That’s a solid opening-night win for Washington.
Loyola (Md.) is a scrappy team that’s picked to win its league and went to the tournament last season, The Greyhounds started a freshman, two juniors and two seniors. It was an experienced group that doesn’t panic when playing on the road.
So, the Huskies taking it to them in the second half, Washington outscored Loyola 52-32, on the way to an 85-63 win is not something to be overlooked. We don’t want to get hyperbolic after one win, but there were several positives from Sunday’s opener and a few apparent issues, not the least of which is rebounding.
I’m always intrigued to hear the take of opposing coaches, especially during non-conference. Here’s what frenetic Loyola coach Jimmy Pastos, he was an assistant at Maryland for 13 years, had to say:
“It was just an honor to come here. What a court. We played about as good as we could. They shoot 3s when we didn’t get back, they start making them, we’re done. I really like Suggs coming back. I think the kid (Andrew) Andrews is really good. The big guy (Aziz N’Diaye) has gotten better. He’s making free throws, I thought his little hook move is good. His guards are really good. I don’t know when they get Kemp back, but they’re a good team. I thought their shot selection was really good tonight. I won’t say what that refers to … I thought they shared the ball and took really good shots tonight. So, we were doomed and the right people were taking shots in the second half, so I knew we were in trouble.”
Washington was 7 for 11 from behind the 3-point line in the second half. Scott Suggs, who shot 45.0 percent from behind the 3-point line his last full season, was 2-for-3. C.J. Wilcox, who scored 22 points, was 3-for-3 in the half. On the night, those two were 7-for-10 from behind the 3-point line. Washington can’t ask for anything more.
The danger of course, is that Washington will be a jump-shooting team all season. Though, it was able to handle Loyola’s press effectively and outscored the Greyhounds 20-2 in fastbreak points, showing that the Huskies will still try to push the ball when they can.
The other danger is the current massive reliance on Aziz N’Diaye to control rebounding. N’Diaye had a career-high 16 rebounds Sunday night. Abdul Gaddy, who scored 17 points, said they are counting on N’Diaye to come up with 12 rebounds a game. Wilcox, who scored 22, said earlier in the year a reasonable rebounding average for him would be six per game. He had six in the opener to be Washington’s second-leading rebounder. N’Diaye needs more help.
Jernard Jarreau started at power forward. He said after the game everyone, including himself, needs to do a better job of putting bodies on people. Jarreau has great length but minimal girth. He’s up to 220 pounds, but needs to gain more weight to deal with bigger frontlines. His comfort level increased in the second half. He said he was much more nervous for the exhibition than he was Sunday night.
We also saw the determination expected from Andrews. He used an in-and-out dribble to blow past one defender, then tried to punch it on two other defenders. He was fouled in the act and missed the jam. But the explosive aggressiveness is what he can bring. His defense needs to improve.
Washington plays Albany, which lost 82-60 to fourth-ranked Ohio State on Sunday, this Tuesday night prior to an uptick in competition this weekend in Connecticut when the Huskies take on Seton Halll on Saturday.
Here’s a link to the box score.
Around the league Sunday: