"We finished the game," Lorenzo Romar said. It was his response to a question posed to him post-game: why was tonight different than the losses in the four previous games. The Washington Huskies held a lead in the second half of each of its four losses, including a 15-point lead to Stony Brook and a four-point lead to Stanford in the closing seconds.
A Daniel Gomis dunk for Oregon State pulled the Beavers within five, a score of 46-41, with 3:22 remaining in the game. Washington responded with a 10-0 run fueled by defense and balanced scoring. It was a late run that the team was unable to pull off at any point during the losing streak in order to seal any second half leads. It was a run that the Huskies are going to have to recreate in order to make noise in the Pac-12 and reclaim its chance at an at-large bid in the Big Dance.
SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean had the Huskies listed among his "first four out" before the victory over the Beavers. One must believe that he sees the Huskies non-conference dominance (aside from Stony Brook) is stronger than the four game skid. That might be true, but there is still a lot of the season left to play. It is possible that the Dawgs play their way into a de facto home game, with Seattle hosting some Round of 64 and Round of 32 games this year.
Tonight was a night that Robert Upshaw had a chance to get a triple-double. There is no way he gets 10 assists, but his shot-blocking was as good as we have seen this season. Fitting, on a night that he became the UW record-holder for blocks in a season. Five games into conference play. That is astonishing. He has a chance to set the Pac-12 single-season record at his pace. Tonight he finished with six rejections.
One big key to Oregon State's plan offensively was Olaf Schaftenaar drawing the shot-blocking machine away from the paint and busting UW's 2-3 zone. It didn't work, although curiously even when Upshaw was manning the middle of the zone defense he still went all the way to the three-point line to contest and pressure Schaftenaar. Romar was obviously worried about his ability to stretch a defense. Shcaftenaar finished with six points, going 2-7 from deep.
Romar was forced to mix up the starting lineup when it was found that Jernard Jarreau has to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, scheduled for tomorrow. Upshaw had his first start of the season in his place, and it is a change that will stick going forward until Jarreau returns in 4-6 weeks according to Christian Caple. Jarreau wasn't the only Husky missing tonight, as Darin Johnson missed the game with a strained quad. He is day-to-day and may play Sunday against Oregon.
Johnson might have been in line to start, with Andrew Andrews coming off the bench for the first time the season. I haven't seen the reasoning for it. It might have been to send a message, as Andrews played better at the end of the season last year after he was benched for a second half (and I believe came off the bench in another). Instead of Andrews, Quevyn Winters took the spot in the starting lineup and did very little with the opportunity. He missed all four of his shot attempts, with three coming from behind the arc.
Other thoughts about the game:
- It was awesome to see Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp in the house. according to Dave Mahler, Slick Watts and Big Smooth were in Hec-Ed as well, making it a big ole Sonics reunion. Payton and Kemp sat next to each other courtside, taking in their namesakes facing off on the hardwood in the city where they made themselves stars. Here is something for reminiscing.
- Andrews responded well to coming off the bench, or at the very least his game did. He kept his mistakes to a minimum, committing only one turnover, though he was the only Dawg in foul trouble with four. He tied Upshaw for the game-high in scoring with 12 to go along with two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Andrews is an important member of this team. I struggle to admit it, but his willingness to take shots late in the shot clock, ability to slash into the lane and his quickness defensively are all important to the Huskies. He has mental lapses offensively and defensively, but on a team with Nigel Williams-Goss as the only other capable lead guard (though a darn good one) his ability to run the offense is truly invaluable.
- Mike Anderson and Andrews combined to bust Oregon State's unique combination zone defense late in the game, combining to go 5-9 from behind the arc in the second half. Anderson is a 3-and-D player to a T, with the ability to be more. He helps Williams-Goss bring the ball up against pressure defenses (over Andrews), is trusted to attack the rim and run the high post. Look for him to be forced to play the power forward position more now that Jarreau is out for an extended period.
He is the best in-game shooter that Washington has, with Winters' shooting not translating to UW and Donaven Dorsey going cold (relative to early in the year). His main issue is that he is tentative to shoot, and typically has a long two-step set up to his jumper that is susceptible to late close-outs. When he is quick on the trigger he is deadly from deep. He shot 3-6 from deep and should keep shooting when he gets opportunities in the corners and on the wings.
- Jarmal Reid for Oregon State should have been issued a flagrant foul for his shove on Anderson. In a scramble for a lose ball, Reid grabbed and then shoved Anderson to the sideline with no intentions of going for the ball. It was a dangerous play and Reid needed to be disciplined beyond a loose ball foul.
- The design of the offense has been modified much from last year because of the dearth of shooting. Gone are the plays designed to shake a shooter free, and it has been replaced with a whole lot of pick n rolls with WIilliams-Goss and either Kemp Jr. or Upshaw. If only Wilcox had been one year younger.
Huskies play Oregon on Sunday, it's after the Seahawks game, so chances are you will be free to watch it, so watch it!
*Note: we are trying a new recap format for conference play, an instant recap (you can read Jesse's here) and an in-depth, analytical recap 1-2 hours after the game. Give us your feedback in the comment section please.