The Huskies dropped yet another conference game on Sunday as they fell to Arizona State 78-68. They are now winless in their last seven games, the longest stretch in Lorenzo Romar's 13-year tenure as head coach. More on that in a second, first let's break down what went wrong.
The Huskies stumbled out of the gate on the offensive end to start the game, knocking in just 3 of their first 18 shots, and featured what many Husky fans have likely gotten used to at this point: slow developing plays that result in tough three point shots, tough isolation shots, and a failure to convert close range shots. To their credit, they closed out the half strong, knocking down seven of their last 10 shots, and end the first half down one despite shooting just 35.7% from the field (They should have went into the locker room up one, but a dumb foul by Darin Johnson with 0.7 seconds left on the clock allowed the Sun Devils to knock down two free-throws and regain the lead). Their shooting did not improve much in the second half, as they were only able to put up a pedestrian 37.9% from the field for the game.
Three point shooting hindered the Huskies yet again, as they only knocked down 7 of their 25 five attempts from deep. I feel as though I've spent more then enough time detailing the Huskies shooting woes from deep, and it seems pretty cut and dry at this point. This team simply cannot shoot the ball well from behind the arc. Andrew Andrews and Mike Anderson do deserve some credit, they both shot 50% from deep Sunday, As Andrews went 3-6 and Anderson 2-4. To say Donaven Dorsey struggled mightily from behind the arc might be putting it lightly, as he only knocked down one of his eight attempts from three. Another game, another tough three point shooting night for the Dawgs.
The Huskies simply could not get enough production from anyone outside of Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrews, who accounted for 99 of the Huskies' 68 points and shot 44.8% (13-29) together. No other Husky was able to muster a double digit-outing. Darin Johnson was the closest who scored nine points despite converting just one field goal, as he knocked down seven free throws. Shawn Kemp Jr. was shooting a sizzling 61.4% from the field going into the game against Arizona State Sunday, but converted only three of his nine attempts and finished with just seven points and eight rebounds.
The Huskies were simply unable to keep the Sun Devils off the glass, as they were out rebounded by 18, and also gave up 18 offensive rebounds. Sophomore forward Savon Goodman led the way, scoring 19 points on 8-14 from the field. He also pulled down 13 rebounds, seven of which were on the offensive end. Down the stretch. The Huskies seemed unable to keep Goodman, or any of the other Sun Devils, off of the glass down the stretch, as they were simply unable to close out crucial defensive possessions. Junior guard Gerry Blakes scored a game high 23 points, knocking down three of his five shots from deep and four of his six foul shots.
After the dismissal of Robert Upshaw head coach Lorenzo Romar was presented with a very tough task: rebuilding the team's identity, shifting it from a "grind it out" defensive mentality, to a offensively geared, run and gun style approach on the fly in the middle of the season. Not to mention that Upshaw's dismissal came on just one day after a 19-point loss to Utah in Salt Lake City, and a team that was 3-3 and already struggling to find their footing after an unexpected and electrifying 11-0 start. To put it nicely, the coaching staff has not been able to figure it out. The team has yet to win a game since Upshaw's dismissal, losing a few close games (at Oregon, California, Arizona State) and being outclassed in a few other games (at Oregon State, Arizona, Stanford). Look, Lorenzo Romar deserves some credit, he took a chance on Upshaw, and he has been able to get his team to play hard despite being in the middle of a historic losing streak. He also deserves quite a bit of blame. it seems as though he built his team entirely around a player who was a known risk, and has looked unable to figure out how to adjust. The team is now in the midst of an all out free fall, and it is hard to see a way out of it right now. Talk of firing Romar has heated up during this losing streak. I can say that I am not on that bandwagon yet, as he deserves one more year to work with his highly touted recruiting class that he is bringing in next year. However, if the Huskies are once again in Seattle watching March Madness on T.V. come next spring, that would mark a half-decade of the Huskies missing the dance. I am not sure Romar can overcome such a feat.
I am getting ahead of myself. The Huskies' next chance to end the streak and get back into the win column will come Sunday, Feb. 22 in Pullman. In their last five games, the Huskies play the 10th (Washington State) and the last place Trojans, along with fourth-place UCLA, ninth-place Colorado, and the firs- place Utes of Utah. Hopefully, the Huskies can pick up a few wins down the stretch, gain some momentum, and make something happen in the Pac-12 tournament.
I may be getting ahead of myself again. Hopefully, they just end this losing streak.