Oct. 29, 2012
By Jocelyn Perry
SEATTLE - On Sunday, November 11, it will have been over seven months since the Husky Men's Basketball team suited up to play a regular-season game. Since then, two seniors graduated and two underclassmen left to begin their NBA careers. Between new coaching staff members, a new offense and new redshirt freshmen eligible to play, some have marked this season as a `rebuilding' year.
Not the team though. While Husky fans switched their attention to Tanzanian weekends and October postseasons, the Husky Basketball team never stopped. They quietly have been working hard inside Alaska Airlines Arena, trying to polish up their game in pursuit of a fifth-straight season of winning either the conference regular season or tournament title.
The 2013 team got an early start to the season when they travelled for two weeks through Europe and Africa, learning a new offense and learning each other's games. The Huskies went 3-3 on their overseas trip, but the 10 additional days of practice helped the team learn the new high-post offense.
Many of the Huskies also played together in open gym sessions at Alaska Airlines Arena and during the annual summer league tournament at North Seattle Community College, where the likes of redshirt freshman Jernard Jarreau notably scored 32 points in one game. Just as impressive, the 6-foot-10 forward put on 30 pounds to broaden his frame for the season.
The most prominent force this season will be the veteran guard corps of seniors Abdul Gaddy and Scott Suggs, and junior C.J. Wilcox. With the new offense, Suggs and Wilcox will be able to move off screens and have more places on the floor to shoot this season.
Gaddy started every game last season and dished 182 assists, the third most in UW single-season history. Averaging 5.2 assists per game, Gaddy finished the season with a 2.4 assist-to turnover ratio.
After redshirting the 2012 season with a broken foot, Suggs returns to the starting lineup. The fifth-year senior shot 62% of his career field goals from beyond the arc and ranked third in the conference his junior year in three-point field goals at 45%.
Wilcox returns for his junior season after a stellar sophomore year. The guard averaged 14.2 points a game and made 40% three-point field goals with 181 attempts. With Suggs and Wilcox on the court together, the Huskies have a serious threat on the perimeter.
Wilcox scored 21 points in a win over Division II national champion Western Washington on Oct. 24. Up by an uncomfortable 9 points with 1:15 left in the game, Wilcox stole the ball from Western's Rico Wilkins and ran down the court and dunked for the cushioned win.
While the Husky trio has established themselves, the most logical question is who will be the supporting cast this year?
Fans will be pleasantly surprised to see redshirt freshmen Andrew Andrews and Jarreau on the court this season. The alliteration-laden redshirts got their first taste of playing time in Europe and at the exhibition game. Andrews averaged 8.7 points in the foreign trip, which was good for fourth-most. Andrews split the point guard position with Gaddy against Western, and Andrews finished the game with 14 points and was 6-6 from the free throw line. After coming off the bench early in the game with a turnover and a missed shot, Andrews made a 3-pointer and started threatening on both ends of the court.
"I sat out a whole year and I'm ready to get rolling," said Jarreau. "Everybody is getting the new offense down well. We were learning it all summer and I think it affects me the most because it gets me more involved in the game."
Redshirt sophomore Simmons and sophomores Breunig and Kemp Jr., look to add more of an offensive threat this season. With the switch to the high post offense, the change most affects forwards like Simmons and Jarreau. Simmons played in all 35 games last season and averaged 4.83 rebounds.
"Mostly I've been working on my confidence in the offseason," said Simmons. "Especially my all-around confidence, like shooting and passing."
Simmons played 21 minutes in the exhibition game against Western where he had two defensive rebounds. Kemp Jr. totaled 17 minutes and had five total rebounds.
Senior Aziz N'Diaye enters his senior season and third year with Washington. N'Diaye is eighth all-time in UW history with 72 blocks. The 7-0 center had 8 defensive rebounds and 10 total rebounds against Western, slightly over his 7.27 average from last season. N'Diaye adds a serious threat to the Washington roster.
"We need Aziz," said Gaddy. "We're just better with Aziz on our team."
The Huskies will host Loyola-Maryland, in their season opener on November 11 at 5 p.m. as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic. They then play Albany on Tuesday, Nov. 13 before travelling to Uncasville, Conn. to face Seton Hall and either Rhode Island or Ohio State.