Washington is back in Connecticut for the second time this season. The West Coast Huskies play UConn on Saturday with a chance to grab their best non-conference win of the season. It’s the start of four consecutive road games for Washington.
Washington is 0-3 all-time versus UConn. You may remember at least two of those games.
Saturday, Washington will deal with two speedy guards in Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Those are just the type of players that have given Washington problems the last two years.
Another ongoing issue for Washington is Abdul Gaddy’s trouble taking care of the ball. It’s a surprise, but is becoming more relevant as Washington heads deeper into the season. Gaddy is averaging 3.6 turnovers per game and is on pace for 112. Tony Wroten set the school record of 132 as a freshman last season.
“I think there’s been an adjustment this year,” Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Andrew Andrews has played alongside Abdul at times and even the times Andrew was able to play, Abdul has had to handle the ball for 35-40 minutes at a time without Andrew being in there. The other three years he had Tony Wroten and Isaiah Thomas alongside of him. They all helped each other.
“This year is the first time he’s had the ball in his hands this much. I think there has been an adjustment. Even with Abdul, there were a couple of turnovers he made last game that he would like to have had back, I’m sure. Aside from that, I’ve been seeing some progress in that assist-turnover. I’ve also seen him make some nice passes to guys where he’s started to set guys up.”
Gaddy’s scoring, shooting percentage and 3-point percentage are all up. His assists are down. That’s in part because of the change in offense. The high-post rewards the second or third pass much more than the initial pass, which Gaddy is often responsible for.
He’ll likely have to defend Napier on Saturday. In addition to the turnovers, Gaddy has found himself in foul trouble at times this season. This should be an interesting matchup.
Washington should at least be at full strength for the first time this season. Andrews’ ankle has improved as has Scott Suggs’ foot. Barring any unknown injury between Wednesday and Saturday’s tip, Washington will be able to move into its full rotation.
One other topic of note for Saturday: UConn is one of the few teams worse at rebound than Washington. Washington is 283rd in offensive rebounding percentage defense, according to Kenpom.com. Connecticut is 325th. UConn is also poor on the offensive boards. Could be one of the few games Washington can take advantage in rebounding.
OK, a second topic of note: UConn played North Carolina State, the only other team that runs the high-post offense as the crux of its halfcourt approach, and lost 69-65. That, plus a lot of prep time, UConn hasn’t played since Dec. 21, should have it well prepared.