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Washington Basketball: Huskies Try To Avoid A Sweep Against WSU

With Washington Huskies guard Venoy Overton suspended for the 2011 Pac-10 Tournament - and Justin Holiday hopefully not out for tonight's game - it's obvious that tonight's game against the Washington State Cougars will depend heavily on their mindset as opposed to any statistics or pre-existing evidence.

Venoy Overton Suspended For The 2011 Pac-10 Tournament - SB Nation Seattle
"I know guys love their teammate and they know they're going to go to battle without him on the floor," said Romar. "That'll make it tough, but we have to go on."

You have to figure that UW can't possibly shoot as poorly as they did at home against WSU (22.2 percent) or turn the ball over as often as they did in Pullman (24 times, 14 in the second half).

Other than that? One might figure that either the Huskies will look at this as an underdog situation and band together or fold under the pressure of a rather disappointing season - it's difficult to imagine anything in between.

"You gotta respond positive," said UW guard Isaiah Thomas, who may now have to play 40 minutes to take care of ballhandling duties. "Our backs are against the wall, once again. (Abdul) Gaddy went down. Tyrese (Breshers) went down. It's been a rough season."

And that's probably all we say with confidence about this game. But there are three key questions that will need to be answered as well.

Who will fill Overton's minutes?

With Overton out, it's unfathomable that freshman guard Terrence Ross will not play again as he did against USC. But given the surprise of him not playing against USC, it's difficult to know how those minutes will be filled. Obviously, C.J. Wilcox is an option, but as a freshman shooter - with beautiful mechanics, for whatever it's worth - it's difficult to know if his shot will be falling. If not, Scott Suggs has been playing well recently and can defend reasonably well. And of course, Ross has had his moments.

Without Overton, should they continue to pressure as hard defensively?

In addition to missing Overton's defensive intensity on the perimeter, the Huskies' rotation obviously becomes shorter without him. So the question becomes whether it's in their best interest to get out and pressure the Cougars aggressively as they might usually do. On the one hand, you don't want the players to get worn down doing something that might not be at its peak effectiveness anyway. On the other hand, it's quite clear this team that this team feeds off of their defense - limiting that might not be in their best interest.

How will they stop thinking so much?

Both Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Isaiah Thomas have commented that they've felt they're thinking too much on the court, as in looking over to the for guidance on offense.

"You just gotta go back to what's worked," said Thomas when asked when how the team would overcome this problem of thinking too much. "You can't overthink for when teams adjust to you because teams are going to adjust and try to do whatever they can to find your weaknesses and slow you down. And with us, teams don't want us to get out in transition. But we've gotta - no matter what teams try to do - we gotta counter that and get in transition and push the ball and not just look to coach for things. 

"I'm basically the coach out there when I'm on the floor because I'm the point guard on the team and, like I said, just the last couple games, all of February, it's been so up and down with me, that I think it's rubbed off on the team. So I just gotta have a positive attitude, go out, have fun, and see where that takes us."