Rapid rationalizing will suggest, hey, Washington is 4-1 after the first five games of Pac-12 play. That’s a short-sighted view.
After losing to Utah 74-65 on Saturday night at home, the Huskies (12-6, 4-1) did a lot of damage to the positive work they had done to open conference.
The loss to Utah is damning to the eye and computers. The Utes (9-9, 1-5) were 143rd in RPI coming into the game and 0-5 in conference play. They had not won a conference road game in 12 tries since joining the Pac-12 prior to last season. The downside of Washington’s ledger is now filled with “Albany” “Nevada” and “Utah” as bad losses. All were at home.
And, the coming schedule is much more difficult than what Washington has dealt with so far. The Huskies have 13 games remaining in Pac-12 play, and the six of those are against Arizona, Oregon and UCLA.
Again Saturday, Washington showed it has a problem when facing small guards. Early foul trouble for Utah’s leading scorer Jarred DuBois forced him to the bench. In came supposedly 5-foot-10 Brandon Taylor (he’s shorter). He played alongside supposedly 5-foot-10 Glen Dean (he’s shorter) much of the night. Taylor scored 19 points in 30 minutes. Dean played 35 minutes and scored seven points. Those two matched the output of Scott Suggs (4-for-16, 12 points) and C.J. Wilcox (4-for-11, 14 points). That’s not a winning formula for Washington.
Abdul Gaddy’s offensive woes also continued. He’s shooting 23.1 percent in Pac-12 play (9-for-39).
Washington (12-6, 4-1) will likely plummet in the RPI rankings. It also has put added pressure on the coming road swing in Oregon. If you’re an optimist, you look at the Huskies and think 4-1 is a solid start. In addition, it has several chances to undo a couple of the bad losses by beating the upper-tier teams in the conference, something that it didn’t get a chance to do last year when the conference struggled.
If you’re a pessimist, you think Washington has narrowly made it to 4-1 by beating the dregs of the conference (and losing to one), with a much more difficult schedule ahead.
If you’re Lorenzo Romar, you’re just irritated.
“We just weren’t determined enough early,” Romar said. “Throughout parts of the game, we just weren’t determined enough. We’ll go back and look at the film. We’ll be embarrassed at times about our lack of coverage.”
Other quick notes, quotes and thoughts:
> Andrew Andrews scored 17 points, though most were late in the game during garbage time. He also got a taste of how a good scout, followed by the opponent, can influence him. Like some right-handers, Andrews loves dribbling left. Utah knew it and jumped his left hand, turning him back to his right and keeping him from turning the corner to get into the lane. He had a tough time adjusting with smaller and quicker Utah guards being able to jump his space and preferred direction. Still, his confidence and scoring have not wavered. We may see a more equal split of minutes between him and Gaddy like we did against Utah. Gaddy played 28 minutes, Andrews 26.
> Just two rebounds for Desmond Simmons. He had a hard time stopping bulky Jordan Loveridge, who scored 17 points and had five rebounds of his own. It was Simmons’ poorest game in a month.
> Suggs was 4-for-16 from the field, and, like Gaddy, has struggled in Pac-12 play. He’s shooting just 25 percent. When he and Gaddy don’t provide Wilcox any help, they were 6-for-25 combined against Utah, then teams can load up on Wilcox with face guarding and sagging help. Suggs also showed up postgame with his head down and mumbled his only answer to the one question that was asked of him. It was surprising body language for a fifth-year senior.
> Wilcox was locked up. He scored 14 points, all in the second half, but had few good looks. Utah went after him and forced someone else to beat it. The strategy worked.
> Jernard Jarreau had another solid night. Six points and six boards for the lanky redshirt freshman. His energy was good.
> Shawn Kemp Jr. still has not made an impact. He had one point and two rebounds in 13 minutes. He was 0-for-4 from the floor. He has one field goal in four Pac-12 games.
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