Pac-12 Team Previews: Washington Huskies

Posted by KDanna on November 5th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Washington Huskies.

Strengths: Overall, the Huskies have a solid group of guys. They won’t be as explosive as last year, but a report from the Seattle Times has noted that this year’s team has better chemistry. That probably is due to the presence of Abdul Gaddy, who has really developed into a solid floor general and knows how to find his teammates while taking care of the basketball — his 2.43 assist-to-turnover ratio was second in the Pac-12 last year. One such teammate who will be a benefactor of Gaddy’s decision-making is C.J. Wilcox, who is one of the best pure shooters in the country. Now a junior, Wilcox shot 40 percent from downtown last season, good for ninth in the conference. He will be joined on the wing by Scott Suggs, another good shooter who is returning from a broken foot that forced him to redshirt last year. The Huskies also have one of the most physically imposing returning big men in the Pac-12, as seven-footer Aziz N’Diaye will patrol the paint for head coach Lorenzo Romar, who will transition this year’s team to a high-post offense. That’s a good move for the 2012-13 Huskies, as they are more suited to play in a more structured half-court set than the typical motion offense they ran in previous years. It also doesn’t hurt that the Huskies play in Alaska Airlines Arena, which gives the Huskies a huge home court advantage; in fact, the Huskies have won more games at Hec-Ed than any other NCAA team has won at a single facility.

Wilcox Has No Problem Knocking Down Jumpers With Defenders On Him, But It’s Even Easier When No One Is Within A Five Foot Radius (credit: Dean Rutz)

Weaknesses: Washington loses a ton of firepower in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, both of whom left early to become NBA first round draft picks. The loss of the duo is probably as good of a reason as any to move away from a motion look, because these were the two guys who really made the Huskies go. However, the Huskies lost more than just firepower with these guys; they also lost a lot of the patented “U-Dub swag” that has been a feature of Romar-coached teams in recent memory. This is where the loss of Darnell Gant also comes into play, as he probably played to the Hec-Ed crowd as well as anybody on the Huskies. With the power forward spot up for grabs, in addition to losing three of the four guys who averaged five rebounds a game or more from last year, defensive rebounding could turn into an issue for this team; as it was, the Huskies finished eighth in the Pac-12 last year in defensive rebounding percentage.

Non-Conference Tests: Washington begins the season in the Tip-Off Hall of Fame Classic. After a couple of home games against Loyola (MD) and Albany, the preseason tournament really kicks into gear when the Huskies travel to Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut to take on Seton Hall in the semifinal round. A win against the Pirates would likely pit the Huskies against Ohio State in the championship game (a loss, and it’ll probably be Rhode Island). Seven of the Huskies’ next eight games are at home, but two of them are against 2011-12 NCAA Tournament teams in Colorado State (November 24) and Saint Louis (November 28), and another game is against an NIT quarterfinalist in Nevada (December 8), which beat Washington in the non-conference slate last year. The final non-conference game comes on the road against UConn on December 29. While the Big East Huskies are ineligible for postseason play this year, the game still gives Washington a prime opportunity for a name-recognition win away from home.

Toughest Conference Stretch: The Huskies get most of their toughest conference games out of the way in a four-game stretch to begin Pac-12 play. It starts with the conference opener at Washington State on January 5, and while the Cougars figure to be one of the cellar dwellers this year, it’s still a rivalry game and Ken Bone still has Brock Motum (the Cougars made the Huskies sweat out a couple of victories last year). After that, it’s a trip to the Bay Area schools for duels with California on January 9 and Stanford on January 12. The Huskies then get to return home, but their first game back will be against a Colorado team that manhandled Washington in Boulder last year. A 2-2 start is probable here for the Huskies (maybe even 1-3), but if they can get to 3-1 in that four-game stretch with a win against Utah to conclude that Mountain school home stand and improve to 4-1, people might be talking about the Huskies as being an early contender for a top-three spot in the conference.

If Everything Goes Right: The Huskies go 12-1 in non-conference play, winning every home game and beating UConn on the road; the only loss is a battle against Ohio State in the Tip-Off Hall of Fame Classic. The Huskies then get that desired 4-1 start to conference play by splitting a road trip to the Bay Area and all of a sudden, the Huskies are 16-2 and ranked in the Top 25. Washington isn’t able to keep up the pace of winning eight out of every nine games, but the Huskies take five of their last seven to get to 11-7 in conference and 23-8 overall. The Huskies reach the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament and their 24-9 record is good enough for a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies pick up one more win in the NCAA Tournament before bowing out in the Round of 32.

If Nothing Goes Right: Washington falls to Seton Hall and misses out on a huge RPI game against Ohio State. While the Huskies can console themselves with a third-place game victory over Rhode Island, Colorado State and Saint Louis trip up the Huskies at home, and UConn sends Washington limping into Pac-12 play. That opening three-game road trip to start the conference season proves to be a killer, as the Huskies can’t win any of the three. The first conference win doesn’t come until a home date against lowly Utah, but by that time, the Huskies are 10-8 overall and 1-4 in the Pac-12. A trip to Oregon and Oregon State then awaits the Dawgs and guess what, things don’t go well there either. When it’s all said and done, Washington goes 6-12 in Pac-12 play, loses in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, and, with a 15-17 record, will have to sit on pins and needles hoping for a call from the CBI.

Projected Starting Lineup:

  • PG- Abdul Gaddy (Sr., 6’3”, 195 lbs., 8.1 ppg, 5.2 apg)
  • SG- C.J. Wilcox (Jr., 6’5”, 195 lbs., 14.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
  • SG- Scott Suggs (Sr., 6’6”, 195 lbs., 7.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg in 2010-11)
  • PF- Desmond Simmons (So., 6’7”, 220 lbs., 4,2 ppg 4,7 rpg)
  • C- Aziz N’Diaye (Sr., 7’0”, 260 lbs., 7.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg)

Not a lot of explosiveness in this lineup, but it gives the Huskies good balance. The only starting position that is a question mark right now is at power forward, where four guys are battling for playing time. Desmond Simmons gets the nod here because: a) he started the exhibition game against Western Washington, and b) he is the most seasoned out of the bunch. And while the Huskies do lose three big contributors from last season, this is a very experienced starting five — three seniors, a junior and a sophomore — and all five have started at least 10 games for Romar in previous years.

Key Reserves:

  • PG- Andrew Andrews (Fr., 6’2”, 195 lbs.)
  • PF- Martin Breunig (So., 6’8”, 210 lbs., 1.7 ppg, 1.1 rpg)
  • PF- Jernard Jarreau (Fr., 6’10”, 220 lbs.)
  • PF- Shawn Kemp, Jr. (So., 6’9”, 255 lbs., 1.6 ppg, 0.8 rpg)
  • PF- Austin-Seferian Jenkins* (So., 6’6”, 259 lbs., 1.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
  • G- Hikeem Stewart (So., 6’2”, 185 lbs., 0.6 ppg, 0.4 apg)

Outside of Andrew Andrews, it’s mostly big men on the bench for Lorenzo Romar, though Simmons did give a shout out to walk-on Quinn Sterling as being the player that him impressed him the most in a recent interview with the Seattle Times’ Percy Allen. That said, Andrews looks to be an exciting player for the Huskies, as he redshirted last season due to a clogged backcourt. He played well against Western Washington, pouring in 14 points in 25 minutes against the Vikings. There is an asterisk next to Seferian-Jenkins’ name because he did not speculate in a recent interview with CSN Gameday as to whether he will join the team again once the Husky football season concludes (he is a star tight end on the gridiron). If he does return, he will bring a banger’s mentality to the lineup when he checks in for spot duty. Stewart is a guy who can give the Huskies good perimeter defense off the bench.

KDanna (28 Posts)

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