USA TODAY Sports
I'm going to be honest with you, despite the fact that the Huskies played their best overall game tonight, my mind is not on Washington. It is on the Sacramento Kings. I'll give you a quick little rundown of what happened: last night, Daina Falk, the daughter of NBA Agent David Falk, tweeted about the "Seattle Kings" being a done deal. She later pulled the tweet, but nonetheless that created a firestorm on Twitter. A Sacramento Kings spokesman said no deal has been done either late last night or early this morning, I can't remember. Then, a Yahoo reporter, Adrian Wojnarowski, reported that a deal is nearly done to sell the Kings to "Seattle group with plans to relocate franchise".
Since then, reports have conflicted. Some say that the deal is all but finished, while others say there is no sure thing. I have to believe that it is all but finished, just because I want my Sonics back. I feel like I reference Lookout Landing a lot. The Sonics are ours and you can't have them. (Felix is ours and you can't have him.)
Enough about the Sonics - lie, never enough Sonics coverage. Didn't I start this article out saying that I was going to be honest with you, my beloved readers? I just now admitted that I lied to you. I am a wonderful person, whether you believe that or not is up to you.
As I noted on Twitter, C.J. Wilcox has now reached 1,000 points for his career here at Washington. That is a lot of points. He did it not with a jumper, as Washington fans have become so accustomed to see him shooting, but he finished a contested layup in transition.
I missed most of the first half thanks to the wonderful Wave Broadband not having access to ESPN3/WatchESPN or whatever it is that they call it. I did get to catch the last six minutes or so of the half, which coincidentally was when the Dawgs pulled away. They went on a 16-0 run late in the first half to go up 34-16. After that point, the lead never shrunk to less than a 12-point margin.
Wilcox scored a game-high 19 points on 7-16 shooting, also going 4-6 from the free throw line. He was seen visibly frustrated that his shots would not fall in the first half, according to Todd Dybas on Twitter. He made up for his poor shooting by grabbing eight rebounds however, which was second on Washington and tied for the lead among all perimeter players along with Allen Crabbe.
Aziz N'Diaye was efficient offensively on the floor, scoring 12 points on 6-8 shooting, but didn't get to the foul line for only the second time this season. He failed to get any free throw attempts against the Connecticut Huskies, and had only one attempt against Washington State. His rebounding was more of the same, leading the team with 12 rebounds, five of them being offensive rebounds.
Rebounding was the main reason Washington won this game handily. According to ESPN Washington outrebounded Cal 43-28, or a 15-point margin. This has been a staple for Lorenzo Romar-era Huskies.
Green and Gold Dots because THE SONICS ARE COMING BACK YOU GUYS THE SONICS ARE COMING BACK.
One possible explanation as to why the free throw attempts have decreased for N'Diaye is that he has improved drastically in his ability to pass the ball off the block. There were two times that I saw where he dumped the ball off to a fellow big -- once it was Jernard Jarreau and the other was Desmond Simmons -- as they were cutting through the lane. The official statsheet shows zero assists for N'Diaye, but his passing from the post deserved two or three.
Sometimes, players don't finish shots they should have. N'Diaye kicked the ball out and started some ball reversals that ended up in layups. Sometimes he hit an open man who just missed the shot. There were flashes of this in the UConn game, and may or may not have been shown in the Washington State game, which I was unable to view for the same reasons I missed most of the first half of this game. This is an interesting development.
He also blocked four shots, with several of them being just dominant plays. One play he started a fastbreak by just swatting the ball on a shot coming from the weak side It ended up in Andrew Andrews's hands. Andrews then finished an and-one layup on the other end. The other "dominant" block was where he had the chance to swat the ball, but resisted the temptation that may have led to a foul, and as the opponent attempted to finish on the offensive left of the rim, N'Diaye just tapped the ball straight up and caught it, essentially stealing the Cal shot.
One other minor note, is that N'Diaye finished with his left hand, with some mild defense. It is very possible that he has not done that all season, or his entire career for that matter.
Although Wilcox's shot wasn't falling today, he finally started to compensate by getting to the rim. Fans have been waiting to see this from Wilcox, as he has all of the physical tools to do so. He just shot the ball so much because he is one of the best in the country in doing just that.
Like noted above, he scored his 999th and 1000th career points with a layup, not via a jump shot. This is important if only symbolically. Obviously how you obtain a milestone, whether it be by free throw, layup or full-court toss, is irrelevant. How Wilcox did this just shows the maturation of him as a player. He is a shooter, first and foremost, but his game has diversified. He is a much improved passer (four assists tonight) and is a great rebounder for a wing. He had eight tonight, more than Simmons. And of course, he can get the ball inside.
- Husky Defense reared its ugly (for opponents) head today. deny passes, force turnovers, and get the ball out in transition after a defensive rebound. Everything worked well for Washington today, and it could be a turning point for their defense.
A special commendation should go to Scott Suggs. His defense on Crabbe all game was suffocating. Crabbe scored nine points on 3-12 shooting, including only 1-4 from deep. The one make from deep was when he was being defended by Andrew Andrews, and Andrews helped defensively, which you cannot do on a shooter like Crabbe, or he will make you pay. It was a freshman mistake that will improve Andrews in the long run. It is good to make mistakes like this in a game you win comfortably, as it allows learning without jeopardizing the chances for victory.
Suggs had to run through screen after screen after screen to stick with Crabbe, and he did it all night long.
- Washington had their best ball movement of the season. Bill Walton, lover of the high post offense, called it "beautiful basketball" on more than one occasion. The scorebook may say that Cal had more assists than Washington (11-10) but the better passing team was undoubtedly Washington, as they won the turnover battle 6-10. Passing was crisp, Aziz N'Diayes hands had some of the butter removed, and the ball went in the hoop.
Now is not the time to expect the ball movement to say like this forever. Washington goes through streaks, and this could be the start of something special, a one game anomaly, or it could just be a streak.
- Just a thought: Washington won a game handily without Wilcox getting hot. He wasn't efficient with his jumper, which can be attributed to an off night. Wilcox is a shooter, and shooters are notoriously streaky. Whether you believe there is such a thing as being on-fire or being cold (studies have shown that there is no such thing as being on-fire or being cold, but that is a point that I could write another 500 words on, if not more) shooters always have their good games and their bad games.