Feb. 13, 2013
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Abdul Gaddy kept relentlessly driving - even a half hour after this latest Dawgs disappointment.
The senior co-captain led a postgame meeting to quell his anger, as well as that of scrappy, all-out Desmond Simmons and the rest of the perplexing Huskies. They had just lost for the seventh time in eight games despite one of their grittier efforts of the season.
Washington hadn't lost seven of eight since coach Lorenzo Romar's first season, January into February of 2003.
"I'm upset. Desmond is upset. The whole team's upset," Gaddy said after he equaled career highs with 17 points and seven rebounds -- but could not offset 35-percent shooting and more untimely turnovers in a 65-52 loss to 23rd-ranked Oregon, the league's co-leader, Wednesday night at hushed Alaska Airlines Arena.
"We just had to come together to make sure we everybody is all right, that we have everybody's back," Gaddy said.
He then shook his head and dropped it.
"Just tired of losing," he said.
C.J. Wilcox kept shooting. Simmons tried, too, scrapping, hustling, diving, doing everything - everything except scoring enough.
Effort wasn't the issue. Hasn't been most of this baffling season, in which the Huskies (13-12, 5-7 Pac-12) began conference play 4-0 for just the fourth time in 35 years.
Scoring and results were the problems -- again. Washington has led just once in the last two games.
Wilcox made just 3 of 13 shots, and only one after halftime, as Washington had its season low in points.
UW had scored 76 in losing by five points a couple weeks ago at Oregon (20-5, 9-3). This time, the Ducks ended a three-game losing streak despite again being without point guard Dominic Artis.
This time, they simply outlasted the misfiring Huskies.
Washington's 65.3 points per league game are within the bottom third of the conference. But Romar has a pointed message for the many that lazily connect the dots that the scoring woes are the fault of the Huskies' new, high-post offense he installed this summer.
"I wish someone would challenge me on this - `Coach, you don't know what you are talking about' - I think we are getting good shots. We just haven't made them," he said.
"Tonight, I didn't think we were deficient in areas that were grieving. We just didn't make shots."
Last season's Huskies won the Pac-12 regular-season championship with a 14-4 league record while shooting 45 percent overall - albeit with two 2012 NBA first-round draft choices in Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten.
This season's Dawgs have shot 45 percent in just 10 of their 25 games. Wednesday was their eighth game under 40 percent, and the 35-percent shooting against Oregon's mix of man and zone defense was UW's third-worst night this season.
"Right now, this is a mental situation for us," Romar said. "Somehow, without experiencing a lot of success, we've got to find some confidence. We've got to regain our swagger as a team.
"It's more the mental approach of going out and taking care of business the way we are supposed to."
Wilcox, UW's leading scorer at 17.7 points per game, is down from near 20 at the start of conference play. Wednesday he missed his first six shots, and for one of the only times this conference season it wasn't because a defender was hawking and face guarding him like a playground bully. Oregon spent much of the first 20 minutes in zone defense, yet Wilcox kept missing open jumpers and on slashes and runners in the lane.
Wilcox, who has been playing last month through the early stages of a possible stress fracture on the outside of his left foot, didn't make his first basket until 1 minute remained in the opening half. Then after Romar called a play during a timeout for him, Wilcox made an open 3-pointer from the corner to pull Washington within 33-27 at halftime.
Considering the Huskies led just once all game, at 15-14, and that Oregon shot 57 percent in the first half, the deficit could have been far worse. In fact, Oregon never led by more than a dozen until the very end.
But Wilcox - all the Huskies, for that matter -- never could find any offensive flow. They never made a true run, staying outside of a half-dozen points over the final 16 minutes.
"I thought for the first time tonight he may have shot the ball without confidence," Romar said of Wilcox.
"I don't know. Every game I just think every shot of his is going to go in."
Wilcox had company. Andrew Andrews was 1 for 8. Scott Suggs was 1 for 6. Simmons was 2 for 5. Shawn Kemp Jr. was 3 for 7.
So it went - off the rim and backboard.
"I don't know. Nothing against the refs or anything, but I think teams can take us out when they are holding our wings," Gaddy said of Wilcox and Suggs. "That's on us, to cut and screen better. ... That definitely takes us out of rhythm.
"Yeah, it's tough. But it's all mental toughness. ... This is a part of life. You are going to hit adversity. It's about mental toughness."
The Huskies host Oregon State Saturday night in yet another 8 p.m. tipoff.
Talk of NCAA tournament hopes or even making a run up to next month's Pac-12 tournament are on hold for these downward Dawgs. Playing the right way for a complete game Saturday is taking immediate precedence.
"We don't have any excuses. We have to be better," Romar said. "Somehow we've got to have the mindset against Oregon State that we are going to succeed.
"We can change this, but we have to get better in the next month. We have to get better."