At 7-3, the Washington Huskies are prepping for conference play, which starts in 2 weeks. The young Dawgs have two more non-conference games left. After the throttling at the hands of Oakland yesterday it would be foolish to overlook the final two non-conference games. That being said, on paper, the team is poised to be 9-3 heading into the first Pac 12 game against UCLA
Since this is the season of giving, we take a look at Coach Romar’s "wish list" for 2016:
More of "this" Andrew Andrews
Senior Andrew Andrews is playing the best of his career at the UW. Andrews has not always been the solid, all-around player he has been this year. He already has been chosen as Pac 12 Player of the Week with great play in the Bahamas over the Thanksgiving break.
He is playing smarter and averaging 21 points and 6.6 rebounds. He is shooting 42% from the field, almost 44% from 3 and almost 80% from the free throw line. Some of Andrews' questionable decisionmaking reared its ugly head in the team's loss to Oakland yesterday. Romar is probably hoping that the yesterday's performance for the team's senior leader was a one-time lapse and that he gets back to form going forward, becasue if he does, he has the potential to compete for Player of the Year honors in the conference.
A "back to the future machine" for Dejounte Murray to catch up to his game
The highly-touted freshman has the early season lead for turnovers by a large margin. He has 34 through 9 games whereas the next Husky, Andrews, has 21. A lot of Murray’s TOs are due to "playing too fast." The more reps Murray gets, the more one expects his game to catch up with what he wants to do with the ball. As for now, Romar will need to be patient with the TOs.
(A back to the future machine to go back to and redo the Oakland game would also be nice. Yeah, yesterday sucked and i'm not over it, can you tell?)
More fouls for Marquese Chriss
The biggest surprise for the casual Dawg fan is the freshman from Sacramento. Chriss has all the ability in the world but has already been DQ’d from 4 games. Even with all the fouls, he is second to Noah Dickerson with overall fouls for the season (Chriss has 35, Dickerson 37). The aggressive play under the basket lends itself to the fouls. This could be a big problem in conference play when he’ll face better competition. If only Chriss were allotted 6 fouls, like the NBA.
The rise of a bench
We may not need a Monmouthian-like display, but a solid rotation with reliable contributors would be a key to a team that tends to be aggressive (read: foul a lot). Look for David Crisp, Malik Dime, and sophomore Donaven Dorsey to contribute to the starting five of Andrews, Murray, Chriss, Dickerson, and Thybulle.
Dorsey is a player to keep an eye on. The sophomore’s outside game would help with the team’s offense. He can be a zone buster for the Huskies, but Dorsey has not had a breakout game as of yet. Shooting 9-19 from 3 thus far, Dorsey could get more playing time if he could consistently hit the outside shot.
The Huskies started off the season with a big win against Texas in China. After that, the Dawgs lost to Gonzaga and then suffered a loss to Texas in the Bahamas. The good news for the Dawgs is Texas recently upset No. 3 North Carolina, which may help its tournament résumé come March. The standard fare of cupcakes this month will likely not help the Dawgs with RPI, which means that the team will need to have a good conference record to be considered for the tournament.
At 7-3, Texas has the best RPI of any team UW has played so far at 30. For those wondering, 6-3 Gonzaga has an RPI of 67, which is one better than the Huskies who sit at 68.
Currently, there are 6 teams in the Pac 12 with better RPIs than the Dawgs. The Huskies have a strength of schedule ranked 149th in the nation. What this essentially means is that the Dawgs will have to be above .500 during conference play to get a chance to play in the NCAA tournament this March.
Can the Dawgs do it? Certainly, playing well in conference is something on the wish list.