FROM CORVALLIS — He’s a tad biased, but Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was again pretty adamant Saturday that Nigel Williams-Goss is the most valuable freshman in the Pac-12.
Williams-Goss scored 14 points and handed out 10 assists in UW’s 86-62 victory at Oregon State, the first freshman to achieve a double-digit assist total in the Romar era.
Afterward, Romar was asked about Williams-Goss’ candidacy for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
“I love Aaron Gordon and I know his team (Arizona) is right there near the top, but I don’t think there’s any freshman in our league that’s as valuable to (his) team as Nigel is,” Romar said. “I felt we had MVP of the league several years ago with Quincy Pondexter and it was given to Jerome Randle because they (California) won the league. … We’re not in first place. Who is most valuable to their team? There’s no question. Nigel Williams-Goss.”
This was Williams-Goss’ second big game against OSU this season. He set a modern-era, UW freshman record by scoring 32 points against the Beavers in Seattle on Jan. 25.
Which performance does he take more pleasure in?
“I get pleasure out of winning, so I felt good after both games,” Williams-Goss said. “Whatever we’ve got to do to win. Whether it’s zero points, 10 assists, or 10 points, zero assists. If we win, then I’m going to be good.”
C.J. Wilcox emerged from a four-game shooting slump to lead the Huskies with 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting, including 3-for-7 from 3-point range.
Romar said Wilcox was “a little sore” prior to the game after bruising his tailbone against Oregon on Wednesday. It didn’t show.
“With him going the way he was going tonight … again, patient, but was hitting shots,” Romar said. “That was great to see. It just opened up everything else for everyone else.”
The last four games were frustrating, Wilcox said.
“It was hard for me to get good looks, good early looks,” he said. “And by the time I tried to get going it was too late. I hadn’t shot the ball for most of the half (in those games) and it’s tough to get going at that point. I just made an effort to start the game more aggressive.”
Wilcox’s 23 points moved him past Jon Brockman into second place on UW’s all-time scoring list.
“Definitely didn’t have that in my plans when I came to UW,” he said, “but it just shows that hard work pays off.”
Some additional quotes from Romar …
(Opening statement) “That Oregon State team was a team that me as head coach, just always have been an awkward team for us to play against, especially here, in this building. For our guys to come out there and have a 20-rebound lead against that team I thought was pretty special. we had 20 assists. I thought that was special. we did a number of good things I thought tonight. Six guys in double figures. 11 turnovers. Just thought our guys did a good job. Something I talked about before, we had to play like this to beat that team.”
(On sensing more focus) “Not really. When we played at Colorado, we were so dialed in and ready to go. Against Stanford, the last game we won, I didn’t have a good feeling about our team before the game and we came out and played fine. Tonight, I thought we had focus, but we had been focused before. Tonight it worked out for us. We were really dialed in. we were patient, we played at our own pace, we didn’t rush anything, we only turned the ball over three times in the first half. Second half, it got away from us a little bit. But I just thought we were focused.”
(On drawing from this game in the future) “Point out why things occurred the way they did tonight. Point them out and just try to build on them. And let’s not do it any other way, fellas. Let’s do it this way. That’s what we’ll try to talk about. Show them what worked.”
(On Nigel Williams-Goss) “He came out and played like he was a senior from the opening tip. You could just see the focus that he had. He goes out and gets 10 assists while only committing two turmovers and did a great job running our team. It was fun to watch with us coming out with the victory. I thought him and Andrew Andrews, those guys I thought did a great job of running our team tonight and getting us organized.”
(On settling down early) “I thought there was a stretch in the first half where defensively, we got down 25-19, I believe, and we were just having all sorts of problems defending them. We settled down and began to get stops, but then I thought we knocked shots down. A lot of these open shots that we’ve missed in some of these losses were going down tonight. Nothing heroic, nothing sensational or of the highlight nature. Just the simple ones. We were making them tonight and I think that makes a difference, also.”
(When was the last time you played this well?) “I don’t know. Colorado at home, maybe. We played good at home against OregonState and Oregon before, but we were down 12 to OregonState at home. Oregon was a little different. This game I thought from start to finish, with a couple lulls – they made a couple runs – but from start to finish, I don’t know if we’ve played this good in a while.”
(On finally winning on the road) “I think having lost on the road and having lost the games we’ve lost lately, doubt can set in. for us to finish the road with a win like this, a convincing win, really does wonders for the mental aspect of our team right now, for us to remember that. The next time we’ll play, we’ll remember what we did as something we can look at and draw from with how we played, how we went about our business certainly when we go on the road again for the Pac-12 tournament.”
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple