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Scott M. Johnson of the Everett Herald noted in a preview of the University of Washington’s exhibition game yesterday that St. Martin’s doesn’t have a player standing taller than 6-foot-7.
So there was really no reason to expect the Huskies to lose the battle in the paint yesterday. Yet it ended up being a major problem, as described by Todd Dybas of the Seattle PI as follows:
Huskies hoops: Thoughts, notes, quotes from exhibition win
Rebounding was a problem. The Huskies were mashed on the boards, 42-32, by their Div. II opponent. That led co-captain Justin Holiday to sum up the game as “horrible defensively” for Washington. The Saints had 16 offensive boards and 20 second-chance points.
While the Huskies did win the game 97-76 and exhibition games are no reason for panic, the rebounding differential is undoubtedly a concern against a smaller team. From Rich Myhre of the Kitsap Sun:
Romar: ‘We Still Have Some Work to Do’
“Usually we have a rebounding mindset pretty early (in the season),” he added. “But we didn’t have that tonight. We’ve been outrebounded before, but I don’t remember getting outrebounded like this in our (annual) exhibition game.”
While the difference in total rebounding is certainly reason enough for concern, offensive rebounding in particular was a problem: the Huskies gave up 16 offensive rebounds to St. Martin’s and only got 10 of their own. Even if they did shoot well, there has to be concern about how they got outworked on the boards on both ends of the court. As Seattle Times reporter Percy Allen asks, if they struggle with rebounding against Saint Martin’s, what about the Pac-10?
Isaiah Thomas: “We got a lot of work to do”
If the Huskies struggled against Poole and Green, what are they going to do against UCLA’s Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith or USC Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson? Of course Romar doesn’t have to worry about that now, but he said he’ll address the team’s commitment to rebounding.
My guess, plenty of rebounding drills Monday.
Again – it was an exhibition game and this problem stands to improve over the course of the pre-season. But if there was any doubt previously, it’s definitely a key area for improvement.
Seattle Times reporter Percy Allen is correct that it should come as no surprise that sophomore point guard Abdul Gaddy has been named the starter for Saturday's exhibition game.
However, as Todd Dybas of the Seattle PI describes, this will be the year where we can more fully assess what Gaddy is actually capable of given his increased confidence.
As Thomas referenced, hype may have been one of Gaddy's biggest defenders last season. His second year will be more telling of his talent.
In the video above from King5.com, Gaddy elaborates on what exactly was holding him back last season and it sounds like a combination of adjustment, confidence and just "thinking too much."
"There would be times where I was wide open and I should've shot the ball but I didn't shoot it because I was thinking too much," said Gaddy at about the 5 minute mark in the video. "So now I'm just more playing off instinct. I think that's why I'm playing a lot better. [Coach Lorenzo Romar] could tell that too. That's the main thing he talked to me about: 'You're playing off instinct. You're playing off your skills. And it just makes you a lot better player.'"
By no means is an exhibition a big deal, but after all the hype around Gaddy last year and seeing brief flashes of what he could become, it's certainly intriguing to see what he can do when finally "playing off instinct."
It’s relatively easy to critique Abdul Gaddy’s freshman year in any number of ways, with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress summarizing the scope of his weaknesses reasonably well, if harshly.
But the thing Lorenzo Romar said repeatedly last season is that as young freshman, Gaddy needed time. And what that came down to more than anything was something alluded to by Givony: confidence.
With Venoy Overton out with a hamstring injury and expected to return Monday, Gaddy will get the starting nod at point guard along with scorer Isaiah Thomas, wing Justin Holiday and post Matthew Bryan-Amaning with a fifth starter yet to be named.
Yet Romar says Overton is not out of the running for a starting spot as a proven senior, according to Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald.
Overton has been out with a hamstring injury and won’t play in the team’s exhibition against St. Martin’s on Saturday night. Romar said he’ll probably return to practice Monday and will “absolutely” challenge for a starting job.
“Venoy Overton doesn’t have to prove anything to me,” Romar said of the Huskies’ sixth man last season.
With the potential of Overton coming back and challenging Gaddy – and it being unlikely that Overton would be slotted as the unknown fifth starter – that might put a bit of extra weight on Gaddy’s performance on Saturday.
The Pac-10 didn’t have the strongest year last year to say the very least, so it should come as no surprise that the Huskies are the only Pac-10 representative in the AP College Basketball Poll coming in at 18.
That said, the preseason prognostications have been friendly to the Huskies, earning the top spot in the Pac-10 and national recognition in preseason polls.
Returning four starters from last season’s team that won the Pac-10 Tournament, it’s probably not a major surprise that the Huskies are the preseason favorite for the 2010-11 season.
Perhaps more significant for the development of the program under coach Lorenzo Romar is that this is the first time they’ve entered the season as the favorite.
Huskies Picked To Capture Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Title
Defending Pac-10 Tournament champion Washington, which returns four starters from its NCAA Sweet 16 squad, including All-Pac-10 junior guard Isaiah Thomas, gathered 33 first-place votes. While the Huskies last captured the regular season title during the 2008-09 season, this is the first time they have been picked as the preseason favorite.
Todd Dybas of the Seattle PI writes that redshirt freshman C.J. Wilcox will be looking to fill the three point shooting role that was Elston Turner’s last season.
Huskies hoops: Wilcox out to show he’s a shooter and more
There has been grumbling in the past that shooters become strictly that in Washington’s current system. Wilcox said that’s not what he has been told.
“They encourage us to do more than just shoot the ball,” Wilcox said. “Make plays. Be on the break. Make things happen. It’s not like we’re just constricted to shooting.”
Just as it might be a misconception that a post player inherently wouldn’t fit the Huskies’ uptempo style, it would be equally misguided to believe that the team wouldn’t want multi-dimensional players on the wing. If you want to get out in transition, having multiple players on the wing who can handle the ball, move the ball, and put pressure on the defense by getting to the rim is a huge asset.
If Wilcox is able to bring that to the team this season, it would make their attack that much more potent.
One of the common misconceptions about playing an uptempo style in basketball is that all five players have to be flying down the court and that big men will inherently slow the team down.
Huskies | Huskies' 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye offers a new cog in talented roster | Seattle Times Newspaper
Still Romar must figure out how to maintain a high-octane attack that led the Pac-10 in scoring last season, averaging 79.2 points per game, while integrating N'Diaye into the system...During the one season with Hawes in 2006-07, he led the team in scoring but the offense stalled at times. Washington averaged 76.5 points — the third lowest points per game for a Romar-coached team at UW.
Romar downplayed concern N'Diaye will slow down UW's up-tempo style.
"That question comes up," he said. "We get two sides: When are you going to get a big man? And we get one. So does that fit your style? It compliments our style."
Yet a big man doesn't just "complement" an up-tempo style - in some cases, a big man can enhance it.
Of course, Don Nelson small ball or Mike D'Antoni's "Seven Seconds Or Less" style have worked on the strength of dynamic ball handlers leading the break and deadly perimeter shooters. But to run with the ball, a team first needs to get the ball. One way to accomplish that essential task is to have at least one player who can get defensive rebounds and initiate the transition game off the glass.
If N'Diaye comes is as strong on the boards as described in the article above and previous reports on UW, his tenacity on the boards could actually help, not hurt, the Huskies up-tempo attack.
As Seattle Times reporter Percy Allen noted, the University of Washington is the only Pac-10 (or 12) team ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Preseason Top 25 poll.
But what do these preseason polls really mean anyway? Not much, according to Zach Bell of the Slipper Still Fits and the Huskies should certainly understand why.
ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Preseason Men's Top 25 poll: Gonzaga 12th, UW 16th - The Daily Drip - SB Nation Seattle
Washington's experience last season is all the evidence you need of that: the Huskies started the season ranked 13th and found themselves out of the Top 25 by Week 9.
Venoy Overton has been out during the preseason with a hamstring injury and Percy Allen of the Seattle Times reports that the injury is worse than the senior guard originally thought.
Husky Men's Basketball Blog | Overton out the next few weeks; Simmons cleared to practice | Seattle Times Newspaper
The Huskies senior guard re-aggravated the injury during UW's two-day training camp over the weekend. He's expected to sit out the rest of the month and hopes to return for the Nov. 6 exhibition against Saint Martins University.
"It's definitely worst than what I thought it would be. I thought I would be back (by now), but it's been like a month. It's just not what I expected."
The injury has reduced Overton to a spectator at practice. He receives massages and rides the exercise bike, but the main treatment is rest.
Assuming Overton does indeed return by the time he hopes, this injury is certainly no reason for panic from a team perspective aside from the fact that he's obviously not yet in game shape. Coach Lorenzo Romar is taking the injury in stride, as shown by his answer to the reporter who asked if he was concerned about whether the injury will linger: "No, he'll be fine."
Nevertheless, as Overton noted in Allen's article, it's definitely not the ideal way to begin one's senior campaign.
In an interview with Seattle Times reporter Percy Allen, Washington forward Darnell Gant described what he sees as his role on the team as a glue guy.
Husky Men's Basketball Blog | Darnell Gant: "I see myself potentially as the X-factor" | Seattle Times Newspaper
"I see myself potentially as the X-factor. I'm not going to say I am the X-factor, but I see myself to be that guy because we got Matt (Matthew Bryan-Amaning) and Aziz (N'Diaye) going hard in the post and me and Desmond - I'm not going to say I'm just like Desmond Simmons - but we play the four and we're not bangers like that. To me, I should do a lot of the things that Desmond (does) because Desmond goes in for offensive rebounds. He's always active and that's what I feel like I need to be"
With the team's top offensive rebounders by percentage having graduated, retired or transferred - Quincy Pondexter (10.3 oreb%), Clarence Trent (15.0 oreb%), Tyreese Breshers (10.3 oreb%) - Gant is correct that activity on the offensive boards will be important this season to maintain what was a relative strength in conference play. But equally important will be the team's ability to keep opponents off the offensive boards, which Gant could play a huge role in as well - the team has lost three of their top four defensive rebounders by percentage in Breshers, Pondexter and Trent (Matthew Bryan-Amaning was third).
Obviously, Breshers and Trent were not major contributors to the team. Nevertheless, they were two guys that could come off the bench and provide a rebounding presence. Of the team's returning players, Gant is team's second best offensive rebounder (9.0%) and third best defensive rebounder (13.5 dreb%) during a tough year personally.
With the personal struggles behind him now, Gant is a player poised to step up his contribution and an increased contribution on the boards would help the team greatly.
Highly-touted power forward Terrence Jones was in the bag for Lorenzo Romar and the Washington Huskies after publicly committing the UW last spring. Immediately following the press conference, Jones jumped on the phone with Kentucky head coach John Calipari and told the Wildcat head-man that he'd made a mistake. Months later, Jones explained why he had a change of heart.
Months later, he's at Kentucky, preparing for his freshman year under the leadership of Calipari. With the past behind him, he's happy to be there. It's clear from King's story that Jones has always wanted to play for Calipari, but the lure of nearby Washington was almost enough to keep him home
With basketball season officially underway today, we took a look at the 2010 Washington Husky basketball team. UW comes into the season with lofty expectations buoyed by a talented roster and plenty of returning talent. Can they finally break through and make it past the Sweet Sixteen this year?
We look at that and other questions in our UW basketball preview.
The pieces are in place and the Huskies come in more experienced this year -- only losing Pondexter to graduation while replacing transfers with more talented underclassmen. The experience from playing in the tournament last year, and knowing what it takes to get back there, puts the Huskies in a good spot ahead of the 2010-11 season.
Today marks the official start of college basketball, with the NCAA allowing organized team practices to get underway. The Huskies come into the 2010 campaign as the preseason pick to win the Pac-10 after bring the Pac-10 tournament title to Montlake last season and making a run to the Sweet Sixteen.
Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar decided to forgo the traditional Midnight Madness that goes along with the first day of practice, instead holding a low-key practice and taking the team out of town.
Around the country, some schools will be celebrating the kick off to the season with a Midnight Madness celebration. Others -- like the Huskies -- will hold a quiet practice and head out of town for a team retreat.
The Seattle Times' Percy Allen noted Venoy Overton is already receiving some preseason accolades for, what else, his pesky defense.
Every preseason list about the nation's top defenders has included Venoy Overton (far right) and SI.com ranks the Washington senior No. 3 on its list.
Overton also ranks fourth on the all-time steals list at Washington with 141, 54 behind leader Jamie Booker.
The Huskies held their media day earlier this week. Allen had blanket coverage on his blog, even tracking down Tyreese Breshers. Breshers was forced to retire from basketball after sustaining a leg injury in high school that he never recovered from. Allen notes that Breshers will still take an active role with the team this year, though he can't be with them on the court.
"I'm still going to be around. I'm going to travel with the team. I'm not going to leave my brothers. I can't leave my family just because I'm going through a rough time. I'm still going to be there supporting them, putting in my two cents every now and then. I want these guys to see whether I'm on the floor or not I'm still a part of the Huskies.
You can also find video from the media day on the Seattle Times Husky basketball blog.
The Seattle PI's Todd Dybas previewed the Huskies today, noting that the depth and athleticism of this years team have created some lofty expectations.
Boosting anticipation is a bountiful roster return the Huskies have not had for five years. Swift, deep and versatile, the Washington roster presents Romar with more options than issues.
With expectations and excitement high, there's no doubt fans are eagerly anticipating the season's arrival. With practice underway, fans are one step closer to seeing the Huskies take the floor.
Washington opens their season with an exhibition against Saint Martin's on November 6th at Bank of America Arena. We'll have all your updates, news and notes on the 2010 Huskies as they inch closer to the season.
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