan on writing an article on free throws in the next few days so I’ll try not to rant too much on this post. This mainly falls on Wroten who was 4-9 from the line. Gaddy was also a tad behind with a 3-5 night from the stripe and Kemp was 2-4 on the night. The rest of the team was nearly perfect.
  • Rebounding – UW got out rebounded 40-35. Three players had 7 or more boards. Usually I’d be ecstatic about this, especially considering the Dawgs were without N’Diaye. What upset me were the 14 offensive boards UCSB collected leading to 12 second chance points. We have got to get better at preventing these second chance opportunities.
  • Assists – We scorer nearly 90 points while only handing out 8 assists. I don’t even know how that is possible. While I like the fact that the team has enough players that can create their own opportunities, I like us dishing out 15+ assists much more. It shows movement and team unity.

What was Good:

  • Defensive Tenacity – The Huskies forced 17 turnovers (only committing 7 themselves) and had 8 steals. I’d like to see a count of how many tipped balls UW had because they were all over the place. I loved the group effort. I realize the Gauchos scored quite a bit today, but to be fair Orlando Johnson was on fire and could not miss. He kept UCSB in the game much longer than I thought was possible.
  • Inside Presence – I don’t mean our post players, I mean attacking the rim. Wroten highlighted it, but Ross had his fair share of nice inside shots in the second half. Gaddy was another force inside with a couple of nice drives. I still want to see Ross and Wilcox get to the hoop and earn some real free throws. Tonight, their shots came from late game fouls designed to slow us down and give UCSB a chance at an upset comeback.

Final Thoughts:

Giving up the 10 point lead in a matter of seconds was just plain ugly. I don’t know how Romar doesn’t use a time out after the back-to-back 3’s to rally the team and reorganize the offense. They need to keep the pedal to the metal.

Wroten could end up as the leading scorer for this team with the way he is going. Ross and Wilcox need to find their identity and get their game going for the full 40. A win is a win and hopefully this will inspire some great play. There is a lot of work to be done if they want to make the NCAA and it all starts here at Hec-Ed. No better place to do it than at home.
Go Dawgs!