Dawgs Bark Up the Right Tree, Topple Stanford

Second half was something to behold wasn’t it? After an ugly, ugly first half the Dawgs rose above the Stanford Cardinal for a 76-63 victory. This game showed many different qualities to this team that had previously been unseen: they had actual ball movement that had been lacking in their loss versus Cal. This was a truly impressive second half turned in by the Huskies.

One major factor was the addition of Austin Seferian-Jenkins to our frontcourt. The difference in our transition defense when he was on the court was immeasurable. Sefarian-Jenkins hustled back on defense, which allowed Gaddy or Wroten, typically Gaddy, to stop the ball on the break and not worry about a lob going over their head or an easy dump-off dropped for a quick two.

This game started out as pure ugly, with Stanford and Washington shooting under 20% and 40% respectively for the first half. The first 15 field goals made were in the paint. This typically speaks to either cold shooting or poor interior defense. Tonight it attests to the cold shooting of Stanford and the pure aggression that the Huskies showed. The Dawgs were going to get into the paint, or have Terrence Ross chuck up a difficult three, that is just the way it went in the first half. This works when your opponent cannot hit an open jumper to save their lives. The Huskies allowed many, many open looks from deep that was in part masked by the cold shooting of the Cardinal.

One thing I noticed was that whenever Stanford tried to defend us with a zone, we would put Wroten in the lane and have him flash to get the ball in either the high or low post. This was an effective strategy that allowed Wroten to use his elusiveness to create space and allow the ball to move around more than just the perimeter. It shoed more of a gameplan also than we have been shown in the past by Romar teams. This shows that the coaches are improving on the X's and O's parts of the job, and maybe, just maybe, this team can pull everything together.

I struggled to characterize the performance by Abdul Gaddy, five turnovers was alarming, but he ran the show fluently and effectively outside of those incidents. He showed aggression when going to the hoop, and vision to find teammates when he was not able to get a clear look. Also, N’Diaye was once again a steady force in the middle, but seceded many of his minutes to Seferian-Jenkins.

In the second half, we were privy to actual offensive sets ran by the Huskies! This was an absolute shocker in my book. The ball was swung around, players ran through more than stagger screens, and there were multiple passes made on almost every possession. This could truly be the single biggest breakthrough that happened in this game, aside from the obvious addition of a defensive anchor in Seferian-Jenkins.

Overall, the defense could still stand to improve, while the offense is showing definite signs of improvement and cohesion. Still it is yet to be seen whether this Husky team can play this way for an entire half. The first half was definitely an improvement over Thursday night , but still has a ways to go to match the intensity and chemistry shown in the second half of tonight, or even the second half of last night’s game.

The Good

  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Tonight marked the first time the UW star tight end made his mark on the basketball court. That mark was a good mark. He used his size in the post and was able to make a large impact defensively. Nobody was able to back him down and force him to move. Right when he stepped into the game Stanford attacked him, and he stood his ground. He still needs to learn where he can reach for the steal in the post, and where it just is going to end up as a foul, but overall he is a great role player who can truly make an impact on the team. The place where he made is biggest impact was, as stated above, his transition defense. The difference he made stopped a minimum of three transition baskets. I have stated before that Romar’s transition defense has wings and bigs rushing back to protect the rim, but what makes that so difficult for our squad is how hard we crash the offensive glass. Sefarian-Jenkins consistently made it back and allowed Gaddy to stop the ball handler. Strong first outing for the tight end turn power forward.

Tony made it to the rim all night with apparent ease. Nobody could stop his slashing and it showed with his final point total of 21 to lead the team. He still made his questionable choices on passes and was caught in the air looking for a pass when none was to be found too often. He bailed himself out however with absolutely ludicrous finishes around the rim that left jaws agape. We have a special talent that is developing before our very eyes. I hope he and Ross both stay another season, as they could both use more time to broaden and polish their games, and I don’t want to see them leave.

When I take notes on the game, I quit writing "Simmons hustle rebound," or "Simmons hustle play," and simply write "Dezzy." One would miss egregiously long portions of the game if they took the time to write out a complete thought every time he made a hustle play. He has also developed an ability to attack the basket off the dribble, which adds another dimension to his ever-expanding game.

Ross is a true Jekyll and Hyde. the first half he takes bad shots and is overall out of rhythm, while the second half he lights up the scoreboard with his obvious scoring ability. He was hitting from outside and attacking the basket with great success in the second half, but we have yet to see that translate into early game success.

He followed up his worst showing of the season with possibly his best of the season. 17 points, seven rebounds, four being offensive, and two for three outside. Let us hope that this is a catalyst for future games. He was playing above the rim all night, with a minimum of two tip-ins where he flew in above the crowd and lightly kissed the ball into the bucket. He showed hustle and determination that we have grown accustomed to seeing from him.

The Bad

  • After-bucket defense

One issue that has plagued the Huskies throughout the Romar era has been the tendency to fall asleep on defense anfter making a basket. Opponents consistently get decent looks at the rim because our wings haven’t gotten back to positions to guard against the dribble drive, and our bigs are left defending in a three-on-two situation, which should be like warm-ups to the offense, and it typically is. This is another thing that showed improvement while Seferian-Jenkins was in the game, as he made it back and helped to defend.

  • Reaching for steals

Let me make this point: I cannot stand Lenny Wilkens as an analyst. He makes statements that drive me crazy, and talks as if he is coaching the players on the floor, all the while repeating the same statements over and over and over. With that aside, he was right about one thing. This team does not play "position defense" with the exception of N’Diaye and typically Gaddy. They go for a steal much too often in situations that do not warrant a steal, and are more likely to get you dusted for a lay-in than to get your team going the other way. Even Simmons has this tendency. The only player whom I do not personally have an issue with doing this is Wroten, as he gets numerous steals this way, and has the quickness to recover to his position. Ross and Simmons need to learn to just use their length to stay in front of their man. Sure they will sometimes make a difficult leaner, but more often than not they are forced to either pass the ball or take a shot with a high degree of difficulty.

  • Defensive Rotations

Rotations were better in this game than the last, but still could stand for substantial improvement. Within this category I put several different defensive liabilities. Often I see Ross or Simmons reaching a hand into a try and steal a driving players dribble, although they have little to no chance of actually stealing the pass, meanwhile abandoning their player who is now open for a corner three. They then try to correct themselves by fully committing to the help. This allows their man to be even more open with almost no chance of recovery. UW was lucky this game and Stanford missed open looks, but we cannot count on that every game. All a team has to do is hit two or three in a row and the Dawgs will be is some serious trouble defensively.

The Ugly

  • Terrence Ross 1st half

He scored two of his 18 points in the first half on one-for-eight shooting. This was due to little other than poor shot selection. His scoring is not made up of a dazzling array of moves to get himself an easy bucket. It is a method that is all about getting a tiny bit of separation, just enough to get a glimmer of the hoop, then take a difficult shot. He is extremely gifted at this, and few others in the country could hit the shots he makes, but at times he gets carried away with his ability to make the difficult shot, and takes plain old bad shots. He is an undeniable talent that is fun to watch when he is on, but nigh impossible to watch when he isn’t getting the separation from the defender than he needs.

  • Free Throws
    • Tony Wroten: 3-7
    • Darnell Gant: 1-2
    • Tererence Ross: 4-6
    • Aziz N’Diaye: 1-6
    • As a whole, the Huskies shot 11-24 from the charity stripe. 45.8% Ugly, ugly, ugly.
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