It was just a warm-up game for Arizona, right? The No. 1 team in the country? Washington came into this game getting used to the Arizona climate, and was really looking forward to the game with the Wildcats.
Just kidding. Washington came into the game as 10-point underdawgs and ended the game as 11-point victors, 76-65 -- the game wasn't that close. The only reason the score was even close to that was the appearance of every walk-on (and Gilles Dierickx). If Washington can play the entire conference season like this wait no sorry not holding my breath.
I missed the first twelve minutes or so of the game with internet streaming issues, so I missed the "stressful" part of the game, and UW was up by nearly double digits. From what I gathered, Washington built their lead via a lot of transition buckets. What I witnessed after that: Washington built on their lead via a lot of transition buckets.
Lorenzo Romar's teams of yore were built upon tough, physical defense and athletes getting out in transition. The new hand-checking rules prevent the former. The latter is what carried Washington to victory. Transition teams have tendencies to score in bunches, and UW tonight was no different. The first half featured runs of 8-0, 8-0 and 10-2 in favor of the Washington Huskies.
A large part of the victory was the balanced scoring effort. Five Huskies scored in double figures. Half of the field goals were assisted. This was a total team effort. C.J. Wilcox led all scorers with 17, which was followed by Jahii Carson of ASU with 15. Carson was kept in check for most of the second half, being limited to five points after the break.
Nigel Williams-Goss may have earned player of the game honors despite being the least efficient shooting the ball of any of the five Huskies in double-digit scoring. He was 6-14 from the field with one attempt (missed) coming from behind the line for an effective FG percentage of 42 percent. His entire stat-line shows the truth of his night: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and only a single turnover.
Darin Johnson played only two minutes against Hartford (Romar said it was just matchups, no particular reason for him sitting), but rebounded from that with 20 minutes tonight and scored 10 points with five rebounds, doing his best to match his freshman counterpart on the glass.
Connor Smith, Gilles Dierickx, Quinn Sterling and Jahmel Taylor all got into the game late. Taylor showed he still has work to do. I wonder why he didn't redshirt. Maybe it was an agreement in his recruiting. Maybe he will get put in when the team is down three with one second on the clock. He dribbled into a lot of trouble and penetrated when he shouldn't have, but he is just a freshman at the end of the bench.
The first Dots of the Pac-12 season:
- Getting out into transition is one way that a team can take advantage of small-ball. It is something that Washington is absolutely going to need to be to be successful this season. When other teams have a rim protector, especially one as good as Arizona State's Jordan Bachynski -- Bachynski had six blocks tonight.
The athleticism of Darin Johnson, the ball-handling of NWG, the shooting of C.J.Wilcox and the leave-you-back-there-somewhere-in-Idaho quickness of Andrew Andrews all fit an up-tempo style.
- NWG is a big guard, but his ability to score on post-ups is rare for a freshman. We have seen it this season, but I don't think any of us expected to see him go back-to-the-basket against the best shot blocker in the history of the conference. Going small-ball will spread the floor for post-up opportunities for Perris Blackwell and Shawn Kemp Jr. when he is on the floor. It could make post-ups for NWG especially deadly.
When a player is able to pass out of the post, it makes it a lot more difficult to help, because doubling will leave someone open. A main strength of NWG coming into the season was his passing. Can't double him in the post.
- It is nice to have Desmond Simmons back.
- Despite the big win, Washington didn't do a particularly great job of avoiding turnovers. Another way to read this is that Washington won big and could still play a lot better.
Washington, in the second half, had a spree of three consecutive turnovers, one by Kemp, one by Johnson and one by Wilcox. They were lucky that only four points came out of the turnovers.
Andrew Andrews had four of Washington's 13 turnovers, more than the 11 of Arizona State. If the Huskies are to compete with Arizona, keeping the Wildcats from creating easy transition baskets via turnovers is going to be something that will need to be kept to a minimum.