Washington: 2011-12 Post-MortemPosted by Connor Pelton on April 9th, 2012
Over the course of the next two weeks, the Pac-12 Microsite will break down each team’s season: what went well, what didn’t, and a look ahead at the future. Today’s subject: Washington.
What Went Wrong
Going into the year, a major question facing Washington was how quickly it would gel after losing its top three players from the 2010-11 season. That proved to be a big challenge as the Huskies started the season 5-5, their worst start since the 2003-04 campaign. While four of those defeats were to NCAA Tournament teams, there was no doubt about it; the Dawgs were playing bad basketball. However, once December came to an end and January arrived, there was really nothing to complain about in Seattle. Washington went on to win 16 of its next 19 after the poor start, with two of the three losses coming to NCAA Tournament teams. That stretch took them into the final game of the regular season, a road game against UCLA, meaning that the Huskies had at least two games to play before Selection Sunday. They needed to win just one to cement their spot in the Dance. Instead they fell to the Bruins and returned to Los Angeles five days later only to lose in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals against Oregon State. Those two losses ended their hopes of an NCAA berth, and the Dawgs were then relegated to the NIT.
What Went Right
A main goal for coach Lorenzo Romar was to identify a new leader after the departure of guard Isaiah Thomas. They ended up finding two in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross. Both would be named first team all-Pac-12, with Wroten averaging 16.7 PPG and Ross finishing with 15.3 PPG.MVP
You can make the argument that Ross was the most talented and well-rounded player for Washington, but Wroten was definitely the most valuable. As just a freshman, Wroten looked like an upperclassmen the entire year with his ability to get to the hoop off a dribble-drive at will.
Ross and Wroten will depart, although many think that Ross’ inconsistency and Wroten’s inability to knock down free throws and three-pointers in the clutch should have meant they stayed in school. Senior forwards Brendan Sherrer and Darnell Gant are gone as well, with Gant’s departure stinging the most. The 6’8″ enforcer, along with seven-footer Aziz N’Diaye, made things incredibly difficult for opposing big men in the paint. The Huskies will now look to players like Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Shawn Kemp, Jr., to fill Gant’s shoes.
Players Coming In
Jenard Jarreau and Andrew Andrews redshirted the 2011-12 season, and while Jarreau is still a year away from seeing substantial minutes, Andrews could provide depth at a position that loses its two best players. The Huskies have no signees for this year’s recruiting class, but they got a big verbal from shooting guard Mark McLaughlin, who hails from Tacoma Community College. McLaughlin is a solid player on the offensive side of the ball and has even drawn comparisons to Wroten, but because of a lack of solid defense he might not garner many minutes in his first season with the Huskies. Romar and his staff have only shown major interest in one other recruit: Anthony Bennett out of Henderson, Nevada. The five-star power forward is interested in Washington, Florida, Kentucky, Oregon, and UNLV.
Reason For Hope
It’s never a good thing when you lose your top two scorers, let’s just get that out right now. But with so much of the focus on Ross, Wroten, and to some extent, Gant, there were a few really talented players on this Husky roster that got overlooked throughout the season. Next season will be a chance for the other guys to shine. From October to April, C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy will be the keys to this team. If they can shoot like they did in conference play for the duration of the season, this could turn into a very good team.
Reason For Concern
Washington’s post game was nonexistent at times this year, and with Gant now gone, things might get a whole lot worse before they get better. There is some potential in Kemp and Seferian-Jenkins, but there will also be some growing pains early on in non-conference play.
B-. When you have two all-conference first team performers, we can’t justify giving an A, or even a solid B, to a team that misses the Big Dance. However, a regular season conference championship, a semifinalist in the NIT, and a coach of the year award is solid in its own right, earning the Huskies just higher than an average grade.