Monday, March 7, 2011

Struggling Huskies lose on senior night to Trojans 62-60

The Washington Huskies for only the second time in the Lorenzo Romar era lost on senior night. The Huskies(20-10,11-7) fell to the Trojans(18-13,10-8) 62-60 in a game that wasn't that close. The Huskies were never within one possession the entire game. A season that once started off with so much promise is in serious trouble of missing the NCAA tournament. The Huskies who defeated the Trojans earlier in the year are struggling big time. The Huskies started the year off 7-1 in Pac-10 player but limp into the Pac-10 tournament losers of 6 out of 10 pac-10 games. To make things even worse the Huskies will have to face the Washington State Cougars who swept them this year. The Huskies can still salvage this season and are very capable of doing so.

In the first half the Huskies struggled for the third straight game which were all at home. Before last Sunday's loss to the Cougars the Huskies low for a half was 28 points. In the past three games they have scored 17 points, 24 points and against the Trojans 26 points. The Huskies found themselves trailing 36-26 at halftime. Huskies shot just 12-27(44.4%) from the field but just one for three from free throws. The Huskies were also one for six from three point range. The Trojans had shot 14-28(50.0%) from the field and a perfect six for six from free throw's. The Trojans were dominating the rebounds outrebounding the Huskies 19-10 in the first half.

The Huskies were led by Scott Suggs who scored nine points off the bench and hit the only three pointer for the Huskies. Then Venoy Overton provided a spark off the bench scoring five points. The Huskies big three continued to struggle as Isaiah Thomas scored just six points, Matthew Bryan-Amaning had just four points and Justin Holiday was held scoreless. The Huskies were playing like they didn't even want to be there. Despite the game being senior night the Huskies were playing like a team who had already clinched a spot in the NCAA tournament.

In the second half just like the previous two games the Huskies made a push. Unfortunetly just like the Cougars game when you dig yourself a deep hole that won't make a difference. The Huskies ultimately lost 62-60 as they scored some cheap points at the end. The Huskies simply could never hit that big three pointer when they were trailing by five points. The Trojans dictated the style of play. The Trojans prevailed for the third time in four years at Hec Ed over the Huskies. The Trojans were led by Jio Fontan scoring 20 points including 10-12 from the foul line. Nikola Vucevic also dominated for the Trojans scoring 19 points on 7-11 shooting pulling down 10 rebounds. The Trojans didn't shoot lights out shooting just 20-48(41.7%) from the field, 3-15(20.0%) from three's and 19-25(76.0%) from the free throw line. The Trojans did dominate the glass outrebounding the Huskies 36-25. The Huskies shot just 21-53(39.6%) from the field, 2-16(12.5%) from three point range and 16-22(72.7%) from the foul line. The Huskies struggled for the third straight game to generate offense.

In the losing effort the Huskies were led by Thomas who scored 16 points but shot just 5-13(38.4%)from the field and failed to connect on all three three point attempts. Thomas also had just three assists to two turnovers but hit six of eight free throws. Overton playing in his final home game did all he could do to help the Huskies complete the comeback. He scored 15 points on four for six shooting, seven for nine from the foul line. He also grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists, didn't turn the ball over and recorded a steal. Suggs had a nice game off the bench scoring 14 points on six for eight shooting including hitting the Huskies only two three pointers. Bryan-Amaning in his final home game struggled once again scoring just 11 points on 5-11(45.4%) shooting from the field. Bryan-Amaning also had just six rebounds but had three blocks and two steals. Then Holiday playing in his final home game was held scoreless first time all season long. He missed all six field goal attempts but did have five rebounds, a steal and two blocks.

Overall the Huskies have to look long and hard in the mirror. The great thing and sad thing about college basketball is your season is defined by what you do in the NCAA tournament. Last year's squad that barely made the tournament as an 11th seed will be more remembered than two years ago team that won the Pac-10 regular season title. The reason is last year team made the sweet 16 while two years ago they lost in the second round. Nobody will remember these type of losses if the Huskies can turn their season around. Time is ticking on them and a loss to the Cougars on Thursday could end everything. This team had so much promise and hope. This team has six upperclassmen and plenty of talent. There is no excuse for these type of performances. Time for the players and coaches to re-evaluate how they are going about things. The Huskies can still turn their season around but time is ticking. Like the slogan the 1999 Seattle Seahawks had "It's now time!". Well Huskies it's now time no more messing around.


- Overton played his heart out in a loss to the Trojans. I felt bad for him as KIRO tried their best to ruin his senior season. I also felt bad for Overton because when he struggled most of the fan base turned on him and wanted him kicked off the team. Overton is playing extremely well right now and has been outplaying Thomas of late.

Overton scored 15 points, grabbed one less rebound than Bryan-Amaning with five and dished out four assists. Overton is the Pac-10 active leader in career assists and steals. Unlike everyone else on the team his play has improved as the year has gone on. For the year Overton is averaging 6.0 points per game, 3.4 assists, 1.2 steals and shooting 42.8% from the field.

Now in the last seven Pac-10 games Overton has been averaging 9.9 points per game, 3.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds and six steals during that span. He has also shot 20-38(52.6%) from the field. Overton has been attacking the hole. Overton has been the only Husky lately driving the lane instead of settling on three pointers. Overton although in a losing effort ending his Husky career at Hec Ed in style.

- Thomas was looking like the clear cut Pac-10 player of the year when the Huskies were 7-1. Now he has been struggling ever since winning Pac-10 player of the week against the Bay Area schools. At least Thomas snapped his five game streak of 60.0% from the free throw line or worst. Thomas scored just 16 points on 5-13 shooting and had just 3 assists. Thomas is averaging just 3.8 assists per game the last four games.

Since winning Pac-10 player of the week Thomas in the last six games(3-3,2-3) is averaging 14.8 points per game, 5.2 assists per game, 2.7 turnovers a game. Thomas is also shooting 31-74(41.9%) from the field, 6-29(20.6%) from three point range, 21-38(55.2%) from the free throw line. When Thomas struggles the Huskies struggle that is just the facts.

In the teams 10 losses this year Thomas is averaging just 14.3 points per game, 5.1 assists per game to 3.8 turnovers a game. He is also shooting 42-116(36.2%) from the field and 11-47(23.4%) from three point range. Pretty easy to see why the Huskies were winning in the first half of the season and losing now. The season goes where Isaiah Thomas goes. Hopefully for the Huskies sake Thomas can turn his game around fast or the Huskies are in trouble.

- For this game I took my dad for his birthday. His 50th birthday was actually on March 3rd in a win over the UCLA Bruins. I wish the Huskies could have won as that would be been great. Before the game we checked out the Huskies hall of fame which was pretty special. I also bought some Holiday Bowl champions shirts at the team store.

Games are always fun to go to even the losses. I love the atmosphere and checking out cool exhibits like the Huskies hall of fame. Pretty neat to see all the football history, basketball and Tim Lincecum's Cy Young award. Overall had a good experience going to the game with my dad on his 50th birthday present.

- I'm going to focus on the other two seniors who played their last game at Hec Ed. Both players although had bad games had great senior seasons at Washington.

First I'll start with Matthew Bryan-Amaning who has been struggling lately. On the year Bryan-Amaning is averaging 16.0 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game, 1.7 blocks, 1.0 steals while shooting 56.4% from the field. Now those are good numbers he is the active pac-10 leader in rebounds and blocks. He will most likely make the first team all Pac-10 team which is something to be proud of.

Now the bad in the last three games Bryan-Amaning is averaging 10.7 points per game, 9.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 1.3 blocks per game. So as you can see he is doing well in the hustle stats so he is playing hard just not producing like he is capable of. That is mainly because his field goal percentage has taken a huge hit. He has shot just 11-33(33.3%) from the field. When you factor in that all his shots are within five feet that makes that percentage even worse. The Huskies can't afford to have all three big guns struggle. Which brings me to my next senior who had a rough game.

When you look up hard worker you'll see Justin Holiday's picture. Holiday just 0.7 points as a freshman and 2.1 points as a sophomore has worked on his game a lot. Holiday a co-captain along with Thomas this year is averaging 11.3 points per game, 5.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 0.9 blocks. Holiday is also shooting 47.5% from the field and 39.2% from three point range making an average of 1.6 a game.

Now the bad which was shooting 0-6 on senior night. Holiday showing his value was the only guy who could defend Trojans big man Nikola Vucevic as he was held to just four points in the second half. Holiday is shooting 5-25(20.0%) from the field the last three games. He is 4-12(33.3%) from three point range during that stretch. Holiday is averaging 5.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.0 blocks. He is playing like Holiday as a junior not the Senior version.

As you can see why the Huskies are struggling when their big three is averaging a combined 31.3 points per game while shooting just 32-99(32.3%) from the field and 7-26(26.9%) from three point range. Hard to win when your three leading scorers all slump at the same time three games in a row. Just amazing the Huskies even won a game on the homestand with those stats.

- I'm not surprised the Huskies lost this game. In fact I told many friends that the Huskies would beat UCLA but lose to USC. Sadly I was right once again. The Trojans are the type of team that always gives Lorenzo Romar teams fits. The last time the Huskies beat the Trojans by double digits was March 1st, 2007. In the last five years the Huskies are just 4-6 against the Trojans with all four wins being in single digits.

The Trojans feature an offense that is very slow, a big frontline and doesn't allow you to run. On all 25 free throw attempts by the Trojans they had all four guys stand past the mid court line. I've never seen a team have zero rebounders. They were not going to let the Huskies run which shuts down all Romar teams. They have figured out Romar's one play that the Huskies ran a lot. Teams are on to the pick and roll where Thomas has Bryan-Amaning set a screen and he drives past them only to pass to Bryan-Amaning for an easy dunk.

Now it is up to Romar to make the adjustment. If he doesn't adjust this year then the Huskies are going nowhere. Even if the Huskies sneak into the big dance they'll quickly go one and done. Hopes of a final four heading into the year derailed by the same things year in and year out. Teams who slow the pace down, have a good halfcourt offense and don't allow the Huskies to run will beat the Huskies seven times out of ten. I also think Romar needs to get after these guys as the team is struggling three games in a row coming out. The Huskies need to jump out on the Cougars this Thursday and show everyone they are ready to repeat as Pac-10 tournament champions.

All in all, the Huskies are struggling at the worst time. Only Venoy Overton is playing better as the season has gone on. The Huskies big three of Thomas, Bryan-Amaning and Holiday are struggling. The freshman are playing like freshman which is great one night then a no show then next. The Huskies bigs of Darnell Gant and Aziz N'Diaye have been horrible the last few games as well. The Huskies aren't looking like a team that 34 of 36 media members picked to win the Pac-10 conference. The Huskies are struggling right now at the worst possible time. Nobody ever imagined at 7-1 that the Huskies would be 11-7 sitting in third place thinking what just happened? Time is ticking for the Huskies and hopefully in staples center the thought of good memories from last year pops up again. The Huskies are very capable of winning the tournament but things must change in a hurry. Romar has one week to turn this mess around or fans might start to whisper about his coaching ability. One week to turn this around and hopefully forget about what just happened. One week that is all to fix what seems like an unfixable mess. One week to decide if this season is a success or a failure.

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