Pac-12 Post-Mortems: Washington

Posted by AMurawa on April 25th, 2014

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll go through each Pac-12 team one by one and recount the season that has just completed and begin to turn the page to what we might see next season. Today, Washington.

What Went Right

For the fifth consecutive season, Washington started off Pac-12 play in strong fashion, winning three of their first four after the calendar flipped. But, just like the previous two seasons, the Huskies had dug themselves enough of a hole in non-conference play to make the second-half of the season an uphill climb. Still, Lorenzo Romar’s club definitely played its best ball of the season in Pac-12 play, with freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss developing into a promising prospect down the stretch and combining with vets C.J. Wilcox and Perris Blackwell to make Washington an often fearsome offensive squad, especially at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Nigel Williams-Goss Developed Into A Fine Point Guard In His Freshman Year (Getty Images)

Nigel Williams-Goss Developed Into A Fine Point Guard In His Freshman Year (Getty Images)

What Went Wrong

As alluded to above, the Huskies again struggled in non-conference play. This year there was a 14-point home loss to UC Irvine and a pair of neutral-site losses to Indiana and Boston College that made those mediocre squads look a whole lot better than they really were. Over the past three seasons, the Huskies are 22-15 in games before conference play, with at least one embarrassing home loss per year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is It Time For Washington to Embrace a Four-Guard Lineup?

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on November 22nd, 2013

Things have not started well for Washington. After being on the outside looking in the last two seasons come NCAA Tournament time, there was quite a bit of optimism around the program, what with a McDonald’s All-American coming in at point guard, a big-time scorer on the wing returning for his senior season, and a whole host of big men up front to interchange. Now here we are, a couple weeks into the year and the Huskies already have a couple of losses, including an 18-point blowout last night against Indiana, as well as some injury issues along the frontcourt. Right now this team doesn’t look like a squad anywhere near the top of the Pac-12.

Short A Couple of Frontcourt Players And With Shaky Perimeter Defense, Lorenzo Romar And Washington Are Off To A Slow Start (Pac-12)

Short A Couple of Frontcourt Players And With Shaky Perimeter Defense, Lorenzo Romar And Washington Are Off To A Slow Start (Pac-12)

Certainly the injuries are part of the issue. Veteran forward Desmond Simmons is out until Christmas shopping is well underway following a knee surgery, while versatile sophomore big man Jernard Jarreau is out for the year after tearing his ACL two minutes into the season. After those setbacks, Lorenzo Romar was left with just three options up front: senior center Perris Blackwell, junior forward Shawn Kemp, Jr., and sophomore center Gilles Dierickx. Blackwell, a transfer from San Francisco, is a good, skilled post man, but at the end of the day he’s an earthbound 6’8” center. Kemp is nice in theory, but his production has never begun to approach the hype generated by his name. And Dierickx? This isn’t a guy meant to be on the court at this point in his career in big-time college basketball, as his offense lags significantly behind his defense. Thursday night against Indiana, the weaknesses of those three were made abundantly clear. Kemp fouled out in nine minutes, Blackwell had a double-double but was regularly abused by the more athletic Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh, and the team as a whole grabbed a woeful 41.2 percent of their opponent’s missed shots. And despite seven blocked shots, there isn’t a great rim protector on this team.

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Jarreau Injury Exposes Shallowness of Washington Frontcourt

Posted by Kellen Carpenter (@kellenlc) on November 11th, 2013

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Sunday night’s Washington vs. Seattle game. 

The Washington Huskies’ season did not start auspiciously: Perris Blackwell, the intended starting center and star of their exhibition game (21 points and nine rebounds) was held out for the opener against Seattle University due to lingering concussion symptoms. Desmond Simmons, another potential frontcourt starter, had already been shelved earlier due to a knee surgery. So, when forward Jernard Jarreau landed on the floor with a sickening thud less than two minutes into Sunday night’s game, it must have felt like more than bad luck for head coach Lorenzo Romar.

Jernard Jarreau

Jernard Jarreau’s Condition Was Unknown at the Time of this Writing

Jarreau was one of the stars of Washington’s exhibition against Central Washington, scoring 17 points and pulling down nine rebounds. So when a potential highlight fast break bucket was interrupted by an Isiah Umipig flagrant foul that sent Jarreau to the floor for several minutes before the training staff could help him up and to the locker room, Romar had to refashion a plan of attack that didn’t involve his three primary frontcourt rotation players. He just barely pulled it off. Midway through the first half, it looked like Seattle was ready to capitalize on the misfortune. The Huskies were ineffective on both ends and Seattle seized the lead. Umipig’s quickness was carving the Huskies to pieces on his way to leading all scorers with 15 points at the half. Eventually Washington’s depth was too much for the overmatched Redhawks, and indeed, the short-handedness of the Huskies gave a couple new faces a chance to shine.

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Pac-12 M5: Veteran’s Day Edition

Posted by Andrew Murawa on November 11th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Washington knocked off a game Seattle squad on Sunday night in its season opener, but the win may turn out to be something of a Pyrrhic victory as sophomore forward Jernard Jarreau left with a knee injury just two minutes into the season. As of this writing, there is no news on the severity of the injury, but Jarreau is expected to undergo an MRI today. With senior center Perris Blackwell already out after suffering a concussion in their exhibition game last Wednesday, and with junior Desmond Simmons out for up to two months following knee surgery, the Huskies were forced to even turn to sophomore center Gilles Dierickx (sure, just when I figured out how to spell Krystkowiak without thinking twice, you break out this name on me) for frontcourt depth. But, it was mostly newcomer wings like 6’5” JuCo transfer Mike Anderson and 6’4” freshman Darin Johnson who helped the Huskies compete on the glass, as they grabbed 15 rebounds between them.
  2. While the Huskies evaded a potential upset on Sunday night despite being shorthanded, Oregon State wasn’t so lucky. Playing without suspended forwards Devon Collier and Eric Moreland, the Beavers fell to Coppin State despite a career-high 36 points from senior guard Roberto Nelson. Given that the MEAC, Coppin State’s conference, is a mere 1-89 against power conference teams in the last two seasons, this is not a good sign for head coach Craig Robinson in his quest to keep his job. Luckily, Collier will be back in the next game, but Moreland won’t be back until conference play kicks off. Coppin State comes out of a brief weekend as an honorary member of the Pac-12 with a 1-1 record, after California handled them on Friday night.
  3. Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins got excellent news on Friday afternoon when 6’7” 2014 recruit Reid Travis committed to the Cardinal early in the day. He’s a bit undersized for a frontcourt prospect, but he can score in the post and hit the face-up jumper. He’s presently the highlight of a three-man Stanford recruiting class that consists entirely of players ranked in the top 100 in ESPN’s 2014 rankings. Now, all Dawkins needs to do is get his team into the NCAA Tournament in order to earn the right to coach those guys next season; if his team fails to make the Dance this season, expectations are that this will be his last season on The Farm. The Cardinal got off to a sketchy start on Friday night, needing to hold off a pesky Bucknell team on the way to a four-point win, but will have a chance  to earn a solid non-conference win tonight at home against BYU.
  4. Aaron Gordon officially began his career at Arizona on Friday night, and we’ll have some thoughts about his and the Wildcats’ performance later today. But, in the meantime, Anthony Gimino of the Tucson Citizen has a timeline of Gordon’s first game with the Wildcats. While he did plenty of things very well, let me just give you a hint that the form on his shot causes me quite a bit of distress.
  5. Lastly, while there weren’t a ton of blowouts on behalf of Pac-12 teams this weekend, Arizona State did crush its first bit of competition, as they handed UMBC a 35-point defeat on Friday night. Jahii Carson led the way with 19 points and five boards, but the highlight was the fact that everybody in the Sun Devil starting lineup got into double figures, while the bench added an additional 25 points. We’ll see how much this remains a theme as the season goes on, but the Sun Devils drew 30 foul calls from their opponent, getting to the line for 44 free throw attempts. With a guy like Carson, nobody really expects to be able to guard him at all, but with fouls actually being called now, his offensive effectiveness could skyrocket.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.16.13 Edition

Posted by Andrew Murawa on October 16th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. After a stretch of several months where most of the news coming out of Westwood was of the bad variety, UCLA finally found some good news waiting for them on Tuesday when forward Wanaah Bail was granted eligibility to play immediately for the Bruins after transferring out of the Texas Tech program. While Bail is still recovering from offseason knee surgery, if and when he is healthy enough to go, he’ll be expected to provide much-needed depth in the frontcourt behind the senior Wear twins and sophomore center Tony Parker. Still, despite the good news, some Bruin followers have chosen to paint this as, somehow, another strike against new head coach Steve Alford before the guy has even gotten to the plate. Seriously though, Alford had the temerity to answer a question about comparing John Wooden to his former college head coach, Bobby Knight. I mean, get a rope, right?
  2. Turning back to UCLA’s biggest rival in the conference, Arizona is considered the prohibitive favorite by most prognosticators, but the one weakness most people look to nitpick is the team’s possible lack of outside shooting. The team loses four of their top five three-point shooters from last season and their most ballyhooed newcomers, namely freshmen Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, are known for just about anything on the basketball court except long-range shooting. Nevertheless, newly eligible transfer T.J. McConnell is a 41.6% three-point shooter for his career, junior guard Nick Johnson improved to a 39.3% three-point shooter last season, and guys like sophomore Gabe York (despite his one-for-nine shooting in the Red-Blue game) and Kansas transfer Zach Peters are expected to chip in from range. Meanwhile, even sophomore Brandon Ashley has worked to expand his range out toward the three-point line.
  3. Speaking of T.J. McConnell, while anyone who never saw him play in his first two seasons of collegiate eligibility at Duquesne can look at the numbers and see a guy who can knock down the three as well as drop a dime (KenPom, paywall) with the best of them, Arizona head coach Sean Miller has been talking up McConnell’s ability to get after it on defense. The Wildcats’ defensive efficiency has improved every season under Miller (again, KenPom, paywall), but if McConnell can live up to Miller’s hype, he’s definitely got a versatile enough frontcourt to match up with just about any opponent, what with Kaleb Tarczewski’s ability to out-physical true posts, Ashley’s length and athleticism advantage over  most fours, Gordon’s ability to guard any number of positions, and Jefferson’s toughness and length. Throw in the already established Nick Johnson, whose ability to annoy the heck out of opposing ball-handlers far away from the hoop can be disruptive enough on its own, and this Wildcat squad is a good bet to improve on the team’s defensive numbers from a year ago.
  4. For some reason, we haven’t talked a lot about Colorado so far these past couple of weeks (something we will remedy soon enough), but the Buffaloes are one of the handful of teams who can legitimately challenge Arizona for conference supremacy. Things will be a bit easier for the Buffs this season, especially around Boulder, as season tickets for the Coors Event Center have sold out for the first time in CU history. With a student section that has evolved into one of the best in the conference, and now the full Boulder community also committed to supporting the team, expect the Rocky Mountain swing to be one of the least welcoming road trips on the Pac-12 schedule.
  5. We’ll wrap up the morning by pointing you to a thorough rundown on the Washington basketball roster by Ben Knibbe (follow him now) at the UW Dawg Pound. Yesterday he took you through the high post players Jernard Jarreau and Desmond Simmons (and offered the saddest of lines for a Husky fan: “Aaron Gordon would have been…”). Last week he broke down wings C.J. Wilcox, Hikeem Stewart, Darin Johnson and Mike Anderson. And the week before that he filled you in on point guard options Andrew Andrews, Nigel Williams-Goss and Jahmel Taylor. Certainly, we’ll get the breakdown on low posts Perris Blackwell and Shawn Kemp in the near future, but you’ll need to keep up with Ben (seriously, follow him now) in order to get the best position-by-position rundown you’ll find around the Pac-12 team blogs.
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Washington Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 22nd, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Washington.

What Went Right

The Huskies opened Pac-12 play with three straight road wins, then backed that up by knocking off Colorado at Hec Ed and it looked like the team was on the verge of turning things around after a horrid non-conference schedule. C.J. Wilcox was leading the way in scoring, having led the team in seven of its last eight games (all wins), Aziz N’Diaye was chipping in offensively and doing his normal yeoman’s work on defense and on the glass, and things were, all of a sudden, running smoothly. And then….

C.J. Wilcox's Offensive Burst Was The Biggest Bright Spot In An Otherwise Disappointing Season

C.J. Wilcox’s Offensive Burst Was The Biggest Bright Spot In An Otherwise Disappointing Season

What Went Wrong

And then the Huskies proceeded to revert to non-conference form (you know, when they lost home games to Albany, Nevada and Colorado State, the latter by like a million points), dropping eight of their next 10 games and averaging 0.88 points per possession over the losses in that stretch. Abdul Gaddy frustrated Huskies’ fans, Scott Suggs was only occasionally involved in the offense, Wilcox struggled with an ankle injury, N’Diaye reverted to his old familiar offensively incoherent self, and the wheels fell off. Worst of all, it was awfully hard to watch at times.

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Mike Moser To Washington: Does He Have a Position in Seattle?

Posted by AMurawa on April 6th, 2013

Though it is not official yet, news came down on Friday that Mike Moser, formerly of UCLA and most recently of UNLV, may wind up at Washington for the 2013-14 season. He’s expected to graduate from UNLV this summer, making him eligible to play his final season immediately in Seattle. There remains a chance he will make himself eligible for the NBA Draft this season, according to Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, but most likely he will spend his final season of collegiate eligibility playing for Lorenzo Romar. Aside from the fact that this would make for a wild, back-and-forth college career for the 6’8” combo forward, it gives Romar and the Huskies a much needed talent boost as they try to earn their way back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons.

After Stops At UCLA and UNLV, Mike Moser May Be Wrapping Up His College Career At Washington (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

After Stops At UCLA and UNLV, Mike Moser May Be Wrapping Up His College Career At Washington (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Huskies lose Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N’Diaye, and Scott Suggs from this year’s middle-of-the-Pac team, but with wing C.J. Wilcox expected back for his senior campaign (although he has submitted paperwork to he NBA Undergraduate Committee to gauge potential interest if he were to leave school early), and with McDonald’s All-American Nigel Williams-Goss expected to step right into the starting point guard spot, the addition of Moser could put the Huskies back into the conversation in the Pac-12. Coming on the heels of a miss on highly regarded recruit Aaron Gordon, the addition of Moser would go a long way towards patching an athleticism gap on this team. He had a nightmare of a junior season in Vegas, where a dislocated elbow conspired with his inability to play effectively alongside freshman phenom Anthony Bennett knocked Moser from preseason All-American consideration down to a guy who averaged just seven points and six rebounds per game (huge drops from his 14/10 averages as a sophomore. Still, he is a long and lanky athlete with a great nose for a rebound, the ability to knock down threes and the frame to be a terrific and disruptive defender.

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Pac-12 M5: 11.15.12 Edition

Posted by KDanna on November 15th, 2012

  1. Wednesday marked the beginning of the early signing period for basketball recruits to sign a national letter of intent, and “officially” officially, Oregon State, Colorado, Utah and Washington State have announced whom they have signed thus far. None of the guys from these schools are going to be McDonald’s All-Americans or anything close to it, but not surprisingly, each coach is thrilled about the guys he has brought in. A couple of players to keep an eye on out of this group are soon-to-be Beaver Cheikh N’Diaye and future Ute Delon Wright. N’Diaye is a 7’0’’ center from Senegal who shows off a decent back to the basket game with the ability to hit a fadeaway (though why he’d ever need to shoot a fadeaway in high school, I’ll never know). Wright has had a solid stint at City College of San Francisco and is also the younger brother of current Philadelphia 76er Dorell Wright. At the very least, the JuCo transfer has a good pedigree.
  2. As expected earlier but now confirmed by his mother, Jabari Parker isn’t going to sign during the November period. It may just be empty words, but Parker’s mother says he hasn’t ruled out any of the five remaining schools on his list, which includes Stanford, BYU, Florida, Michigan State and Duke. Having already made visits to those last three schools, Parker will visit BYU over Thanksgiving weekend and Stanford sometime in December, so Johnny Dawkins will have the chance to make a final impression on the No. 2 overall recruit in the Class of 2013. While many don’t consider Stanford to be a frontrunner, the Cardinal have their advantages: a player-friendly coach, top-notch academics and a Mormon assistant coach who happened to go to a Final Four at Stanford and won a couple of NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
  3. A bit of sour news on the recruiting front for Washington, as five-star shooting guard Isaac Hamilton has left the Huskies off his final list of three, which is comprised of Baylor, UNLV and UTEP. While the Huskies expect to get their first early signing period recruits since 2010 with four-star guys Darin Johnson and Nigel Williams-Goss, Hamilton would have been a huge get for Washington, which is still in the running for top 10 overall recruit Aaron Gordon out of San Jose. The Huskies have a lot of competition for the services of Gordon, and missing out on Hamilton just compounds on what has been a disappointing week for Washington after losing a heartbreaker to Albany at home.
  4. Speaking of which, the Huskies’ loss to the Great Danes didn’t go unnoticed by the national media, as Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports writes in his column that the Pac-12’s first loss wasn’t a good one. Adam Butler has discussed the situation already for the Pac-12 microsite, but it bears repeating that these are the types of losses that harm the conference’s national reputation, even if Scott Suggs went out with a concussion after two minutes. If the Huskies can make up for the defeat with a win over Ohio State on the back end of the Tip-Off Hall of Fame Classic, or a win nearing that caliber, the Albany game will be written off as early-season cobwebs. If not, the Huskies better hope the rest of the conference steps up to provide Washington with a multitude of quality win opportunities in Pac-12 play. Otherwise, it might be another trip to the NIT, which was what many probably expected in the first place.
  5. We’ll end today with an update on the Shabazz Muhammad epic: UCLA has officially filed an appeal to the NCAA regarding Muhammad’s ineligibility and hopes to get a response shortly after Friday, the day on which the appeal will be heard. If the NCAA doesn’t side with UCLA on the appeal, then UCLA would have to request reinstatement for Muhammad. As this case has drawn on, Muhammad has received a lot of support, especially from his fellow UCLA freshmen Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Tony Parker, each of whom wore “Free Shabazz” t-shirts during warm-ups before UCLA’s nail-biting overtime victory over UC Irvine Tuesday night. Though it is merely conjecture, I have a feeling Muhammad will be suiting up for the Bruins this year, and sooner rather than later (remember that the LA Times reported earlier this week that requesting reinstatement could mean Muhammad would miss about 10 games). In any case, the Bruins could surely use his presence on the floor if the UC Irvine game result is any indication.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.16.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 16th, 2012

  1. Washington picked up the second commitment of its 2013 recruiting class on Sunday, adding shooting guard Darin Johnson out of Sacramento. The Sheldon High School (CA) product chose the Huskies over UCLA, San Diego State, and Gonzaga, among others. Johnson’s style is very much up-tempo, if only because he’s a prolific scorer and the more touches he gets, the more come with it. As the article points out, the in-state Aztecs would have been a very tempting choice considering head man Steve Fisher just landed a pair of Johnson’s AAU teammates. But with Abdul Gaddy and Scott Suggs graduating after the 2012-13 campaign, the minutes will be there immediately for Johnson in Seattle. Johnson joins Findlay Prep (NV) point guard Nigel Williams-Goss as the Huskies’ second Class of 2013 commitment. With the backcourt complete, coach Lorenzo Romar will now turn his attention to five-star power forward Aaron Gordon.
  2. Coming off a 19-14 season that was downright embarrassing at times, UCLA’s summer exhibition trip to China might have come at just the right time. It was there that the new-look Bruins, featuring one of the top recruiting classes in the country, bonded together and dominated their games. They did that without the services of freshmen Tony Parker and Shabazz Muhammad, who sat out the trip due to an injury and eligibility concerns. Parker is now healthy, but it’s scary to think how good Ben Howland’s bunch can be this season if Muhammad is cleared by the NCAA. With a pair of five- and four-stars now residing to Los Angeles, the Bruins should not only compete with Arizona for the Pac-12 championship, but are a likely candidate to make at least the Sweet Sixteen come March.
  3. We showed you a few weeks back how many men’s non-conference games would be televised by the new Pac-12 Networks (89, in fact), so it was good news for those that also like to see the women ball when conference commissioner Larry Scott announced that 61 women’s games would be televised on the networks this season. Needless to say, there’s going to be more than enough Pac-12 basketball for the average and even addicted fan to enjoy this season. If your television provider doesn’t carry the Pac-12 Networks, you can let your voice be heard here.
  4. With the start of practice comes projections of all sorts, and in this Daily Wildcat piece, Zack Rosenblatt breaks down the 10-man Arizona rotation. Newcomers Grant Jerrett and Mark Lyons make up two-fifths of the starting five, but Solomon Hill will be required to carry most of the load with the departure of Jesse Perry. Rosenblatt projects sophomore Angelo Chol to get the start at center over highly touted freshman Kaleb Tarczewski, but notes that “having a talented 7-footer like Tarczewski come off the bench is a nice problem to have.” Most of the “key reserve” list is either filled with freshman or bench players who rarely started last season. Junior guard Jordin Mayes is the exception, whose starts were mostly based off whether he was hot or not coming into a game.
  5. Building on the thing that helped keep Utah competitive toward the end of 2011-12, head coach Larry Krystkowiak is devoting 80% of practice to the defensive facet of the game. Already believing that his team has a “scoring punch” (which may be a bit of a stretch, but we’ll reserve judgement until games start), the Utes want to work on help-side defense and stopping attacks at the rim. A lack of discipline and quickness last year would lead to many back-door attacks on the Ute defense, commonly resulting in finishes at the rim. Taking that away and forcing teams to shoot from outside will keep them in games longer, and the longer they are in those contests, the more of a chance something good will happen for the Utes. After all, jump shots are typically tougher to put down than slam dunks.
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