by: Griffin Bennett
First off, I want to thank Darnell Gant, Tyreese Breshers, and Brendan Sherrer for all of their contributions to this Husky Basketball team over the last five years. Saturday marks their last game at Hec Ed as it is Senior night. Darnell is Romar’s first five year player to go through the program. He has been an amazing Husky and, personally, is incredibly nice and friendly whenever I’ve had interactions with him. Tyreese’s career ended early but he has stuck with the team and contributed off of the court. Brendan has a special place in all of our hearts as he was a Dawg Pack member and then made the team as a walk-on the next year. We all see a little part of ourselves in him and it has been fun to watch him contribute.
Thanks for the amazing years, guys! Woof!
On to Saturday’s game, it should be a instant classic. Both teams have had this one circled for months. Add in the fact that each need this to stay on par with Cal for the league title and you have a recipe for a very exciting game. The first look at the match up should have you thinking that UW has the upper hand. Arizona has not won in Seattle in five years and UW also just beat them down in Tucson earlier this season.
With that said, you could argue that the Wildcats are playing the best basketball in the conference right now. They have won five in a row since losing to UW on January 28th including wins at Cal and at home against Colorado.
There’s not much different between the Arizona team from late January to the one that the Huskies will see on Saturday. They are just a little but more efficient and have really stepped up their defense.
The Wildcats are led by the upperclassmen guard/forward combo of Kyle Fogg and Solomon Hill. They are each scoring 12.9 and 12.5 points per game, respectively, while Hill leads the team in rebounds (8.1) and assists (2.8) per game as well. Beating Arizona begins and ends with limiting Fogg’s three point shooting (45%) and Hill’s rebounding.
Right behind them is senior Jesse Perry almost as impressive as his dreads, he’s averaing 11.9 ppg and 7.4 rpg. I look forward to seeing him and Gant battle it out one last time (maybe) in their careers.
Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner are a pair of very talented freshman that contribute heavily to this squad. Johnson is perhaps the better player now and plays more minutes but Turner is equally as dangerous at times. They bring a great amount of energy to this “veteran” Arizona team.
Jordin Mayes is another great tool for the Wildcats but he is injured and won’t be playing on Saturday. It’s a bonus for the Huskies but don’t expect it to make a huge difference. Mayes was playing 18 minutes a game and that should be dispersed among the usual starters.
Against WSU on Thursday, Arizona used an 8-man rotation with Kyryl Natyazhko (took me 5 minutes to spell that right), Brendon Lavender, and Angelo Chol off the bench. Kyryl is a 6-11 center, Lavender as a sharp-shooting guard, and Chol is dead to me.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Kyle Fogg – 6’3, 188lbs
Nick Johnson – 6’2, 198lbs
Josiah Turner – 6’3, 192lbs
Solomon Hill – 6’6, 226lbs
Jesse Perry – 6’7, 217
Abdul Gaddy – 6’3 185lbs
Tony Wroten – 6’5 205lbs
Terrence Ross – 6’6 195lbs
Darnell Gant – 6’8 230lbs
Aziz N’Diaye – 7’0 260lbs
Keys to the Game:
- Three Point Shooting – It’s no secret that the Wildcats depend of the three to win big games. The Huskies stopped them from making shots down in Tucson and it led to the win. On the other hand, Arizona is very good (4th in the nation) in opponents 3 point percentage at 27.6. The Huskies will need to hit their opens shots when they get them.
- Offensive Rebounding – The Huskies are very good at it and the Wildcats are not. It’s simple as that. UW needs to maximize their second chance opportunities.
- Getting to the Line: Arizona leads the league in free throws attempted per field goals attempted. It’s a specific stat that shows how aggressive a team is at getting to the line. Arizona also leads the league in holding teams to the fewest FTA/FGA. The Huskies will need to be smart and be equally aggressive going to the hoop on offense.
It’s going to be a fun one. I’ll be a mess as I sit in Section 11 as I sweat out the poison from Friday night. Is that too personal of a prediction?
I love playing Arizona. It always feels like it’s March and the crowds are always hyped up. There’s so much on the line that each team will show the best that they have got.
The fact that it’s Senior night and that it could also be the last game at home for Wroten and Ross pushes it in UW’s favor for me. I see a close game the whole way until Ross flips the NOS switch like Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious.
I can’t wait for this one. Go Dawgs.