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Husky Mailbag - 12/17/14

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You speak. We listen. Maybe we even respond.

What position will John Ross III be playing in 2015?
What position will John Ross III be playing in 2015?
Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Basketball madness has seized hold of the attention of Husky fans, even if the Dawg Pack is still missing in action over at Alaska Airlines Arena.

The lack of attendance does not equate to a lack of interest.  Let's dive into this week's mailbag.

Leo Belliston asks: By the time it is all said and done, do you think NWG will end up as the greatest point guard in UW history?

Chris:  The ol' "greatest of all time" question.  Never any controversy with that one.

I don't think that I'm well-qualified to answer that question given that my experience with Husky basketball, at best, stretches back only into the early '80s.  Even if I were, I think we'd have to qualify that question with a few criteria.  Best scoring PG?  Best floor general?  Best on the ball defender?  Best free throw shooter?  You get my meaning.

If you consider Brandon Roy a PG, then this argument is over.  B-Roy hands down.  If not, then I would say that Nigel Williams-Goss,  even as just a sophomore, is already nudging himself into the conversation of all time great UW point guards.   What differentiates NWG's claim from guys like Isaiah Thomas, Will Conroy, Nate Robinson (was a PG?), Justin Dentmon and Chester Dorsey is not that he dominates in any one category, but his all-around game is so balanced.

At a category level, I like different players in different aspects.  As far as being a setup guy, Dorsey is UW's all-time best assists guy.  Will Conroy, I think, was the best "floor general".  Both Dentmon and Venoy Overton rank as best defensive PGs.  IT was the best scoring and, with apologies to Nate Rob, was the most clutch.  Nate was the most explosive.  But, as a whole package, I'd have to say that NWG has a great chance to push both IT and Conroy for the title of best ever.  What he needs is one of these moments:

Kirk's Conscience wonders: Is Robert Upshaw an NBA player right now?

Chris: I need to start browsing around for scouting reports on Upshaw.  However, off the cuff, I'd say that Upshaw is definitely showing up on the NBA radar right about now.  While his offensive game is clearly raw, Upshaw's height and athleticism already put him into the rarified air of "high potential big men".  His accomplishments as a defender might be good enough, right now, to make him both draftable in the first round and able to take some time on the floor in an NBA game.

Just look at the stats.  Right now, Upshaw averages 9 blocks per 40 minutes.  9!  He averages 13 rebounds per 40 minutes.  The Huskies FG% allowed is #5 in the nation.  #5!!!   Those are not only outstanding numbers on their own, but are huge upgrades over what UW had in that position a year ago.

Enjoy this face, Husky fans.  He may not be here much longer.

Brett Jacobsen asks:  How is pac 12 stacking up nationally so far in men's bball? Any pre-conference season guess how's many bids the pac might get for the tournament?

Chris:  It's still a little too early to tell, but I'd say that the Pac 12 is presenting a bit of a conundrum to the NCAA and I suppose it will only get worse now that we are only a few weeks away from the start of conference play.

On the good side, Arizona has been dominating on all levels.  Utah has been as good as advertised and UW has been one of the surprise stories across the entire nation.  All three teams will enter conference play with strong RPIs and considered as the bookends of the top of the conference.  Also in that conversation are the relative positive starts out of Stanford and Cal.

In the category of "could go either way" are both UCLA and Colorado.  UCLA is off to a good record at 8-3, but they've failed in all three of their "premier" matchups, registering losses to Oklahoma, UNC and Gonzaga.  It is hard to get a bead on how good they are in what is clearly a transition year for them.  Colorado has also not lived up to the hype with disappointing losses to Wyoming and Georgia.  They still might be really good.

The bad teams in the Pac - WSU and USC in particular - look really bad.  The weakness at the bottom half of the conference and the inability for the mid-tier teams to pull off any big wins puts our collective conference resume in some question.  If I had to venture a guess right now, I'd say the Pac is positioned to put six teams into the NCAAs with the best resumes right now being:  Arizona, Washington, Utah, Cal, Stanford and UCLA.  Colorado and Oregon State could both make some noise, though.

Donny and Blitz'em checks in:  Practically speaking, has UW already locked up a spot in the NCAAs?

Chris:  Not really, but their resume is already quite strong.  The Huskies are 4-0 against teams with a top 60 RPI and already have eight total wins on the resume.  They still have another top matchup against Oklahoma that will help their resume assuming they keep it close if not flat out win.  The Pac 12 portion of their schedule will be a grind, but keep in mind that they only have to play both Arizona and UCLA one time apiece with the Arizona game at home.  Thus, they will have the a better chance to add a couple of wins that what they may normally get in a season.  If the Huskies can win 3 of their next four OOC games, then I think nothing more than a 10-8 conference schedule should get them in.

HUSKY57 inquires: With our depth in quality QBs do we gain parity or better with our southern cousins? Mariota will be difficult to replace.

Chris:  A lot of Husky fans are sweating the losses that UW will face next year.  Rest assured, many other teams have similar concerns ... and most of them concern QBs.  In the North, Connor Halliday, Marcus Mariota and Sean Mannion all leave huge holes to fill while in the South Brett Hundley, Taylor Kelly and +maybe+ Cody Kessler may need to be replaced.

That's a lot of fire power that, in some cases (Oregon, OSU, UCLA) will be replaced by players with virtually no experience on the field or, for that matter, in college football at all.

I think after a year  in Chris Petersen's system, all of our QBs will take a step forward.  I also see a trajectory for Cyler Miles that already puts him in the middle of the P12 field as a starter and one that should only improve as he gets more experience and as he gets pushed by the talent behind him.  So, yeah, I like our position.

Kent P ruminates: Can you remember a weaker qb depth chart than our current one? I mean maybe when Paus and Bonnell were there but ugh.

Chris:  Kent P, meet Husky57.  Enjoy.

HuskyFan asks: Lot's of losses going into 2015, mostly on defensive front 7 and offensive line. On the other hand, seems like decent talent coming up in both areas. What are you projected starting 11, if the season started today on offense/defense and also do you think Browning has a chance to unseat Miles as QB? Thanks.

Chris:  Back to QB.  Let's just say this - I'm not even optimistic that Jake Browning can unseat KJ Carta-Samuels much less Cyler Miles.  If any of you are harboring notions of a true freshman walking into an offense that will be starting four new offensive linemen playing for a coach that values "the details", please leave those at the door.

Ain't gonna happen.

As for projecting the 22, it is a fruitless exercise given that so many players are going to get a chance to compete during the bowl practices and the offseason.  That said, the staff has been really good about rotating in depth and, in doing so, they've given us a preview of what we might expect to see to start 2015.  Here is my WAG going from left to right, front to back:

Offense:  Dante Pettis, Joshua Perkins, Jake Eldrenkamp, Dexter Charles, Dane Crane, Siosifa Tufunga, Coleman Shelton, Jaydon Mickens, Cyler Miles, Dwayne Washington

Defense:  Will Dissly, Elijah Qualls, Joe Mathis, Cory Littleton, Keishawn Bierria, Scott Lawyer, Travis Feeney, John Ross, Budda Baker, Kevin King, Sidney Jones

Green Miles wonders:  John Ross - Cornerback or Wide Receiver in 2015?

Chris:  Both.  Welcome to two-way U.

Seriously, though, it seems to me that the staff perceives Ross's upside on Defense to be greater.  Ross has confirmed as much in recent interviews.  His speed, long arms and ball hawking skills make him a natural CB.  His explosiveness on offense, however, cannot be disregarded.  Plus, the Huskies are going to have more depth issues at WR next year.  I can't imagine that they won't work John Ross on both sides of the ball all season.