The Washington Huskies have arguably the two most NBA-ready players in Terrence Ross (arguably the best developed talent in the conference) and Tony Wroten (a player with a great deal of talent plus upside). Add in another future draft prospect in C.J Wilcox and it was a real disappointment they ended up a one seed in the NIT. Ross and Wroten were too inconsistent game-by-game to keep Washington moving the rudder the right way, and the Huskies flamed out in too many games they should have won.
So to see Washington get solid performances from all three to send them to Madison Square Garden is a bit frustrating if you're trying to root the Pac-12 on. It reminds you too much of what could have been.
Ross, Wroten and Wilcox combined to score 63 of 90 points while hitting 19 of 43 field goals, six of 16 threes, and 19 of 23 free throws. Solid support came from Abdul Gaddy though, who probably had a better game than all three of them (and might very well be a pro prospect down the line).
Gaddy is finally getting some of the explosion back into his leg. Tonight we witnessed him make his usual smooth dribbling moves in getting to the rim. But Gaddy had a little more explosiveness post-move than I have been accustomed to seeing. Usually he just flows out of his move. Now he still flows out of his dribble move, but with a little more quickness in getting past his defender. This little bit of quickness is huge. Think about how big one-tenth of a second is when players are running the 40 for the NFL Combine. Now think about how much bigger one-tenth of a second gained in the span of two feet is. He has gained more confidence in his leg thanks to the increased quickness. This has allowed him to be stronger when attacking the rim, and consequently able to find teammates from inside the paint when the defense collapses.
As for Oregon, the Ducks relied a lot on their offense to win them basketball games, but when the shooters went cold the situation turned sour. Things were no different tonight.
Joseph and Sim never got on track, shooting a combined 7-24. Olu and EJ were able to carry the Ducks for about ten minutes, but they ran out of gas, and the entire team just stopped being aggressive. Meanwhile, the defensive end was a complete nightmare, with Wroten still getting into the lane at will, with Wilcox and Ross nailing jumpers, aided by a foul call on nearly every play. Washington was well into the double bonus before Oregon was anywhere near the bonus. The officiating was at times very questionable, but the bottom line is that the Ducks stopped being aggressive, while Washington continued to gain confidence. Oregon hit just enough shots to keep them within striking distance, but never enough to make you think they were going to pull it out.
Indeed, Oregon, a team generally very good at keeping teams from attempting free throws, gave up 35 free throw attempts Thursday night, including 14 to Wroten and six to Gaddy and Wilcox each. Not good enough, even against a poor free throw shooting team like Washington.
Oregon will have plenty of issues to resolve this season (especially with a bunch of major contributors like Ashaolu, Joseph and Sim graduating), but considering what Dana Altman got out of a moltley crew, it shouldn't be too rough a rebuild in Eugene and they should continue to be a feisty bunch to deal with.
It remains to be seen what Romar can do if he's unable to fill in the coffers with quality talent. He'll probably have to do better than the NIT with future squads.