Friday, January 14, 2011

#17 Huskies blow 11 point lead in stunning 58-56 loss to Cardinal

By Kshell

The #17 Washington Huskies(12-4,4-1) dropped a close Pac-10 contest to the Stanford Cardinal(10-5,3-1) 58-56. A game which saw the Huskies lead 49-38 with eight minutes to play in the game. The Cardinal went on a 12-0 and due to the Huskies missing free throws down the stretch the Cardinal pulled off the upset. The Huskies had beaten the Cardinal six times in the past two seasons which might have played a role in today's loss. The Huskies missing starting point guard Abdul Gaddy along with the distraction of Venoy Overton could have played a role in this upset. Ultimately the Huskies shooting 36.2% from the field and making just 8 of 26(30.8%) from three point range really did the Huskies in.

The Huskies due to a number of factors came out pretty slow in the first half. The Huskies found themselves trailing the Cardinal 29-23 with two minutes to go in the half. Terrence Ross hit a three pointer with 1:26 to pull the Huskies within three and then Isaiah Thomas scored a layup with two seconds remaining. The Huskies were rather fortunate to trail 29-28 at halftime. The Huskies put up some awful shooting numbers at halftime shooting 10-35(28.6%) from the field, 3-11(27.3%) from three point range and 5-9(55.6%) from the free throw line. The Huskies also couldn't slow down Stanford big man Josh Owens who was five for five with 10 points at halftime.

The Huskies didn't get much balance scoring in the first half. They were led by their two stars Isaiah Thomas who had nine points on three for seven shooting including two for three from three point range. Matthew Bryan-Amaning added eight points on three for five shooting with four rebounds but just two for four from free throws. The big problem was Justin Holiday was zero for eight shooting in the first half with zero points. Terrence Ross was just one for five shooting as well. Other than the two stars nobody stepped up in the first half.

In the second half the Huskies came out hitting their shots mainly Justin Holiday. Holiday started the second half off hitting five for five from the field including three three pointers for 13 points. The Huskies at one point led 49-38 with about eight minutes to go in the game. At that point is when the Huskies stopped making their shots and settled for three pointers. The Huskies shot 5-15(33.3%) from three point range and Bryan-Amaning despite playing 31 minutes in the game had zero field goal attempts in the second half. Stanford took a 56-53 lead with under two minutes to go. The Huskies were stunned that the Cardinal just went on a 18-4 run in the previous seven minutes.

Trailing by three points with 1:12 left in the game reserve Scott Suggs(finished with six points on two for five shooting) hit a huge three pointer to tie the game up for the Huskies 56-56. After a miss by the Cardinals, Josh Owens would tip the ball in with 37.8 seconds left in the game to give the Cardinal a 58-56 lead. With six seconds left Suggs would miss a potentially game winning three pointer. Holiday would grab the rebound and be fouled with two seconds left in the game. After Holiday missed the first free throw he would miss the second one on purpose which was rebounded by the Cardinal Dwight Powell but he traveled. The Huskies would have one last chance but after a desperation three by Holiday was missed the game was over and the Cardinal had stunned the Huskies.

Now in college basketball losing one conference game is far from being the end of the world. Going on a losing streak or letting a scandal derail your season could and will ruin your season. The Huskies shooting 21-58(36.2%) from the field doesn't help neither does 8-26(30.8%) from three point range. The Huskies were also 6-12(50.0%) from the free throw line. The Huskies were busy shooting close to half their shots from three point range while neglecting Bryan-Amaning who had five shot attempts all game which were all in the first half.

The Huskies high powered offense put up some ugly numbers. The Huskies turned the ball over 14 times to just 11 assists. The Huskies lost the game despite out rebounding the Cardinal 33-26 due to Aziz N'Diaye grabbing 11 rebounds and Matthew Bryan-Amaning grabbing eight rebounds. The Huskies simply received no offense only having two guys in double figures. Justin Holiday finished as the top scorer of the game with 15 points but shot 6-14 on the game. He did miss two crucial free throws which ultimately lost the Huskies the game. Isaiah Thomas shot 5-12 scoring 14 points and dished out seven assists in the losing effort.

The Huskies dropped a close game which isn't the end of the world. As long as the team doesn't let a distraction ruin their season they should be fine. The Huskies will have an extra day off as they will play on Sunday night at California instead of the typical Saturday game. With better execution on offense the Huskies should be fine. In my opinion the distraction didn't cost the team the game but falling in love with the three point shot did. Lorenzo Romar must stress to his team to feed the ball inside to his bigs. The Huskies six game winning streak over the Cardinal comes to an end in stunning fassion.


- Venoy Overton has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. I'm not going to even waste my time talking about that. What I am going to talk about is how he shouldn't be starting. Overton had just two points on one for five shooting with just one assist. He is pretty ineffective on the game and starting him is causing the Huskies to come out to slow starts.

With Overton starting the Huskies have two undersized guards who aren't great outside shooters. With Thomas dishing out 33 assists the last four games(8.2 assists per game) the Huskies already have a point. You factor in the two undersized guards with Aziz N'Diaye(four points on two for four shooting) you don't have many scoring options. Now I'd start Terrence Ross who struggled today(I'll talk about that later) but he provides size and a better shooter. While Overton plays much better coming off the bench.

- The freshman were a total no show today. Terrence Ross who has been great in Pac-10 play scored just three points on one for seven shooting. While C.J. Wilcox who has been a no show for about a month now was one for four with just two points.

Ross only played 16 minutes and I think he needs to be playing 26 to 30 minutes a game. He is a great athlete and is usually a good shooter who provides great size at the guard position.

I think Wilcox 10 minutes needs to be reduced to garbage time. Give those minutes to Ross and see what Ross can do. Playing nine guys has to stop, Romar needs to cut a player out and make it an eight man rotation. That is the problem with freshman they are hit or miss. Although a different sport Don James once said best time to play a freshman is when he becomes a junior.

- Justin Holiday will go down as the goat this game but I'm going to give him some credit. Holiday before this year wasn't counted on to be a scorer. This year he become a scorer and as a scorer you go through slumps.

Holiday missed his first eight shots of the game. Instead of sulking his shoulders he come out of the second half on fire drilling his first five shots of the half including three three pointers. If the rest of the team can look how Holiday responded to adversity this Sunday at California then the team will be just fine.

Lorenzo Romar has his toughest challenge as a coach coming up. He has a struggling Senior who is in a bit of a scandal who should probably be benched. If Romar benches Overton the press might read into it that Romar isn't being supportive of his player. Romar needs to do what is best for the team which is start Ross over Overton and let Overton be the best sixth man in the conference. The Huskies have already lost one starting point guard for the season they can't afford to let a scandal ruin a promising season.

Nobody expected the Huskies to go undefeated in conference play. The Huskies will probably lose two or three more games in conference play as well. I'm more concerned about the team being 1-4 in close games while falling in love with the three pointer. I'm concerned if the team was more worried about off the court stuff than the task at hand. Romar will have his kids straighten out and hope to get a split. Not to lose perspective on the season but if the Huskies win at Cal considering they will have gone to the Bay Area and Los Angeles and come away 5-1 in league play everyone would sign up for that. Hopefully Romar makes the necessary changes and the Huskies feed the ball to Matthew Bryan-Amaning. It hurts to lose but that is bound to happen eventually. Now it's time to see if the Huskies can rebound after this tough loss.

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