Sunday, January 9, 2011

#23 Huskies win 8th straight over Beavers 103-72

By Kshell

The #23 Washington Huskies(12-3,4-0) overcame a slow first half to destroy the Oregon State Beavers(7-8,2-2) 103-72 for their eighth straight win over the Beavers and their 14th win in the last 16th contest against the Beavers. The Huskies used a 28-4 run that spanned the end of the first half into the second half. The Huskies were fueled by great defense once again a trademark of good Romar teams. The Huskies out rebounded the Beavers by 11, had 10 block shots and nine steals on the game. Once again the Huskies played team basketball dishing out 20 assists led by Isaiah Thomas who once again is showing everyone why he is the best player in the conference.

The Huskies just like on Thursday came out slow against the Beavers. The Huskies trailed for most of the first half in fact. The Huskies found themselves trailing 8-3, then 11-6 each time the Huskies would rally to come close the Beavers would go on an extended run. The Beavers due to their hot three point shooting where they made six of nine three pointers saw their lead grow to 37-28 over the heavy favorites. That is when the Huskies went on a large run.

The Huskies after two free throws by Isaiah Thomas cut the lead to 37-33, on the following possession Thomas hit Matthew Bryan-Amaning for a bucket to pull within 37-35. Key reserve Scott Suggs drilled a three pointer to give the Huskies their first lead 38-37, after a Beavers bucket with six seconds in the half the Huskies regained the lead. Venoy Overton took the inbounds pass and went the length of the floor before he dropped in a bucket that bounced and went in. The Huskies ended the half on a 12-2 run to take a 40-39 lead at halftime. Thomas had 14 points and three assists on four for seven shooting including three three pointers along with Bryan-Amaning who added 10 points(4 for 5 shooting) and five rebounds to keep the Huskies in it.

In the second half the Huskies finally figured out the Beavers 1-3-1 zone. One way to attack the zone is play better defense and score in transition. The Huskies came out of the gate on a huge run. The Huskies extended their second half lead to 56-41 after going on a 28-4 run. The Beavers would pull within 13 points a couple of times but the Huskies were playing great defense. It also helped that Beavers came down to earth shooting just two of nine from three point range. By the time the game was over the Huskies had won 103-72 outscoring the Beavers 63-33 in the second half. The Huskies made sure to let the Beavers know that they aren't ready to contend with them anytime soon.

The Huskies once again showed that not only do they have the two best players on the court but they also are very deep. Out of nine scholarship players on the active roster, eight of them scored seven points or more with five of them scoring double figures. The Huskies are just to deep for other Pac-10 teams along with the 1-2 punch of Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning they won't lose many games in conference play. Bryan-Amaning fresh off his Pac-10 player of the week honors had another strong game scoring 24 points on 11 for 14 shooting, grabbing a career high 15 rebounds and blocking two shots. Thomas had an equally strong game scoring 19 points, hitting four three pointers, while dishing out eight assists to just one turnover. I feel as if Thomas and Bryan-Amaning are competing with each other for Pac-10 player of the year.

The great thing about the Huskies is that it's not just up to those two stars. The Huskies saw rising freshman star Terrence Ross score 14 points on 6-11 shooting including two three pointers. Ross also grabbed seven rebounds, a block and a steal all that in just 19 minutes. Another guy who had a great series against the Oregon schools was Junior Scott Suggs who scored 12 points on four of six shooting all from three point land. Darnell Gant added 10 points with five rebounds and made six for six from the free throw line. The Huskies also received a vintage Justin Holiday game where he scored just seven points but had four rebounds, three blocks and a steal.

All the way around the Huskies played a great game. The Huskies shot 55.7% from the field while limiting the Beavers to just 36.1% shooting. The Huskies also had 10 block shots, nine steals and 20 assists on the game. The Huskies turned the switch on in the second half while improving to 4-0 in Pac-10 play for the first time since 1984. Yes Lorenzo Romar's team is looking pretty good as they head to the bay area next week. This is quite the contrast from last year when the Huskies were 1-3 in Pac-10 play. The ceiling on this Huskies squad is very high and they have proven time and time again that when they play their "A" game you better watch out. The Huskies put points on the scoreboard very quickly which the Beavers just witnessed today. The Huskies made a statement to the rest of the Pac-10 that if you want to beat the Huskies you better bring your track shoes. Scary thing is the Huskies can beat you in many ways this year.


- It was a block party for the Huskies today as they swatted the Beavers 10 times today. Usually when a team has that many blocks it is mostly from one or two guys but not the Huskies. The Huskies had six different guys block at least one shot and three guys block multiple shots.

The following breakdown on the blocks were Justin Holiday with three, Aziz N'Diaye with two, Matthew Bryan-Amaning with two, Darnell Gant, Venoy Overton,and Terrence Ross each had one. The Huskies also had nine steals which breakdowns with Venoy Overton and C.J. Wilcox with two. Thomas, Holiday, Ross, Gant and Suggs with a steal. The Huskies score a ton of points so people might assume they aren't very good on defense which simply isn't the case.

- The Huskies once again saw great play from their big guys in particular Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Bryan-Amaning once again was downright dominating tonight scoring 24 points on 11-14(78.6%) shooting with a career high 15 rebounds. In the first half whenever the Huskies needed a score Bryan-Amaning would get a key and one score.

Bryan-Amaning as we know was benched in the middle of the non conference season after a disappointing Maui Invitational. He could have went one of two ways which fortunately he choose to use that as a wake up call. On the season Bryan-Amaning is averaging 15.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG with 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals a game. He is also shooting 57.5% from the field. He also has five double-doubles on the year and look for that number to increase.

Those are good numbers but in Pac-10 play so far Bryan-Amaning has stepped up his game averaging 19.0 PPG, 10.3 RPG with 1.3 blocks a game. He is also shooting 31-52(59.6%) from the field. I think you can trace Bryan-Amaning success when Romar chose to play him at power forward and play seven footer Aziz N'Diaye beside him. Since Romar has made the switch Bryan-Amaning in six games(Huskies are 6-0 btw) is averaging 17.0 PPG, 10.2 RPG with 1.7 blocks a game. He is also shooting 42-76(55.2%) and most importantly after turning the ball over 19 times in the teams first nine games he has turned the ball over just four times since the switch. That lineup change by Romar has made it so the Huskies have the best guards and big men in the conference.

Aziz N'Diaye today played an effective game scoring seven points, grabbing five rebounds and two blocks on three for four shooting. N'Diaye also has several defensive plays where he doesn't get the block but the offensive guy has to change his shot because of N'Diaye's presence which is either a turnover or a bad shot. Either way the Huskies are off and running. This also allowed Darnell Gant to come off the bench and provide a spark. Gant today had 10 points and five rebounds along with a block and a steal. Overall the Huskies are a really tough team when starting the two bigs.

- Venoy Overton had a nice game in his second straight start of the year. Overton added eight points, seven assists to just two turnovers with two steals on the game. Overton was slicing through that zone along with Thomas who added 19 points and eight assists allowed guys to have looks.

I think long term it would be best if Romar puts Overton back as the sixth man and Terrence Ross at the starting guard spot. Both starts the Huskies have came out to slow starts against bad teams at home. On the road in a hostile environment it will be difficult to overcome a nine point deficet.

With Ross this allows Thomas who has had three straight games of eight assists or more while still scoring more than his season average to run the point. You also have more size in your starting lineup plus another three point shooter to stretch the floor for Thomas. Your rotation works out better as well with Overton as sixth man. Overton can sub in for Thomas, Wilcox/Overton for Ross, Suggs in for Holiday and Gant in for Bryan-Amaning/Aziz. As you can see that is a smooth rotation but I don't know if Romar will make the switch. Hard to bench a hard working Senior for a freshman when it comes down to it.

Whoever the Huskies start I'm glad that Overton had a good game toady. The Huskies need Overton to be a key contributer and he is still recovering from his injuries. Overton gives the Huskies another quick guard who can pick the opposing guards pockets(Like he did today twice). Overton can also slice through defenses and score easy layups or dish it off for an easy dunk or three pointer as we witnessed today.

All in all this is Romar's best team he has had top to bottom. The 2004-05 team which had Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Will Conroy, Tre Simmons, etc was a really talented bunch but that was guard heavy. This team can beat you in a slow down game which we saw in Los Angeles with the twin towers of Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye. The Huskies can also beat you with three point shooting from Scott Suggs, Terrence Ross, Justin Holiday and C.J. Wilcox. The Huskies can beat you with great guard play from Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton. The Huskies have many ways of beating an opponent which they haven't always had.

When Isaiah Thomas is play team basketball he is easily the best player in the conference. He can beat you with his improving three point shooting, he can blow by the defender for an easy two points or what he has been doing lately is blowing by the defender and kicking it to an open teammate for an easy three pointer or a big for a dunk. Thomas is creating now and in the last three games has 26 assists to just 6 TO's(4.3 assists to turnover ratio) while shooting 47.2% from the field. He has increased his scoring during that time as well averaging 18.7 points per game. With Thomas and Bryam-Amaning playing like the two best players in the conference with this supporting cast even with Gaddy out for the year Romar has to love this team. The Huskies are about one fourth of the way through conference play and so far they stand alone on top at 4-0. Don't expect the Huskies to drop from the top anytime soon.

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