Saturday, December 11, 2010

#21 Huskies fail test lose to Aggies 63-62

By Kshell

The #21 Washington Huskies(6-3) dropped another close out of conference road game 63-62 Texas A & M Aggies(9-1). The Huskies once again on the road couldn't find their three point shot shooting 6-22(27.3%), take care of the ball(20 turnovers), not rebound the ball(outrebounded 35-28, gave up 15 offensive rebounds) and despite all of that the Huskies still had two separate chances to win the game with under 30 seconds to go. The Huskies once again failed to win the close games. For whatever the reason is the Huskies simply can't pull off these close games.

With 30 seconds to go in the game after the Huskies grabbed an offensive rebound, head coach Lorenzo Romar called timeout. The Huskies were trailing 63-62 at the time and were looking to get that signature out of conference road win for this season. After dribbling around Abdul Gaddy threw a pass to Isaiah Thomas who after Darnell Gant set a screen, Thomas passed it to C.J.Wilcox the teams best three point shooter who was wide open from three point range. Wilcox missed the shot with 12 seconds left in the game, the Huskies fought for the rebound and the ball went out of bounds to the Aggies.

After the Aggies inbounded the ball the Huskies could commit a foul to stop the clock Thomas stole the pass with five seconds left in the game. Thomas then charged towards the Aggies three point line and instead of passing to open teammates he found himself stuck so he tried to force up an off balance shot which was blocked to end the game. The Huskies lost 63-62 and once again couldn't get the job done against an NCAA tournament like opponent. Unless the Huskies work on boxing out and running an actual offense expect games like today to occur come March.

In the first half the Huskies couldn't get any offense going at all. The Huskies missed their first eight three point attempts and shot just 2 for 14(14.3%) in the first half from three pointers. The Huskies best player Justin Holiday sat most of the first half with three fouls and Isaiah Thomas led the team with eight points despite 1-4 shooting(6-6 FT's). Despite all that the Huskies were actually up 32-29 scoring a first half low in points.

In the second half the Aggies started to crash the glass on the Huskies. Many times down the court the Aggies would get easy putbacks on misses as they would have 15 offensive rebounds on the game. The Aggies then stretched the lead to 61-51 with over six minutes left in the game. Venoy Overton quickly drove the lane and scored an easy layup then after a three pointer by Darnell Gant(1-7 overall shooting) the Huskies had cut the lead to 61-56. When the Aggies stretched the lead to 63-56 Romar made a risky move that paid off. That is when Justin Holiday fould out on a horrible call that shouldn't have been called. The Huskies were trailing by seven points at that point.

The risky move Romar made was by benching Isaiah Thomas. He went with a weird lineup of Abdul Gaddy, Scott Suggs, C.J. Wilcox, Darnell Gant and Matthew Bryan-Amaning. With that lineup the Huskies cut the seven point deficit down to just one point after Gaddy made a terrific transition pass to Bryan-Amaning for the dunk, then Gaddy hit two free throws to cut the lead down to one. With 35 seconds left in the game Romar finally put Thomas in the game. As I noted earlier the Huskies would miss an open shot by Wilcox and then Thomas tried to win the game by himself instead of trusting his teamates. The Huskies lose another tough game away from home.

The Huskies couldn't generate much offense. Isaiah Thomas led the team in scoring with just 13 points making 2-7 from the field but hit 8-8 from the foul line while turning the ball over six times. The only other guy to score in double figures was Abdul Gaddy who scored 10 points on three for four shooting. Wilcox added nine points but on 3-10 shooting and Bryan-Amaning scored eight points while turning the ball over four times. Justin Holiday was in foul trouble and had just four points in 15 minutes on two for four shooting.

All in all, this loss isn't the end of the world but this loss has plenty of red flags. When teams slow the game down against the Huskies they tend to struggle like they did when playing Kentucky and Michigan State. The Huskies also need to find a go to scorer at the end of games. Thomas obviously isn't that player as he is undersized, makes bad decisions and isn't a great shooter. I hope the Huskies can find that go to player down the stretch or expect a ton of close losses for the rest of the season. The Huskies have two more home games left then Pac-10 plays begins on the road down at USC then at UCLA. The Huskies must figure out a way to win away from home.


- Where are all these great three point shooters gone? The Huskies shot 6-22 from three point range(27.3%). Thomas shot 1-4(25%) when he normally shoots 35.7% while making 1.2 threes a game. Gaddy, Holiday and Suggs were individually each 0-1 from three point land. Gaddy going into today was 60% making 1.5 threes a game, Holiday 53.8% making 1.8 and Suggs 40.0% making 1.4 threes a game. Gant was 1-3(33%) when he was 70% on the year with 0.9 made threes a game, Ross was 0-2 when he normally makes a full three a game shooting 38%. The best three pointer shooter C.J.Wilcox missed several open threes including the potential game winner as he shot 3-8(37.5%) when he was 57.9% with 2.8 threes a game.

I figured this year with eight guys who are capable of making three point shots that this wouldn't happen. The odds of all eight being cold in the same game wasn't likely but for the third time this year it has happened. Against Kentucky the Huskies shot 3-13(23.1%) and Michigan State 6-15(40%). So in the three losses the Huskies are 15-50(30.0%) from three point range. Which is an average of just five three pointers made. While in the wins against lesser competition the Huskies are shooting 78-155(50.3%) from three point range and making an average of 13 three pointers a game.

It appears when the game is going right everyone can hit a three pointer. This team has proven they can hit three pointers with the best of them. When they play a good defense though and when the game is tight those shots aren't falling. I don't know if that is because they are playing tight or what. This three point problem needs to be solved by Pac-10 play. That is a full eight three pointers a game(24 points) difference between wins and losses and a full 20%(1-5 more).

- Lorenzo Romar is the Huskies greatest coach in the modern era. He is great at recruiting and developing players over the years. His teams also tend to lose these games especially non conference. In fact since Brandon Roy has graduated in the 2006-07 season the Huskies are 2-13(13.3%) away from Hec Ed against non conference opponents. .If the Huskies wish to ever be big time nationally they have to walk into another tough opponents house and come away with a win. Go into a preseason tournament and coming away with wins. No longer are close losses acceptable for this program especially with seven guys back.

- Free throw shooting almost always kills the Huskies in close games like today. Today wasn't the case though as the Huskies shot 16-16(100%) from free throws including Thomas shooting 8-8 after being just 61% heading into the game. That was nice to see the Huskies knocking down their free throws and hopefully they continue to do that.

- The rebounding was terrible. The Huskies allowed 15 offensive rebounds on the day. I don't get why when you are getting outrebounded that badly that Aziz N'Diaye played just 13 minutes when he had seven rebounds. I know N'Diaye is an offensive liability and no longer blocks shots and picks up fouls but I was hoping to see him and Matthew Bryan-Amaning on the floor at the same time. Gant was struggling to hit three point shots and grabbed just two rebounds in 26 minutes. The Huskies needed a rebounder in there especially with Holiday fouling out in just 15 minutes.

The Huskies failed all three tests in their non conference schedule. Come NCAA tournament time this team won't receive a great seed because of games like today. The Huskies fall to 0-3 against teams who are NCAA tournament calibar. All three games the game was in doubt with under two minutes to go and twice the Huskies trailed by one or two points with the ball less than 30 seconds to go. Yet every time the Huskies came up short. This was supposed to be the year the Huskies finally break through but after seeing them this non conference season I disagree. I see the same team I've seen the last two years which is a good Pac-10 team but come NCAA tournament time another disappointing end.

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