Washington continues its road tour by heading to the Bay Area this week to face two teams, Cal and Stanford, which are trying to sort things out. Cal is 1-1 in the conference and Stanford is 0-2.
Meanwhile, Washington is 1-0 after a crisp run to end the Pac-12 opener at Washington State. Aziz N’Diaye made a layup with 5:04 remaining to start the Huskies on a 6-for-6 run from the field to close the game. Desmond Simmons dunked, Abdul Gaddy scored and Scott Suggs hit consecutive jumpers before heading off on the break for a layup with 1:01 remaining to the Huskies up 64-61.
That inside-outside efficiency prompted Washington State coach Ken Bone to begin fouling to force Washington into the bonus instead of dealing with the offensive efficiency.
“We felt it was critical to get them into the bonus as soon as possible,” Bone said. “They had done a nice job of scoring and were very efficient the last four or five minutes per possession.”
That Washington received good looks out of its offense — for the most part, one of those jumpers for Suggs was very well contested by Mike Ladd but still went down — late in a tight road game is a sign of maturation within the high-post.
There were other subtleties. Abdul Gaddy twice faked the UCLA cut and instead dropped back for a shot. He hit an open 3-pointer the first time he did.
With the Cougars playing high in passing lanes, Suggs and C.J. Wilcox each had backdoor opportunities off passes from big men. Suggs didn’t make his off a pass from N’Diaye, but Wilcox had a two-handed jam off the pass from Desmond Simmons.
“We were more patient in our offense,” Wilcox said. “After watching enough film, we were able to get good shots.”
Washington had a ton of good looks against Connecticut. If it could have shot even 40 percent, we’d be talking about how far the high-post has progressed. The Huskies were 19-for-64 against UConn (29.7 percent). In all other games, Washington is 323-for-692, 46.7 percent. That would tie it for third in the conference in field-goal percentage.
Other news, notes and quotes from Tuesday’s meeting with Lorenzo Romar, which you can watch above, and the Huskies players:
> Suggs tweaked his knee in Monday’s practice in a scrimmage drill. He had it checked out by trainers and practiced Tuesday. If healthy, expect Suggs to start out defensively on Cal scorer Allen Crabbe. Crabbe leads the conference with 21.4 points per game.
> Crabbe has expanded his game from strictly a shooter and may be the best player in the conference. Here’s Romar on the difference between last year’s Crabbe model and this year’s:
“Doesn’t settle for the 3. That’s the No. 1 thing. He comes off curls and comes off screens attacking. He’s coming at you and I think it reflects in the statistics with him going to the foul line more.
“This year, at times he’s like a slasher as opposed to just a shooter. He’s more durable now. He’s stronger. He’s physically able to handle more contact. I know sometimes guys used to bump him and make a lot of contact with him. I’ve watched him on film and on television. He bounces right back up.”
Suggs said he needs to defend Crabbe in a way that forces Crabbe to navigate screens how Suggs wants as opposed to Crabbe setting the direction he’ll be moving.
“If it’s a single-double, don’t let him pick the one he wants to come off of. Make him pick one side. Makes it easier on me and our defense,” Suggs said.
> Cal relies on Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. Cobbs is a stocky points guard, 6-3 and 190 pounds. Washington point guard Andrew Andrews is similar to Cobbs in build and style, which makes the Huskies hope he ends up as good.
> Gaddy was sick Tuesday, but said he will be ready Wednesday to play.
> Washington flew to the Bay Area on Tuesday night, then comes back Thursday morning before returning Friday night. One of the byproducts of the new scheduling which gets every game on TV, but proves a pain in the behind logistically, at times.
> This is the fourth time in the last 70 years Washington has opened conference play with three consecutive road games. The other times were 1943, ’93 and ’99. A split this week would be huge.