Tag Archives: Scott Suggs

Where Did These Dawgs Come From?

I’ve noticed that us Good Guys aren’t very good about writing about sports when sports go wrong. It’s a good thing we aren’t getting paid to write about these things because once our teams start losing, we all start going to the movies (or doing something that isn’t sports related). If you would like to pay us to write though, I’ll gladly accept your money. So, on this very full sports day, I’m going to ignore the Mariners trade that I don’t really like and talk about a surging Husky basketball team. I could have chose Chip Kelly or dead, fake girlfriends but I’ve been planning on writing about the Huskies for about a week.

The easiest place to start this post is with the question, “What happened to the Huskies?” The easy answer is that Romar pulled a Bugs Bunny and convinced the whole team that they are drinking something special so that they will be able to defeat the Monstars of the Pac-12. That’s probably not accurate though. Before conference play began, the Huskies suffered humiliating losses to Albany, Colorado State, and Nevada. The team had some good moments but they were overshadowed by inconsistency and a lack of play-makers. The team didn’t have an identity and seemed to be going no where.

There were excuses for this, and they were pretty legitimate. Romar lost two players to the first round of the NBA Draft. The team suffered injuries to Scott Suggs and Shawn Kemp Jr. The Dawgs weren’t a deep team to begin with and these injuries didn’t help. With that to boot, the Huskies were learning a new offense this year. When you don’t have your whole team there to practice a new offense, it’s hard to learn it. The defense also suffered, as they were slow on their rotations.

The Huskies played better towards the end of non-conference play but still was not consistent. The turnaround in the season may have come when the Dawgs went and played a game at Connecticut. They lost by 8 points but the defense held UConn to 65 points and the team played hard. It was clear that progress had been made.

Since that game, the Huskies have started Pac-12 play 4-0. Three of those wins have come on the road. Yes, they haven’t played the top teams in the conference but they have found a formula to let them compete against those top teams. That formula is hard-nosed defense, hustle, veteran scoring, and more hard-nosed defense.

Read about those after the jump!

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UW Basketball: Goodbye Wroten and Ross

Lots going on in Seattle sports right now.  First up: Husky basketball.

As expected, both Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten have declared for the NBA draft.  Both have said they will hire agents, which would prevent them from changing their minds and returning to school.  Obviously, it would have been great to have either or both of them return.  Both are phenomenal athletes who had the ability to dominate games.  I’m not one of those who considers their decisions addition by subtraction for next year’s team.  Players like Ross and Wroten are hard to find, and we wish them luck in their NBA careers. Continue reading

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What’s the Difference?

The Huskies basketball team is heading into their most important week of the season.  They were everyone’s favorite to win the Pac-10 in the pre-season and through the beginning of conference play.  Then, they stumbled in 3 straight games against teams that aren’t in the top 3 in the conference.  That leaves this week’s games, against ASU and Arizona, as must-wins if the Dawgs want an outright conference title.

Over the course of the Huskies 3 game losing streak, there was something completely off about the Huskies.  They didn’t look the Washington basketball team that we’d all grown used to.  Then, in their home games last week, it all came together again.  That leaves us to ask the question, what was the difference?

The two obvious things you can point to are team defense and home-court advantage.  Those clearly were huge reasons for the turn around.  But, the team I saw dismantle Cal last week was completely different than the team that lost at Oregon State.  So, are there more reasons why the Huskies were a different team last week?  Of course.  Here’s my stab at a few of them:

  • Venoy Overton – Throughout this season, Venoy hasn’t been the same player he was last year.  There were too many turnovers, not enough assists, and his defense wasn’t where it used to be.  Part of it was the refs calling him closer due to his reputation, but the intensity just didn’t seem to be there.  Last year, the first time V.O. came off the bench and into a ballgame it seemed as if a wave of an energy had washed over the building.  This year we haven’t felt that.  Losing Abdul Gaddy also didn’t help Overton, as more pressure was put on his back as a point guard.  Last week, Venoy was close to getting back to his old self.  He was driving, scoring, dishing, and, most of all, harassing opponents on defense.  When he’s like that, this team is at another level.  He pushes the pace and frustrates opponents.  This will come up as a key this week, specifically against Arizona.  The Wildcats point guards, although they’ve improved, are prone to turnovers and that could change the game around.  I could make an argument for Overton being the Huskies most important player going forward.  We know more or less what we have with I.T., MBA, and Justin.  We know some other guys will knock down shots.  But, if Overton is the player he was last season this team takes a step forward.
  • The Role Players – Many people would count Overton as a role player, but I think he’s a little more of a key to success than the role players.  The role players I have in mind here are Scott Suggs, C.J. Wilcox, and Darnell Gant.  When all these guys play well, I think the Huskies are as good as anyone in the country.  Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox are straight shooters.  If they make their shots, then they’re doing their job.  Percy Allen wonders if Scott Suggs is taking a step forward, and it sure seems like he has in recent weeks.  I still count anything he does other than shooting well as extra.  The same goes with C.J. Wilcox.  Last week, we saw Wilcox at his best.  He was scoring quickly and scoring in bunches.  If he is shooting like that, he needs to be on the court about 20 minutes a game.  The other role player, Gant, serves a different purpose in my opinion.  Gant is there for rebounding and for his defense.  If Gant grabs 5 rebounds a game, or more, than he is doing his job.  Also, we all forget that Darnell is an underrated defender.  For his size, he has great agility which gives him an advantage against other guys his size.  Lately, Gant may be shooting a little too much, but it’s good to see him with confidence.
  • Big Plays – I don’t think there are too many “big play” basketball teams, but this is one of them.  This team builds off of them.  Think back to the 3 game losing streak.  How many alley-oops were there?  How many fast-break dunks? How many great passes that led to made 3-pointers?  Not many.  Last week came and there were more highlights than you could count.  The home crowd does play a part in this one, but still a big play on the road can really change the momentum.  I think hustle plays lead to big plays, and maybe the Huskies were lacking their usual hustle on their 3 game skid.
  • Help Defense – In my opinion, defense was the biggest cause of the losing streak and the wins last week.  I think Romar would agree and just about anyone else who covers the Huskies.  But, one small aspect that was remarkably better the last 2 games was the Huskies help defense.  Yes, the on ball pressure was much better but the help defense made it that way.  I’d like to see the amount of charges the Huskies took in their 3 game losing streak compared to their 2 game winning streak.  Charges weren’t the only stat that proved that.  The Huskies also had an amazing amount of blocked shots over the last 2 games that proved their help defense.  If the Huskies are going to win, they can’t allow all the open lanes that we saw during their 3 game losing streak.

There are surely more points to be made on this (and feel free to put them in the comments).  But, these are a few hidden keys in order for the Huskies to be successful.  Go Dawgs!


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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.


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