89-54 Husky win (7-2)
The Huskies were on top of three of the four factors. The only one Portland bested them in is Free Throw Rate, which I would argue is the least important of the four. The Huskies posted their second best eFG% of the year at 61.3%, the only better game was vs. Portland State (66.2%). The Huskies' defense was also stellar, holding Portland to the second lowest opposing eFG% of the year (76.5%) with again the season best being against Portland State (73.7%). The offensive rebounding advantage was typical of the way the Huskies tend to play, posting a near season average 44.8% while allowing 32.4%, only slightly higher than their season average. The sticking point lately for the Dawgs has been turning the ball over, and this was an area in which they shined, posting a very good 15.9% with Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas combining for just 1.
The Huskies came out with intensity and started the game with a 16-2 run and never looked back. The game was over when the teams headed to the locker room and the lead was 30 points. The key for the Huskies was the defense. They were able to force a ton of turnovers which became easy basketets. In turn, the Huskies took care of the ball when they had it in their own hands. The coaching staff must've made these two areas their points of emphasis over the past week of practice, and it showed.
Player of the Game:
Isaiah Thomas was fantastic. He was efficient with the ball in his hands, scoring 16 points on just 7 shots, including 3/4 from three. He also dished out a season high 8 assists with no turnovers. This is the kind of Isaiah Thomas that is going to make this team its most dangerous. If he can score and facilitate the cieling for the Huskies is sky high.
Honorable mention to Scott Suggs, who scored a career high 13 points and was 3/6 from three.
It Was Over When:
Romar lit a fire under the team's collective behind and the Huskies responded with a 16-2 run to start the game.
Stat of the Game:
Isaiah Thomas's Offensive Rating for the game was a ridiculous 253. As a kid from Tacoma, I like to think that he'd be especially proud of that number.
Romar decided to start Darnell Gant and Abdul Gaddy over Elston Turner and Venoy Overton. Though he doesn't stuff the stat sheet, the team is undeniably better when Gant is in the starting lineup. He's a fantatstic defender and rebounder who gives the team versatility. Venoy Overton coming off the bench makes sense as well. Right now, he's a better player than Abdul Gaddy, however his defensive energy seems best suited to come off of the bench so that he can offer a change of pace for the team. Sometimes starting your best five players isn't always the most productive way to go. Remember, in the 2004/2005 season Lorenzo Romar had Brandon Roy coming off of the bench.
Though Portland's ranking was a little inflated, this is still a win over a top 25 team, which will help come seeding time.
The defense finally got back to an acceptable level. While Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon weren't defensive specialists, they knew the scheme after having played in the system for four years. They had the rotation down and that's an area where this team's youth is still a little behind. Shockingly, it may not be Brockman's rebounding or Dentmon's shooting that this team misses most, but their combined defensive knowledge.
Scott Suggs has to get more minutes going forward. When he got minutes early in the season, he was the team's best non-Thomas shooting guard. Then for one reason or another Romar decided to go with Elston Turner, even though Suggs had outplayed him. Suggs got chances again last night and showed that he may be the team's most consistent shooter from deep, and his length on defense has a ton of value as well.
Throughout the week Romar had been saying that 13 turnovers was a good number. 14 or 15 they could live with, but if they only commit 13 they're doing good. Last night they committed just 11.