By now I think most Husky basketball fans have come to accept that this is a rebuilding year, and with Jernard Jarreau out all year and Desmond Simmons out for another week or more, it's not the team that coach Lorenzo Romar thought he would be working with. Still, it's jarring to watch games against teams the caliber of Idaho State and see the Huskies struggle.
The Bengals were hot early, taking advantage of poor defense by the Dawgs and working the ball screen effectively. They briefly took the lead midway through the first half before the Huskies started generating turnovers and fast breaks and built a double-digit advantage, entering halftime up 46-35. But Idaho State wouldn't go away, and after a Husky dry spell from the floor the Bengals had cut the lead to 6 well into the 2nd half. But Washington was able to generate another run and pulled away for a comfortable 85-66 win. A few quick thoughts:
- Perris Blackwell took advantage of an undermanned and undersized Idaho State frontline to post a career-high 20 points on 9-11 shooting. He showed off soft hands under the hoop and a deft touch, but it remains to be seen if he'll be effective against bigger posts when conference play starts.
- C.J. Wilcox didn't dominate the game, but his strong 3-point shooting was a big key in keeping the Husky offense rolling. He finished 5-9 from long range, and the Huskies as a team were 10-21 as they did a good job of rotating the ball against Idaho State's 1-3-1 zone to find open looks, and they weren't shy about shooting it.
- Nigel Williams-Goss continues to impress. He shows a nice touch with his floaters in the lane, is able to penetrate and even hit his only 3 as he finished 6-7 for 13 points. His defense needs work, but he's already looking like he might be the best in a long line of good point guards under Romar.
- When the Huskies were made their two big runs in the game, they were using their long arms to get steals and generate turnovers against the Bengals, and at times it looked like the good old days with our guys out on the fast break. I'm not sure the on-ball defense of this team this year is ever going to get to even average, but if they can disrupt passing lanes and generate steals, they have a chance to stay with better teams.
- Speaking of defense, Idaho State was hot early, and while they eventually cooled off to 46.2% for the game, that's still too high a percentage to allow to an undermanned Big Sky team. Getting Simmons back should help some, but losing Jarreau's length really hurt.
- Andrew Andrews is probably getting overlooked this year, but he's improved quite a bit. He's shooting the ball better and looks more confident out there. He does a nice job of driving and moving the ball around and gives Romar a solid 2nd option to NWG in running the offense.