Since I dragged my ass to Hec-Ed to watch this silly game, I’m going to write about it!
And since it was Senior Day, I’m going to try my damnedest to not rag too hard about the Seniors on this team. But, holy mother of god are these some of the most underwhelming Seniors I’ve ever seen leave this school.
At this point, I’m beyond the point of really giving too much of a shit. The season is over, and pretty soon I won’t have to worry about this team ever again. But, all the flaws of this team were on FULL display Saturday morning.
You know what kind of gets downplayed a lot when people talk about Abdul Gaddy? Everyone likes to talk about how many turnovers he produces, about how he’s not a very good shooter, and as one of the most highly-touted players coming out of high school, what a disappointment he’s become. On the flipside, his supporters will point to the fact that he’s one of the top guys in Husky basketball history with assists. And they will also lament a serious lack of a quality big man, which has surely hampered his numbers in both assists AND turnovers.
But, until you watch this team live, and until you see them play a team like UCLA – who is constantly pushing the ball up the court for fastbreak points – you don’t get the full picture about how SLOW Abdul Gaddy truly is. When you look at the Bruins, who like to run all the time, you’re looking at a team that isn’t always in a great defensive position. So, when they surge for a fastbreak bucket, more often than not, you – as the opponent – should be able to push the ball right back down the court for your own fastbreak opportunity! And yet, EVERY SINGLE TIME, Abdul Gaddy would slow the ball up at half court and wait until every Bruin was in proper defensive position.
Is he not good enough to push the ball? Is he TOO worried about making a mistake? Is he favoring that knee he busted up a couple years ago? For a guy who doesn’t seem too concerned with making boneheaded passes on the reg, he seems WAY too concerned with not getting too carried away driving towards the basket.
But, of course, he isn’t the reason why we lost this game on Saturday.
Now, I genuinely like Aziz N’Diaye. His defense in the paint is second to none. He had a couple of blocks on Saturday that were out of this world! He seemed to jump out of the gym to swat those balls, which makes you wonder why he settles for so many crappy lay-ins off the backboard when he could just as easily dunk the ball.
I’ve seen him do it! I know he’s capable of dunking! He’s seven God damned feet tall! With his wingspan, he can practically dunk the ball while standing flat-footed! Reasonably, he would need to jump the height of 2-3 stacked phonebooks, depending on the size of the city.
But, whatever. Offense isn’t his game. Since he does everything else well on the defensive end, I’ll give him a pass. Truth be told, I liked him in there early, as I thought he really gave UCLA star Travis Wear fits down low. Wear can’t do ANYTHING in the paint with Aziz between him and the basket. So, with Aziz in the game, that pushed one of UCLA’s premier big men to the 3-point line. Advantage: Washington. And, you could see its effectiveness when Aziz left the game, as Wear took advantage of smaller guys like Jarreau and Simmons. But, as the game went on, and it looked more and more like the Huskies were going to have to actually SCORE to win this game (and not just sit there preventing baskets like they did in the first half), Aziz was a liability they could ill-afford to keep on the court.
But, of course, he isn’t the reason why we lost this game on Saturday.
Scott Suggs has been an entirely different kind of disappointment altogether. He was lost for the season last year and we all thought that was probably for the best. Had the team needed him, or if he had already used a red-shirt year, Suggs could have played for half a season (or thereabouts). But, with a healthy portion of the shooting coming from Wroten, Ross, and Wilcox, last year’s team didn’t exactly need a fourth wing player. Minutes and shots were already at a premium as it was. AND, you figured with Wroten and Ross both likely to leave after the season (which they did), we would need SOMEONE to pick up some of the slack.
I had hoped Suggs would be that guy. I had high hopes of him stepping up and taking over games. Instead, he’s pretty much been what he’s been every year of his college career: a complementary player. A guy who doesn’t shoot more than he has to, who rarely takes the ball inside, who can’t really finish at the rim, and who can’t draw fouls and get to the free throw line.
On Saturday, Suggs was a man possessed. Romar gave him the important task of guarding the best Freshman in the Pac-12 – Shabazz Muhammad – and I thought for the most part, Suggs did a brilliant job. Yes, Muhammad got his points, and he scored a decent percentage of his shots, but when Suggs was on the floor, he was constantly in his face, physically bodying up on the bulkier Muhammad every chance he got. When Suggs scored that basket and nearly got T’d up for talking trash, I thought that was just the momentum-swinger he needed. Unfortunately, Romar opted to take him out of the game immediately to try to prevent that technical foul.
Which, in the end, goes a long way towards explaining why the Huskies lost this particular game: timing. Just as the Huskies were on the ass-end of some poor officiating (what else is new from the Pac-12?), the Huskies were also cooled off by timing and circumstance. Like Romar taking Suggs out just as he was heating up. Like in the middle of the 2nd half, when the Huskies ripped off a momentum-swinging run and had all the fans on their feet and yelling like crazy, UCLA REALLY took advantage of their timeouts. They tried to slow things down to a crawl, but the Huskies were still able to take a 2-point lead when all was said and done. Unfortunately, right after the Bruins played their timeout game, we were stuck with a TV-timeout about 30 seconds later. That 2-point lead with 8 minutes to go in the game wasn’t nearly the advantage we needed from such a huge momentum swing, and in the end the Bruins were able to walk us down and beat us handily.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that Suggs only ended up taking 10 shots (hitting 6 of them). It’s one thing to not force things, and to let the flow of the game come to you. But, when you see a guy in Wilcox, who was OBVIOUSLY having an off-day shooting, there’s got to be a switch you can flip where you take over the game offensively. Suggs doesn’t have that switch. Or, if he does, he constantly leaves it in the OFF position. Either way, he did more than enough to keep us in the game, but not nearly enough to win it for us.
One final comment before I’ll close: Where’s The Hustle?
Desmond Simmons is the ONLY guy who hustles on this team. A couple other guys are try-hard types, like Suggs and Aziz and Andrews, but no one truly hustles like Simmons. From Simmons, you get the feeling that every possession is life-or-death. That’s the type of play that really endears someone to Husky fans more than anything else. It’s why guys like Darnell Gant, Justin Holiday, Jon Brockman, and Bobby Jones were such fan favorites. Anyway, here’s to hoping we see more hustle out of our 2013/2014 Huskies. It will be a refreshing change of pace.
Also, my prediction: the Huskies lose to the Cougars, then they lose in the first round of the CBI, then I puke my guts out.