Originally, the Washington Huskies-Stanford Cardinal contest was set in place on ESPN2, and was going to be an afterthought to the Duke vs. North Carolina game that is always one of the best rivalries in college basketball. When that game was snowed out, the Huskies and Cardinal took the top spot on ESPN, and neither the game nor Bill Walton disappointed.
Despite C.J. Wilcox wearing down in the second half and 16 total team turnovers, the Huskies were able to overcome the Cardinal.
I missed the first five minutes of the game because of the memorable finish to the Syracuse-Pitt game, so this recap will start from there, with the Cardinal leading 11-7.
Wilcox attempted only one field goal attempt for the first 10 of the 40 minutes he played tonight. It wasn't that the offense wasn't running through him as per usual, but instead Stanford was forcing him to pass the ball as soon as he touched the ball. It allowed Wilcox to show off his passing, but it also forced him into a game-high four turnovers.
Over those 10 minutes, UW scored 10 points. Nigel Williams-Goss scored eight, and Perris Blackwell scored two -- on a basket assisted by Nigel Williams-Goss. Washington was trailing 17-10 and really struggling offensively. The Huskies were really up against the wall. Lorenzo Romar has been telling his players that they really have to win out to have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament.
In times of desperation, like trailing 17-10 with the offense sputtering, a team will look to its best player to make a play. Wilcox delivered. He hit a three off of a Desmond Simmons assist, and the floodgates opened, for a little while. The next two Husky possessions resulted in baskets for Simmons and Blackwell, it made for a mini 4-0 run for the Huskies. After Stanford scored two straight dunks, Wilcox showed why he is the best shooter in the conference, why he is the best player for the Huskies, and why he is going to be in the NBA.
The next shot that Wilcox took would have been deep from NBA standards. In transition, he caught a pass above the key from Anderson, who pushed the ball up the right sideline after a rebound. Above the key is no understatement. His defender had his heels two feet from the three-point line, and still wasn't able to come close to contesting the shot. It was a 27-foot jumper that couldn't have been more pure.
That's when the Dawg Pack, which got a thumbs-up from Lorenzo Romar after the game, really got into it. UW, Wilcox in particular, needed every bit of that energy to pull this game out. Wilcox was visibly gassed against Colorado, and even discussed it. As the game went along, he was certainly missing getting a blow on the bench, as he played all 40 minutes, scoring 17 points on 4-14 shooting.
Those minutes had to come from somewhere, and thesaurus.com lists the only to antonyms of beneficiary as giver and payer, so the giver was Andrew Andrews. He started the game. He played five minutes, zero of them in the second half. The only time Nigel Williams-Goss was off the floor was when he was getting treatment because he reaggravated a hip pointer injury he has been dealing with.
That is when we found out why Andrew Andrews has been getting minutes: there is nobody else. The backcourt of Jahmel Taylor and Darin Johnson gave up a 6-0 run before the McDonald's All-American was able to make it back into the game.
After Wilcox's barrage from deep, he missed all five of his three-point attempts. He wasn't cold, he was just tired from playing so many minutes.
Simmons played the most minutes he has all season, with 27. It could be argued that they were the 27 most impactful minutes he has played all season. His seven rebounds tied a season-high for him. His four points aren't anything to write home about, but he has always been discussed as a glue guy and not a scorer, and he was exactly that. His hustle and defense were phenomenal.
The meaningful Stanford possession exemplifies exactly what Simmons does. It isn't going to go on the statsheet. It won't be remembered forever because it wasn't a highlight. It still earned a win.
Chasson Randle blew by his defender and Simmons helped off of his man. If Simmons helps too early, Randle has an easy dump-off pass to Simmons' man. If Simmons helps too late, he gets called for a blocking foul. He helped at the perfect time, and though Randle attempted to hand the ball off for a dunk, but it didn't matter, Simmons, even with the new rule that makes it more difficult to draw a charge on a defender who is in the air, established position and drew the charge, allowing Wilcox the opportunity to sink two free throws to ice the game.
I found my blue composition notebook where I write all my notes. That means I have lots of Dots for you guys! Is that a groan I hear?
- Since I always talk about Andrew Andrews, let's start with him, even though he played five minutes all game long.
In Washington's comeback win against Oregon State, the lineup that did most of the damage was Williams -Goss, Anderson, Wilcox, Shawn Kemp Jr. and Blackwell. There were multiple lineups that were effective in the second half against Stanford, and none of them featured Andrews, who was on the bench all half long.
Obviously, Romar can't run Wilcox out there 40 minutes every game. He is already wearing down, and he just can't take that physical load. Even though he is the best on-ball defender for UW, he is now very rarely assigned to the opposition's best perimeter threat just because he expends so much energy on offense and plays such heavy minutes every game. So that means Andrews will get minutes. Maybe this will be a wake-up call for the talented but frustrating guard.
- When Wilcox catches off of screens, he usually shoots it or takes a second before deciding what to do with the ball, unless he already has momentum towards the basket. What he did against Stanford was make a decision as soon as the ball touched his hands: shoot, pass or drive. For most of the first half, it was pass. Once he was able to shoot, he wasn't afraid to let it fly.
- There are two glue guys on the team for Washington. Simmons is one and Anderson is the other. They do have different skill set, but both of them are in there to play hard, grab lose balls and to play within themselves.
Simmons is the better screen-setter and post and help defender (worth a lot), while Anderson is better at everything offensively that isn't screen-setting and is a better perimeter on-ball defender. There are two things that Anderson is exceptional at when compared to anyone, not just his fellow gluemen.
Anderson is one of the best in the Pac-12 at grabbing a rebound and pushing the ball up the floor. He isn't the best finisher nor does he have exceptional vision, so he won't get lauded for his ability to do this, but he is great at getting the Huskies into semi-transition or the second fastbreak. The ball is up the floor and defenders are still settling into their defense, meaning the offense has options. This is one of the best times to get a three or draw a foul. It was also when Wilcox hit is 27-footer.
He is also a really good interior passer. I feel like a pick n roll with Anderson and Baby Reign Man would be very difficult to defend, because it means that Anderson would be able to get into the lane, where he is an excellent passer. It also means that the roll-man is Kemp, and Kemp has the best hands of any post player on the Dawgs.
- Bill Walton is a natural treasure. Highlights:
Dave Pasch could get any HR job he wants, being able to put "Experience with Bill Walton" on his resume.— Ben Knibbe XLVIII (@BenKnibbeSBN) February 13, 2014
"Push the ball, play like the Seahawks" Bill Walton is off his rocker— UW Dawg Pound (@UWSBN) February 13, 2014
Out of nowhere, Bill Walton yells "Pervis!"... as in Ellison.— UW Dawg Pound (@UWSBN) February 13, 2014
You heard it from Bill Walton first, everyone. Lorenzo Romar, Coach of the Year.— Ben Knibbe XLVIII (@BenKnibbeSBN) February 13, 2014
@BenKnibbeSBN he mentioned CJ McCollum not Wilcox lol. All about Simmons spot of mid-range with the game on the line....— Erik Erickson (@Erik_Erickson) February 13, 2014
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