Washington’s basketball team finally has been able to string together some unimpressive wins against lesser competition. They squeaked out a win against a terrible Western Michigan team and dominated the second half against Cal Poly after being down at halftime. This is hardly an indicator of future success for the basketball team but at least now the Huskies are above .500 and emerged from the embarrassing bottom dwelling Pac-12 spot. The Huskies still have shown little indication they will be successful in Pac-12 play. The hot streaky shooting of Washington's top players has helped them win games this season but only against lesser competition. The lack of defense keeps opponents in the game when they have no business of competing for wins with the talent the Huskies possess.
Even with a comfortable win against Cal Poly the Huskies had to come from behind as their lack of defense continues to haunt them every game. So what is the path the Huskies need to take to fix these woes?
The number one thing the Huskies need right now is a leader. Clearly Markelle Fultz' phenomenal skill set makes him the best candidate to step up and lead this team. Fultz has been fantastic this year and it's hard to knock a guy who is performing at the level he has thus far this season. However, the intangible aspect of being a true leader is what this team needs. Fultz is the reason why the Huskies have six wins but he needs to get the rest of the team to consistently bring energy and hustle to the game. It is likely the team would benefit from Fultz increasing his assists numbers and score a bit less. He did exactly that in the last two games, albeit against terrible competition, but the Huskies got the win. When Fultz assist to turnover ratio is greater than 3 the Huskies have been winning games. If you look at the great point guards currently in the NBA they all average above 3 assists to turnover ratio. If Fultz can get involved in becoming more of a game facilitator and have less need to score, the Huskies have a much better shot at completing a turnaround.
Markelle Fultz is only one man. David Crisp had a great game against Cal Poly. If Crisp and Thybulle can stay consistent on scoring that takes some of the pressure of Fultz to make plays himself to win. Also Dickerson needs to rebound cleaner and stop getting stupid fouls while Dime will have to notch up his defensive efforts and lead the team to better defensive efficiency. However, scoring has not been the problem this year for Washington as they remain in top 25 in the country in points scored. It comes back to defense. The win versus Cal Poly is the first time in six games that the Huskies held a team to under 86 points. The last ten minutes of the second half versus Cal Poly looked good for Washington, but that may have had more to do with Cal Poly breaking down than than the Huskies stepping up. UW committed more turnovers than the Mustangs so they are still a work in progress. Seattle University is the last non-conference game and the Huskies should win easily if they continue to play the way they did for the last 20 minutes against Cal Poly. If it's close or Seattle U. pulls the upset then it will be back to square one for Romar. It may be too late to push this team into a winning mindset that will save the Huskies season and perhaps Romar's job at Washington, but one game and one win at a time might get them there.