Huskies Insider Blog

Wrapping up Washington's 93-63 win over Portland, and the rest of the Pac-12 action

Sorry for the lateness. I was in football mode earlier today. Here's some highlights from QBSacker ... a word to the wise, subscribe to his youtube feed.

Anyway, here's my game story from today's TNT.

“I thought our guys put forth our best team effort tonight, not only in terms of sharing the basketball, but in terms of team defense and really helping each other out,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “…I don’t think anyone had their own agenda. I think we played Husky basketball as a group.”

Despite an exhausting early schedule, the Huskies (3-0) showed no effects physically or mentally. Of course, a less than stellar performance Sunday in a 77-71 win over Florida Atlantic offered motivation.

“Yesterday we didn’t play too well, but coming in today we played with energy and played the right way,” said C.J. Wilcox, the tournament MVP and recently named Pacific-12 Conference player of the week, who scored 17 points.

Washington dominated the game from the opening tip and never trailed. The Huskies turned a 14-6 lead into a 32-18 cushion as Wilcox buried two 3-pointers and Abdul Gaddy and Terrence Ross also hit 3s in the run.

Four quick observations ...

1. Before everybody starts penciling the Huskies into the Final Four, let's remember UW hasn't been playing basketball juggernauts. These are decent teams, but Portland started four freshmen and a junior. They have two juniors on the team and the rest underclassmen. But seeing the way they've shared the basketball and played unselfishly has been good to see.

2. Terrence Ross can defend. You look at the frame, the quickness and the long arms and he should be able to defend. But he didn't do it last year. This year, he's a different player on the defensive end, and the Husky coaches have really found a way to keep him motivated  by having him defend the other team's best player. Ross is a player, who seems to relish it when the coaches challenge him. One of the biggest adjustments has been getting used to playing that type of defense while trying to find the energy on the offensive end. Romar said it took a few games for Ross.

"He’s never really defended that long, for that many minutes," Romar said. "And I think as a result his shot may have suffered the first couple of games because he was really trying on the defensive end.  When you do that a few times, then your offense comes.  Once you get it and you focus on the defensive end, you just have a general focus all the way around and you can tell that’s what he had."

3. Abdul Gaddy is the team's most important player. Things get done right when he's on the floor. The Huskies get into the right sets, they are less likely to freelance and there is a purpose when he runs the show. If Tony Wroten brings energy, Gaddy brings purpose. There's a businesslike calmness to the way he approaches the game. He's also looked confident shooting the basketball from 3-point range. He isn't going to take a ton of 3s, but if he can shoot over 37 percent from 3-point range, the Huskies will be impossible to defend on the perimeter.

4. Tony Wroten still has plenty to learn. There's no doubting his talent. He might be one of the best instinctual passers I've ever seen. But there are things he needs to work on. Obviously the shooting - from the field and the free throw line - is an issue. You can't shoot that poorly from the free-thrown line and expect to play quality minutes down the stretch. As for the outside shooting, he was never known as a pure shooter. But he really needs to at least be credible. Once teams get a scout on him, they are just going to back way off.

As for defense? Well, Wroten said after the game: In high school, I didn't even know what defense was.

Now? He knows what defense is, but there are still a few moments when forgets to play it.

There was a moment last night that I wrote about in my story and tweeted about during the game. After Wroten's man broke him down off the dribble on consecutive plays, Romar had a few choice words with him during a dead ball. Wroten yelled a few words back at Romar and turned his back and walked off.  Romar was not pleased, and stunned at the response. You could see him yelling: "What?! What?!" He immediately called timeout and spent most of it talking to Wroten outside of the huddle. Romar left Wroten in the game and he played much harder on the defensive end.

After the game , Wroten said Romar was reminding him about having pride in himself and his defense and not getting beat. Romar didn't say much about it, choosing to protect Wroten.  Look, this won't be the first time that Wroten will experience a "teachable" moment. But I think one thing is certain, Wroten is starting to understand that isn't like high school in more ways than just the competition and practice.

Around the Pac 12

The biggest news is that Reeves Nelson has been suspended indefinitely by UCLA after his actions in a loss to Loyola Marymount. I was at the game. He was pouting and whining on the court - which he's done before.  But some of the other stuff - not getting up for timeouts and not acknowledging his teammates was the topper. I will say this, UCLA looked awful in that game, particularly the guard play. But when Nelson and the Wear twins were on the floor at once, there were all kinds of matchup problems.