Yes, I still write for this blog. Welcome back, you say? Why thank you. How have you been, you say? I’m doing well. The main reason I haven’t written much lately is that I wanted to make sure that I was still writing on here for the right reasons. All four of the Good Guys’ write on this blog as a hobby and nothing more. We aren’t paid for what we write (nor should we be) and we aren’t the most popular sports blog in Seattle (again, we shouldn’t be). We just do this for fun and we are hopeful that our readers find us entertaining and somewhat informative. In the last month I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t writing just to see how many blog hits we could get. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t think of it as a chore. Most of all, I wanted to make sure that I enjoyed sports more while writing about them than not writing about them. Now, I’m back! Yes, I’ve missed writing and, having wasted about 200 words already, it’s time to get on with this post! There will be more in the future and, hopefully, not as many breaks in the future.
I was driving back to Seattle today and caught the last couple of minutes of the Husky basketball game on the radio. After watching their blowout loss against Colorado on Thursday, I was hesitant to even turn it on but I’m a Dawg and will always be. Despite the Huskies best effort to lose the game to a terrible Utah team, they edged out a close victory. It was their first road win of the year.
After the game had ended I spent a few minutes about what I thought ‘Husky basketball’ is. In recent years I think the program has been successful enough to earn an identity and I think Romar, Bob Rondeau and Harry the Husky would agree. What is that identity? I would peg it as in-your-face defense that takes risks, fast paced offense that thrives off of penetration and shooters, and a dive on the floor to get the loose ball mentality. Most of all, I think it’s that last part. That’s what makes Dawg fans stand up and bark. Since the program has been on the upswing, there is no doubt that Romar has taught his players to want it more than their opposition. Sure, that hasn’t been the case every single game but I think most Husky fans would agree. So what’s different about this year’s team?
If you’ve followed the team at all, you know that they haven’t lived up to expectations. They have talent, probably the most in the Pac-12 (with 3 future NBA players and maybe more) but it hasn’t turned into wins. After today’s win they limp into a homestand with a 9-6 record and some low-points in Romar’s tenure (South Dakota State…. Really?). So, what’s wrong with them? I could give you a thoughtful, reasonable post about this subject but I have to go to school on Monday so there’s not enough time to write all of that. Instead, here are the biggest points I can think of, in bullet-hole form! Add on to this list in the comments if you feel the need. We can send it to Coach Romar when we’re done.
- They have no chemistry. It’s like at a high school homecoming dance and the principal comes on stage to announce the homecoming king and queen and he names himself king and the prettiest girl in the school queen. So awkward! Highly inappropriate! And yet, they still dance after he announces it because it’s tradition. Everyone is left to watch, aside from the kids who went to throw up at the sight. This team is like watching that dance. Remember last year when their was at least 3 alley oops a game? They knew where each other would be and gave up the ball. That doesn’t happen this year. It’s ugly, nasty and leaves you a little sick to your stomach at times.
- Tony Wroten’s jump shot. My goodness, that is bad.
- Their 2-3 zone defense. Did anyone watch that Colorado game? Romar switched to a zone in the second half and I thought, “oh good, a different look might throw them off.” A 2-3 zone won’t throw anyone off when you don’t rotate and cover open shooters! Every possession Colorado took an open jump shot. I may have to take breaks during this list so I don’t get too upset.
- Darnell Gant’s jump shot. Remember when it was surprisingly good? I don’t know what happened.
- The team’s post players. Speaking of Darnell Gant, the loss of MBA has hurt this team significantly. The post players aren’t extremely bad but they just don’t have enough of them. Martin Breunig and Shawn Kemp Jr. are learning and give good effort but they aren’t effective enough yet. Gant has hit a senior slump, you don’t hear of those often. Aziz has a few good moments a game, but is largely (pun intended) inconsistent. Desmond Simmons is great. He plays harder than anyone on the team but, sadly, he’s not enough.
- The team is young. Frankly, this might be the biggest issue and I can live with that. The team’s best 3 players are 2 sophomores and a freshman. They’ll get better, although they might do it in the NBA, but right now it can be painful.
- Abdul Gaddy forgot that he was a good basketball player. There are flashes of what he can be, but most of the time it seems like he just tries to not do anything wrong. I think passive would be the word to describe him. Abdul! You’re a good basketball player! You have potential to be a great basketball player! It’s okay to show off. Do your thing, man! I believe in you.
- There’s no passion or fire. Speaking of Gaddy, have you ever seen him yell? How about a fist pump? What about Terrence Ross? C.J. Wilcox? Nope, hardly anything from them. Wroten usually scores and then yells or stares someone down but that doesn’t seem to help the team at all. Gant got in a guy’s face once. That was a cool. Hey Huskies, get a technical! Push someone down. You play WSU soon, act like you hate them. You can’t take on a ‘us vs. the world’ mentality when you act like the other team is just as deserving to win the game as you.
- Coaching. I hate putting this one because I am the biggest Romar supporter there is. In my mind, that man has earned his right to coach here as long as he wants to but at least some of the blame has to fall on him and his assistants. When a team plays without fire the coaches have to take some of the blame. When a team doesn’t appear to know what it’s doing offensively, that’s on the coaches. I love Romar but he can’t go without some fault this season.
- Terrence Ross doesn’t take enough shots. I really think he should take 25% of the team’s shots. Instead we’re left with Tony Wroten jump shots and Aziz sky hooks.
- Should I go on? Sure, there’s a few more.
- Tony Wroten doesn’t play defense. Not to pick on the guy (he really is a great player and just a freshman) but watching point guards, that aren’t half the player he is, drive right by him as he half attempts to get a steal gets really old.
- The team’s man-to-man defense. Tony Wroten isn’t the only guy who doesn’t seem to give a full effort on the defensive side. The whole team hasn’t committed and until they do the team will be mediocre. I miss IT, Venoy, and Justin. Those guys played defense. If they suck at man-to-man and zone what are they going to play? Nothing, which is what they already do.
- They don’t play Husky basketball. I’ve watched one game where I thought they looked like the Huskies I know and love and that was a game they lost, against Marquette. This is the biggest problem.
Now, that I’ve written 183 bullet holes on what’s wrong with the team let me leave you with good news (if you made it this far, all of those bullet holes really got away from me). This team is undoubtedly talented. If they correct even half of these problems I think they can win the weak Pac-12. They have the best freshman in the Pac-12 (Tony) and a guy who will bust out soon (Ross). With the next 4 games at home, momentum can be easily grasped. Can this year’s team recover and play ‘Husky Basketball’? Time will tell.