Of course it’s the version of the Huskies that have shut down two of the top scorers in the conference in consecutive road games.
Actually, it feels more like Washington has stepped into the phone both and come out with a cape attached. Well, at least with some burgeoning powers.
The Huskies (10-5, 2-0) locked down Cal scoring zealot Allen Crabbe on Wednesday night in a 62-47 road win. Scott Suggs chased Crabbe most of the night through multiple screens and held him to nine points. Crabbe led the conference at 21.7 per game coming into the game and had not been held less than 10 points all season.
“For this year, this effort was right up at the top,” Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar said of the defense. “We defended for long periods of time. I thought we let up at times as Washington State although overall it was a good defensive performance. I thought tonight that we sustained our defense throughout most of the game. If we didn’t, it would have been a different outcome.”
In addition, Washington gave Cal a paddling on the boards. The Huskies came up with a stunning 20 offensive rebounds and 48 total for the game. Washington was at the bottom of most defensive rebounding categories in the conference prior to the game.
Romar and the players point to Christmas break as a time for soul-searching. The Huskies went to UConn and lost after the break, but played much better defense there than they had in the opening weeks.
“We had a couple team meetings with just our players, no coaches, and we just had to sit down to talk about what we had to do to be successful and what our attitude needs to be like,” Andrew Andrews said. “So far, after that talk, we’ve been working hard in practice and it’s been paying off.”
Andrews is just a redshirt freshman, but I thought he made a vital and telling statement.
“Know what you do,” Andrews said.
As good as C.J. Wilcox is individually, this is not a star-laden Washington squad. It’s one desperate for balance and they’ve been getting it as the full roster settles in.
“Everybody’s playing really well and we can continue to get better,” Abdul Gaddy said. “There are players that haven’t even reached their potential yet. We can be even better. We’re doing good right now, but we’re not trying to settle for this.”
And a quick word about Aziz N’Diaye: don’t let a lack of aesthetics soil what he’s producing. He put together another double-double Wednesday with 12 and 12, plus four blocks. He’s 13-for-17 (76.5 percent) from the field in Pac-12 play.
“I think that Aziz was huge in there as far as a physical presence,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “It was really hard in there for Robert [Thurman] and Richard [Solomon] to rebound because they just couldn’t get into a position to jump because he is 270-280.”
That’s it for now. Lots more to talk about later today. I’ll be heading up to Sacramento. Rumor has it something is going on up there …