Tag Archives: Isaiah Thomas

Bad News, Good News, Great News!

Ready for the bad news? It is a bleak day for Dawg fans, there’s no 2 ways around it. Yesterday’s loss was frustrating, untimely, but certainly not surprising, at least if you’ve followed this team all season. On one side, the Huskies exceeded pre-season expectations by winning the Pac 12 outright, a truly awesome accomplishment. On the other side, 20 of the Huskies 21 wins have come vs. opponents with an RPI of 75+, and time and time again the Dawgs have narrowly missed on opportunities to make a statement, and erase doubts. The biggest factor, for me anyway, is leadership. Gant is the only contributing senior, and I think he has done his best, but his personality is not that of a Brandon Roy, Will Conroy, Jon Brockman, Isaiah Thomas, or Quincy Pondexter. Gaddy, Ross, Wilcox and Wroten, for all the good that they’ve done in spurts, have not embraced the role of captain, the guy that pulls his teammates up in the face of adversity. The result is a plethora of head shaking moments, and some success based largely on raw talent like Lorenzo Romar has never had. It’s tough when talent does not fully translate, and potential is not reached. If this core stays together for another year and really gels, they are a top 10 team, but Ross and Wroten seem destined for the NBA, which nobody should blame them for.

Now for some good news. If the Huskies do make the big dance, which is officially an “if”, their seed will likely be an 11 or 12, rather than a 9 or 10 which seemed possible a week ago. But does it matter? I would argue being an 11 or 12 seed is often better than being a 9 or 10, at least in terms of making a sweet 16 run. The recent numbers back this up. Since 2001, here are the seeds, and what % have made the round of 16.

9 seed- 2/44 = 4.5% make sweet 16
10 seed- 8/44 = 18%
11 seed- 6/44 = 14%
12 seed- 9/44 = 20%

The great news? Check it out, your Mariners are in 1st place! Granted the games don’t “really” count, but we’ll take what we can get.

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Well, This is Depressing

As you might have seen by now, Isaiah Thomas has announced that he will leave the University of Washington a year early to enter the NBA draft.  I didn’t really expect this, and when I first saw the news, I thought he would just test the waters and change his mind.  His press conference today made it pretty clear that’s not the plan, however.  Maybe he’ll change his mind, but I’m not betting on it.

Before this past year, IT was a guy I liked having on the team, but he wasn’t my favorite player by any means.  There was no reason why not, just no connection there.  Then, this past year he matured as a player and person before our eyes and became one of the most enjoyable players I remember.  He could dominate, he was a leader, and he played with a passion and intensity that he always managed to control and put to use.  He wasn’t perfect, but he was so much fun to watch, and so easy to cheer for.

I was really excited to see what next year would be like, with Isaiah running beside Ross and Wroten and Gaddy and Wilcox.  It would have been a fast, crazy team.  I don’t know how good they would have been, but it could have been great.  Now, it feels like UW is starting over.  They still have lots of talent, but they need to establish a new center of the program.

Best of luck to Isaiah, and I hope he proves everyone with doubts about his height wrong.  I won’t be a bit surprised when he does.  If he decide to change his mind in the next month, I’ll be incredibly grateful.  UW basketball won’t be the same without him.

-Matthew

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Ranking Your 2011 Mariners

The big news today is basketball related, with Isaiah Thomas announcing, rather unexpectedly, that he will indeed forgo his senior season at UW. He’s off to the NBA, which sucks for Husky fans. Time will tell whether this is a wise decision by IT, but I’m happy for him. Next year’s expectations will be lower now, and it could very well be our last year watching Terrence Ross, but the team should still be good, and contend for the conference yet again.

With that news, I’m officially closing basketball talk on the blog, until at least the draft in June. Why? Because today is opening day! As Andrew noted, things have been dry on here lately, but nothing like some M’s baseball to stir conversation. In case you have not heard, the 25 man roster is official. Looking over the team last night, I started ranking guys in my mind, and that’s what this post is all about. In addition to ranking the 25 man roster, in terms of most valuable to the team in 2011, I’m also throwing 3 more guys into the conversation: Ackley, Gutierrez, and Aardsma. The latter two are on the DL, and Ackley will probably be up sometime in June, so they belong on this list too.

    Ranking the Roster (Most Valuable to Least Valuable)

1- Felix Hernandez—He is the King of Seattle, and the best pitcher on planet Earth. Yes, Felix is the Mariners’ most valuable player. Go away trade rumors!
2- Ichiro—The team’s best hitter and most valuable everyday player. Also, the coolest Mariner ever.
3- Justin Smoak—I want to fall in love with Justin Smoak, and so does this city, but he has a lot to prove. IMHO, this guy is the lynchpin to the M’s offense in 2011.
4- Franklin Gutierrez—I fear for Guti’s long-term health with every day that passes without an explanation, but assuming this mystery stomach ailment gets treated, Guti is the team’s best defender, and a top 5 hitter, a valuable asset indeed.
5- Milton Bradley—Depending on which Milton shows up, batting 3rd, Bradley could easily lead the team in production this year. But can he stay healthy AND out of trouble? I wouldn’t bet on it.
6- Erik Bedard—Hard to argue that a guy who did not pitch last year could hold much value, but IF healthy, Bedard provides huge value to this team. And IF his spring performance is an indicator of what’s to come, his worth is as high as a #2 starter.
7- Chone Figgins—This guy had better bounce back, and I expect he will now that he’s back at 3rd and settled into Seattle. The M’s should be annoying to play, and Figgy leads that annoyance.
8- Jason Vargas—I still don’t think of Jason Vargas as a #2 starter, but he earned this spot after last season. Can he provide an encore?
9- Jack Cust—Batting clean-up for your Seattle Mariners…Jack Cust. Really? You better believe it! He will strike out a ton, but I gotta think he is an upgrade at DH, and he is an awesome interview.
10- Miguel Olivo—The team’s main acquisition this winter, Miguel can’t be worse than our catchers last season, but he must improve on his first go around in Seattle if he is to win over the fans. Continue reading

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Raise The Roof

Can we put a stop to the discussion of who is the best player in the Pac-10?  I’d take Derrick Williams and Klay Thompson on my team any day, even though Thompson drives me nuts, but no player is doing more better right now than Isaiah Thomas.  He’s gone from a very good shooting guard to the best point guard in the conference, and one of the best in the nation, in what seems like the blink of an eye.

As disappointing as it was to lose Abdul Gaddy for the year, and it would certainly be nice to have him around, his injury could be the catalyst for this team to jump to another level.  With Isaiah running the point to perfection, that allows UW to add one of their rangy swingmen to the line-up, which no team in the Pac can really match.  Or they play Overton and IT together and they can wreak havoc on the perimeter and in the lane.

Following Gaddy’s injury, Thomas seemed to take it upon himself to carry the team, and he has, despite the loss to Stanford.  IT spent the day before the first game without Gaddy proclaiming on Twitter that he was going to start the movement to bring back the Raise the Roof.  That night, he got his first dunk of his college career and started the movement.  He kept it up two nights later to win his first Pac-10 player of the week award, and tonight he posted his first double-double with 27 points and 12 assists, with only 1 turnover.  If the Huskies keep rolling to the conference title and IT plays anywhere close to this level the rest of the way, I can’t see how he doesn’t win the conference player of the year award. 

Keep it up, IT.  I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have running these Huskies.

Some notes after the jump! Continue reading

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A Very Quick UW Basketball Post

The UW basketball team started practice about a week ago, so I’ll throw this out there in case anyone wants to discuss the team.  They’re favorites to win the Pac-10, which looks to be nearly as weak as it was last year.  Some quick thoughts and things to watch.

  • The team is very deep overall, but not in the frontcourt.  Tyreese Breshers had to retire for medical reasons just before practice started, leaving MBA, Darnell Gant, and Aziz N’Diaye as the only bigs.  Given Romar’s style of play, they can work around this, but one more body would be very nice.  Freshman Desmond Simmons is about Darnell Gant’s size and does all the dirty work, but he’s more of a wing and is recovering from an injury.
  • Speaking of Aziz, he sounds like he could be a difference maker.  Quick history: an incoming sophomore from a junior college, he lost all of last season to surgery.  Good news: he’s 7′ 260 lb and ran the fastest mile on the team.  Most thought he’d get limited time this year while he recovered and developed, and that might still be the case, but Romar singled him out as playing well in a recent scrimmage.  If he adjusts quickly, he could have a huge role as a defensive stopper and rebounder.
  • Venoy Overton will miss most of the preseason with an injury.  Hopefully the extra practice time will give Abdul Gaddy a chance to get rolling out of the gate.  Gaddy playing up to his potential could make this team tough to beat.
  • I don’t have any inside access to the team or anything, but now that Isaiah Thomas is the top Dawg, I’m betting we don’t see the same chemistry issues that dogged the Huskies (no pun intended) the first half of last season.  Something never quite fit last year, and I still think it had to do with Quincy Pondexter’s personality not meshing with the rest of the team.  I could be crazy, and I’d sure like to have Quincy’s scoring back, but I’m betting this team finds its identity a lot quicker than last year’s did.
  • Off the court, UW got a huge recruiting commitment from Tony Wroten.  A big Seattle point guard, Wroten was talked of as the top recruit in the country at times.  Injuries and maturity issues have quieted those discussions the last couple of years, but he still has a world of potential.  In the past, he seemed like a lock to leave the state after high school, so the commitment is even sweeter.  I’ve seen some Gary Payton comparisons, which seem to fit from the little I know.  The Huskies currently have a good but somewhat under-the-radar class.  They’re in on two of the top big men on the West Coast, Angelo Chol and Norvel Pelle.  Getting either of them would be huge and make it a very complete class.  Signing day for the fall is coming up, and we’ll do a full breakdown as it gets closer.

More to come as the season gets closer.  If there’s anything you’d like to hear about, leave it in the comments and we’ll see what we can do!

-Matthew

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Isaiah Thomas: Sophomore Slump

Any fan who follows his or her teams closely knows just how frustrating fan hood can be. For myself, a prime example is this years Washington basketball team. An underachieving team can be extremely difficult to watch, and UW fits that description. To say the Pac-10 conference is having a down year for men’s basketball is a grave understatement. For this reason, as well as some promising newcomers and a handful of returners, it seemed all too realistic that Washington might be the favorite to repeat as champions this year. Maybe this will happen, but it’s looking doubtful.

We all know that for as great as they can be at home, the Huskies are equally dreadful on the road. The numbers back this up…15-1 at home, 0-5 away. Dissecting this phenomenon and the overall disappointment the team has been so far would take up a lot of time and space, and consist of a hundred different topics we could focus on. What could have been if Charles Garcia were a Husky; How leadership is missing from the departure of Brockman and Dentmon; The impact of losing Cameron Dollar; The lack of big man contribution; How small crowds and zero energy on the road are connected; and many other subjects that all probably have some merit. Rather than tackle all of these though, I’m going to focus on one angle that can’t be ignored; Isaiah Thomas.

Just glancing at Isaiah’s numbers don’t tell the whole story. He is averaging 17 ppg to go with 4 rebounds and nearly 3 assists per game. But it’s some of the other stats that I find more revealing. He is shooting 39% from the field, and just 30% from behind the arc. From a scorer who is hardly 5’8″, (more like 5’6”) I’m sure Romar would like to see Isaiah above 40% and at least around 35% shooting 3’s. To be fair, IT isn’t the only guard who hasn’t found his touch. Scott Suggs is shooting 39%, while Elston Turner is converting only 37% of his shots. The difference is the Huskies depend on Isaiah far more than Suggs or Turner, and while his defensive has certainly improved, his decision making has not. Thomas’ 54 assists are nice, but the 57 turnovers are ugly. In comparison, Thomas’ backcourt mates are faring better. Venoy Overton has 77 assists and 50 turnovers, and Abdul Gaddy has 58 assists to just 37 turnovers. This is only one statistic, but the reality is you can’t count on Thomas game after game and his decision making is a big reason why.

One night Isaiah will shoot lights out, play lock down defense, and show flashes of Nate Robinson, a familiar small guard from Washington’s past. The next game he is shooting poorly, looking lost on the court, and occasionally letting it spill into his defensive performance as well. This trend of inconsistency is especially disturbing when you consider how heavily Thomas will be counted on next year, with Pondexter gone. Isaiah will probably always be a streaky shooter, but you can be streaky and still shoot better than 39%. And streaky doesn’t have to translate to more turnovers than assists.

Perhaps moving Thomas to shooting guard has given him the freedom to shoot first, pass second, and while the Huskies desperately need his scoring, I’m not convinced his game plan should be to carry the scoring load. I don’t know the best way to use our top guards, Thomas, Overton, and Gaddy. For now, Thomas and Gaddy start, and Venoy comes off the bench. Thomas is the scorer, Gaddy the passer, and Overton provides the spark. Should Thomas come off the bench so that less is depended on him? Would Overton struggle in a starting role? Or maybe Gaddy should be the spark, thus allowing the veteran guards to start. Maybe nothing needs to change, and Thomas is just having a down year because teams are focusing in on him. It could be that IT flourishes when he has a big man he can depend on, which clearly UW does not. Either way, one thing is a must–All three guards need to be playing 20+ minutes a night. (Had Venoy played more than 11 minutes versus UCLA I can argue the result would have been different)

In Isaiah Thomas, the Huskies have a talented scorer who can also defend. I personally watched IT score 28 points in a state game as a sophomore, including an impressive 17-17 from the free throw line. As a junior, he dropped a state tournament record 51 points in a losing effort against Venoy Overton’s Franklin Quakers. Simply put, he can produce. But the key to Thomas’ success seems to depend on his mindset. When he starts forcing shots, versus allows the game to come to him, he is likely to have a game similar to his last outing against Arizona. (3-10 shooting, 7 points, 1 assist, 4 turnovers) Still, Isaiah is the defending Pac-10 freshman of the year, and that’s quite an accomplishment. Paired with Overton, maybe the best defensive guard in the nation, and Gaddy, the #2 rated point guard coming out of high school, the Huskies have the most talented backcourt in the conference. The future is bright for all of them, but Thomas needs to grow, soon, and I’m not talking about his height.

-Dan

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