Pac-12 Team Previews: WashingtonPosted by Connor Pelton on October 25th, 2011
Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.
Strengths. The main thing that jumps off the page is the Huskies’ talent and depth at guard. In order to get all of the talent on the floor at the same time, Lorenzo Romar could go with the rarely used four-guard lineup since both Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross have the size to play down low. Watch out for the other freshmen as well. Romar has a stellar recruiting class coming in, led by the aforementioned Wroten Jr., guard Hakeem Stewart, and forward Martin Breunig. All three appeared on the Rivals150 list, while Wroten was considered the fourth-ranked point guard and No. 14 overall player in the country for the class of 2011.
Weaknesses. In the past six years, the Huskies have always had some sort of leader or go-to guy to build the team around. They don’t have a “set” leader going into this season, so that will be a huge thing to work out in preseason practice. They also need to find a go-to scorer that they can count on late in games as they lose their top three scorers from last season (Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, and Justin Holiday).
Nonconference Tests. The Huskies should fly through their non-conference slate with the exception of two games: Dec. 6 vs Marquette and Dec. 10 vs Duke. There is no break in between for Washington, as they will just stay in the Big Apple for six days and take on a pair of top twenty teams. I’m predicting an 0-2 record in those, but if they can even earn just a split, the Huskies will start to receive national attention.
Toughest Conference Stretch. The Huskies will face a six game stretch in late January through early February in which they host Washington State, California, Stanford, and UCLA, but also travel to the Arizona schools. These six could be a killer for a young team, as there are a few “should-wins” and a pair of almost-sure losses.
If Everything Goes Right… Washington finishes the year with 23 wins and is third in the Pac-12 race. The freshmen pan out like the are supposed to, Abdul Gaddy stays healthy, and Washington pulls an upset and advances to the Sweet Sixteen before being bounced.
If Nothing Goes Right… I can truly see this team only winning 15 games if nothing goes right. The freshmen are just too young and the lack of a big game player hurts them at times. A CBI invitation is extended but the historically-proud program declines.
Projected Starting Lineup
- PG Abdul Gaddy (Jr, 6’3″, 185 lbs, 8.5 PPG, 3.8 APG)
- SG C.J. Wilcox (So, 6’5″, 185 lbs, 8.1 PPG, 0.9 APG)
- PG Tony Wroten Jr. (Fr, 6’6″, 195 lbs)
- G Terrence Ross (So, 6’6″, 195 lbs, 8.0 PPG, 1.0 APG)
- C Aziz N’Diaye (Jr, 7’0″, 260 lbs, 4.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG)
Washington returns two starters from last year’s 24-11 team, including Gaddy, who will be back at full strength after tearing his ACL midway through last season. Gaddy and Ross will take on the job of trying to fill the shoes that Isaiah Thomas left by foregoing his senior year for the NBA. At center is the big 7-footer, Aziz N’Diaye, who is the only center listed on the team’s roster.
Impact Newcomer. Tony Wroten Jr. – A graduate of Seattle’s Garfield High, he could have picked virtually any school in the nation but instead chose to stay home. He has combo-guard ability and the size to pull it off, the type of player who can drop dimes all day and then go into the paint and take on a big man.
- PG Andrew Andrews (Fr, 6’2″, 195 lbs)
- G Hikeem Stewart (Fr, 6’2″, 175 lbs)
- F Darnell Gant (Sr, 6’8″, 230 lbs, 5.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG)
- F Shawn Kemp Jr. (Fr, 6’9″, 265 lbs)
- PF Desmond Simmons (Fr, 6’7″, 220 lbs)
Boy are these guys young. This second group of players certainly doesn’t lack youth, but these guys are also full of natural, raw talent. With the exception of Gant, it is going to take a while to develop the other four into being game-ready. But once they are, the rest of the conference should watch out.