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2014-15 Season Preview: Washington

Washington looks to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.

Nigel Williams-Goss will have to step up in his sophomore season
Nigel Williams-Goss will have to step up in his sophomore season
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Last Season: For the second consecutive year, Lorenzo Romar's team finished 9-9 in the Pac-12 and for the third straight season, were unable to make the NCAA Tournament. And the main factor was the defense. It was the second time ever that Romar's team had a defensive rating above 100 and it was the worst defense he's ever had as they gave up 104.5 points per 100 possessions. The Huskies allowed opponents to shoot 53 percent from two and teams only turned over the ball against them on 16 percent of their possessions. With that type of defense, it's hard to have anything more than a mediocre season.

Key Losses: C.J. Wilcox, who led the team in minutes, points and had the highest offensive rating, was drafted by the Clippers. Wilcox also led Washington in 3-point shooting, hitting 39 percent of his attempts and took over 100 more threes than any other Husky. Perris Blackwell is the other departing starter. Blackwell averaged 10.2 points per game and led Washington with 6.8 rebounds per game. His presence on the glass will be missed as he was tied for the second most offensive rebounds in the conference.

Notable Returning Players: The Huskies return a trio of starters featuring Nigel Williams-Goss, Mike Anderson and Andrew Andrews. Out of the three, Williams-Goss is the most poised for a breakout season. The 6-foot-3 guard is the team's leading returning scorer, was an All Pac-12 Freshman and averaged 4.38 assists per game, which was the seventh best mark in the conference. Williams-Goss is also one of the better shooters on the roster hitting on 50 percent of his twos and 35 percent of his threes.

Andrews is a familiar face for Lorenzo Romar and returns his 12.9 points per game. He and Williams-Goss will form one of the stronger backcourts in the conference. But unless Andrews' shot improves drastically, he should stay away from the three-point line. The junior took the second most threes on the team and only hit 29 percent of them.

Mike Anderson is back as the team's leading rebounder with 5.5 per game and is one of the Huskies' more frequent post players. Sophomore Darin Johnson should be one of the first players off of the bench after averaging 16.1 minutes per game and seeing time in 31 of their 32 games.

Jernard Jarreau's health is a major factor for the Huskies. If he can come back at full strength after missing all but one game last season, Washington won't have to rely on their guards for all of the offense. The 6-foot-10 forward has tons of potential and is an athletic flyer that could wreak havoc. He'll be crucial for Washington as other forward Shawn Kemp Jr. goes into his final season in his underwhelming career. He had the second-worst rebounding numbers on the team despite being 6-foot-9 and only averaged 4.4 points per game last season.

Key Newcomers: Transfers Robert Upshaw and Quevyn Winters are the most notable new faces for Lorenzo Romar. Upshaw transferred from Fresno St. and should be inserted into the starting lineup right away because of his 7-foot, 255-pound frame. Winters is a 6-foot-6 JUCO transfer from Indian Hills and averaged 9.6 points the year before that as a freshman at Duquesne. And Donaven Dorsey is a 6-foot-7 wing that can thrive in Romar's offense.

Notable Non-Conference Games: After losing to UC Irvine and Albany at home the past two years, every game could be a problem for the Huskies. They face off against South Carolina St., Seattle, Pacific and San Jose St. to start off the season, so they aren't exactly challenging themselves. Oklahoma and San Diego St. are their toughest opponents, but other than that, it is a non-conference schedule that will gain them little support if they're on the bubble come March.

Conference Stretch to Look at: The Huskies take on Utah and Colorado on the road and then return home to face Cal and Stanford in late January. The four games will give the Huskies an early idea of how they fare against the better half of the conference.

Best-Case: Nigel Williams-Goss improves his draft stock with each game and leads the Huskies to quality wins throughout the season. Jernard Jarreau comes back from his injury and looks better than ever. Lorenzo Romar rides an efficient offense to a top half finish in the Pac-12 and the Huskies are one of the Last Four on Selection Sunday.

Worst-Case: Lorenzo Romar's seat gets even hotter after not sniffing the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. He once again suffers some peculiar non-conference losses and is unsure about his return.

Projected Finish: 7th