Washington wanted a test in its exhibition and Div. II defending national champion Western Washington provided it.
The Vikings were scrappy and tricky to guard during Washington's 88-78 win. I said to Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar afterward that Western was like South Dakota State Light, and he said that’s what he told the team beforehand.
Western had a stop-and-go point guard in John Allen, a transfer from Washington State, and a bunch of big men shooters.
The Vikings were also the more in sync team, to be expected since they have a bunch of guys back from the national title team.
With the caveat it’s an exhibition, keep yourself calm folks, here are some notes, quotes and thoughts:
> Washington has a defensive rebounding issue. This was assumed prior to seeing the Huskies in action Wednesday. Much smaller Western scrapped its way to 10 offensive rebounds in the first half and 15 in the game. “That is an area of concern,” Romar said. “Somebody’s going to have to emerge.”
> The power forward spot could soon belong to Shawn Kemp Jr. Desmond Simmons started at the 4 on Wednesday, but Kemp was more productive. Simmons had three points and two boards. His hustle kept some possessions alive. Kemp had six points and five rebounds in 17 minutes. He hit both his free throws, drop-stepped and hit a shot of the glass, and missed a 15-foot elbow jumper, but showed touch on it.
> Andrew Andrews is a needed dose of aggression. When Abdul Gaddy, who played a solid game with 14 points, four assists and three rebounds, plus three turnovers, picked up his third foul on a poor call with 5:28 left in the first half, Andrews was shoved into the spotlight. He excelled. Washington led by five when Gaddy checked out and led by as many as 12 when Andrews was running things. The Huskies led by nine at the half. “Much was made out of, well, we didn’t get any recruits (this year),” Romar said. “Well, find me a freshman guard that goes out and does that. (He) played with a lot of confidence and a lot of boldness out there.”
> Expect C.J. Wilcox to rebound. Wilcox led all scorers with 21 points. He even scored in the post. More surprising were his seven rebounds. He rebounded well on the summer foreign tour and played a good all-around game Wednesday: seven boards, four steals, three assists. Wilcox was asked if six rebounds per game was a fair average to expect from him, and he said around there, yes.
> Scott Suggs was out of sorts. He'll be better.
> N’Diaye is what he is. He scored nine points and had 10 boards and a block. He was just 3 for 8 from the free-throw line. Yet, he’s crucial in the middle.
> Romar said he thought they executed the high-post offense well. He said they were out of sorts only twice. The tight game was a good test to see if the players kind of kept the faith with the new offense as opposed to freelancing when things were more difficult.
> Washington was 32 for 41 at the free-throw line, 78 percent, despite N'Diaye's lack of accuracy. It shot 85.2 percent in the second half (23 for 27).
> Harping on Romar's decisions or lack thereof is a renowned past time of Washington fans. A good decision Wednesday was when he decided to have his guys blitz and trap the ball handlers on high screens as opposed to switch them, which Washington did all game. He inserted 6-10, Go-Go Gadget Jernard Jarreau to be part of the trap. It produced two consecutive turnovers which led to dunks and a sigh-producing cushion in the last minute.
> A little more on Western’s John Allen. Western recruited Allen out of Mountlake Terrace High School. Tony Bennett told him he could head out to WSU and join the team as a walk-on, so Western coach Brad Jackson encouraged Allen to go for it. He redshirted his freshman year at WSU then played 13 games as walk-on. The following year, the Cougars weren’t going to offer him a scholarship, so his mother got back in contact with Western. He joined them, won a national title and is the preseason GNAC conference player of the year pick.
> Up next is a scrimmage Nov. 3 against an undisclosed opponent (if we told you, we’d have to kill or at least maim you), then the opener against Loyola (Md.) on Nov. 11.