Well that was sort of unexpected. It’s not like you didn’t think the Huskies could lose. Any team can lose on the road in this league. But it’s the way they lost that was pretty surprising. The lack of envery and the number of defensive breakdowns were startling.
Yes, the Huskies were late to the arena and everything kind of got messed up. But that excuse won’t work with Lorenzo Romar.
“I do believe in excuses when it’s a legitimate excuse. I don’t know if I can claim that one.
Being late wasn’t an excuse for the defensive breakdowns.
Washington slogged its way through one of its worst first-half performances of the season, and played only minimally better in the second half of a frustrating 82-57 defeat at the hands of the Ducks.
“They just beat us in every way,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “I didn’t see us falling flat on our face and doing such a poor job executing.”
The loss, coupled with California’s 75-49 win over USC, dropped UW into a tie with the Bears at 9-3 atop the Pac-12 standings.
The Huskies (16-8 overall) didn’t feel like a first-place team on Thursday night. They couldn’t make open shots, they missed layups and defensively they were a mess.
“We just didn’t come to play,” said freshmen guard Tony Wroten. “We got embarrassed.”
Washington never led for a single moment in the game.
Sim buried an open jumpshot to start the game and rattled in a 3-pointer on Oregon’s next possession. Feeling confident, he buried a 22-foot 3-pointer in transition when none of the Huskies picked him up. It forced Romar to call a timeout to calm the tide.
“He was the catalyst in the first half to get them going at the outset,” Romar said.
And the Ducks (17-7, 8-4) just kept going. They pushed the lead 10, then 11 and 12. A 13-0 run brought it to 43-19 with 2 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the first half.
Carlos Emory had an acrobatic tip-in off a missed shot at the buzzer to give the Ducks a 49-26 halftime lead. It was that kind of half for the Huskies.
It was the type of first half the Huskies played in losses at St. Louis, at home against South Dakota State and at Colorado.
“I thought we were past those,” said senior Darnell Gant. “I thought everybody would be motivated with what’s at stake, but in the beginning of the game we just didn’t start out right.”
Here’s the boxscore and graphs from statsheet.com
From the Duck’s perspective ….
Here’s Bob Clark’s game story from the Register Guard, while columnist George Schroeder also wrote about Garrett Sim’s hot start.
From his column ….
When was the last time Sim felt like that?
The Utah game his freshman year, maybe. Or a couple of nights in the state tournament. Yeah, way back at Sunset High.
“I don’t know,” he said. “But it was a lot of fun.”
Better question: When was the last time Oregon hoops felt like that?
“It hasn’t been since I’ve been here,” he answered — and I think he’s right.
Understand, Sim and the Ducks aren’t really sure where it came from. Not so much Sim’s burst. We know he can shoot, even though in the three games before Thursday he had gone 6-of-27.
“He had some open shots,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “You don’t want to play him in a game of H-O-R-S-E. He’ll knock those down all day long.”
Sometimes 90 seconds is enough. By the time the Huskies figured it out — we’d better guard this guy — it was probably too late.
From the Oregonian, here’s Lindsay Schnell’s game story.
Wow, look at that effective field goal percentage for Oregon. I’m sorry but you just don’t get that sort of number unless your opponent is breaking down defensively and giving you open looks and layups. Oregon can shoot the ball, but Washington didn’t do much to contest. The free throw shooting…. well that’s just terrible. Just think if Washington hadn’t gotten all those second chance points because of offensive rebounds, that game would have been uglier.
Four thoughts ….
1. Maybe take a little advice from Kevin Bacon. It’s just one game. Yes it was one awful game, but it’s still just one game. Washington’s Pac-12 title hopes and postseason dreams aren’t crushed. They’ve taken a punch to the gut, but it’s not like it the end of the world. If anyone thought they were going to run the table after last weekend, they were mistaken. Romar warned that this team isn’t that good … yet. As pessimistic and cynical as I’ve become about sports (blame the Mariners), I really think this was an aberration-type game.
2. That being said. Was it so tough to see this coming? In the two home wins against UCLA and USC, Washington probably played at a high level for about 20 of the 80 minutes. That works at home against the conference dregs. That doesn’t work on the road against a solid team. The lack of energy and no sense of urgency should be a concern. But more than that, there was a panic. When Sim came out and put Oregon up 8-0 and things weren’t falling for the Huskies, that’s when they started rushing shots offensively and freelancing defensively. While defense often brings the Huskies back into games, it’s amazing how much their confidence is directly related to when shots are falling. Sure it’s sort of human condition to be that way. But its why Romar preaches defense first. If you are able to defend, you can stay in games when shots aren’t falling. Sometimes it seems as though when shots aren’t falling, the Huskies don’t defend with as much intensity.
3. I refuse to believe that Washington can’t guard any team in the conference man-to-man. I understand the issues with UCLA and the problems that Josh Smith causes. But there is simply no reason for the Huskies to get forced into playing 2-3 zone against Oregon because they couldn’t get a stop man-to-man. At his point in the season, it’s not about understanding the defense – they know it. It’s not about being inexperienced – we’re more than 20 games, so there are no freshman. It’s about just doing it. Play hard and defend for every second of every possession. Darnell Gant even said some players got lazy defensively …. It’s why Oregon had a bunch of dunks late.
4. I heard an NBA scout behind me call the Huskies “soft.” That’s one of the worst labels to earn in college basketball. It means you are weak of on-court will and physical and mental strength. I don’t think Washington is soft. I think they can be sort of passive at times, particularly when things aren’t going right. Say what you want about Tony Wroten, but he doesn’t back down from people. He plays with a swagger and intensity that I think some of the Huskies players simply don’t have. Opposing teams and players have come out and said the goal going into a game with Washington is to be physical and push the Huskies around because they will take step back, instead of pushing back.
The Huskies need someone to step forward and push back. Isaiah Thomas would have done it. Quincy Pondexter would have done it his senior season. Jon Brockman would have done it. Nate Robinson, Will Conroy, Brandon Roy would have done it.
Can it be taught? Does it need to be earned? I don’t know exactly how it works. Because there are times when the Huskies have it in excess – but that’s usually when things are going well and shots are falling. It has to be constant. If they can’t find that, there could be more trouble in the final few weeks of the season.