Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wroten scores career high 27 as Romar wins #200 as Huskies head coach

By Kshell

Tony Wroten tied Isaiah Thomas freshman record of 27 points as the Washington Huskies(5-4,0-0) snapped a three game losing streak defeating the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos(5-3,0-0) 87-80. The Huskies who trailed at halftime came back in the second half to give Lorenzo Romar his 200th win of his Huskies career becoming only the third head coach in program history to win that many games. Romar won his 200th game due to the fact he finally started Wroten who made his first career start with the Huskies and he shined scoring 27 points with seven rebounds. The Huskies also saw Abdul Gaddy snap out of his slump tying his career high with 17 points.

The Huskies had their backs against the wall as they trailed at halftime. Then after blowing a 10 point lead with three minutes left in the game this time the Huskies were mentally tough enough to close out the game. Unlike the previous three games the Huskies were the team making plays down the stretch against a team who has made the NCAA tournament the past season .The Huskies were missing Aziz N'Diaye especially in the first half as the Gauchos had their way in the paint against the Huskies.

In the first half the Huskies struggled as they trailed the Gauchos 47-44 at halftime. The Gauchos shot 20-36(53.6%) from the field while making thee for six from three pointers. They also outrebounded the Huskies 22-14 while having five block shots to the Huskies zero. They were led by Orlando Johnson who scored 12 points on four for eight shooting including a three pointer with five rebounds.

For the Huskies they also shot well making 17-34(50.0%) of their shots including 5-10(50.0%) from three pointers. The Huskies weren't hitting their free throws making just 5-11(45.5%). They were led by Wroten who scored 13 points on 6-14 shooting including a three but was just one for three from free throws. Abdul Gaddy scored 12 points on four for four shooting including two three pointers and was two for three at the foul line. They also got a spark off the bench from Desmond Simmons who scored seven points on three for three shooting including a three pointer with three rebounds. Once again Terrence Ross struggled in the first half but would turn it around in the second half.

The second half the Huskies outscored the Gauchos 43-33 as the defense tighten up for the Huskies. Wroten continued to shine in the second half while Ross stepped his game up. The Huskies in the second half started to pull away up 77-67 then with two costly mistakes by Wroten the game was slipping away as the Gauchos went on a 10-0 run to tie it up. Gaddy drove to the hole missed the layup but Darnell Gant the lone senior on the roster hit the putback and made the free throw to give the Huskies a three point lead. The Huskies would earn the victory 87-80 as they were led by Wroten scoring 14 points in the second half giving him 27 for the game.

For the game the Huskies were led by Wroten who was 11-21 shooting but made just four of nine free throws. He did however collect seven rebounds during the game. Abdul Gaddy was next with 17 points on 6-10 shooting with two three pointers. Terrence Ross woke up scoring 16 points including another 360 alley oop dunk from Wroten on 5-12 shooting including two three pointers. He also added five rebounds, two steals and a block shot. Darnell Gant scored nine points on two for seven shooting with eight rebounds including the games biggest play. Desmond Simmons scored nine points on four for five shooting with eight rebounds. Like Gant he also made a three pointer. C.J. Wilcox struggled with foul trouble scoring just seven points on two for five shooting including a three pointer. The Huskies as a team shot well making 30-63(47.6%) of their field goals including 8-15(53.3%) from three pointers. Once again the struggles from the free throw line shooting just 19-30(63.3%) has already cost them games and almost cost them this game.

All in all, the Huskies are starting to grab an identity. With the absence of so many key players from last year it was hard to tell who the "alpha" dog of this team is. Now that is pretty clear the alpha dog is both Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten. It is also clear that Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox need to play well in the same game for once. The Huskies when healthy have three nice bigs they like in Darnell Gant, Aziz N'Diaye and Desmond Simmons. The Huskies were short this game due to injuries but found a way to win. For Romar this was win #200 which took him four tries to achieve but still is quite the accomplishment. The Huskies are starting to come together as a team and if they can solve the free throw woes they could be the favorites to win the regular season title.


- I love the play of Desmond Simmons who redshirted last season as a freshman. Simmons has provided the type of toughness that Romar teams need to be successful. Simmons has also shown the ability to knock down the open jumper meaning he can stretch the floor. With N'Diaye out today that forced Wroten into the starting lineup which meant Simmons was the only bench player. Simmons played 25 minutes scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds.

For the season in nine games Simmons is averaging 17.8 minutes per game. He is averaging 4.9 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting 48.3% from the field and has made four of six three pointers this season. In the last five games Simmons has averaged 7.0 PPG and 6.4 RPG in 19.8 minutes per game. Simmons is taking advantage of his increased playing time and is exactly the type of player this program needs if they expect to make it to another NCAA tournament.

- Darnell Gant the lone senior on the roster who has started all nine games this season. Gant has seen his role increase each year due to graduation and now has improved his game. Gant is now counted on for rebounds and scoring. This game Gant struggled shooting making just two of seven but did score nine points as he pulled down eight rebounds. Gant also had the play of the game putting back the Gaddy miss after the 10-0 run. Gant also made the free throw making the kind of big play the Huskies desperately were missing the last three ball games.

For the season Gant is averaging career highs 8.9 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game and 24.2 minutes per game. He is making 53.6% of his field goals while making 6-14(42.9%) from three point range. He is even shooting 73.7% from the free throw line as he made four of five free throws in today's win. Gant has seen his role increase and is taking advantage of it although he must improve on his rebounding especially if N'Diaye isn't playing.

- The Huskies haven't had a freshman impact their program like this since Isaiah Thomas did during the 2008-09 season when the Huskies won the Pac-10 regular season title. Wroten equalled Thomas freshman record for most points in a game with 27. Wroten in his first career start responded with 27 points while also grabbing seven rebounds including four offensive. This wouldn't be a Tony Wroten game without some flaws like 4-9(44.4%) from the free throw line and five turnovers. The last two games Wroten is averaging 25 points per game but he also has just one assist combined. Wroten is a playmaker this program needs as he is quick off the dribble and when the Huskies go through scoring slumps Wroten can end that attacking the hole. If he can make 75.0% of his free throws he can be unstoppable. As is the only defense teams have on him is fouling him.

For the season Wroten is averaging 15.7 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals. He is averaging only 25.1 mintues per game while shooting 49.5% from the field and 4-11(36.4%) from three pointers. The bad news is Wroten is averaging 4.4 turnovers and shooting only 50.8% from the free throw line. The more experience Wroten gains the better the Huskies will be as a team. At times him and Ross can be unguardable which is what wins in the NCAA tournament even if at times Wroten can frustrate you. The sky is the limit for him talent wise as he is already reminding me of Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics.

- Lorenzo Romar earns win #200 which is quite the accomplishment. He came to Washington during the 2002-03 season a program who was terrible for four straight seasons including his first year at Montlake. This is his 10th season at Washington and in his first nine seasons the Huskies program has accomplished quite a bit. They have been to the NCAA tournament six times, won the Pac-10 tournament three times, won the Pac-10 regular season once, finished in the top three of the Pac-10 six times, went to the sweet 16 three times and won an NCAA tournament game in five seasons. Romar more so than even Mike Holmgren I've never had more of a love-hate relationship with. He has done a lot of great things for this program yet you are left wanting more. Maybe with Wroten and Ross come March when they have experience this can finally be the year for Romar to take that next step.

In conclusion, this game was a lot closer than it should have been. The Huskies should have blown this quality opponent away had they just played better fundamentally. The Huskies as a team has a habit of making dumb turnovers with missed free throws. That cost them the Nevada game and now the Huskies who are 5-4 could easily be 7-2 will have two more non conference games before the Pac-12 regular season begins. The last five Romar teams to have made the NCAA tournament won their conference opener while the last two teams who dropped the opener failed to make the NCAA tournament. So that is something to keep on an eye on for the December 29th clash against the Oregon State Beavers. For now due to Wroten being a gifted superstar in the making the Huskies ended that losing streak and are above .500 once again.

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