"We are sorry for our inconsistent play this year". Lorenzo Romar's post-game speech nearly brought me to tears. The city of Seattle has been upset the entire season with the Dawgs and many people put that on Romar (yes, I am guilty of this). Stop. Stop it now. Lorenzo is the best. We should never, EVER take him for granted. His three best players this season were an extremely arrogant freshman and two sophomores. Give the man a break. Meanwhile, there was a Husky basketball game tonight. It was arguably UW's best all-around performance of the season. Terrence Ross led the way with 32 points and 8 rebounds, leaving no doubt that he is NBA ready.
Northwestern proved my theory on the Big Ten to be correct (if I only judge the Big Ten off of this game and the eye test throughout the college basketball season): the Big Ten is a league full of teams who make the most of their talent, but lack athletes and toughness. I respect Ohio State and Michigan State, but no other Big Ten teams belonged in the top 20 this season (looking at you Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin). Northwestern's players were quick to flail their arms in the air trying to attract a foul. This worked until Lorenzo Romar explained to the refs that John Shuma will throw his arms in the air if a baby pinched him. I have never been more bothered by a players' facial expressions and emotional reactions than John Shuma. He looked like he was either crying or extremely distraught the entire game. Toughen up.
The Wildcats had a game-plan and executed it well for around six minutes. That's right about the time when the Huskies realized that Northwestern refused to penetrate on offense, had gaping holes in their zone and were determined to trap Abdul Gaddy and Tony Wroten. UW's two point guards were simply too tall for the Wildcats' to successfully trap and force turnovers.
In fact, the Huskies as a team were too tall for NU to handle. The Dawgs controlled the boards, winning the rebounding battle 44-26, including 19 offensive rebounds. In all honesty, Washington did not play a good game of basketball. The players played how they want to play. Lob passes over the zone. No flashers in the high post of the zone. Sloppy, gambling defense instead of bodying up man-to-man. UW won by 21 and ultimately that is what matters.
Terrence Ross: T-Ross' offensive talents were on full display tonight. Ross went 10-21 from the field, backing up the theories around Montlake that the Huskies are at their best when Ross takes 20+ shots a game. #31 had two highlight reel alley-oops, part of Washington's obligatory back-door alley-oop game-plan.
CJ Wilcox: If Terrence Ross leaves after this season, I feel pretty comfortable giving the scoring load to Wilcox. CJ's ability to be effective off the dribble has taken his offensive game to new heights. CJ finished with 20 points and 6 boards. Ross and Wilcox outscored NU 50-48 at one point in the second half.
Game Flow: As much as UW fans want the Dawgs to be disciplined, this might be the style of play when the Huskies play their best. Everyone on the court was having fun (too much at times Tone) and floating around on offense before hitting gaps in the zone.
Ball Movement: I'm not sure if I can credit this to Northwestern's strange zone defense or UW's passing ability. Long story short, the Dawgs moved the ball better than they have all season. Washington consistently found the open man on offense (especially during their run after intermission) and this resulted in 6-11 from three point range in the 2nd half.
Abdul Gaddy: Gaddy has the potential to be an amazing basketball player. I will not give up hope that he comes through in a huge way next season. That said, he simply can't shoot the ball. Gaddy finished 1-5 from three and all of them were wide open. IF he could shoot from beyond the arc, he would be a force to be reckon with. Abdul can beat most point guards off the dribble and finishes effortlessly around the rim. Also, please stop throwing lob passes to break a trap. It's terrifying.
Hikeem Stewart: Stewart had 4 turnovers in 5 minutes of play tonight. I don't know where Hikeem fits in the Dawgs' future. He hasn't shown any flashes of brilliance this season (see: Martin Breunig's absurd dunk late in the second half) and is not very quick, athletic or confident.
Breaking the Zone: This is still a problem. It wasn't fixed tonight. Tony Wroten needs to be in the middle of every zone UW faces. UW was able to shoot and penetrate their way out of this problem tonight, but nothing was fixed.
Finishing ThoughtsThe Huskies played free-flowing and fun basketball. This is what this year's team is about whether or not the fans like it. Washington isn't very disciplined, but they sure as hell can put the ball in the hoop when confident. Oregon takes on Iowa on Monday night to see who will travel to Seattle to take on the Dawgs on Tuesday. Until then, I suggest finding the Breunig and Ross dunks on YouTube and watching them constantly.