This is Scott Suggs’ fifth year at Washington. He’s been through slow starts before. Much like his coach, Lorenzo Romar, he said after the game Washington has time to fix a 4-4 start.
“There might be negative talk,” Suggs said. “There’s been a few years where we’ve had slow start and we’ve picked it up. I feel like everyone is confident we can do the same thing here. Despite what people may say, we know. We’re in here working every day. We’re the only ones who can control that. People are going to say what they want to say.”
After a third home loss in just six games, there’s plenty to say. Here’s out game story from last night.
Let’s start with an untoward word in the sports lexicon: patience.
There are warts here to be countered by reasonable consideration.
Washington’s bench scoring has been poor the last three games. The Huskies have been outscored in bench points 60-19 in those three and are 1-2 in those games. Washington needed a dramatic comeback against Fullerton to avoid being 0-3 during that stretch.
Those numbers may be more emblematic than any others when it comes to showing how Washington’s injuries have affected it.
Without Scott Suggs and Shawn Kemp Jr., Washington has been missing 40 percent of its starting lineup. Both played Saturday. Suggs started and scored a career-high 19 points despite shooting 6-for-17. Kemp played 18 minutes in his season debut and was effective. He had five points, four rebounds and two blocks.
Kemp said afterward his wind was good and his knee was sore, but not on an unusual level. Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar said Suggs tweaked his injured foot, he was out with plantar fasciitis, but Suggs said he will be fine to play against Seattle U on Thursday.
Washington’s bench took its newest hit when Andrew Andrews severely sprained his ankle in Thursday’s practice after stepping on a teammates’ foot. He’s on crutches and Romar said the timetable for Andrews’ return is not known.
All of which lands Washington at 4-4. Romar says he’s confident it’s just a matter of time before the Huskies meld and become a solid team.
“We haven’t come together yet. We’re not a consistent team yet. That’s the only way I can explain it,” Romar said.
How can they do that?
“Time, practice. Everybody getting healthy. Set rotation. I told our guys I don’t look at this situation like, ‘Oh, no, we’re done.’ I don’t see that at all. It’s just a matter of time and I really believe that, it’s matter of time before we come together and we’re going to be an OK team.”
When Romar uses the term “OK”, he means good or very good. He’s not prone to hyperbole in these cases, so don’t read into that phrasing.
What he did explain in clear terms is that Washington will have to shut out any negative feedback it hears or reads from outside its inner circle.
“We, right now, know what to do on both ends of the floor,” Romar said. “The main thing we have to do is keep our guys believing and keep everyone’s head up. And not believe the peripheral talk on the side.
“Can’t believe that. Our focus as coaches it to make sure our team doesn’t listen to the negativity that’s around and amongst our group, we believe in ourselves. I think that might be the No. 1 thing we have to do.”
> Washington held one lead Saturday night. The Huskies were up 61-60 with 5:21 to go after a 3-pointer by Suggs. They fell behind by two before tying the game again 63-63 with 4:31 remaining. Washington would not regain the lead.
> Romar decided to have C.J. Wilcox intentionally foul Deonte Burton with 27 seconds left in the game, sending Burton to the free-throw line where he hit one, putting Nevada up 74-70. Abdul Gaddy missed a floater in the lane and Aziz N’Diaye couldn’t finish on the follow, forcing Washington to foul again.
> Gaddy had two dunks in the game, the second an emphatic tomahawk that tied it at 55-55. He even yelled afterward in a rare display of emotion. Washington is filled with laid-back personalities this season. In the past, extroverts like Isaiah Thomas or even Tony Wroten brought a different level of intensity to the floor. This group will be doing things in a different way. Suggs was asked if that type of showmanship or emotion matters.
“It matters,” Suggs said. “We need leaders, but I feel like we have leaders in our seniors and older guys. Maybe they don’t show it as much. Isaiah was a real in-your-face type of guy, but that’s just how he is. We followed behind that. We’ve got to do, nothing out of character, but lead how we need to lead. We know how to do that.”
> Gaddy also had three fouls with 10:57 left in the first half. He fouled Burton twice, but one was an offensive foul when Gaddy pushed off with his arm. His third foul was committed when he reached out to keep Malik Story from running out on a break. Only one of Gaddy’s fouls was because of Burton attacking him offensively.
> Desmond Simmons started and grabbed 13 rebounds. Simmons also finished 0-for-7 from the field. With Kemp back, Jernard Jarreau saw his minutes disappear. He played just six and didn’t score.
> Nevada scored 24 points off turnovers and Burton had six steals.
> Speaking of Burton, he again had a big night against Washington. The Huskies actually did a solid job on him in the halfcourt. His two late 3-point makes were practically indefensible. One was a stepback at the top of the key. The other was a corner 3 that Wilcox said he tipped, but it still swished through. Those were the defining blows to stop the comeback attempt. Burton finished with 29 points on 10-for-17 shooting. Four of his field goals came in transition.
> Washington had 19 offensive rebounds and 23 second-chance points.