Washington's basketball team recently played an exhibition against Western Washington University. As you may or may not know, last season WWU won the Division-II National Championship under the leadership of head coach Brad Jackson. Jackson then left the team he built to take on a position as an assistant coach for a Division-I school. That school? The University of Washington. Jackson made the leap that many of his players hope to make.
The Dawgs won the preseason match-up 88-78. Leading the way offensively was C.J Wilcox. Wilcox scored 21 points and made some key plays defensively to seal the deal. Next in scoring was Senior point guard Abdul Gaddy with 14, ten in the second half.
Gaddy is going to be relied upon extensively in the upcoming season to be the "calm in the storm" as Romar would phrase it. I talked about the current point guard situation at length here several months ago. Not much has changed from then, but I am going to rehash a little bit of that and you are probably going to read it.
Lorenzo Romar is known for the guards he puts on the floor. Maybe he doesn't typically use true point guards, but regardless, the point is an important position for any offense.
The point guard position on this team starts with Gaddy, obviously. Gaddy does not have superior quickness or agility. He does have deceptive strength, which allows him to get into the lane with much more ease than his quickness would allow. He is deceptive, using subtleties while dribbling that allows him to move his defender around to put him at an advantage. Gaddy does need to become more consistent on his jumpshot. He has not used a mid-range pull-up jumper in the lane, nor has he shown the ability to consistently be a threat from long-range (33% last season). Defensively Gaddy keeps himself in good position, using his strength to keep defenders out of the lane but sometimes struggled defending guards with superior quickness handling the ball.
Behind Gaddy last season was Hikeem Stewart. Stewart played sparingly as a true freshman last season, getting a shade over five minutes per game, in only 17 games played. For his play-style and abilities I went back to a recruiting scouting report, and it showed that he was a slasher with court vision once he got in the lane. We didn't see that last season because he showed timidity in his time on the court. As a true frosh it was to be expected.
Redshirting last season was combo guard Andrew Andrews. This is a player who could be something special. He has shown a great ability to get into the lane and make plays. He is a perfect Romar-style point guard, roughly fitting the Nate Robinson and Isaiah Thomas molds. I don't know too much about his abilities due to a lack of information, but I do know that he redshirted last season only because of a glut of talent in the backcourt, not because of a lack of ability. He was very impressive in practice last season.
Now on to the rest of the backcourt. Romar tends to run with a two-guard at the small forward slot, so he has three backcourt players instead of two on the floor at most times. This will get complicated when Jernard Jarreau is thrown into the mix, but I will leave him in the frontcourt section (coming later) based on his 6'10" frame. Starting alongside Gaddy was Wilcox and senior Scott Suggs. These two are just amazing shooters.
Suggs redshirted in what would have been his final season due to a foot injury that would have cost him quite a bit of the early portion of the season. The wings for Washington would have been even more clogged with the addition of Suggs, considering the position was occupied by Terrence Ross, Wilcox and even Tony Wroten playing wing. Suggs is a stand-still shooter first and foremost. In his last season (2010-11) he shot 45% from three-point range. That is very impressive to say the least. When I play with my friends I am considered a sharpshooter and I hit around 45% when I am out on the court alone using "The Gun." Thank you Community College.
Suggs has the ability to masquerade as a point guard for short periods of time, but that is not his game. He has shown an ability to beat his defender off the dribble at times, but that is not his game. He gets into the lane using his outside shot as a weapon to get defenders off their feet thanks to pump fakes. Suggs shoots basketballs, and they go in. That is how he plays.
Wilcox is going to be the leading scorer for the Huskies this season. He has NBA shooting range, a sweet pull-up jumper, slashing ability, great athleticism and extremely long arms. Before last season Wilcox beat Ross in a standing vertical competition, as well as a 30-yard dash.
Wilcox, as you may recall, was limited during most of last season due to a stress fracture in his femur near his hip. He could not practice, and was limited to 50 jump shots per day. For shooters this is extremely difficult. During the offseason, shooting over 1000 shots every day is not out of the question. Mid-season the amount of shots is less, but 50 is still a tiny amount. This limited Wilcox's explosiveness, as one would expect. He played very well (14.2 PPG) through it all. He does need to improve his attacking off the dribble, but due to the nature of his injury we were never able to see what he is truly capable of in this area.
This backcourt has the ability to be even better than last season's. There is less raw talent, but I am in the camp that believes Wroten caused more harm than good in many of the games he played. Overall, this should be a fun team to watch, especially if you like three-point barrages.