In some ways the start of the college basketball season is always anticlimactic. Usually the whole weekend pits good teams against bad teams, and there are very few compelling matchups. The Huskies have made a habit of scheduling some cupcake out of conference games to begin the season, including Georgia State last year (in the World Vision Classic), McNeese State the year before that, Wright State the year before that (Athletics In Action Basketball Classic), and Portland the year before that (a loss, and that’s not a typo, not Portland State, Portland).
So we’re not going to overreact to a victory over Loyola-Maryland. I mean, their mascot is a greyhound. It’s like the team went through all of the possible mascots, and realizing that the best ones were already taken decided to opt for something sleek, refined, and wussy. Greyhounds are racing dogs. They’re skinny, and they can’t handle the cold. And they look like weasels. I don’t know if I’ve ever really seen a weasel, but I hate weasels.
I believe that without Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross the Huskies are much less talented this year, but that without Wroten in particular they have the chance to be greater than the sum of their parts. C.J. Wilcox can play more freely, and Abdul Gaddy actually has a role on the court, while Scott Suggs is on the court, and gives the team a second legitimate perimeter shooting threat.
With Lorenzo Romar implementing a more half-court oriented high-post, many Huskies have an opportunity to flourish, including Suggs, who the team missed dearly last year when Wilcox went down with a leg injury.
Wilcox was on tonight, too, putting up about the most efficient 22 points you can put up, taking only 13 shots from the field. Suggs put up 15 of his own, and was perhaps the team’s best player in the first half until he picked up his third foul with six minutes left and had to sit until half time.
Gaddy showed the ability to penetrate, and that he’s best with the ball in his hand. He didn’t necessarily create for his teammates the way we’d expect him to, but he took the ball to the hoop aggressively, converting more often than not, and converting on all four of his free throw attempts.
It’s Loyola-Maryland. Remember that.
Aziz N’Diaye pulled down 16 rebounds and scored 10 points of his own. N’Diaye is a senior, and probably has the NBA in his future. He looked comfortable taking entry passes in the post today, and he had three blocks, and more importantly only two personal fouls. If N’Diaye has taken a step forward equal to the steps he’s taken in his first three years, the Huskies could have an additonal level of scoring available. Again, Loyola-Maryland.
Desmond Simmons was his normal annoying self, playing unrelenting defense and running up and down the court like a little kid. At one point Kevin Calabro called Simmons “Desmond Mason.” The last time Calabro was calling games in Seattle on a regular basis was a nostalgic time for many, including himself, but I didn’t think that was an awful comparison. Mason was a guy that could man up on point guards and power forwards, and was an athletic mismatch on offense, if not tremendously skilled.
Simmons sunk a three today, but I doubt that designed three pointers become a huge part of his game. His game is to be more athletic than everyone else on the court, and he’s looking pretty effective in that role after one game this year. It’s Loyola-Maryland.
One element that the Huskies have this year though, is legitimate guard depth. We saw Wilcox bring the ball up the court a couple times, albeit in transition, and Scott Suggs can potentially back up at the point guard position too, but Andrew Andrews appears to have beaten out Hikeem Stewart for the next guard position.
Andrews played 22 minutes compared to Stewart’s nine, and got to the free throw line 10 times (some of that was at the end of the game). He made a key block and had two assists, but appears to be perhaps the best option for the Huskies to penetrate into 2-3 zones, and exploit the outside shooting abilities of Suggs and Wilcox.
But remember, it’s Loyola-Maryland.