Perris Blackwell dominates Division-II Central Washington inside with 21 points and nine rebounds. Jernard Jarreau adds 17 points, nine rebounds – and comedy – as the Huskies win their only exhibition game 95-65. Opener is Sunday night vs. Seattle U.
Box ScoreBy Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – Let’s not draw too many conclusions. Just promise.
Perris Blackwell was as he’d been all preseason in his Huskies debut: dominant inside, providing a scoring presence down low that Washington hasn’t had in years.
Jernard Jarreau provided 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists – and the most comical play of the night. The rail-thin, 6-foot-10 forward slammed down a dunk while fouled, then flexed his skinny biceps to the Huskies’ bench and an amused, announced crowd of 4,985 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss debuted with 16 points, three assists and three turnovers in 20, mostly smooth minutes.
And C.J. Wilcox was C.J. Wilcox. He began his fifth-year senior season with 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting – though he uncharacteristically missed all three of his 3-point shots.
It added up to a promising, 95-65 run away from Division-II Central Washington in UW’s only exhibition game before the regular season Wednesday night.
The only downer: Lorenzo Romar said afterward that forward Desmond Simmons, the hustle guy whom the Huskies' coach calls a valuable "junkyard dog" a team can't have enough of, will have arthroscopic knee surgery on Thursday. Romar said Simmons is likely out until mid or late December.
The Huskies open the season for real on Sunday at 7 p.m. at home against Seattle University.
So far it looks far more versatile and deep than last season’s 18-16 one that lost in overtime to eventual champion Oregon in the second-round of the Pac-12 tournament last March in Las Vegas. It has far more scoring options inside than the team that lost at Brigham Young later last March, when Wilcox’s shooting turned cold in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
It was the second consecutive season UW failed to make the NCAA tournament; it has never missed the NCAA three years in a row in 11 previous seasons under Romar.
"There is no doubt this is a different team," Romar said. "For starters, there are more guys who can score. There is more energy. There is more depth.
"At all times tonight we had five guys on the floor who can pass and shoot."
Asked how he is enjoying having scoring options to throw to inside rather than having the preponderance of scoring and driving options heaped upon himself, Wilcox smiled.
“I love it,” the team’s leading scorer the last two seasons said. “You throw it inside or into the high post and you know something good is going to happen, and we haven’t had that in the past.
“I think the offense is going to work more for us than it did last year.”
Blackwell , a senior, played his first game in 20 months following his transfer from San Francisco. He did what he did throughout practices and scrimmages in October, and through most of last season in practices while sitting out his transfer year per NCAA rules. He dominated with an array of post moves the Huskies haven’t seen since maybe Jamaal Williams played for them through the 2005-06 season.
Blackwell and Jarreau, manning the foul line to begin Washington’s second season with a high-post offense, had a chemistry going in the lane. Jarreau kept finding Blackwell with high-low passes for scores, or to create trips to the foul line for Blackwell.
Another time, Hikeem Stewart sent an entry pass into the 6-foot-9, 280-pound Blackwell from the left wing. Blackwell spun to his right, to the baseline, blew past Central Washington’s Jeff Budnich with two dribbles as if he was a lamp post, then soared beneath the rim for a guard-like reverse layup while Budnich fouled him. He converted the free throw – part of a 7-for-9 night at the line for the 55-percent foul shooter in three seasons at San Francisco. That pushed the Huskies’ lead to 75-52 with 8:21 left.
The play happened just after Jarreau’s memorable moment.
The wiry, 6-10 junior who was a guard until he grew seven inches in high school in New Orleans has been working tirelessly with new Huskies strength and conditioning coach Daniel Shapiro on adding bulk and strength. So after he soared between two Wildcats and dunked with two hands emphatically while getting fouled, Jarreau landed and flashed his new, still-developing physique in a flex towards Shapiro and teammates on the Huskies’ bench.
“It’s making it way easier,” Jarreau said of his added brawn, “especially with my length I can finish over defenders more. And if I get hit, if there is contact, I can easily finish more (often). Now, it’s my strength and my length.”
The Huskies had an early, 12-point lead cut briefly to five before they went on a 7-0 run to close the first half. Gilles Dierickx, a 6-11 transfer from Florida International also making his UW debut, made several impressive passes from the high post down into Blackwell, or to guards Wilcox and Andrew Andrews cutting into the lane during that first half.
The Huskies led 44-32 at the break, despite making just 7 of 16 free throws. They finished 23 for 37 from the line, a 62.2-percent rate that must improve.
The much-anticipated slog through endless whistles as officials carry out the NCAA’s mandate to call more hand-checking, arm-bar and blocking fouls on the defense never materialized in this exhibition. At least not for the Huskies. They had just six fouls called on them in the first 20 minutes, and 14 for the game. That was encouraging considering Central drove the ball to the basket repeatedly when it wasn’t watching Mark McLaughlin – a transfer to UW for a few weeks in the summer of 2012 – shoot outside for his 30 points.