Tag Archives: Venoy Overton

Can I Complain For a Second?

It’s almost halftime in the UW-WSU game, and the Huskies aren’t looking too good.  I’m not sure what the problem is, but they just don’t have much at the moment.  The Cougars are playing a good game, but the Dawgs aren’t giving much fight right now.

I’ll leave game commentary until the game is over, but I’m having a hard time listening to the broadcast right now.  The main theme of the half has been how great it is that Klay Thompson apologized to fans before the game from which he was suspended.  I have a real problem with this.  I think it’s great that he apologized.  If it was his own idea, that’s commendable.  If Ken Bone or his dad made him do it, good for them.  Apologizing publicly doesn’t make Klay Thompson a hero, however, and that’s the feeling that the TV announcers are giving.

I don’t expect or want them to tear Thompson apart.  I don’t even care if they criticize him or not.  I don’t want them heaping on more criticism, but the truth is that he was selfish, broke the law, and set a terrible example for the young fans watching him.  He let down his team and possibly cost them a shot at an NCAA tournament berth.  The same goes for Venoy.  He had a part in bringing down this once promising season, and a public apology wouldn’t excuse that or his actions.

Good for Klay for apologizing and coming out tonight and playing hard.  I appreciate that FSN is trying to make a good story out of bad events, and they’ve done a good job of not focusing on Klay and Venoy’s troubles, but they’ve taken it too far the other direction.  I, for one, think it’s giving the wrong message.  Just had to get that off my chest.



1 Comment

Filed under Huskies Basketball

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!


Leave a comment

Filed under Huskies Basketball

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!



Filed under Huskies Basketball

My 2 cents on T-Jones

A week has passed since Husky hearts were broken over the news that Terrance Jones is headed to Kentucky, and not Washington. My initial reaction of frustration has subsided some now, so rather than vent, I think I can convey some thoughts.

In hindsight, this had a bit more drama than most recruiting battles, but similar scenarios play out in college recruiting every year, and Washington has been in the middle multiple times. Consider these recent episodes:

1- Lorenzo Wade verbally committed to Washington, but ended up at San Diego State. This left an open scholarship. That scholarship went to Quincy Pondexter. That kinda worked out.
2- Venoy Overton verbally committed to USC, but ended up at Washington. I can’t imagine having to watch Venoyance make life hell for UW guards twice a year.
3- Abdul Gaddy verbally committed to Arizona, then de-committed, then re-committed, then finally de-committed once again and ended up at Washington. Gaddy has not lived up to the hype of being a top recruit, but his sophomore year could be a big one.
4- Enes Kanter verbally committed to Washington, but ended up at Kentucky. Kanter had not taken the required tests to be able to make an official visit to UW, thus the school was never able to showcase itself to Kanter. As his stock began to rise, his options increased and similar to Jones, Kanter couldn’t pass up Kentucky. Boo Kentucky.

The bottom line is that 17-18 year old guys change their minds all the time, sometime it benefits Washington, sometimes it doesn’t. Would Washington have been better off with both Terrances heading into 2010? We can speculate that yes, the team would have been better. Certainly they would have had more talent, but one can only hypothesize whether Jones would have been the difference maker in UW making a deep tourney run. Consider 2006, when everyone thought the Huskies would be major players with Brockman and the 2nd rated center in the country coming in, Spencer Hawes. That team failed to make the NCAA tourney.

I wish Terrance Jones would have stuck to his word, and signed on to be a Husky. I don’t like that he was in Montlake the day before changing his commitment, and he basically embarrassed himself with the whole press conference thing. But in the end, I can hardly blame him. Kentucky gives Jones top exposure, and in the past 2 years, Calipari’s star player, Derrick Rose and John Wall, have gone on to be the #1 pick in the NBA (assuming Wall is picked #1). T-Jones is a 1 and done player in all likelihood, so you can understand why this would appeal to him.

UW would have loved to have had Jones for the 6 months or so that he plays college hoops. There is still an outside chance, if Calipari goes to the NBA, that Jones ends up back at UW. But I highly doubt it, and at this point, Romar may just say no thanks. He indicated as much in an interview last week with Kevin Calabro. The Huskies will be good next year, and upperclassmen will lead the team. My prediction is the Huskies come out just fine from all this. Given how everything played out, Washington might even be better off without Jones. Time will tell. And besides Husky fans, would you rather have Locker or Terrance Jones this coming year? You can’t win them all, but we haven’t lost them all either.


Leave a comment

Filed under Huskies Basketball

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.


1 Comment

Filed under Huskies Basketball