Huskies' Plan For Revival Begins With D
Dec. 12, 2012
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - The outburst was as starting as it was uplifting, only because it was counter to Abdul Gaddy's laid-back nature.
The Huskies' smooth senior point guard took off from the right wing last weekend against Nevada as if launched from a bazooka. He zipped through a defender and slammed the ball through the rim with a thunderous right-arm thrust.
When he landed at the base of the basket, Gaddy looked more like his Tacoma pal Isaiah Thomas. He roared. He punched the air. The crowd, asleep and indifferent for the first 25 minutes, went bonkers. UW had rallied all the way from 18 points down to tie the score at 55.
"I wanted to try to dunk to give our team some energy," Gaddy said afterward. "I think that gave our team a lift. We thought it was (a game changer)."
Ultimately, it was not. Nevada won 76-73, Washington's third home, non-conference loss inside a month. That's half as many as the Huskies had in their first 10 seasons under coach Lorenzo Romar.
Romar said the dunk caught him "off guard."
"Now, the emotional outburst, maybe that showed me he'd really never done that dunk before. That was good to see," the coach said.
Many are wondering if this still-developing, still-depleted Huskies team needs more of the emotion Gaddy gave it with that uncharacteristic uprising last Saturday.
The way Romar sees it, Washington (4-4) needs that kind of intensity and emotion more consistently on defense, beginning Thursday night at KeyArena against rugged Seattle University (3-3) and former UW assistant Cameron Dollar.
"We always talk to our team about, `We have to have that same energy when a guy takes a charge, when someone makes a great defensive play and dives on the floor to get you an extra possession,'" Romar said.
"You need to have that same type of energy and reaction as if somebody gets a dunk."
The Huskies were humbled yet encouraged this week while watching the film of the Nevada game. They saw themselves allow 19 points in a four-minute span from the end of the first half into the second while Nevada bolted to an 18-point lead.
Then they saw themselves challenge dribblers, deflect passes and put hands in the faces of shooters - the kind of smothering defense that has been a hallmark of Romar's teams at UW.
Voila! Washington didn't allow a single point in the next four minutes. They came all the way back and took a brief lead.
"There's a pattern there. When we feel there's a big stage or trouble, we've played good basketball," Romar said, referring also to an early 16-point lead against Seton Hall and staying with No. 4 Ohio State in the Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament in Connecticut last month. "We've had that pattern.
"Good teams don't have that pattern. They play one way, all the time."
Scott Suggs thinks the Huskies aren't far from achieving that "good-team" status.
"It's not a long shot to turn this season around," Washington's co-captain said.
The ways Suggs sees it happening: Through more aggressive and consistent defense.
Indeed with Romar's teams, it almost always comes down to defense.
The coach said the Huskies will likely again be without slashing guard Andrew Andrews Thursday at Seattle U., and also Saturday when the Huskies host Jackson State. Andrews was in a walking boot after he sprained his ankle in practice last Thursday.
The redshirt freshman got hurt just as Suggs returned last weekend from a sprained foot and power forward Shawn Kemp Jr. made his season debut following a torn patella tendon. Only five Huskies have appeared in all eight games.
Andrews' absence puts a premium on Gaddy staying on the floor more. That means staying out of foul trouble, which he failed to do in the first half against Nevada when he got three fouls in 10 minutes.
It's not hard to see what Dollar, Romar's former top deputy at UW before he crossed town to lead Seattle U. back to Division I, will likely have his Redhawks do Thursday.
"Yeah, they'll probably pressure me to wear me down more," Gaddy said. "But me, I want to play more. I'm fine with it."
The lack of depth has forced Romar to use far more zone defense than he usually does, in an effort to preserve those players on the floor and to capitalize on 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye, 6-10 Jernard Jarreau and the 6-9 Kemp being down low.
But whether these Huskies are in their more customary man-to-man or back in a zone, they realize they need to cover what have been far too many holes in their defense.
Romar counted 14 of the 34 points Nevada scored in the first half last weekend as the result of Washington missing assignments on who had the ball handler.
Asked what specifically the Huskies need to do better defensively, Gaddy said: "Stopping the ball and picking up the ball. We weren't organized in transition."
"We know we've got to improve," said the leader who remains committed to his vow to get the Huskies back to the NCAA tournament this March.
"We want to turn it around. We are upset we are 4-4. We feel like we can be a good team."
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Bob Houbregs, the former All-American who with Brandon Roy are the only two Huskies to have their jersey numbers retired by UW, will be recognized at Thursday's game. Seattle U. is commemorating the first meeting between Washington and Seattle, in the 1953 NCAA tournament. Houbregs scored a tournament record 45 points as UW beat SU in Corvallis, Ore., almost 60 years ago. Houbregs' 846 points and 25.6 points-per-game average from that '53 season remain school records. ... UW holds a 23-4 edge in the all-time series between the universities that are about four miles apart. The Huskies are 4-0 since the series resumed in 2009 following a 29-year hiatus while Seattle U. left Division I. The last time Seattle U. beat Washington was on Nov. 28, 1978, 82-78 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Romar was a guard on the Huskies team on his way into the NBA. ... Clarence Trent, who transferred in 2010 after one season at Washington, leads Seattle U. with 11.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Before last year's meeting Romar joked on the floor with Trent that he would try to score 30 on his former team. "He just smiled. He didn't say no," Romar said. "I'm sure he wants to play well against us."