Wilcox, Gaddy Lead Huskies Through Slog Vs. FAU
Nov. 13, 2011
By Gregg Bell
SEATTLE - The Huskies rushed shots that weren't there. They didn't consistently get into offensive sets.
They committed 17 turnovers, including one for not being able to execute a simple inbounds pass following an opponent's made basket. They gave up baskets inside far too easily to a team far smaller than them.
Yes, this was the early season slog almost every team has. Especially one with five freshmen.
Yet, hey, the Huskies won.
C.J. Wilcox scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to keep Florida Atlantic behind. Abdul Gaddy had 15 points and six assists while steadying Washington's skittish night in his second game back from reconstructive knee surgery. And these young, developing Dawgs clawed past the favorite to win the Sun Belt Conference this season 77-71 before 7,972 relieved fans at Alaska Airlines Arena Sunday night.
"I don't like to lose and say we'll learn from this. I prefer to win and learn from this," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said, wryly. "Hopefully this was one of those games where we won but a lot of lessons will be learned from this one."
There was a lot to learn from.
There were 49 total fouls and 36 combined turnovers in the second game of the season for both teams, and second in two days. Washington committed 17 turnovers and shot just 38 percent from the field.
"Yeah, it's early season stuff. It's something we've got to work on," said Gaddy, who again proved how valuable he is when games get erratic. "Those easy shots, that's something we are going to have to improve on."
Aziz N'Diaye had 13 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks for Washington (2-0), which hosts Portland (2-0) Monday at 7 p.m. to end this three-day, round-robin World Vision Basketball Classic. That will be on ROOT Sports television regionally, the Washington IMG College radio network and here again on GoHuskies.com with another exclusive live game chat and play by play.
N'Diaye would have had a monster night had the junior center not missed seven of his career-high 12 shots.
Romar didn't like that his Huskies' came out of Saturday's 91-74 breeze past Georgia State like they assumed this night would go the same way simply because they had shown up.
"I can see why Florida Atlantic was picked to win their league," Romar said. "I don't think we mentally came out with the intensity we needed, the focus. At times I don't think we concentrated like we should have -- and Florida Atlantic made us pay for it.
"Really good teams step on peoples' throats. ... We're not there yet. We have to get there."
Really good teams also have 7-foot centers who dominate smaller teams, such as N'Diaye against the Owls (0-2). They didn't have a player taller than 6-8.
During the many stretches when his Huskies were firing quick shots or failing to run smart plays, Gaddy calmly pulled the ball back outside with a dribble and looked for the 7 footer in the newer, gold Huskies jerseys with the subdued campus scenes on the back. Gaddy repeatedly found him and fed him in the low post.
"Gaddy was reading it really well," N'Diaye said. "I've just got to take my time in finishing the shots."
Washington led by as many as 14, then Florida Atlantic twice got within nine points with about 14 minutes remaining. The first time came after UW's guards crossed up each other in the backcourt for another turnover.
Romar turned behind him at the bench and sent Gaddy, who had reconstructive knee surgery to repair two torn knee ligaments in mid-January, back into the game.
Gaddy knew his job without Romar having to say anything.
"I take a lot of that on my shoulders. I've got to settle everybody down," the junior point guard said later. "That's going to happen that teams make runs. We've just got to make sure they are short ones."
Sure enough, on the Huskies' next possession Gaddy found freshman Martin Breunig zooming down the baseline from the opposite corner. He fired a pass that Breunig turned into a dunk.
After a FAU basket made it 46-37 with 13:30 to go Gaddy took the inbounds pass, looked to his right then lofted a 70-foot, no-look pass to the left that Keith Price would have admired. Tony Wroten caught the ball in stride and laid it in while getting fouled. The 3-point play, on Gaddy's second assist in two possessions since re-entering the game, put Washington back up 49-37.
"That's exactly what he is. He just takes his time and does the right thing," Romar said. "He's very trustworthy.
"There were a number of times while he was out when he could have used him last year, when there was a storm but we weren't calm. That's what he does; he's just so calming."
But Gaddy also showed it was just his second game since last New Year's Eve. Days later he blew out his knee in the kind of multiple-ligament tears from which NFL players Carson Palmer and Willis McGahee have made similarly remarkable rebounds.
With just over a minute left Sunday and the Huskies trying to protect a 74-70 lead, Gaddy uncharacteristically committed one of his three turnovers. But then Florida Atlantic's Kore White missed a 3-point shot and Gaddy made two free throws with 38 seconds left to make it 76-70.
FAU missed another 3 then made a free throw. Terrence Ross, who scored 14 points but was only 4 of 14 from the field for UW, matched that free throw with 20 seconds remaining to provide the final scoring.
Romar had noted before the game that Portland had endured a close win Saturday then came from behind to beat Georgia State 66-61 in Sunday's early game here.
"Man, they are really getting good reps," Romar thought of the Pilots getting to play with the game on the line late so early in their season.
Then, unexpectedly, his Huskies got the same chance.
"I do think," Romar said after the closer-than-expected win, "it should help us in the long run that we got a little bit of exposure to a close game early in the season."