Happy New Year NASORB readers, I hope everyone has had a safe, fun holiday.
The Washington Huskies men’s basketball team, I hate to say is not a good basketball team this year. After finishing non-conference play with a loss versus UConn and an 8-5 record, I honestly think this team is going to struggle in conference play. I’ll start first though with a recap of non-conference play.
The non-conference season for the Huskies this season has been very disappointing. Going into the season I could have pictured the Huskies finishing either 11-2 or 10-3. With only one true road game (at UConn) and the Hall of Fame Tip Off tournament vs Seton Hall and either Ohio St. or Rhode Island, the Huskies looked to have a typical power conference schedule with a couple of marquee games and a bunch of cupcakes. Well the Huskies lost 3 games JUST AT HOME vs. power teams such as Colorado State, Nevada, and ALBANY. All of those losses are considered bad losses in the eyes of the NCAA selection committee come tournament time. Couple that with only one good win vs. Seton Hall, the Huskies have dug a big hole for even consideration to the NCAA tournament. Also at 8-5 the huskies sit in 11th place in the Pac-12 only behind a 5-8 USC team.
Basketball IQ, and focus just isn’t there.
The Washington Huskies are not a smart basketball team. Lots of miscues, lots of turnovers, lots of undisciplined play. This has become a trend the last few years under Lorenzo Romar coached teams, and its very disturbing this year especially. In the UConn game this past Saturday there were 2 crucial points where the Huskies seem to just lose focus. The first was following a Scott Suggs jumper at the 14:08 mark Huskies went up 16-10, over the 5:59 the Huskies gave up an 11-0 run and went 0-8 from the floor with 4 turnovers. The next was following a Jernard Jarreau jumper to bring the Huskies back to trail 50-45 with 7:25 to go the game. What followed was a 7-0 UConn run over the next 5:26, aided by the Huskies shooting 0-6 and turning the ball over twice. The Huskies can’t afford to go on multiple droughts like that in Pac-12 games or they’ll get run out of the gym. As far as basketball IQ, too many stupid fouls and turnovers are killing the Huskies this year. The Huskies have the 4th most turnovers and fouls per game in the Pac-12. One incident that stands out from the UConn game was at the 16:49 mark in the first half. After Aziz N’Diaye commits his first foul, he says something to the official and draws a Technical and his second foul within seconds. This put N’Diaye on the bench for most of the reminder of the first half. N’Diaye, a senior needs to be a leader on the floor come the Pac-12 season or the Huskies are in trouble.
So what does this mean for conference play. Basically in my opinion the Huskies need to go 15-3 or 16-2 in conference play and need 2 wins in the Pac-12 tournament to be in. Lets face it the Pac-12 in years past has not been a good basketball conference over the past few years. Over the past 3 tournaments the Pac-12 has only had 8 teams combined qualify, by far the fewest and have only had 1 sweet 16 team (2010 Huskies) and 1 elite eight team (2011 Arizona). The last Pac-12 team to make the final four was UCLA in 2008. Therefore the Huskies need a lot of help to make the tournament and I just don’t see them getting it.
The Pac-12 season starts with 3 road games, at WSU, and at Cal and Stanford. The Huskies have struggled away from Hec Ed in years past and I don’t see it stopping this year. Over the first three games I wouldn’t be surprised if the Huskies only win one, if not lose all three. WSU is always tough at home and I see it as a toss-up, Cal is going to be only of the upper tier teams in the Pac-12 and that will be a tough game, and Stanford in Palo Alto the Huskies have never had success there so I’ll chalk that up as an L.
As for the rest of the Pac-12 season I expect it to be up and down. I can see the Huskies finishing somewhere in the middle of the conference standings heading into the Pac-12 tournament. I think this team will start to gel and I expect Abdul Gaddy to be the leader on the floor. C.J. Wilcox I believe will be the one filling up the stat sheet night in night out averaging around 20 PPG, and Aziz N’Diaye (as long as he stays out of foul trouble) to be a force down low causing havoc. As far as Lorenzo Romar goes, as long as this team doesn’t go belly up his job will be safe through this season, but I expect him to be on the hot seat next season if this team doesn’t make the NCAA tournament.