Washington climbed itself out of a big hole early on, but came up just short of completing their comeback bid, falling 74-66 to the Beavers. The Huskies started out slowly, and it took a while for them to get going. Their deficit was as large as 20 points late in the first half. They eventually fought their way back to within ten to close the half after Abdul Gaddy hit a buzzer beating three. Don't get your hopes up, it was a runner from 35 feet out, not a jumper.
The slow start is nothing new for the Huskies, so no point in going into that. Washington starts slow, in both games and seasons. It costs them games, and this one is the perfect example.
Early on, Oregon State gained their lead through solid all-around play. Some may say that they out-worked or out-hustled Washington, but that didn't appear to be the case, to me. I saw better defensive rotations by Oregon State, which in-turn led to better passing by the Beavers, which ultimately translated to better shot attempts. The Beavers had strong passing all night long, and it really hurt Washington, as they were never able to really slow down their opponent's offense. Shooting slumps, rebounds don't bounce your way sometimes, but crisp passing is something that happens, and then it doesn't.
When Washington played "Beautiful basketball" - Bill Walton - their passing was crisp and sharp. I didn't see the game against Utah (Thank goodness ESPN) so I don't know if it was there that night -- presumably not. That type of passing happens on a team's best nights, and very rarely any other time. Oregon State had wonderful passing tonight. Joe Burton is an exceptional passer from the post, one of the best in the country. His presence on the floor has a large impact on the passing ability of the Beavers, and it made a huge difference tonight, despite him officially notching only three assists.
Washington climbed back into the game thanks to a late 15-5 run to close out the first half, then slowly chipped away at Oregon State's lead in the second half before their hot streak came to an end. After bringing the game back to within one halfway into the second half, Washington slowly fell off the tracks, with two Roberto Nelson free throws with 45 seconds left icing the game.
Time for some Dots.
A large part of Washington's slow start was C.J. Wilcox starting 1-6 on his jump shots. It took a while for Wilcox to find his legs, as his first five jumpers all fell short. Some fell slightly short, eventually going to the weak-side; others clanged off the front of the rim, but each of his first five jumpers hit the front of the rim in some fashion.
His first shot, he was fouled, but it didn't seem like the foul affected his shot too much, though I could be wrong, as there was a reason he was shooting free throws. His second jumper did go in, but it went in after nicking the front of the rim, hitting the back iron, then falling through the net.
When Wilcox realized his shot wasn't falling, he resorted to getting the ball into the paint, something Washington did with success this game as a whole. This is what a lot of people want to see, jump shooters who can realize a shot isn't going to fall so they get the ball inside. Wilcox ultimately hit 50% of his twos, but he still took ten of them.
- Washington was successful getting into the paint once they made an adjustment on the pick n roll. It wasn't the only way they got inside, but it was the first successful method. Oregon State was switching every ball-screen, which forces the ball-handler to have to make a play.
Lorenzo Romar's team then made the adjustment to have the ball-handler hesitate after using the screen, in order to get the mismatched defender isolated. This allowed Gaddy and Wilcox to get the ball inside and finish, or also to get the ball to Aziz N'Diaye inside, who himself had a mismatch. N'Diaye finished 4-5 on the night, with his only miss coming off of a putback attempt.
- UW relied mostly on their motion offense in the second half, and found success with it. They were able to get open looks for Wilcox, and were also able to get penetration with Gaddy and Andrew Andrews. I admittedly don't know the X's and O's too well, but it doesn't seem like Washington is very comfortable running the high-post offense.
They run the UCLA high-post offense mostly when Jernard Jarreau is in, and a little bit with Desmond Simmons and N'Diaye. Washington ran it to very little effect tonight, and it was scrapped in favor of the motion offense, which worked very well.
- Andrew Andrews may be the best point guard on the team right now. Gaddy's confidence has gone down the pipe, and it is affecting his play in more ways than just his jumper. He airballed two shots this game: UW's first attempt, a Gaddy post-up, didn't touch the rim. Gaddy also missed his only three-point jump shot attempt, and didn't hit the rim with it (His other three, as mentioned, was a runner).
Andrews only scored three points this game -- versus 14 for Gaddy-- but had over half of the team's assists with six. He was very successful at getting into the lane and finding either shooters, cutters, or N'Diaye on the block.
Kevin Pelton had a blog post about how the position should be handed off the Andrews, and I have to agree with a lot of his points. Andrews is the superior player at this point: the better shooter, scorer and even passer. Defensively Gaddy still has an edge, but Andrews will overtake that at some point in his career, I would look to see him take that next step defensively next season. But this season, he is still the better player.
- Abdul Gaddy has an edge over Andrews in one area other than defense, and that is with the close-mid range game. When it comes to mid-range jumpers, Andrews is the better shooter, but when the ball is on the fringes of the paint, Gaddy has a vast array of dribble moves and pivots that allow him to get clean looks at the basket or teammates. He excels at leaning his body away from the defender and getting a shot to go in.
His leaners are possibly his best offensive weapon, and for good reason. A problem with this however, is that a point guard is typically not handling the ball in the high post, which is where his leaners are the most successful, This means that they cannot be relied on for a consistent source of offense. When Gaddy ends up with the ball in the high post, often off of an offensive rebound, he should look for his leaners often.
- Scott Suggs has some very questionable shot selection. There is no question that he can shoot the ball, and shoot it well. However, sometimes he takes some head-scratching jumpers. He likes to pull-up and hit mid-range jumpers with defenders right in his face, and he also looks to use lots of pump fakes to try and get a clean look from deep as well.
His strategies work, sometimes, but when his shots miss, it oftentimes looks like he is just taking dumb shots. He does excel at drawing fouls on jumpers, although teams are catching on and falling for his fakes less and less as the season progresses.