Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cal defeats Huskies 69-66 as comeback falls just short

By Kshell

For the second straight game the Washington Huskies(11-7, 4-2) had a slow first half only this team they couldn't quite overcome it losing to the California Golden Bears(16-4,5-1) 69-66. The Huskies fell behind by 10 points at halftime as they scored only 25 points for the second straight game. In the second half Lorenzo Romar received another technical which sparked a Huskies comeback finally pulling within one possession. When senior captain Darnell Gant's three pointer was short at the buzzer the Golden Bears had survived with a win over the Huskies snapping the Huskies streak of three wins in a row and four out of five against the Golden Bears. The Huskies were again without C.J. Wilcox and this game it showed as they simply don't have enough guys ready to play quality minutes in this conference.

In the first half the Huskies struggled offensively. Neither team could hit a three point shot at all combining to hit 3-16 from three pointers. The Huskies only offense was actually Aziz N'Diaye in the first half as the Huskies just couldn't find any offense for the second straight game in the first half. The Golden Bears shot 13-26(50.0%) from the field, two for nine(22.2%) from three point range and 7-10(70.0%) from free throws. They were led by Allen Crabbe who scored 10 points on three for seven shooting including two three poitners. Robert Thurman off the bench who had only averaged less than three points per game coming into the game scored 12 points on five for seven shooting. Minnesota transfer Justin Cobbs scored six points on two for four shooting.

For the Huskies they struggled in the first half shooting 10-29(34.5%) from the field, one for seven(14.3%) from three point range and four for eight(50.0%) from the free throw line. They were led by N'Diaye who scored eight points on four for five shooting while pulling down seven rebounds. Tony Wroten scored six points on two for seven shooting but made both of his free throw attempts. Terrence Ross for the second straight game would struggle in the first half scoring just two points on one for five shooting while missing both three point attempts.

For the second straight game Ross came alive in the second half for the Huskies. With under 10 seconds left in the game Ross hit a three pointer to pull the Huskies within two points. After the Golden Bears made just one of two free throws they took a timeout. Romar then designed the play to go to Darnell Gant who at that time was 0-8 shooting including 0-5 from three pointers. Abdul Gaddy took the ball up court and then passed to a trailing Gant who was open but missed the shot short like he had all game long. The Huskies missed out on a chance to be in first place and are instead tied with five other teams in conference with two losses.

The Bears won the game as they were led by Crabbe scoring 16 points on 5-11 shooting with two three pointers and grabbing 10 rebounds. Thurman scored 16 points on 7-11 shooting with seven rebounds. Cobbs scored 14 points on 5-11 shooting including a three pointer. Meanwhile for the Huskies they shot 26-64(40.6%) from the field, 5-21(23.8%) from three point range and just 9-14(64.3%) from free throws. They were led by Terrence Ross who scored 15 points on 6-15 shooting including three for eight from three point range with five rebounds. Aziz N'Diaye scored 14 points on 7-11 shooting while grabbing 12 rebounds. Tony Wroten added 14 points on 4-11 shooting with a three pointer and was pefect on all five free throw attempts. He also added three steals. Abdul Gaddy scored 12 points on five for nine shooting with a three pointer. Desmond Simmons scored eight points on three for five shooting with three rebounds. Then Darnell Gant off the bench scored just one point on 0-9 shooting including 0-6 from three pointers while grabbing just two rebounds in 28 minutes. The Huskies need more production from him if they expect to win.

This was a tough loss for the Huskies who had a chance to be in first place in the conference despite being down two key players(Scott Suggs for the season and now C.J. Wilcox). Both those players are great three point shooters and when Gant is ice cold as he is that leaves only Terrence Ross to carry the load from the outside which makes it very easy to defend the Huskies. Despite having two future first round draft picks this team is struggling as Lorenzo Romar didn't recruit any depth. It is quite obvious that this latest recruiting class with the exception of Wroten has been a complete dud that is going to haunt this program for a while. The Huskies lack depth for the first time in the Romar years and this loss was a big reason for it.


- The Huskies bench was terrible against the Cal Bears. They scored just three points on 1-13 shooting in 42 minutes played. With Wilcox down Gant is the only bench player that can play. Outside of Gant not other bench player is even averaging two points per game. Which makes Romar's decision to redshirt Scott Suggs even more perplexing. I understand Suggs wanted an entire senior year but by doing that the Huskies most likely won't make the NCAA tournament. This is a game the Huskies win with Suggs who would have been ready to play by now. This last game everyone knew the Golden Bears were going to cover Ross tightly on that last play so Romar went to a guy who hadn't made a shot all game. Also with a healthy Suggs you can rotate him in more with the guards so the Huskies aren't forced to play Gaddy 38 minutes a game.

- Speaking of Gaddy he is really holding this team back. He can't hit a shot from the outside, doesn't do any penetrating and doesn't bring much to the table on defense. Why Romar insists on playing him the most minutes on the team is a mystery to everyone. This past game if you look at the box score you'd think Gaddy had a good game scoring 12 points on five for nine shooting. What you don't see is that Gaddy miss two open layups that started a transition for the Golden Bears who went on a run. If he makes either layup the fans aren't riding Gant right now as the Huskies win the game.

Gaddy the former five-star recruit #2 point guard in the country is now a junior. With Suggs out and Gant being limited he was supposed to have the big season to carry the Huskies. Instead despite averaging 33.1 minutes per game he is only averaging 8.8 PPG and 4.7 APG. He is shooting a terrible 42.5% from the field and an even worse 32.7% from three point range. In Pac-12 play Gaddy is averaging 9.1 PPG, 4.0 APG in 33.5 minutes per game. Especially now with Wilcox out and already with Suggs redshirting Gaddy has to provide the leadership for this team. Hard to be a team leader when you are constantly holding the team back. He looks nothing like a guy who was once so hyped coming out of high school.

-  This loss summed up Romar as a coach really well I thought. The Huskies are playing a first place team who was picked to win the conference without their third best player in C.J. Wilcox and already out their fourth best player in Scott Suggs for the season. Despite that the Huskies battled and pulled within one possession showing heart which is a Romar trait. Then the final possession also summed up Romar as a coach. Instead of putting the ball in his best players hands Terrence Ross he decided to once again out think himself and put the ball in his senior's hands despite not making a shot all game.

Another Romar trait is he always goes with experience over talent. Gant played 28 minutes while missing all nine of his shots and grabbing just two rebounds while the younger Desmond Simmons played only 19 minutes despite scoring eight points with three rebounds. Gaddy played the most minutes with 38. Recruiting young studs like Ross and Wroten does you know good if you don't know how to use them properly. At Kentucky those two would be dominating while with Romar they take a back seat to guys like Gaddy and Gant. The Huskies program will never take the next step until Romar realizes college basketball has evolved and goes with talent over experience.

At the end of the day this was a tough loss for the Huskies because they played so hard. The Huskies had no business being in this game with the way Gant shot and being down Wilcox. The heart is there which earlier in the year it was not which is a good sign. Unfortunately the Huskies just aren't that good this year. They aren't very deep unlike last year when they could afford to lose Gaddy(back when he was good) and have Overton suspended for the Pac-10 tournament they still survived. Last year the Huskies going into the year had 10 guys on scholarship they liked a lot not counting Tyrese Breshers who was injured for his career. This year they have just seven guys so when Wilcox goes down, Gant isn't making a shot and Gaddy is still ineffective that leaves Romar to playing at least one struggling player all game. The decision to redshirt Suggs may have ruined this season more than we thought. Won't matter next year if he is back if that means both Ross and Wroten are gone. This was a great opportunity for the Huskies that came up just short which is probably how their season is going to end up.

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