The Husky basketball team, in the very early going, already looks more impressive than it has in many years. They took out a good Belmont team in the opener, and handled a pretty good Eastern Washington team before heading off to New York for the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden. In the opener last night, the Huskies squared off against another good team in Providence, in what was a glorified road game with how many Friars fans there were in attendance.
And the Dawgs held their own! They didn’t win, as Providence’s superior shooting at all three levels took over at the end of the game, but the Huskies were down by 3 points with the ball in hand with less than a minute to go. In that kind of environment, I think that’s all you can really ask for out of a team like Washington.
This isn’t a superiorly talented Washington team; they’re going to have to scrap and claw in all their games to get W’s. The margin of error is razor thin. How thin? Last night, with 31 seconds left in the game, Jaylen Nowell made a terrific play to score a bucket to pull the game back to within 3 points, AND he was fouled on the play to make things really interesting. Make that free throw, and you can really muck up the last half minute of that game. Get Providence to miss just ONE free throw, and you’ve got a chance to tie it with a three ball. But, he bricked it, and the Friars won by 7.
Didn’t help that the Huskies were 9 of 27 from behind the arc. David Crisp had a particularly brutal game, hitting 4 of 14 from the field, of which two of those shots were inside the three-point line (both missed). And, as such, arguably the best free throw shooter on the team finished the night 0 for 1 at the charity stripe. That is, without question, a terrible night of basketball. And it’s not like he just had an off night! Crisp for his career is a 34% shooter from three-point land, and yet he’s out there jacking them up like he’s Ray Allen or some shit!
The Huskies were forced to go to that style, unfortunately, because Noah Dickerson fouled out (on just a HORRIBLE call by the refs) with a little under 3 minutes to go in the game. Up to that point, Dickerson was holding this team together with his massive wingspan and some duct tape. He finished with 19 points and 6 boards (including 7 of 10 from the free throw line) just four days after he dropped 28 & 22 on Eastern. I don’t know what happened with Belmont, but considering he fouled out and only played 19 minutes, my hunch is he spent the majority of that game in foul trouble. Either way, Noah Dickerson has proven – in the very early going, mind you – to be far and away the best player on this team, and the guy this offense needs to run through.
We’ve seen this out of Dickerson in spurts before. Against inferior opponents, he’ll bust out with a nice game here and there. But, rarely consistently, until late last season, when he really balled out in the last couple months (often taking on the load with Markelle Fultz battling his injuries). It’s a breath of fresh air to see that carry over into this season, when we’ve got a new coach and a whole mess of new players.
Jaylen Nowell really caught all the headlines when he dropped 32 in the opener against Belmont, but he’s been a lot quieter these last two games, taking a backseat to the vets on this team. As we move along, I’d like to see him assert himself more, with less of Crisp jacking up crazy threes left and right.
But, this team is only going to go as far as Dickerson is able to take them. He’s got the type of talent and production you can count on from game to game. Even if he’s not shooting well, he should be able to dominate the paint and boost his numbers at the free throw line with regularity. We haven’t had someone this good at the 4 since Jon Brockman, but I would argue Dickerson has more raw talent, particularly in the post. It’s scary to think he could be even BETTER than what we’ve seen from him thus far.
The Huskies wrap up the 2K Classic
tonight this afternoon in the loser’s game against Virginia Tech; hopefully we can rebound and steal a W. Then, we come back for an easy slate of games the rest of this month, as those early December showdowns loom against Kansas and Gonzaga.