Huskies Welcome Back Gaddy, Welcome Wroten, Win
Nov. 4, 2011
By Gregg Bell
Gaddy was smooth, explosive and efficient in his first game since reconstructive knee surgery in January, with 15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and no turnovers. Wroten dazzled the home crowd with four jaw-dropping assists to go with his 10 points and six rebounds in his third day on the floor since arthroscopic knee surgery. And C.J. Wilcox scored 19 points with five 3-point shots to send the Huskies to a 77-60 victory over Seattle Pacific in their only preseason exhibition game Friday night.
Terrence Ross added 15 points, eight rebounds and one monster dunk for Washington, which played seven freshmen and both of their walk-ons.
Entertaining former Huskies Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Isaiah Thomas, Will Conroy and Spencer Hawes courtside - and with last season's Huskies-turned-European-professionals Matthew Bryan-Amaning following from Turkey and Justin Holiday from Belgium on the GoHuskies.com live game chat -- the Huskies jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first half with defense.
The Division-II Falcons had shocked Arizona in an exhibition win in Tucson last week. But they got no closer than 10 points of UW in the second half Friday.
Yet Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar knows there is plenty of work between now and when his team opens the real season Nov. 12 against Georgia State.
"All night offensively, we were probably at 40 or 50 percent from where we need to be," said Romar, who is entering his 10th season at Washington.
Why would the coach say that after his team scored 77 points, shot 47 percent and out-rebounded SPU 41-36 despite having 7-foot center Aziz N'Diaye on the bench in street clothes recovering from a concussion?
Because Washington had 14 assists to 11 turnovers. That's nowhere near the 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 ratio Romar demands -- and that Gaddy was providing last December before he blew out his knee in practice.
"Defensively," Romar said, "there were times we were at 90 percent. Other times it was 10 percent - we were nowhere defensively."
That described much of the second half, when Falcons repeatedly roamed free in the lane for prime scoring position and then received uncontested entry passes. The Huskies were sometimes slow to move with the pass or help behind the play.
Some of that was because of the unusual and inexperience player combinations with which Romar experimented, such as Wilcox on the wing playing with four freshmen.
Still, Gaddy's assessment when asked whether the Huskies were ready for the regular season was: "Oh, we've got a long way to go."
"No offense to them. But they are Seattle Pacific. They are not a Pac-12 team," Gaddy said. "There are other teams with better shooters and bigger `bigs' that we can't let them post us up."
Romar said N'Diaye's headaches and dizziness are going away from the concussion he sustained Sunday, and that it looks good for the tallest Husky to start the opener in eight days.
Wroten made four passes in the open floor - no looks, lobs, on the run -- that left the home crowd gasping and then exclaiming "Ooooh!"
The best was an open-floor lob from the left wing midway through the second half that Ross soared and slammed through the hoop in one motion. The fans went bonkers on that one.
"I was kind of nervous - first game, bright lights," said Wroten, a star at Garfield High School in Seattle. "The first couple of possessions when I got in, that's when I realized I was in college. We were pushin' it.
"That's the perfect style for me."
In the first half Wroten drove from the top of the key past the foul line and sent all five Falcons running to the left with a hard stare that way. Then he zipped a no-look pass to the right block for a lay-in and 3-point play by fellow freshman Martin Breunig, who continues to show speed with the ball to the basket since arriving at UW. The German was headed to Maryland until coach Gary Williams retired in the spring.
The one flaw in Wroten's exciting debut: He committed four turnovers. Yet Romar wasn't overly concerned with those, calling those plays correctable with experience.
"He was all over the place. He had his hand in everything," Romar said of Wroten's 23, kinetic minutes. "Now, understand, he practiced twice after his surgery. This was his third time on the floor since his surgery.
"It's a lot of fun working with `Tone,' because he has all this vision. ... He has an uncanny ability."
Redshirt freshman Desmond Simmons was impressive in his Huskies debut, backing up the endorsement former Husky Bryan-Amaning gave on the GoHuskies.com game chat. Early in the game, MBA wrote he hadn't seen anyone go after rebounds harder since - gulp! - Jon Brockman.
Then Simmons grabbed five rebounds in his first 10 minutes.
The Huskies' defense was tenacious early, pushing Seattle Pacific out 35 feet from the basket as it began its offensive sets. SPU missed 12 of its first 16 shots as Washington jumped out to a 14-point lead 11 minutes into the game.
That was part of the time Romar saw his defense at 90 percent of where it needs to be when the game start getting real next weekend.
Friday did provide something few had seen before, and may not see again soon: A bench technical with 0.1 seconds remaining in the first half of an exhibition game.
Pac-12 official Gregory Nixon called the technical on Huskies assistant Jim Shaw. Romar said it was after Nixon, who T'd up Romar last season at Oregon, told the Dawgs bench to sit down during a dead ball. Shaw was looking the other way and didn't see or hear Nixon's demand, and when Shaw was still standing he got the technical.
"Tough deal," Romar said, shaking his head.