Thursday, February 24, 2011

Huskies big men destroy Redhawks 95-74

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(19-8,10-5) behind their two big men destroyed cross city rival Seattle University Redhawks(10-17) 95-74 behind a record crowd at Key Arena. In front of a Seattle University record home crowd of over 11,000 fans which had plenty of purple the Huskies were quite dominant with Matthew Bryan-Amaning and career game from Aziz N'Diaye. This was the type of game Lorenzo Romar's team needed after a heartbreaking loss to Arizona on Saturday. The Huskies besides the bigs scored plenty of points with six guys scoring in double figures. Most of those points were scored on fastbreak dunks as the Huskies once again have continued their trend of having a block party. In fact the Huskies set a school record for most block shots in a season. The Huskies also won their first non conference road game since December of 2007 when they defeated the LSU Tigers. Now the Huskies must maintain their focus as they have three critical home games left in the Pac-10 season.

The Huskies got off to a fast start never once trailing to the Redhawks. In fact the game started off with two quick dunks by Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye which saw Redhawks coach Cameron Dollar call a timeout 30 seconds into the game. After that the Huskies let the Redhawks and at times looked like they didn't want to be there. Unlike last year when the Huskies led by 40 points at halftime they only led 37-29 at halftime. The Huskies were 14-30(46.7%) from the field but just 1-9(11.1%) from three point range and 8-14(57.1%) from the free throw line. The Huskies led because of good defense holding the Redhawks to 10-31(32.2%) from the field, 2-8(25.0%) from three's and the Redhawks shot just 7-13(53.8%) from the foul line. The Huskies also controlled the glass outrebounding the Redhawks 28-15 while blocking six shots.

The Huskies were led by Bryan-Amaning who was wearing the number 55 because he forgot his usual number 11 back home at Hec Ed. Bryan-Amaning scored 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Isaiah Thomas also scored seven points to help the Huskies in the first half. Off the bench Darnell Gant scored seven points for the Huskies. N'Diaye also added five points and two blocks in the first half. The Huskies were letting the Redhawks hang around in the first half. However in the second half the Huskies would ride the big men to victory.

The Huskies began the second half with a 20-6 run that stretch their lead to 57-37 and the Redhawks never pulled within 20 points. The Huskies were still struggling with their three point shot but that didn't matter as they dominated inside. Bryan-Amaning added another 12 points in the second half along with N'Diaye who scored 10 points as well. The Huskies even got a spark off the bench by Terrence Ross who hit two three pointers as the Huskies cruised to a nice 95-74 victory over the Redhawks. The Huskies in the second half outscored the Redhawks 58-45 which saw a combined 51 free throws attempted in the second half. The Huskies for the game shot 31-60(51.7%) from the field, 4-18(22.2%) and 29-42(69.0%) from the free throw line. Unlike last game the Huskies dominated the glass outrebounding the Redhawks 47-23 including 19 offensive rebounds, six of which were by N'Diaye. Overall it was a good victory for the Huskies who got a nice bounceback win and now will focus on their true rival the Washington State Cougars.

The Huskies were led by Bryan-Amaning who scored 24 points on 9-11(81.8%) from the field while pulling down 13 rebounds. Now for stat geeks like myself I can quote the all-time scoring and rebounding average for a guy wearing number 55 is Bryan-Amaning with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Thomas broke out of his mini slump by scoring 20 points on 7-12(58.3%) shooting from the field including a three pointer with four assists. Then the Huskies received a career game to date from N'Diaye who scored 15 points on 5-7(71.4%) shooting from the field and 5-6(83.3%) from the free throw line. N'Diaye also pulled down 10 rebounds including six offensive and blocked three shots. Then the Huskies got 10 points from Justin Holiday on three for eight shooting but had five rebounds, two steals and a block shot. Off the bench the Huskies got 13 points from Terrence Ross who was three for five shooting while making two of three three pointers. Ross was also a perfect five for five from the foul line. Ross also had one of nine block shots as well. Then the other contributer for the Huskies off the bench was Gant who scored 10 points on three for seven shooting while pulling down four rebounds while blocking two shots. All around it was a good team win for the Huskies as they saw six of their eight scholarship guys score in double figures.

Overall this was a good game given the timing. I think after a tough loss like the Huskies experienced in Arizona it was good to get back out there and get a victory heading into the Washington State game. Also in blowouts sometimes you can build some confidence. Take the California game for an example where C.J. Wilcox hit four three pointers. Wilcox went on a roll for four games and made his first career start today. Wilcox although had just three points on one for eight shooting still had six rebounds and two steals with a block. Just like today hopefully broke Ross and N'Diaye's slump. N'Diaye was a monster and it was nice to see him shoot so well from the free throw line. The Huskies won't beat their chest over this win and this win won't raise them at all in bracket. What this win will do is put that past tough loss behind them and focus on the Washington State game. The Huskies won in a fun atmosphere at Key Arena and now must regain focus for the Pac-10 schedule and ultimately the NCAA tournament.


- The Huskies big men were just to much for the Redhawks. First of all the Huskies blocked nine shots today. The Huskies set a school record with 152 block shots. Bryan-Amaning averages 1.7 blocks a game in 27.9 minutes a game. N'Diaye averages 1.4 blocks a game in just 17.2 minutes a game. Two years ago when the Huskies were led by Jon Brockman they rarely got any blocks. For all the good Brockman could do blocking shots wasn't one of them.

In fact the Huskies have been on a block party roll since the disasterous three game road losing streak. In the last five games the Huskies have blocked 44(8.8 blocks) shots during that stretch. In four of the last five games the Huskies have blocked 41 shots. The Huskies with Bryan-Amaning, N-Diaye, and Gant have some block shot guys. The Huskies also have athletes like Holiday, Ross and Wilcox who are getting blocks as well. Just remember come tournament time when teams want to drive the paint the Huskies will be sending some of those shots into the stands.

- Which brings me to today's game. The Huskies big man trio of Bryan-Amaning, N'Diaye and Gant combined to score 49 points on 17-25(68.0%)shooting from the field. They also combined to pull down 27 rebounds including 11 offensive rebounds and had five block shots.

The bigs since the fiasco in Oregon have played well. First I'll talk about the career high in points by N'Diaye. N'Diaye was simply taller and more physical than the Redhawks. He was also getting to the free throw line and making his free throw's. The big mystery will be his free throw percentage same with Isaiah Thomas both guys have nice strokes yet shoot below their capabilities. I feel the Huskies need to feature N'Diaye more as he is pretty accurate in the paint. In N'Diaye's last nine games he is shooting 19-26(73.1%) from the field. During this five game block streak N'Diaye also has 12 blocks(2.4 per game) so it appears N'Diaye is slowly coming around.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning has been a man amongst boys the last six games dating back to the Oregon game. During that stretch Bryan-Amaning is averaging 20.7 points per game on 53-80(66.3%) shooting from the field. He is pulling down 8.8 rebounds per game while blocking 2.7 shots a game. During that five game block fest for the Huskies Bryan-Amaning has 15 blocks(3.0 blocks per game). So it appears the Huskies big man duo have been stepping their game up lately which is critical in the NCAA tournament as the game tends to slow down a bit.

- This game had a different feel to it than your typical powerhouse playing a small team. First of all the atmosphere at Key Arena was pretty electric. The Redhawks came out to a light show with the Chicago Bulls song of the 1990's playing in the background it was great. Then before both halves the Redhawks blared Zombie Nation by Kernkraft 400. The Seattle U crowd was pretty loud and into the game.

Also saw some famous faces in the stands. First saw Seattle Supersonics legend Slick Watts sitting courtside at the game. Then the picture to my right in the purple coat was former Washington Huskies quarterback Brock Huard(1996-1998). Then to cap off my night I saw Sonics legend and six time NBA all-star Shawn Kemp. Kemp in fact came up through my section as he was leaving and high fived us. I was lucky to have sit on the aisle so I shook one of my childhood hero's hands.

Seeing Slick Watts, shaking Kemps hand, seeing Lenny Wilkens telecast the game while being in Key Arena brought back some great memories. Like I said hopefully the city of Seattle steps up and gets a team. I don't want guys like Watts, Wilkens and Kemp to be forgotten for the next generation of sports fan in Seattle. That was the common thing that brought Redhawks and Huskies fans together at the game was bring an NBA team back to Seattle! The ball is in your court lawmakers because the fans have spoken now for a while. We want a team and not just any team but the Sonics and our history!

There was some debate on why the Huskies play Seattle University so late in the year(which we have the last two years and have Pac-10 championship banners hanging up so maybe it's working just a thought). Well one of the reasons is Lorenzo Romar is trying to help out former Huskies assistent and current Redhawks head coach Cameron Dollar out. You think 11,000 fans show up if this was in December? Not to mention some pretty big names in the audience.

I also think Romar is thinking big picture. That game had a great atmosphere and everyone knew the Huskies would win in a blowout. Romar knows in five years maybe even 10 years this could be a decent rivalry. A rivalry which will benefit both programs as the whole Seattle of Seattle will be rocking hopefully in our new NBA arena. I also think Romar realizes it's best to stay in rhythm by playing two games a week at the end of the year. No sense having an eight day lay off heading into a critical home game against the Washington State Cougars.

Romar is helping his team stay in rhythm while gaining some confidence. If Aziz N'Diay or Terrence Ross(Future NBA Slam Dunk champ) go off at the end of the year you can look at this game was the start of something. Ross has shown flashes but was in a slump. Hopefully this was the start of something for both guys going forward. This game will help the Huskies out like it has the last two years which saw them beat the Washington State Cougars.

All in all it was a good win for the Huskies. The Huskies at times didn't look interested but still won by 21 points. The Huskies scored 95 points mostly on defense like I said and unlike previous games didn't jack up three's. The Huskies have actually been pretty disciplined on their three point shot attempts the last three games. That could be because Suggs is hurt or they finally realized in March that will equal an early exit.

The game experience for myself was pretty fun and had good seats. I had a good time and I hope the Huskies continue this series. Due to the Huskies being so good finding tickets at Hec Ed can be tough so I hope they keep playing every other year at Key Arena. The Huskies are also one win away from another 20 win season under coach Lorenzo Romar. With this win against Seattle University Romar has won at least 19 games in seven of his past eight seasons. The Huskies won and the common theme from all the fans walking out of the gym was bring our Sonics back! It felt good to be back in Key Arena hopefully I can watch NBA basketball soon in Seattle!

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