These games are what fandom are all about. The game was ugly, but we watched anyways. The game was close. We inched closer to the TV set and further away from the backs of our sitting devices. We jumped up when C.J. Wilcox made a layup with ten seconds left to tie the game, or at the very least we jumped a little inside, which doesn't really make all that much sense when you think about it. If your insides jumped you would have internal bruising and bleeding and very well may die from celebrating a joyous occasion such as a clutch basket by your favorite team. Don't jump inside, jump outside and literally, it is healthier, as you not only don't internally bleed* but you also get exercise, which is known to be beneficial to one's health.
There was a basketball game not too long ago, and it was not a pretty affair. Bill Walton was the analyst and he is allowed to say whatever he wants, so he was very candid in speaking about the grotesque nature of the game.
The Huskies came out and turned the ball over a lot. They had nine turnovers in their first 22 trips down the floor. At one point they had 11 turnovers to 16 points. It shows how poorly UCLA plays together that Washington wasn't getting absolutely blown out on the road. They played horrible, horrible basketball (Bill Walton is getting to me). Their effort on the boards and the defensive end kept them in it, along with UCLA's nonexistent cohesiveness. Some people say that Washington is an extremely underachieving team this season. While that may be true, it completely ignores the fact that UCLA is the most talented team in the conference, and is playing about as well as Washington.
Despite the crazy amount of turnovers for Washington, they went into the half tied up, and only tied up thanks to a buzzer-beating three by Norman Powell. The Huskies nearly went into halftime leading. That lead went back and forth throughout the second half, like the first, with a six-point Bruin lead being the largest of the night.
Through the entirety of the game, Washington may have very well played their best at the end, disregarding one play where super-frosh Shabazz Muhammad was able to garner a missed shot and was fouled. They got layups and forced contested jumpers. Even the ill-fated final shot by Larry Drew II was heavily contested by Shawn Kemp Jr. Sure, N'Diaye could have hit the free throw to complete his And-1, but what was expected? A miss, that is what was expected, even by N'Diaye himself. More on his game later, and I have a lot of positives to say.
Washington was close against a talented team when Wilcox couldn't hit a three to save his life. When Scott Suggs continued his questionable shot selections. Desmond Simmons wasn't able to grab too many rebounds (blame N'Diaye). Suggs was in foul trouble, Andrew Andrews played in foul trouble, forcing Hikeem Stewart into action.
Stewart actually played well in his defense on Muhammad for the minutes he played, but his offense still has some refining left before he can be a major minutes-getter. Next year, expect him to get extended looks in non-conference play to see if he can be a solid member of the rotation. His jumper has extended to where he at least needs to be guarded when he is 16 feet from the basket, that range will be extended, as anybody with a semblance of a jumper has seen their range expand during their time at UW (Darnell Gant, Isaiah Thomas wasn't a knockdown deep threat until his second year as a Husky, Abdul Gaddy can hit threes now, Justin Holiday, to name a few).
Here are a few Dots before I send you on your not-so-merry way.
- C.J. Wilcox is off from deep. He is a combined 1-14 from beyond the arc in the last three games. His mid-range jumper hasn't failed him, nor has his floater. Both of those (his only two other shots, it seems) are falling at a good rate, nothing seems to be out of the ordinary there; Wilcox's mid-range jumpers might even be hitting at a better clip than usual, however weird that sounds considering his struggles from deep.
My theory as to why he is off? I think that something is off mechanically for him. I don't know whether it is his legs, arms, footwork, or any combination of the above. It may be because I am a tinkerer, similar to how Steve Sarkisian is with his playbook, he always likes to add little wrinkles. My personal jump shot has lost all consistency because I have messed with the mechanics way too much. If something is off mechanically, then timing is all thrown off.
I speculated before that Wilcox is better when he catches and lands on both feet at the same time before shooting, as opposed to stepping into his shot. I believe on most of his attempts from deep tonight he stepped into his shot.
Just read on Twitter that C.J. Wilcox has a stress fracture in his foot than he has been playing through the past two weeks. Tweets from Greg Bell:
C.J. Wilcox has a stress fracture on outside of left foot below little toe. Wearing a walking boot. Has had it 2wks. Playing thru it. #UDUB— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) February 8, 2013
An MRI this week confirmed the beginning stages of a stress fracture in Wilcox's left foot. "Once I get going I don't feel it" @uw_mbb #UDUB— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) February 8, 2013
On CJ Wilcox's early stages of stress fracture in left foot-Boot a precaution. It's a manageable injury he'll play thru. 38 mins 2nite #UDUB— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) February 8, 2013
- Gaddy had a nice game, for this season. He still finished with four turnovers, but he also had a season-high eight assists. His passing improved from previous weeks. It wasn't perfect, as four turnovers are far from ideal, but it showed what he is capable of. He had some nice post-entry passes to Kemp and N'Diaye, as well as doing a fine job of finding shooters on the perimeter. If Washington hit their season average on their threes, then Gaddy very well may have had a double-double.
Look, anyone who says Gaddy needs to "pull his head out of his butt" or anything similar to that needs to fess up when Gaddy has a good game. He kept Washington in the game. He hit the only threes for Washington that fell. He had several nice passes to N'Diaye and Kemp for baskets, in addition to the post-entries. thecassino said this on Twitter, and I instantly thought of a few people I interact with on Twitter.
The guy (I can't say kid, he is older than I am) plays his heart out, and has pride in the game. Early on, he turned the ball over and it led to two UCLA points at the other end. He immediately attacked the basket and finished at the rim. That at the very least shows pride, that he cares. Nobody should ever say he, or any other player for that matter, doesn't care. It simply isn't true.
- N'Diaye keeps improving, game after game. He had his career-high with 18 rebounds tonight, and scored 11, for yet another double-double. He can be a dominant force at times, and tonight he was. He is bigger, stronger and more athletic than either of the Wear twins and it showed on the boards. He finished without a block tonight, but that was forced by Travis Wear and David Wear being able to shoot well, thus drawing him away from the basket.
Even without N'Diaye protecting the rim, UCLA still struggled finishing inside, but that doesn't take away from how important he is defensively, and offensively now. If teams collapse on Gaddy or Andrew Andrews attacking the basket before they reach the block, they know they can just lob it up to N'Diaye and he will be able to finish inside. No, bullet passes won't work, but he is getting better and better at handling them.
- Andrews shot 0-4 from deep with half of his misses being wide-open attempts. This will not keep up, nor will WIlcox missing at that rate, or even Suggs with his shot selection. At some point the threes will fall, just not tonight.