Washington Huskies Basketball Preview: Inside the Tunnel

They’ve won fewer games than the year prior for three consecutive years. The recruiting has gone stagnant; they literally had no 2012 class. Last season was the worst defense (104.5 Drtg) that LoRo has ever put on a court. The program’s struggles are quantifiable if not palpable. Average attendance at Hec Ed since 2011 has grossly declined: 9650, 8785, 7937, 6582. It’s fair to say the seat is warming. But I see a light from within this tunnel. Look at this year’s roster. It’s not soon to wow you but it’s balanced and youthful and projects. And then you note that Washington already has commitments from four 4-star recruits in 2015 and one 5-star in 2016. Encouragingly, two of those ‘I-do’s’ have come from local kids. I see a light. But for this season, I think we’re still in the tunnel.

Why I Love Them:

Balance. Or at least an improved semblance of it. Looking at KenPom’s most frequent lineup data from last season, you’d find a lot of smalls that were limited defensively. Desmond Simmons probably isn’t your first choice for most used PF and Shawn Kemp Jr probably isn’t your favorite option as most used center (dude committed 7.1 fouls per 40 which supports my theory that he wanted to follow Austin Seferian-Jenkins to the gridiron). We’ve rarely had to question guard play in Seattle (Roy, Robinson, Thomas, Ross, Wroten, Wilcox), but the great seasons have all had sound bigs to supplement (Brockman, Pondexter, N’Diaye, Williams, MBA). Thus, while I like the prospects of Nigel’s maturation as well as Double Andrew’s, it’s the addition of Robert Upshaw (Fresno St. transfer) and the return of Jernard Jarreau. Donavean Dorsey (freshman) provides some athleticism on the wing and athletes have rarely struggled in a LoRo system.

 Why I Hate Them:

The makeup is there but I’m not convinced the talent is. Dorsey is a freshman and Upshaw hasn’t necessarily lived up to his former 5-star billing. His numbers were scant in Fresno and it wasn’t until recently that Romar was willing to fully accept him on the team (character stuff). Nigel W-G seemingly, might possibly, potentially, if circumstances were such that, could maybe have too strong of an NBA itch to scratch for him to completely fit in (see: Wroten, Tony). Double Andrew has a propensity to shoot. And miss. Like I’ve said, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel.

The Stat You Must Know:


Washington’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. That’s four points per hundred possessions worse than any other Lorenzo Romar team. It’s seven worse than last year. We usually discuss offense when we note the Huskies, a faster paced program we’ve always enjoyed their style (at least I have). LoRo has been making some adjustments, their pace has slowed some. So if the trend is that they’re going to be giving up more points per possessions (their defensive trend) while also setting pace that allows fewer possessions, then they’d better get really good at offense right now, or tighten up on the other end of the floor.

Top 5 Trips to Seattle:

  1. Dudes trip to the cabin when I did a really poor job of packing a can of SKOAL
  2. July wedding with 90-degree weather and a Lake Washington-front pre-party
  3. Surprise visit for brother’s 25th and Arizona-Gonzaga game (Of Note: that was December 2011, Arizona’s last non-conference loss)
  4. First trip visiting college best friend – who knew you could drink on a Ferry?
  5. COMING SOON! February 13, 2015

Mountain Top (best possible season):

The high post offense takes because…wait for it…there are post players! Furthermore, that defense that was rock bottom last year, improves because – ya know – depth. Sure, depth is overrated, but when you barely have bodies and one of them is Perris Blackwell walking up and down the floor, depth is going to behoove your defense. These improvements lead the Huskies to twenty wins and a semi-triumphant return to the National Invitational.

 Rock Bottom (worst possible season):

This roster has enough to not be miserably bad and truly scrape the depths, but maybe those intangible bits – that aforementioned air of struggle – is deeper than we think. Sometimes losing gets into the water and there is no filtration device for that. Romar has been in Seattle for twelve seasons. Is he comfortable? Robert Upshaw’s school profile notes him as the third seven-footer in the Romar era, the 13th to ever play at Washington. And while the profile has since been updated to reflect he’s seven-feet, upon writing of this article, the same profile listed him at 6’11”. The devil is in the details and details get missed over time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *