Washington just out-toughed Colorado. It’s one of the few sports stories you can believe this week.
It’s also a distinct change. Washington is proving its defense and rebounding prioritizing wasn’t just talk. In four consecutive wins to open Pac-12 play, the Huskies have held each opponent under 40 percent from the field and out-rebounded all but one, Colorado, which led just 38-37 on the boards.
Neither of those things were happening earlier in the year. Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar again attributed the change to having the full team back and good chemistry. Part of that chemistry equation is guys accepting their role. We’ve seen that with Desmond Simmons as much as anyone. Simmons took two shots Wednesday night in the 64-54 win over Colorado. He had one point. He grabbed 12 rebounds and tussled with Andre Roberson, the conference’s leading rebounder, all night.
Abdul Gaddy had another poor shooting night — 2-for-12 with some bad misses — but he had five rebounds, four offensive. Jernard Jarreau played 10 minutes and had two rebounds, yet also forced two Colorado fouls when he was going for rebounds. Washington is the best offensive rebounding team in the conference, at this point, something that seemed ludicrous just two weeks ago.
“Before the season started, I think I had mentioned that this group was perhaps the most coachable and had the best chemistry of any team that we’ve had,” Romar said. “I didn’t say it was the best team, just chemistry. That’s the reason we’re able to do that. We don’t have several guys sulking because they’re not getting more shots. We’re all for one and one for all. Sorry I couldn’t be more creative—that’s just how it is.”
They also have a seven-foot center and guards who are playing more sound defense. The difference between last year’s Huskies defense and this year’s is something Colorado coach Tad Boyle noticed.
“They are so much better,” Boyle said. “Last year that Wroten kid was out there trying to steal and gamble a lot, but this year they are so much more sound this year. They are so long, so athletic, they’ve got the big guy in the middle, you’ve got to score against Washington and you’ve got to execute against them because nothing is going to come easy. And we have to get better on the offensive side of the ball to beat teams like this.”
More from Wednesday night’s win:
> Tough to say enough about N’Diaye’s influence on the game. Colorado ran multiple ball screens which N’Diaye did an excellent job of hedging and recovering against. The Buffs even tried to have Josh Scott run out on N’Diaye in the second half and to post N’Diaye when he was recovering from showing on screens. None of it worked. Scott was 4-for-10 in the game and two of those were scores when N’Diaye was out of the game. Perhaps most stunning is that N’Diaye played 30 minutes and committed one foul, which came on questionable charge call when Jeremy Adams flopped.
> It won’t be long until questions about C.J. Wilcox sticking around for his senior season begin. He had 25 more points on just 14 shots. He had just one rebound, however. Wilcox also came up with another swat when he sent an Askia Booker shot into the stands and had a quick glare at him. The reaction was a rare display from Wilcox, who is typically stoic on the court.
> Scott Suggs wasn’t far from a big night. He finished 5-for-16 from the field for 13 points. Two of his missed 3-pointers — he was 3-for-8 from behind the 3-point line — rattled out. As did one of his shots in the lane.
> Andrew Andrews had his second wild shot moment in the past three games, which drew Lorenzo Romar’s ire again. His aggressive nature continues to be a boon and a curse, but mostly a positive.
> This is the fourth time Washington has started 4-0 in conference play the last 35 years. It’s just the second time under Romar. The other was 2011. The 1982 and ’84 teams went 5-0 in league play, with each making it to 6-0 before taking a loss. Washington appears to have a good shot at 6-0 with Utah coming in Saturday and a trip to Oregon State (10-6, 0-3) to follow before a tough one in Eugene against the Ducks. Utah is 0-5 in conference play after losing 75-65 to Washington State on Wednesday night.