Washington Basketball team readies for NIT Saint Mary’s

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 06: Lagerald Vick
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 06: Lagerald Vick /
TUCSON, AZ – JANUARY 29: Matisse Thybulle
TUCSON, AZ – JANUARY 29: Matisse Thybulle /

Round two for the Washington Basketball team means that the competition gets tougher and the stakes get higher. Their opponent, Saint Mary’s, was an NCAA Tournament snub. But Washington could match up well against them

The Washington Basketball team is no stranger to playing well as an underdog. In fact, some of their most dramatic wins happened when they entered a game as the underdog. Perhaps that trend continues. Perhaps not. For now, this Washington Basketball team is beyond our expectations, and our preseason optimism. The team appeared to be no better, at best, than a .500 team. They have delivered an impressive season with teamwork, great defense, and resiliency. This is not a team that delivered 30 point scorers, nor blow out wins.

And to me, that’s an even more impressive way to carry off a season.

Saint Mary’s Gaels solid team

But however the team got here, here is preparing to face the Saint Mary’s Gaels. That game will happen at 8:00 p.m. PDT on Monday, March 19, 2018. The second round contest will be televised by ESPNU. It will be a difficult challenge for the Huskies. But so far this season, they have embraced challenging games.

The Gaels are led by senior big man Jock Landale. With his 21.5 points and 10.2 rebounds, he can single-handedly take down any hopes of a Husky win. But he is not alone. With Landale in the paint, they have a pair of three-point markmen in senior forward Calvin Hermanson (44.4 percent) and sophomore guard Jordan Ford (44.2 percent). Even senior point guard Emmett Naar gets into the act (40.7 percent).

Still, the Washington Huskies match up pretty well against Saint Mary’s.

Gaels Achilles Heel

With few exceptions, the way to defeat Saint Mary’s is to double team Landale in the paint. If the defense can disrupt his scoring, and fluster perimeter shooters, the Gaels will lose. And the Washington Huskies faced Arizona big DeAndre Ayton and prevailed.

Washington does a very good job of defending the perimeter. Recall their Herculean effort in that dramatic upset victory over the Kansas University Jayhawks. The Huskies challenged virtually all three-point shots, and won that game as a result 74-65.

Huskies offense

The Huskies must work hard on offense. Saint Mary’s is also quite adept at defense, and dominated their round one contest over SE Louisianna by holding them to just 45 points. For the season, they allow 63.9 points per game, good enough for 12th in the nation. In contrast, the Huskies allow 72.6 points per game, which is tied for 178th.

Next: Washington wins NIT round 1 over Boise State 77-74

All in all, this is an uphill challenge for Washington. In the past, the Huskies have had success in preparing to face talented opponents. That experience will be very valuable as the Huskies advance in the NIT.  Should Washington advance, they will face the winner of the LSU vs. Utah contest in the NIT quarterfinals.  Let’s hope for a win and moving on to round three.