Wow, where to begin? The amazing play by Terrence Ross down the stretch? The hideous ball-handling? The refereeing? Oh the refereeing. On the whole this game was ugly with highlight moments. Highlights by none other than Terrence Ross. This is the talent that NBA talent evaluators salivate over. This is a true baller.
This was truly a back and forth affair, with the lead changing hands multiple times throughout. Despite the ugliness the game maintained some level of interest due to the close score. The close score still didn't cause the crowd to be in the game throughout it all. There, like any game, were highs and lows of noise from the DawgPack. This game, however, was more extreme in the swings. This was just one thing that showed the ugly in this game. ESPN even said in the pre-game that this was the premier atmosphere in the Pac-12. The game did nothing to help prove them right.
With Arizona toppling Cal this puts the Huskies in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12!
I have a scattered mind so here are some scattered thoughts in bullet hole form!
- The pick and roll defense was spotty at best tonight. When the switch involved a wing such as Ross or C.J Wilcox, there was typically no issue. However, if Aziz N'Diaye was involved then there was trouble to be had. Aziz has a tendency to not step out, if the ball handler uses the screen. This forces the ball-defender to have to fight the screen and defend the roll-man, all while still trying to get back to the ball-handler. This makes the job of typically Tony Wroten or Abdul Gaddy much more difficult, which often leads to pull-up jumpers or easy finishes for the roll-man. One thing that should have hurt us far more was the pick-n-pop game of UCLA. The Wear twins are capable mid-range shooters who were unable to hit their shots tonight. This really would have changed the game had either been hitting their jumpers tonight. Aziz needs to defend ball-screens much better or a team with a decent shooting big man will really eat the Dawgs up from outside.
- During the first half one thing that really piqued my interest was the invitation by the referees to massacre Josh Smith before he touched the ball on the block. Down low I consistently saw Wroten and Ross being held by UCLA defenders with no repercussions. To me this was an invitation to do the same right back to Smith. If the zebras refuse to call a particular foul, then use that foul to stop your opponent until it gets called. Once the second half got underway this issue began to resolve itself however. The referees called two holds on UCLA early in the second half which seemed to quell the problem. More on the referees later.
- The defense on Josh Smith was below-average at best this game. It was obvious that it would be coming however due to the fact that he always seems to have a strong game in Seattle. If he keeps up this kind of effort, which admittedly is very unlikely, this Bruin team could be a scary opponent come tournament time. He scored a game-high 24 points and also led the game with 4 offensive rebounds. He brought a big game to Hec Ed tonight. Ha! Fat joke! Okay got that one out of the way. He used his large frame well in pushing around all of the Husky bigs, even moving our star tight end a little bit. Part of this was due to the poor positioning by Austin Seferian-Jenkins, which probably is part of the reason he logged only five minutes tonight.
- Speaking of bench-time, the leading scorer on the Huskies sat out for the stretch run due to what appeared to be a leg injury. This very well could have been a very minor injury that caused Wroten to panic. He appeared to show decent explosiveness when he decided to be explosive, but then didn't hustle back on defense and showed apathy at certain points in the game. This is a mental barrier that he needs to pass. This may be the reason he was on the bench. Romar may have been sending him a message that he needed in that he shouldn't be taking his playing time for granted. Then again this could all have been caused by an actual injury that adrenaline spikes masked at certain points in the game. It may never be revealed what the true cause of his erratic play tonight was, but there is probably a minor injury somewhere in there. Luckily for the Dawgs they have USC coming up which should be an easy win. With these Huskies you never can know for certain.
- Gaddy and Wroten had four and five turnovers, respectively. The latter just was off due to one of the plethora of reasons stated above. Gaddy however, had no reason to be struggling as bad as he did tonight. He had a ball dribbled off his leg, and made multiple bad passes. It was not all bad for him, as he had two and-one buckets and shot 3-4 from the line. Wroten, meanwhile, had a strong performance from the line, hitting very one of his five attempts. He looked confident from the line and it showed in the results. He did have to coax his first one in after getting a bump from lady luck at the front of the rim however. This is definitely an improvement and if he is putting in extra time practicing his free throws then it is showing. Overall the point guard play was ugly for the Dawgs, with seven assists to nine turnovers between these two.
- It was nice to see a solid eleven minutes out of Shawn Kemp Jr. He had two nice flushes even though one should have been called a travel. Travels went uncalled numerous times with both sides getting the benefit of the doubt multiple times. Reignman Junior however showed some solid defense and didn't make glaring mistakes on offense. He has improved as the year has gone along. One has to wonder if the practice time against Seferian-Jenkins, or more likely the minutes lost to the tight end, have caused Kemp some extra motivation to better himself. Watching the playing time of these two over the course of the remainder of the season will be interesting.
- Darnell Gant had himself a solid game tonight, scoring 12 on 5-9 shooting. He grabbed only a single rebound however, despite logging nearly 30 minutes of game action. His defense was solid however, and he was able to stretch the floor allowing for Terrence Ross to isolate himself later in the game for some heroics. Gant defended the pick n roll and pick n pop much better than did Aziz, and this was a key factor in the Huskies winning this ballgame.
- The zebras were bad, so bad that they honestly controlled the game. The score was close in the first half thanks to the officiating being equally bad for both sides. That changed in the second half. The referees started helping out the Bruins and that in-turn caused them to jump out in front. There were quite a few fouls on Kent-native Josh Smith that should have been called. He was allowed to throw his man around with blatant shoves and move while screening without being worried about receiving a foul call. He finished with one foul. Just one. He should have had four at the minimum, probably should have been fouled out. On the other end of this, the Husky comeback was also aided by favorable calls. The Tyler Lamb charge had more than a remote possibility of being a block on N'Diaye, which would have caused him to foul out of the game. The referees, while terrible throughout, were at least terrible to both sides.
- Free throws: 15-20. 75% Improvement!
- Terrence Ross must have run his blood through a freezer during half-time. This guy is has become a true cold-blooded killer. It was obvious that this is what he could become. Now the clutch Ross we all envisioned has developed. There is only the question of whether he can take over an entire game instead of just the last little bit like he has in these last two games.
Cold. Blooded. Killer.