Pac-12 Team Preview: Washington Huskies

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on October 28th, 2013

We continue unveiling our team-by-team breakdowns, in roughly the reverse order of where we expect these teams to finish in the conference standings.

Washington Huskies

Strengths.  Washington only has two seniors on its roster, but the pair will be the key to this team’s success. In the backcourt is C.J. Wilcox, who is arguably the top senior in the Pac-12. His pure stroke is enough alone to keep the Huskies in games this season, and he will be looking to top his 16.8 points per game average from last year. Wilcox is as versatile as ever, according to head coach Lorenzo Romar, and as he goes, so does Washington. The other senior is center Perris Blackwell, a one-year fix who spent his last three years at San Francisco. Blackwell provides a much-needed offensive presence and has enough talent to prevent opponents from overplaying the Husky guards like they did last year.

Wilcox Will Be The Key To Washington's Success In 2013-14 (credit: Dean Rutz)

Wilcox Will Be The Key To Washington’s Success In 2013-14 (Credit: Dean Rutz)

Weaknesses. Matching six veterans and five newcomers expected to play immediately will be a challenge. Chemistry is a huge question, and if the Huskies don’t mesh quickly, opponents like Indiana, Connecticut and San Diego State will eat them alive. Wilcox needs to be a floor general and will have to bail out his teammates at times, which could be an uncomfortable spot for the senior.

Non-Conference Tests. Washington’s last three games before taking a break for Thanksgiving will give us a sense of just how improved the Huskies are. They’ll face Indiana and either Connecticut or Boston College on back-to-back nights in New York City before making the cross-country trip home to take on a Montana team that should win the Big Sky. Two of Washington’s first three games in the month of December will be played on the road against an elite mid-major (San Diego State), and one low mid-major (Tulane). Finally, following the road trip to New Orleans will be a visit from UConn, which could be the second Husky-on-Husky match-up in one month.

Toughest Conference Stretch. Romar and company catch a break in league play after scheduling a solid non-conference slate. No part is too overwhelming, but if there is a most challenging section, it comes at the start. A road trip to Arizona State and Arizona opens Pac-12 play before Utah and Colorado come calling to Hec Ed, and then it’s back to the road for games at California and Stanford.

If Everything Goes Right… Washington catches Indiana struggling early trying to replace Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford and Cody Zeller, and the Huskies knock off the Hoosiers in overtime to start the year 4-0. They split their next four games, but then go on an 8-2 tear over their next 10 to crack the Top 25 at 14-4. The hot Dawgs cool off as the grind of the conference season takes a wear on their depth, but they finish the regular season at a solid 20-11 clip. Washington opens the Pac-12 Tournament with a win over rival Washington State, and then proceeds to shock Colorado in two overtimes to set up a semifinal showdown with UCLA. A worn-out team isn’t able to keep up with Steve Alford’s Bruins, but the 22 wins proves to be enough to earn a #12 seed into the NCAA Tournament, its first since the 2010-11 campaign.

If Nothing Goes Right… As feared, the team fails to gel early and loses a couple of head-scratchers, what has become somewhat of a tradition in Seattle the past few seasons. Andrew Andrews and Shawn Kemp, Jr., begin to settle into their respective roles in the starting lineup by the time conference play rolls around, but an inability to win on the road results in another near .500 season and early NIT exit.

Projected Starting Line-up

  • PG Nigel Williams-Goss (Fr, 6’3″ 180 lbs)
  • CG Andrew Andrews (So, 6’2″ 195 lbs, 7.8 PPG, 2.3 APG, 99.9 ORtg)
  • SG C.J. Wilcox (Sr, 6’5” 195 lbs, 16.8 PPG, 1.9 APG, 113.3 ORtg)
  • PF Shawn Kemp, Jr. (Jr, 6’9″ 255 lbs, 6.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG)
  • Perris Blackwell (Sr, 6’9″ 280, 12.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 0.3 BPG in 2011-12 at San Francisco)

These five guys are more or less locked in as starters, but individual roles will depend on how things shake out during preseason practices or what kind of opponent Washington is facing. When Romar goes small, all three guards have the ability to bring the ball up the floor and distribute, but Williams-Goss gets the nod since he is less of a threat to score. Both Kemp and Blackwell are fours by nature, but the USF transfer’s big body puts him as the designated center. When the Huskies go big, enter sophomore Jernard Jarreau. This will be his third year in the program, and he is ripe with potential. The key for Washington will be getting a starter who can score with consistency not named Wilcox or Blackwell. If it finds one, the Dawgs can surprise a lot of teams in the Pac-12.

Blackwell Provides A Much-Needed Scoring Option In The Low Post For Washington (credit: The Husky Haul)

Blackwell Provides A Much-Needed Scoring Option In The Low Post For Washington (Credit: The Husky Haul)

Key Reserves

  • PG Hikeem Stewart (Jr, 6’2” 185 lbs, 0.5 PPG, 0.6 APG, 62.9 ORtg)
  • SG Mike Anderson (Jr, 6’5” 200 lbs, 17.2 PPG, 1.5 APG in 2012-13 at Moberly Area CC)
  • SF Jernard Jarreau (So, 6’10” 220 lbs, 3.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG)
  • PF Desmond Simmons (So, 6’7” 220 lbs, 4.9 PPG, 6.5 APG)
  • Giles Dierickx (So, 6’11” 220 lbs, 2.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.6 BPG in 2011-12 at Florida International)

Anderson is a fill-it-up scorer but may not get a huge shot to shine in his first year with the Huskies since he is behind three other guards in the backcourt. Jarreau and Simmons are both big threes/stretch fours, but Simmons has more of a game to bang inside. Dierickx is your typical European big man with the ability to knock down a mid-range jumper when called upon. He is a strong defender and will remind Washington fans of former Husky star Spencer Hawes. Overall, a very good big man to have ready to go when Blackwell gets into foul trouble. Stewart has shown capability of running Romar’s up-tempo offense the few times he’s gotten the chance, but it looks like he’ll have to wait for his senior season to receive valuable playing time, if only because there are just so many other distributors with more talent in front of him. This isn’t the strongest 10-deep roster in the league, but it’s a formidable one.

Connor Pelton (298 Posts)

I'm from Portland. College basketball and football is life.


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