by: John Chase
This game was not nearly as close as it looks. UW had a 22 point lead in the final 3 minutes before letting ASU chip away as Romar an team let up on the gas. I have a bone to pick about this. First off, I love it when our walk-ons and reserves get playtime, it is a fun and rewarding experience for them. That being said, we are in a critical stretch of play right now and the bubble is not on our side. We need to make statement games, not win by 8 at home to an atrocious ASU team. We need to finish. We should have dropped 30+ on them and said “Hey! We are here! We want to win! We want to compete!” Nope, didn’t happen.
To be fair, the Dawgs were really hot the first half, despite committing 10 first half turnovers. In the second half, the Dawgs committed an additional 5 turnovers, but only managed 33 points on sub par shooting. The Dawgs were a blistering 61% in the first half, but the second half zone of ASU caused problems leading to another sub 35% outing.
What we saw today was a true team effort on the court. For the first time in god knows how long, the Dawgs had 18 assists! Its amazing how passing and sharing the ball can lead to good things. Abdul Gaddy led the way with 8 assists to 3 turnovers, while Tony Wroten had 4 and 4.
The passes led to our team getting early production from everyone. Terrence Ross, C.J. Wilcox, and Darnell Gant were all hovering around 8 points at halftime. Ross finished with a team high 18, Wilcox added 14, Wroten had 13, Aziz N’Diaye put up a respectable 12, and Gant finished with 9. Those are the types of numbers we should be seeing every night from our guys. Four and five guys with double digit scoring on top of their rebounding, steals, etc. Getting production is easy if you pass the ball and that is exactly what we did tonight.
Overall, I loved the energy of the first half. The team played like it was taking on Arizona versus ASU. That is what I wanted to see. They treated the first half like a real game and went into halftime up 18. Then the second half rolled around and the Dawgs got lazy. UW had held ASU to 2 of 9 outside shooting in the first half by playing pressure d, extending to the sidelines, and preventing open looks. ASU went 6-11 in the second half, allowing them to chew their way back into the game to save face. This happened because our guys got lazy, stayed in the paint, and generally just did not try to put a hand in their face. I put that on Romar for not hyping them up at half, demanding more of the same.
Desmond Simmons and Shawn Kemp had decent nights, combining for 8 points and 7 boards. Simmons got most of the boards will Kemp got most of the points. They played a total of 26 minutes, allowing Gant and N’Diaye to rest after battling ASU’s 7-footers in the paint. Respectable numbers for the time they played. They did their jobs tonight.
Abdul Gaddy was not aggressive in the normal fashion, but he attacked none the less. Gaddy took only two shots on the night and drilled a 3-pointer, his only points of the night. What he did do is attack the hoop and dish out to our open shooters and wouldn’t you know it, they were open. Man, I feel like I iterated this exact thing multiple times throughout the season. Drive and dish, kick it out, get in the lanes. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. 8 assists is amazing and the 3 turnovers are reasonable, though many were unforced errors that could well have been avoided. Gaddy also pulled in a rebound and picked off a steal. Productive night over all. We don’t need him to score, we need him to create scores.
Darnell Gant looked a lot better tonight than he has in a while. His second half shooting definitely cooled off, but his first half put-back jam was sensational. He reared back hard and jammed it home. Loved it. On the night, Gant was 3-6, missing only outside the arc. Gant made both his foul shots, nabbed 5 boards, and dished out 2 assists with 0 turnovers.
Aziz N’Diaye wanted the ball in the first half. He wanted it bad. He got the ball and he scored. Didn’t matter who was on him. The second half he battled some cramps or a dead-leg. Not sure what happened, but he went down twice before getting pulled out and N’Diaye required some treatment from the PT staff. A few minutes later he came back in and looked good as new. N’Diaye was 5-9 from the field, 2-3 from the line, and had 4 rebounds.
Tony Wroten was a defensive machine tonight. At times he played too fast and turned the ball over, but the fact that he also handed out 4 assists and a ridiculous 6 steals is impressive and says a lot about his effort on the court. Wroten finished the night 4-8 from the field and a 5-8 performance at the line. He missed both free throws on one set, the first time that has happened in a while. Wroten also managed 4 boards during his 29 minutes of play.
C.J. Wilcox is evolving his game and it’s a good thing. With his stress injury limiting his practice participation, Wilcox’s shot has been suffering lately as anyone would suspect. Instead of focusing all of his efforts outside the arc, Wilcox has been utilizing a pump shot to draw defenders in the air then dribbling a bit closer and draining the jumper. He is also attacking the lanes and getting nice looks inside. He was 6-11 from the field, 2-6 outside the arc, but I liked his approach to tonight. Wilcox did a little bit of everything tonight with 2 rebounds, 3 assists, a turnover, block, and steal.
Terrence Ross. My man. Where has this game been all year. Finally, production in both halves and a great looking shot throughout. Ross was on fire outside, hitting 4 of 8 from deep and converting 7 of 13 overall. Several times, Ross would step outside the arc on purpose, seemingly insisting he was too close before. His 5 rebounds were lower than normal, but spending so much time outside the paint tends to cause that. The only mar on his performance were the 3 turnovers that were quite out of character. He needs to bring this early fire again Saturday when the Wildcats roll into town.
What Needed Improvement:
- Rebounds – UW and ASU went back and forth on the glass with a final tally of 32-32. 11 offensive for UW, 10 for ASU. That is about as close as it gets. While I understand that ASU possess two 7-footers, the Dawgs were getting beat on the glass by the guards and often times losing out on rebounds they didn’t secure properly. Normally this is not an issue so I won’t worry too much about it, but we cannot afford to give up so many second chance opportunities against a team like Arizona who will capitalize on them in a big way.
- Turnovers – 15 is way too high. 10 in a half is absurd and unacceptable. The Dawgs were playing at too high of a tempo and needed to get things under control a tad more. Wroten was bouncing balls off the opposition’s head, Wilcox was forgetting to bring the ball with him, and so on. You get the picture. Not sure why the ASU defense caused so many problems, but it needs to get fixed in less than 36 hours.
What Was Good:
- First Half – Have I been able to write that yet this year? For the first time in ages, the Dawgs put up more than 40 points in the first half and scored less in the second than the first. The Dawgs came out with the kind of intensity that has been lacking throughout the season and I am hopeful it will carry on. This team needs to remember how it felt to get it going early, instead of having to battle back before halftime.
- Passing – The Huskies really played well in the set offense today. They moved the ball quickly around the perimeter, attacked the lanes and kicked out, found open guys, and passed up mediocre shots for better shots. Got to give it to Gaddy for really running the show tonight and making things happen in a good way. Gold Star.
Big time match-up is on its way to Hec-Ed. Arizona is chomping at the bit to get vengence for I.T.’s cold-blooded shot and Wroten’s last second upset during their white-out, sell-out crowd at home. Arizona took down WSU in a close game and their moral is high. The Dawgs closed tonight on a bit of a sour note, but I hope it does not damper or affect their mood. A win is a win, even if it ends ugly. Let’s finish strong boys.