Freshmen, Blame, Process and Tony Wroten


Remember January 30th, 2006? The Huskies lost to Stanford. They lost a game that they should have won. Up three after Brandon Roy's two free throws made it 63-60, Chris Hernandez came down the court to shoot a three to tie the game, and was fouled in the act by Justin Dentmon, a freshman. Hernandez was a lights out free throw shooter. He went to the line, sank all three and Stanford defeated Washington in overtime.

On January 10th, 2009, with the Huskies up three on Cal at the end of the second overtime, D.J. Seely grabbed a missed three pointer and made the putback to pull within one point, but only one second left on the clock. The Huskied had won. Or would have, but a freshman Isaiah Thomas had slapped Seely's arm as he went for the putback, and he was headed to the line. He made the free throw and Cal would go on to win the game in the third overtime.

Just as Dentmon and Thomas were, Wroten will likely be the scapegoat for many who seek to pin the blame on somebody. Nobody has been a bigger critic of Tony Wroten than me, but to pin this on him is to ignore so much else of what happened in the game. The first half defense was atrocious, the team turned the ball over far too often, some spotty calls led to Darnell Gant having to sit on the bench and Aziz N'Diaye fouling out (arguably the biggest thing - when if you go back and look at it, N'Diaye fouling out really turned the game), Joe Burton somehow getting knocked down by everyone and always getting the call, people not named Tony Wroten shooting 3/11 from the stripe, allowing 14 offensive rebounds, playing Austin Seferian-Jenkins early instead of Shawn Kemp Jr., and the list goes on.

If you're Lorenzo Romar, and you have to replay those last two possessions, do you do anything different? Wroten had been knifing through OSU's defense like butter, and was 9/11 from free throws. It really seemed like they wouldn't (and couldn't) stop him and it turned out that they couldn't. What ended up happening was that a guy who has been shooting 58% from the free throw line didn't shoot the 85% that we wanted him to. The percentages caught up with him and he ended up hitting 9/15, or 60%, almost exactly his season average.

Tone was electric at times in the game, OSU not having an answer. He also showed that he is in many ways a flawed player, whipping passes out of bounds, forcing action at the rim and missing free throws. He was, basically, who he has always been. But to pin the loss on him, or to criticize him because he's a boisterous personality off of the court is not fair, because I promise you: nobody is hurting over that loss right now more than Tony Wroten. But he'll bounce back. He'll learn. He'll use it as motivation. He'll get better from it. He is, after all, a freshman.

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