Here is TNT reporter Todd Milles’ game story from UW’s season-opening loss at Portland last night.
And here are some additional observations from Todd this morning:
Give credit where credit is due – the University of Portland beat the Huskies utilizing a style the UW should have had the upper hand in – getting close shots inside.
Robin Smeulders (20 points), Kramer Knutson (10 points) and Luke Sikma (four points) were crafty inside, and their mid-range games were superior to that of any of the Huskies. Throw in the occasional penetration of guards Nik Raivio and Ethan Niedermeyer, it’s no wonder the UW held a lead for six of the 40 minutes.
· Thomas’ struggles: UW coach Lorenzo Romar remarked afterward that his younger players, notably his guards, tried to do “too much individually.” One of the culprits was Curtis High product Isaiah Thomas, who struggled in his college debut.
On one play with 13:04 to go in the first half, Thomas thought he lost Portland’s Taishi Ito on a crossover dribble, but the guard reached back and stripped him for a turnover.
A few possessions later, Thomas had the ball again, split a double team but lost handle of the ball to Ito.
Finally, after an airball 3-pointer with 101/2 minutes remaining before halftime from the right corner, Romar had seen enough, and got Thomas out of there. Assistants Jim Shaw and Cameron Dollar carefully pointed out a few things to Thomas before he took a seat at the far end of the bench.
Thomas eventually fouled out with 3:52 to go, finishing with 10 points.
“Foul trouble messed me up,” Thomas said. “We’ve got to look for the next game … get better.”
· Glimpses from Overton and Turner: Guards Venoy Overton and Elston Turner were subjected to animated discussions with Romar during the game. Turner’s came when he didn’t dive for a loose ball on a Pilots’ possession with more than 14 minutes to go.
But their on-ball pressure disrupted Portland. Overton forced Pilots point guard T.J. Campbell into a couple bad passes, and Turner ripped the ball out of Sikma’s hands and made a free throw that gave the UW a 64-60 lead with 6:43 to go.
· Brockman’s late 3-point attempt: As good as Jon Brockman was – his 30 points was one shy of his career-high – Romar second-guessed the big man’s decision to fire a game-tying 3-point attempt with 32 seconds remaining.
The senior from Snohomish was all alone from the right-center arc, but his shot rimmed short.
“I wouldn’t say that would be the shot we would have drawn up,” Romar said. “He’s been really working on his shot. All of a sudden, he was wide open. He just shot it. If he had to do it again, he probably wouldn’t have shot it.”
Of course, the Huskies would not have been in any position to tie – or win – the game without Brockman’s heroics from the floor. At one point late in the first half, he scored 16 points in the final 8:42, including 12 in a row.