When told, “That was easy” to start his postgame remarks, Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar chuckled.
“Just like we drew it up,” he said.
What a zig-zag win. Washington played a near-perfect first half on its way to a 49-33 lead. It played an atrocious second half, trailing by six points late, before surviving an open look at a 3-pointer for Seton Hall as time expired. Then, in overtime, Washington finally dispatched the Pirates on the way to an 84-73 win.
Here’s Washington’s week so far: Embarrassing home loss to Albany. Scott Suggs concussed, does not practice all week. Suggs cleared at Saturday morning shootaround. He starts. Washington dominates first half, out-of-town people wondering how it lost to Albany. Huskies backtrack in second half, trail before getting to overtime. Dominate overtime to set up a shot at fourth-ranked Ohio State on Sunday at 1:30 on ESPN2.
Suggs was critical. He had 15 points, helping to get past his five turnovers, and hit two 3-pointers in overtime. Romar was livid with him in the first half when Suggs allowed a dribble drive all the way from the top of the key to the basket, fouled and was scored on. Despite being a fifth-year senior, Suggs was subbed out for that.
But, he bounced back well. Suggs on the floor opens it up in multiple spots. The spacing and action is much better because teams know he’s a threat from 3. Suggs also showed some pull-up work Saturday. He scored 15 points and was one of five Huskies in double figures (Abdul Gaddy with 16, Aziz N’Diaye with 14, Desmond Simmons 14, C.J. Wilcox with 11).
That’s how the high-post offense is supposed to work. There are supposed to be multiple scorers from multiple spots.
Another interesting thing out of the offense Saturday were Jernard Jarreau’s two made jumpers. He pivoted at the elbow, found himself cleanly faced up, and knocked down a 15-footer. The other was deeper and from the right elbow instead of left. If his ability to make that shot starts to trickle into the opposition’s scout of the Huskies, then that will force opponents to quit sagging or overplaying the anticipated pass from that position.
That’s for later.
For now, Washington has a huge chance to really counter the Albany loss.
The main problem presented by Ohio State is All-American candidate Deshaun Thomas. He’s a left-hander with range and size. At 6-7, 6-8, he’s a matchup issue. It will be interesting to see who Washington puts on him. Will it be Suggs? Or will Washington try the length of Jarreau against him? Jarreau certainly does not have the beef to contend with Thomas, but Washington doesn’t really have anyone who can do so right now, anyway.
Another fun matchup Sunday will be Gaddy vs. Aaron Craft. Gaddy has the size to deal with Craft, who is usually stronger than opposing point guards and can get up underneath them. Craft is constantly on balance, has very strong and fast hands, plus uses his body well. He’s also extremely smart. Saturday, when he sensed Ohio State needed a jolt, he got a steal and later forced a timeout to hold off what would have been a five-second call. This is a chance for Gaddy to show what he has against perhaps the premier defensive point guard in the country.
Other thoughts, news and notes:
> Simmons had a great game Saturday. His 14 points and 12 rebounds were products of activity. It’s the style he showed at times last year that left Washington thinking he would do a lot of the dirty work for it. He faded as last season wore on, but played a very good game Saturday against a good rebounding Seton Hall team. It’s tough to blame the late turnover Simmons had on him. He was holding the ball at the top of the key when a cutter went through and a defender trailed him. Each caught a piece of Simmons’ pivot foot, causing him to stumble and drag it. That gave Seton Hall the final shot.
> Andrew Andrews had eight points and fouled out. At least two of the calls against were questionable. But, he also has to move his feet faster. He hit a big 3-pointer in overtime and played much of it over Wilcox.
> Wilcox has lost his 3-point shot of late. He’s 1-for-10 the last two games from behind the 3-point line. He did add five boards and went to the line for the first time this year when he shot five free throws Saturday. Washington will need every weapon to have a shot against Ohio State, so he needs to get back on track.
> Suggs said the anticipation of playing Ohio State is similar to the anticipation of playing North Carolina in the NCAA tournament two seasons back.
> Seton Hall did Washington a huge favor on the final shot by not giving the ball to Fuquan Edwin. He scored 18 points in the second half and 27 in the game. He touched the ball just once on the final possession, when he inexplicably inbounded it from the sidelines. The Pirates ended up with a 3-point attempt from a bench player to win a tie game as opposed to Edwin driving, something Washington could not stop him from doing. It left many scratching their heads, including Washington assistants, after the game.
> If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to smoke a pack of cigarettes, spend an hour inside the Mohegan Sun Casino.