With it being Oregon week for the Udub football team, not much attention was on the Husky Mens Basketball team and their exhibition opener against the Seattle Pacific Falcons. Seattle Pacific came into this game just beating Arizona, a favorite to win the Pac-12, in Tucson by one point. Although this was only a exhibition game, we definitely did not want to pull a "Wildcat" and be defeated by Division II SPU. More important than a win though was the chance it gave Lorenzo Romar to play with different rotations and see how the young players, including the red shirts, played with one another.
First and foremost, was it funny to see Romar T'd up in a exhibition opener? They came out later and said it was due to one of our bench coaches, Jim Shaw, for not sitting down after they were told to by Pac-12 official Gregory Nixon. Nixon has a history with the Dawgs as he T'd up Romar last season at Oregon. I thought it was cool to see Romar fired up and yelling at officials in a game that statistically didn't count. Anytime we can yell at Pac-12 officials it's fun! Now to the game....
The intrigue for me was to finally see Tony Wroten Jr. in action, and he did not disappoint. This guy is super quick from end to end with the basketball. His passing is ridiculous, and he had some of the prettiest no look passes I can remember. Although I think he was getting a little too cute with the no look passes and Romar had a word with him about it after one went right into the hands of a SPU player. He ended up having four turnovers but even Romar admitted it's not much of a problem. Everything that was wrong with Tony's game was coachable and will come with experience. He is really long and a good rebounder, he had 3 offensive and 3 defensive boards in the game. He looked good on defense, but it was only Seattle Pacific. Easily he is the most talented PG we have, but his talent is raw and Romar will have to coach him up. He finished the game with a solid 10 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Speaking of PG, the return of Abdul Gaddy was also something us Dawg fans wanted to see. Gaddy came through with a solid performance, 15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and no turnovers. Gaddy ran the offense very smoothly, got into the lane on a number of occasions and passed to wide open players. With Gaddy running the show our offense looked fluid. With him out, you could see the difference on the court. There was only one instance he made a mistake where he was on a break with Terrence Ross trailing him, and instead of dumping it to Ross for an easy two he attempted and missed a layup. Beyond that, great game by Gaddy.
CJ Wilcox and Terrence Ross were both very good. Wilcox was showing he is more than just a outside shooter, driving into the lane on a few occasions. He still nailed 5 three pointers and I have to say, his shot is pretty. It looks like it barely even hits the net. Very soft stroke, one of the best in the nation. T Ross, what else can you say. To me besides Gaddy, he was the MVP of this game. He was 6-8 shooting with 15 points. He also had 8 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, and a block. This guy has NBA written all over him. Hopefully he doesn't leave after this season but watching him with the ball, you can easily see this guy is ready for the next level. His crossover is sick. He had a nice teardrop off of a crossover on the fast break early in the game. He has a very complete game, even has a nice jump shot. With Gaddy, Wroten, Ross, and Wilcox, we easily have the best backcourt in the Pac-12. That's not even counting Scott Suggs when he returns in December. Despite the fact that Wilcox has one of the prettiest shots I've seen in college, Suggs shoots at a higher percentage than Wilcox from downtown, 45% to CJ's 40%.
The big man play was compelling as well. No more MBA or Justin Holliday. Aziz N'Diaye was also sitting this one out due to a concussion he sustained in practice earlier in the week. I knew we would get to see a lot of the younger guys get minutes. Martin Breunig from Germany stood out the most. He had a solid game, looked ready to get a lot of minutes this season. Darnell Gant played and didn't do anything. Shot poorly and only had 3 points and 4 rebounds despite playing over 20 minutes. It is always hit or miss with Gant. Either he plays lights out, or he doesn't show up in the game. Hopefully he can find some consistensy as the season approaches. Desmond Simmons was another young big I was interested in. He didn't disappoint. He has a nice jump shot which will be good for us to clear the lane for some of our guards. He also finished the game with 6 rebounds and has a wide body, should fit in nicely coming off the bench for us. The big man most Husky fans were interested in seeing was Shawn Kemp Jr. He played and didn't do much. Finished with 4 fouls in just 12 minutes which tells me his conditioning was bad, not moving his feet enough. Romar did mention that Kemp was finally finding his game in practice so I expect it will take a few games for him to find his way offensively. Despite the foul trouble he did have 2 blocks and 3 rebounds. Only stands 6"8' but plays bigger. And man does he shoot free throws like his dad or what? I even think the same form and look on his face.
Defensively we look quick and long. It's gonna be tough for teams to advance the ball when we bring full court pressure. We have great athleticism and when we throw in big Aziz under the rim, it's gonna be hard to put points up against us. On the offensive side of the ball we looked fast and also lathargic at times. With Gaddy or Wroten handling the point during the season, I don't think it will be a problem. I think the offense playing the way it did was due more to Romar experimenting with lineups. One problem I think we've had in the past is handling bigger guards. This year that doesn't look to be a problem wih all of our guards being pretty tall and long.
The one complaint I have about our offense is that we have got to find ways to break zone defenses. This always kills us. Part of it in the past two seasons was when we finally got inside on the zone, MBA would brick a wide open layup after a nice post move. SPU started running zone when the game would get away from them, and it worked everytime. I think we settle for too many jump shots when teams run zone, we need to get inside penetration and either kick it out for a wide open jump shot or pull away defenders from our bigs on the penetration and drop it off to them.
Overall we looked good. I like the guards better this year than last, Overton was a liability on offense at best. I will miss I.T. but he was small and easily intimidated when teams placed a bigger guard or forward against him, see West Virginia in the sweet sixteen 2010. Our weakness will be inside as we have all young big men and Darnell Gant. Even N'Diaye has a lot to work on. We will need a young big guy to step up if we want to defend our Pac-12 title. Most of the scoring will be placed on the guards and wingmen this season. That is ok as I could easily see T Ross winning Pac-12 player of the year hands down. If these guys play the way I think they are capapble of, we should be able to run the Pac yet again. Go Dawgs!