Connor Smith. Perris Blackwell. C.J. Wilcox. Those three were honored before the game. Typically, Lorenzo Romar will start all of his seniors. It doesn't matter if he is a walk-on or not. Remember the Human Victory Cigar Brendan Sherrer? That guy started a game. But, not today. Blackwell came off the bench as per usual. It probably didn't matter as much to him, considering he asked to come off the bench. The walk-on Smith didn't get to check into the game.*
Through all of the senior day activities, it was the star fifth-year senior Wilcox who took center stage for the game. His performance powered the Huskies to victory. The game wasn't pretty, not by any means. The stat sheet shows 14 turnovers for the Trojans and 10 for Washington. That doesn't even come close to describing the awful sequences of basketball that took place.
During one sequence that featured several Trojan misses, loose-ball offensive rebounds and very little effort on the Huskies part to even try and grab the ball, this tweet by Christian Caple of the Tacoma News Tribune (a great gameday follow) summed up not only the play, but the entire first half:
That was a disastrous sequence of basketball for every human on the floor.— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) March 8, 2014
Going into halftime, the Huskies trailed to the Trojans. The same Trojans who are 2-16 in conference play. That is how poorly the Huskies played. If the Huskies had played any opponent in the Pac-12 other than the Trojans, UW would have lost.
The biggest reason Washington was able to win was because of the opening to the second half. Washington went on a 15-0 run that was spurred by four USC turnovers and an Andy Enfield technical foul. Two timeouts by Enfield weren't enough to slow the run. During that run Nigel Williams-Goss had four assists, and after a Byron Wesley basket, he assisted a Shawn Kemp Jr. layup.
Williams-Goss finished with nine assists, and should have had an opportunity for a tenth but a snafu at the scorer's table gave him a fifth foul that should have been his fourth. One foul he received earlier was changed to Wilcox, but the official scorer didn't receive the message. Regardless, this should quell any belief that Williams-Goss is a true distributor.
I heard it on a Dawgman KJR podcast last week, but Romar always relied on Brandon Roy to be a guy who could do whatever the team needed him to do. I can't remember the term. The team needs somebody to guard the opponent's best scorer? He'll do it. A perimeter guy needs to mix it up on the boards? Roy's the guy. Someone needs to distribute? Brandon's got you. Buckets? Splash.
Right now. Williams-Goss is that guy as a freshman. If he stays four years and has enough of a team around him (stupid but it has to be said), He could go down as the best Husky basketball player in the history of the program.
After UW's big run, Wilcox got a breather and the offense went stagnant. Then Williams-Goss had to sit with foul trouble, the offense continued to be bogged down. A UW lead that was once 17 points eventually dwindled down to six, even five with 30 seconds left, but by that point Washington had the lead pretty well in-hand.
*If anyone has a screencap or picture of the guys who had CONNOR!! spelled out on their chests let me know in either the comments or on twitter (@KnibbeBen).
It was really tough to analyze a lot of the game because of the pure sloppiness, but I'll give you the Dots. Oh boy will I give you the Dots:
- For whatever reason, the Huskies have run at a very slow (for Romar) pace the past two seasons. This season it makes almost no sense for the team to have played at such an average pace. This UW team has been built to run. Having the best shooter in the school's history who also has the ability to get into the lane is possibly the biggest threat a team could have to defend in transition.
Andrew Andrews is an excellent penetrator, and is the best of all the Husky players of getting into the paint in transition, as well as finishing with contact (something that happens a whole heck of a lot on the break). Mike Anderson is a great outlet passer. Williams-Goss has some work to do on his decision-making on the break, but he has all of the makings of a great playmaker in the open court with his finishing ability, floater and exceptional vision.
When UW has had its best runs of the season, it has been because of its transition basketball. The 15-0 run today was no different.
- Because of all the grief I have given Andrew Andrews over the course of the season, i have to say this: UW would not have won this game without him. Over the past several games (since his benching against Stanford) he has been integral to any success the Huskies have had. It goes to show how his problems were purely in his head. Andrews has really turned it around. Last season, Scott Suggs found his stride at the end of the season last year. Now, Andrew Andrews is doing the same.
- I don't know if this is even true, but I have noticed something peculiar with Wilcox's shooting. When in transition without the ball, Wilcox is much less likely to set up behind the three-point line than cut to the basket. If the ball is in his hands he will do any number of things, hand it off, attack the basket or pull up for three.
In the NBA, one of the easiest places to find an open three is in transition, finding a spot behind the line and letting a teammate find you. Sometimes hitting threes like that takes a little bit longer to get accustomed to than other threes. There are drills specifically meant to allow a player to practice this.
It might just be that the Huskies don't really emphasise transition spot-up threes. If that is the case, then it doesn't really matter.
- Another Dot. Specifically just to say thank you to Wilcox. I'll be writing you an open letter soon.
Pac-12 Tournament is next weekend in Vegas. Huskies are locked into either the 8- or 9-seed and will play Arizona (upset by Oregon today) in the second round. I'll just embed another Caple tweet.
Looks like if Cal wins today, UW will play Utah at noon Wednesday. If Cal loses, UW will play Cal at noon Wednesday.— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) March 9, 2014