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Washington Huskies Men's Basketball: Three Lessons Learned Following UW's 98-80 Exhibition Win over SPU

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It wasn't perfect, but a glimpse into the future of Husky Men's Basketball was pretty exciting.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Men's MBB team took to the hardwood last night for their first and only exhibition game of the season and came away with a 98-80 win over Seattle Pacific University.

It was a "Back to the Future" unveiling for Head Coach Lorenzo Romar and his Dawgs.

Five Huskies scored in double figures for a UW team that started four freshman against a SPU starting lineup that featured four seniors including former UW C Gilles Dierckx.  On top of the balanced scoring, the young Huskies showed off a familiar form of aggressive three quarters and full court defense that generated 10 steals, 22 turnovers and 32 points off of turnovers.  The easy conversion opportunities led the Huskies to a 58% shooting pct for the evening.  Matisse Thybulle and Noah Dickerson each had three steals apiece for the aggressive Dawgs.

SPU provided the Huskies with a stiff test to start the season.  The veteran basketball team was 24-8 and reached the semifinals of the Division II NCAA's a season ago.  The Falcons returned all of their starters from that team and challenged the Huskies with both their size and their methodical, disciplined approach to offense.  Ultimately, the Huskies athleticism shined through with players like Dickerson (7-10, 17 pts), PG Andrew Andrews (6-12, 21 pts) and Dejounte Murray (6-10, 16 pts) pacing the Huskies.

The Huskies opening lineup was:
PG - Andrew Andrews
G - Dejounte Murray
F - Noah Dickerson
F - Marquese Chriss
F - Matisse Thybulle

Here are three observations from the Huskies exhibition win.

1. This is Andrew Andrews' Team

Moreso than many other sports, a true "floor captain" is critical in the game of basketball.  That player is an extension of the coaching staff on the floor, an inspirational leader to his teammates and, sometimes, the most important contributor in the middle of a momentum swing.

Andrew Andrews showed last night that he is every bit that player for this year's Washington Huskies.

Andrews, who is one of only three players from last season's roster to play in the game, appears to have fully embraced the leadership challenge handed to him by Romar.  With Nigel Williams-Goss no longer overshadowing him, Andrews showed both the fire and the patience in directing his young teammates that we have not seen since Isaiah Thomas was on the roster.

Perhaps the presence of new assistant and former UW star PG Will Conroy on the sideline is a stimulant in Andrews' growth.  Either way, the young pups need their PG to continue to demonstrate that steady hand on the floor.  For all of the talent that they showed last night, there was still a certain recklessness to the Huskies game.  Fouls were a problem, there was often confusion in offensive sets and UW committed 19 turnovers of their own.  There is are a lot of lessons yet to be learned out on the floor and it will be Andrews who gets them through it.

2. Who Are You Going to Stop?

For all of their youth, the Huskies are brimming with playmakers in a way that we've not seen at Montlake in quite some time.  SPU really struggled with how to set up their defense against a UW team that seemed to have no end of options available.  Whether it was Andrews creating from the point (8-9 free throws, 5 assists), Murray and David Crisp stepping back for threes (4 of 8 combined), Dickerson banging for easy buckets or Dominic Green providing a spark off the bench (4-5, 10 pts), UW seemed to come at SPU from all angles.

This is exactly the kind of versatility that Lorenzo Romar was hoping to see when he commenced the overhaul of the Huskies roster following last season.  The fact that we saw glimpses of what is to come in just their first exhibition game (keep in mind that UW has not always looked good against lower level competition) is an encouraging sign.

3. There Is Much Left to Learn

For all the success that the young Dawgs had last night, it was hardly a perfect game.  I already mentioned the turnovers and the moments of confusion that were seen in offensive sets.  It was also the case that UW struggled with defensive rotations as the Falcons were, themselves, able to shoot a pretty decent 46% from the floor for the game.

Fouls were a major issue for the Huskies.  In total, UW committed 31 fouls with guys like Murray and Thybulle having the minutes affected due to early foul trouble.  The Huskies were fortunate that SPU went cold from the charity stripe in the second half.  The Falcons were just 17-29 (yup, 29 attempts in one half) during that stretch.

Beyond those mechanical issues, it is also clear that UW is going to have trouble generating blocked shots and, perhaps, rebounding against bigger Pac 12 competition.  In particular, I wonder if this younger team will produce anybody with the tenacity to mix it up on the offensive glass in order to create extra opportunities for its shooters.  It will be interesting to see how this team evolves to compensate for some of the gaps that exist in the skill set of the roster that Romar wants to feature.

Next up for the Huskies is a trip to China where the Huskies will open their regular season against the Texas Longhorns and their new coach Shaka Smart.

GO (young) DAWGS!