Nov. 24, 2012
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - C.J. Wilcox dragged his right leg behind him out of Alaska Airlines Arena, the result of a nasty fall to the floor and a bruised tailbone.
That wasn't all that got bruised for the Huskies Saturday night.
The suddenly slashing, aggressive Wilcox traded his signature smooth jumper for drives into the line on his career night of 28 points against Colorado State. But no other Husky scored in double figures, and depleted Washington got hammered 45-21 in rebounding while losing 73-55 to the Rams at somber Alaska Airlines Arena.
Scott Suggs missed the game with plantar fasciitis. The senior co-captain wore a walking boot over his right foot while sitting on the bench in a team sweat suit. He's been in the boot all week, and it sounds as if he may be out a little while longer -- including perhaps Wednesday when UW (2-3) hosts Saint Louis at 9 p.m.
Power forward Shawn Kemp, whom Romar calls UW's best low-post scoring threat, remains out into January with a torn patella tendon.
That leaves the already young Huskies' margin for error as thin as the wiry, 6-foot-5 Wilcox.
Coach Lorenzo Romar talked before the game to his team about how Colorado State was one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
"The number one key was going to be rebounding," Romar said after this humbling evening, "and we failed miserably in that area."
The Rams finished with a particularly galling, 24-7 edge on the offensive glass. Huskies were often standing still and watching Rams soar around and over them for put-back scores.
It didn't help that 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye, who finished with eight points and eight rebounds, missed nine of the opening 20 minutes while collecting two early fouls.
Colorado State owned a 22-8 edge in second-half points.
Standing on the floor following treatment for the tailbone he bruised after getting hit high on a lob attempt late in the game, Wilcox said: "I think the whole team's mentality needs to change. We have to be tougher."
Asked how this young, developing and now depleted team can go about doing that, Wilcox said, "That's a good question. I've never been part of a team here that's not been tough. We've just got to find it within ourselves to be tougher."
Wilcox set career highs with 11 field goals and 25 attempts -- largely because he had to. Yet he could keep Washington from losing its second straight at home for the first time since the end of the 2007-08 season.
This one was following a home loss to Albany then a win against Seton Hall and a relatively encouraging, 11-point loss to No. 4 Ohio State last weekend in the Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament in Connecticut.
Colorado State (4-0), played like what it is: A tall, veteran team with shooters and poise that made the NCAA tournament last season.
Wilcox said "at times" it felt like he would have to win this game himself, and he showed an I'm-taking-over mentality from the tipoff. Instead of relying on his signature, lethal jump shots, the junior consistently drove into the lane. His 13 points in the first half came on 13 shots.
His season-high in shots entering Saturday was 14. He seemed on his way to thrashing his career highs of 10 makes in 19 field-goal attempts, set last December against Duke.
UW's other senior co-captain, Abdul Gaddy, was just 4 for 12 from the field and 0 for 3 from the foul line. He said Romar pulled him from the game late so he could amplify coaching points that a leader needs to maintain his focus and leadership and play defense even when his offensive game isn't there.
Gaddy has said he won't let this team stay down long this season on his quest to return to the NCAA tournament after the Huskies missed it last season.
"I put this one on myself. A captain is not supposed to play like that, on both sides of the floor," he said. "We've just got to rally up. We've just got to come together."
Fifty-percent shooting and Wilcox's 13 first-half points offset Colorado State's huge rebounding edge early and kept the Huskies in front. But then Wilcox missed a 3-pointer from the left wing that would have given the Huskies a 41-32 nine-point lead early in the second half.
Colorado State scored the next 15 points. The Huskies never got closer than 47-42 with 10:52 left, on two free throws by Wilcox. The Rams out-scored UW 25-6 from the 17:09 mark of the second half until 7 minutes remained. Colorado State stayed ahead by double digits over the final 8 minutes while piling onto its mammoth rebounding edge.
"They made a run, and we didn't rally up. That's my job," Gaddy said. "That's my job to bring us together and make sure guys know where they are supposed to be, offensively and defensively - to make sure we maintain our lead, or at least to make sure we stay in the game."
Gaddy had been making 55 percent of his shots and averaging 16 points per game through the first four games. He was the co-leader with Suggs on the six-game exhibition tour of Europe the Huskies took into early September.
"I'm a guy of patterns. This is one game," Romar said. "Abdul has been good, very good. So we're not going to throw out everything because of this one game."
Wilcox isn't worried about Gaddy, either.
"I know Gaddy's fine. He's going to bounce back," Wilcox said. "I mean, I know - we all know - especially with this team the leaders can't afford to have a bad game. I've had my share. It's going to happen.
"We've got to bounce back, come together."
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Wilcox thinks rest on Sunday plus some medication he got after the postgame treatment will make him OK to play Wednesday. "I'll hopefully be back for Monday's practice. I'll be fine," he said. ... Romar says Suggs is "day to day, week to week" with the foot injury. ... The last time Washington had lost consecutive games at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, the winningest home court in college basketball, came when it lost the '07-'08 regular season home finale to Arizona State then to Valparaiso weeks later in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational tournament.