— Washington’s close-for-comfort, 83-79 victory over Montana on Tuesday night featured a tweak to Washington’s defensive philosophy.
The Huskies focused more on compacting the key and preventing dribble-penetration that way than pressuring ball-handlers and trying to play in passing lanes.
Did it work? Sort of. Montana canned nine 3-pointers in the first half, though Romar and UW players didn’t seem to think that was due to the Huskies’ emphasis on protecting the paint, but due to a few missed assignments and “scout errors.”
C.J. Wilcox said the Huskies are “learning on the fly,” because Romar just began installing the defensive tweaks during yesterday’s practice.
— Of UW’s 34-14 rebounding advantage, Romar said: “That team hasn’t shown that they’re a great rebounding team, but still in all, I just thought we were more active. We made some adjustments in the last two days and I think also the first half reflected us not totally being comfortable with those adjustments yet and the second half we settled in a little better and I thought all along, it helped us. One of those adjustments was on the boards.”
— The Huskies used a 7-man rotation that included starters Wilcox, Andrew Andrews, Nigel Williams-Goss, Mike Anderson and Perris Blackwell, plus Shawn Kemp Jr. and Darin Johnson off the bench. That meant no playing time for 7-foot center Gilles Dierickx or freshman guard Jahmel Taylor.
— Williams-Goss said afterward that he has a quad contusion, which he suffered in Friday’s loss to Boston College when he knocked his leg against a BC player.
“It was pretty sore before the game,” said Williams-Goss, who scored 20 points and had six assists in 37 minutes.
— Kemp, who was diagnosed recently with Graves Disease, played 17 minutes and made both of his field-goal attempts.
Here are some additional quotes from Romar …
(Opening statement) “… I’m close to betting someone a pack of red vines that nobody shoots 71 percent in a half (again). That was an impressive, impressive display of shooting. Early on, we had some scout errors, some miscues, some broken down coverages and that kind of got them in a rhythm, then they hit tough shots and they got going. I thought in the second half we did a much better job of defending their shooters. They got to the rim a few times in the second half but I thought we did a better job defending the 3. we were able to get stops. We kept telling our team, as soon as we string together consecutive stops we’ll have a chance to take the lead. That’s what we finally did.”
(Was this like first few games playing on the fly?) “This was different. We were playing on the fly a little bit when Jernard (Jarreau) and Desmond (Simmons) were out, especially the one game when Perris (Blackwell) was out. We just were kind of rearranging furniture during the banquet, so to speak. This was different. We had tweaked a system across the board. Everyone was learning this for the first time. So that was a little different than before. We were learning on the fly different positions before. Tonight we were learning, I wouldn’t say totally learning on the fly because we had been working on it, but we ere kind of settling into a couple different tweaks.”
(Were defensive changes effective?) “If you looked at how they shot the ball you’d say it wasn’t effective at all. I’d say based on the number of layups we gave up tonight, it was the first time that teams didn’t score as much in the paint. And you say, well, they didn’t have anybody they could really throw the ball to down there, that’s not just how you score in the paint. Guys drive. And we’d been giving up far too many layups in transition, not containing the basketball, offensive rebound putbacks. I thought we did a better job of not giving those up tonight. They shot the ball extremely well in the first half from three and that made a difference.”
(On free-throw shooting) “I think we’ve been fairly consistent getting to the foul line this year. In most of our games we’ve shot a pretty good number of free throws, which is what we need to do because of the new rule. It’s what you need to do anyway, but with the new rule you have to try to take advantage of it.”
(On defensive changes) “Because of the rules, I just found that maybe we play a little tentative. And were probably more in the driving lanes as opposed to the passing lanes. And I thought it was different. They shot the ball extremely well but I feel like if they wouldn’t have shot the ball like they shot it, we could have had a really good defensive game.”
“We’re trying to build on it. Again, this is the first time. So we’re trying to get better at it. And I’m sure we will.”
(On the open 3-pointers for Montana) “A couple of them were missed assignments. Assignments that we went over for two days and then the first three or four possessions I think we made errors that way. So missed assignments allowed them to get wide open, which allowed them right away to gain confidence and get on a roll. Then we had to fight through that the rest of the half. We were talking as a staff at halftime, they shot 71 percent, whatever it was, and we were only down six. We were optimistic that we could get stops that we could change that around. That’s a good team, coach Tinkle and his staff do a great job. That kid, I know Gregory had a monster game, but Kareem Jamar, I think he could play anywhere in America. He’s probably the most unselfish offensive scorer that I’ve seen. He had seven assists to one turnover and when you surround a great scorer like that with shooters like they do and he’s picking you apart and he’s not selfish, they can give you problems.”
(On more opportunities for C.J. Wilcox) “I think they played the majority zone, and our guys did a great job of finding him in the zone. And C.J.’s been very aggressive. I thought again, Andrew Andrews did a great job trying to defend Jamar, because that guy can go off for 30 on you easy. I thought Andrew was really knuckling down and concentrating on trying not to give him many good looks. And I don’t think he got a whole lot of good looks.”