Huskies still top Dawgs in Seattle – UW 91, SU 83


by: John Chase

Many of you might be wondering how this game was so close after going into half with a 13 point lead. One would imagine UW would build on that and crush SU into the dirt. We certainly had the opportunity to do so, but we decided we didn’t like free points and missed 22 free throws. Let me reiterate. Twenty-Two. All of a sudden this 8 point win turns into a 20 or 30 point win if we put up a respectable percentage. C.J. Wilcox took his streak of free throws made to 30 and then proceeded to miss 2 more over the course of the night. Tony Wroten went 12 of 18 from the line, better than his season average, but still 3 fewer than I consider acceptable. Aziz N’Diaye was a miserable 4 of 9 from the line. Our team pretty much takes this attitude about free throws. Where you hear cash or money, replace it with points or free throws.

Seattle U also applied a press the entire game (take note on how it’s done, Romar) that frustrated our team to the point of ridiculousness. The half court press is exceedingly easy to beat if you just run a freaking screen for one player then back to the inbounder who dribbles up the court and passes across to their center court option. I commend Cameron Dollar for his effort, but this was another foul fest featuring 5 SU players fouling out of the game. I thought for sure we would see only 4 players on the court once again.

C.J. Wilcox looked slightly improved with a 4-7 night from deep, but it was his inside game that suffered and led to a 6-15 night shooting. He set a career high in points by getting to the line 11 times and making 9. I credit his number of attempts to SU fouling, rather than Wilcox being aggressive as he should be. Wilcox still needs to find that will to attack the hoop and power through contact. A few extra hours in the weight room would certainly help.

Terrence Ross was fairly effective tonight despite early foul issues that held him back. He was 4-6 from the field, 2-2 behind the arc, but missed 2 crucial free throws in crunch time that nearly cost us. Ross, like Wilcox, remains passive about attacking the rim and the Huskies suffer because of it. If Ross wants to be an impact player at the next level, or even in this league for that matter, he needs to get tough and bang in the paint.

Speaking of banging in the paint, Aziz N’Diaye had another nice performance against SU finishing with 14 points and 13 boards (6 offensive). His shot from the field is improving, despite missing a pair of easy lay-ins, one of which was a dunk where it looks as though he didn’t rotate his wrists at all. Hard to dunk when the ball smacks against the rim. Still there were several wide open opportunities following the press break where UW simply refused to pass into the block for an easy basket. I understand wanting to burn time and doing so when there is defensive pressure, but if you have a wide open, easy shot, you put the points on the board. Kicking it out and waiting only gives the opposition a greater chance to force a terrible shot and get back in the game.

Desmond Simmons got his first start since the exhibition game. Simmons has certainly deserved it and played pretty solid. Simmons only knocked up 5 points on the night with 2 of 6 shooting, but grabbed a very nice 7 rebounds (4 offensive) and provided some good defensive pressure. Simmons split his free throws and grabbed 2 steals through the night.

Abdul Gaddy had the most boring 38 minutes of basketball I may have ever seen. 0-4 from the field, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers. His impact of the game was minimal and the only reason he managed 10 trips to the line was Cameron Dollars’ plan of fouling until SU took the lead, which never happened outside the starting minutes. If Gaddy is going to play essentially the whole game, he needs to do a lot more with his time. While I have always been a firm supporter of Gaddy, I’m starting to follow more of my father’s belief that Gaddy is not the point guard the Huskies need. Gaddy is far too timid and much like Ross and Wilcox, will not attack the hoop with any consistency.

Tony Wroten. Wroten had another hot/cold night where he does a lot of good things, but also some bad. 24 points is terrific. Making 12 of 18 free throws…I’ll take it hesitantly only because I know how much worse he could have done. 4 rebounds isn’t bad when one considers how well N’Diaye and Simmons were able to clean house. 6 assists is fantastic, but committing 6 turnovers pretty much negates whatever good those assists did. At least Wroten gets to the rim and forces teams to defend him in the lane. He had a few turnovers credited to him that I really place on the other players not looking for the tricky pass as the situation certainly called for one.

Darnell Gant and Shawn Kemp combined for 22 minutes, 4 points, and 6 rebounds (5 by Gant). Gant is slowly taking the back seat to Simmons who played 24 minutes. With ASJ officially on the squad, Gant’s minutes could be in even more danger if ASJ proves to be a competent basketball players.

What Needed Improvement:

  • Free Throws – UW went to the line 59 times and missed 22 attempts. That is at least 10 too many. If I had my way it would be 22 times too many. I’m understanding enough to realize players will eventually miss. It’s inevitable, but we have to be shooting at least 75% from the line. 62% is unacceptable. We nearly blew this game because we could hit the free ones down the stretch. Every time the Dawgs would start to pull away, SU would foul, we would miss, and then suddenly the Redhawks were back in it again.
  • Turnovers – UW had only 5 turnovers in the first half. They finished with 16. 11 turnovers in a half is unacceptable. 11 for the game is still high. Staying under 10 turnovers every night should be this teams goal and, in my mind, this is very attainable, especially against less talented teams like SU. The Redhawks played great defense, but instead of playing above their opponents, the Huskies allowed the trap to frustrate and collapse them.

What Was Good:

  • Rebounding – Terrific night on the boards. Every player had at least 4 rebounds, except Shawn Kemp who only grabbed one. Considering he only played 6 minutes, I am perfectly OK with that. The team pulled in 20 offensive boards, excellent. They did allow SU to grab 12, about 2 or 3 higher than I’d like to see, but all things considered, I’ll take it.
  • Ball Pressure – UW forced 17 turnovers and picked up 8 steals as well as 6 blocks. While SU certainly got their points, it should have been a higher scoring game for the Huskies and that, in my opinion, is OK with me. If it is a high possession game, the opposition is bound to score points of their own, it’s a matter of statistics. UW was able to apply their own half-court pressure that led to some nice transition plays, a few also went awry for one reason or another.

Final Thoughts:

If this team could just find some damn consistency, we would be golden. Instead, the team seems to enjoy riding a roller coaster of scoring and then shutting down. Free throws nearly cost us this game and as I have said just about every time I write an article, free throws win ball games. SU made 3 more shots, but we attempted twice as many free throws and made twice as many free throws.

This team still has a lot of work to do and I hope nobody takes notes on applying a press to us because a much better team will annihilate us with one. I’m waiting for the game against WSU to see if this squad has learned anything from its tribulations. My guess, WSU will be a handful.

Go Dawgs!