#16 Washington: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #16
Conference Rank: #1 Pacific 10 Conference
2009-10: 26-10, 11-7
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Lorenzo Romar (171-91 at Washington, 264-179 overall)
There is no doubt that Coach Lorenzo Romar has raised expectations at Washington. Before his arrival it was considered a very successful season if the Huskies made the NCAA Tournament. Now they are looking for Pac-10 championships and Sweet Sixteen runs. The loss of Quincy Pondexter will hurt, but this young team is growing up fast and the talented backcourt will lead Washington back to the NCAA Tournament and probably back to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond.
Key Losses: F Tyreese Breshers, F Quincy Pondexter, G Elston Turner
Terrence Ross, a 6-6 guard, is the star of this recruiting class. Ross is a superb talent who can score in bunches. Yet, he is more than just a scorer; Ross can do a little bit of everything. He will use his size to help out on the glass and his skill to find his open teammates. If he is not starting at the beginning of the year, he probably will be by the end. C.J. Wilcox, who redshirted last season, is a good shooter and has the ability to provide a spark off of the bench. Small forward Desmond Simmons is the typical long and athletic forward that Washington has had over the last few years. What this group may really need is a true post player. They may have found it in 7-0 junior college transfer Aziz N’Diaye.
The one thing this team does not lack is point guards. Isaiah Thomas, Abdul Gaddy and Venoy Overton can all handle the ball. Thomas may generally be listed as the starting point guard, but he hands off some of those duties quite often in order to focus more on scoring. After averaging nearly 17 points per game last season, it is understandable why Thomas spends time off the ball. Gaddy was a big time recruit, but had a relatively disappointing freshman campaign despite starting 29 contests. Gaddy was young, even for a freshman, so expect the scoring and assist numbers to go way up and the turnovers to go down. Overton came in off the bench most of last season and still managed to average 8.5 points and 3.1 assists. Once again he will probably be relegated to the bench, but his senior leadership and ability to fill in for either Thomas or Gaddy is priceless. Scott Suggs is a big 6-6 guard who spent his freshman campaign shooting from beyond the arc. While this is a team that needs a shooter off the bench, Suggs will be even more dangerous once he starts using his size to attack the basket.
Things get a little more interesting in the frontcourt, most notably at the small forward spot where Ross will be pushing for major minutes. Justin Holiday started 21 games last season and is a decent glue guy who hits the glass hard and has enough athleticism to be a solid player on both ends of the floor. He may not be as explosive as Ross, but he is a seasoned veteran. Unfortunately, most of the time there is little chance that Holiday can play at the four spot since he lacks the strength to battle with most opposing power forwards. That means he has to split time with Ross. That leaves Darnell Gant as the probable starter at the four spot. Gant only averaged 11.7 minutes per game during his sophomore campaign, but he has the size and strength this team needs in the paint.
Who to Watch:
Matthew Bryan-Amaning has quietly turned into the leader of the frontcourt. After averaging 8.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks last season, the Huskies expect the 6-9, 240 pound senior to emerge as a major threat in the post on both sides of the floor. That is what this team has lacked for the last few seasons and Bryan-Amaning showed late last season that he could be in for a huge senior year.
Even if Bryan-Amaning and Gant exceed expectations, the depth in the frontcourt is slim yet again. N’Diaye is an improvement, but losing the versatility and rebounding ability of Pondexter will put a lot of pressure on the big guys. The good news is if things do not work out as well as hoped in the frontcourt, Washington has some big guards and wings and more than enough talent to sport a smaller team and watch the opposition attempt to keep up with them as they run up and down the floor.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Isaiah Thomas, Junior, Guard, 16.9 ppg
Abdul Gaddy, Sophomore, Guard, 3.9 ppg
Justin Holliday, Senior, Forward, 5.9 ppg
Darnell Gant, Junior, Forward, 2.5 ppg
Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Senior, Forward, 8.8 ppg
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