Tag Archives: Aziz N’Diaye

All Things UW from Montlake Madness: The Buck Stops at 151

There’s a big tilt tomorrow in Seattle as the Cats and Dogs square off with title implications and what I really want to call a win-and-in game. Would you expect anything less from these two? I love it. To gain a little perspective on all things UW I shot some very important questions over to Griffin at Montlakemadness.com. Griffin and crew do work and know that Husky program like you know where the best restroom in your office building is. Give ‘em a read and a follow.

Let’s kick this off with a little getting to know you:

PacHoops: All-time favorite Pac-12er?

Montlake Madness: All-timer? It’s hard not to choose Lew Alcindor. Perhaps the greatest of all time right there.

PH: All-time favorite Husky?

MM: Brandon Roy has a special place in my heart as he played while I attended UW and was a local Seattle guy. Nate Robinson is another player who is hard not to have as your favorite. To get the most “bang for my buck” out of this pick, I’ll choose Lorenzo Romar as he both played and coached here.

PH: Greatest sporting feat ever witnessed?

MM: It was 1995 and the Mariners tied the Angels for the AL West lead. They had a one game tiebreaker and Randy Johnson threw a complete game, 12 K, 3-hitter to send the M’s to the playoffs for the first time. I was 8.

PH: Greatest sporting feat ever accomplished?

MM: I played football at Bellevue High School up here in Washington and we played the 12-year (151 games) undefeated team from De La Salle in California my senior year and won. Easily the greatest single moment of my sporting life. I doubt anything will ever top that.

PH: Current favorite song?

MM: J. Cole – Rise and Shine. YouTube it and thank me later.

PH: OK, so now that we know everyone’s judged you, onto the Huskies. Like the rest of this league, it’s been up and down for Washington this year. Of late however, it’s been more up than down, what do you make of the 2011-12 campaign thus far?

MM: About par for the course in terms of the Pac-12 season. They are very young and lost a lot of valuable pieces from last year. The preseason did not go well at all with some terrible losses to teams like North Dakota State at home. That may come back to haunt them on Selection Sunday.

PH: They’re 4-4 on the road this year and 26-30 dating back to 2007. Comparatively, Arizona is 25-31 and UCLA 28-24 over the same stretch but Washington is ripped for being a bad road team. Are there teeth to that argument? Or does UW just have the reputation of a bad road team?

MM: UW has the reputation, at least up here, that they can’t win the “big ones” on the road. This year was the first win in Tucson in five years and I believe Romar only has one win at UCLA as well. This year’s team, especially, has struggled to find any sort of leadership or consistency while playing on the road.

PH: I need some help understanding recent LoRo quotes. Per a phone conversation Jon Rothstein had with the coach (which he disseminated on the twitter), Gaddy is the x-factor, Aziz is the first true post defender/rebounder the program’s ever had, and UW has yet to put together a 40-minute masterpiece this year. Your thoughts on these comments:

MM: I think Romar is dead on with Gaddy. The Huskies are a FAR better team when he’s playing well and setting people up. The issue is that he has rarely done it this year. Gaddy’s ACL injury from last year has him a step slow and his confidence has never rebounded either.

In terms of the Aziz comments, a certain Jon Brockman may have an issue with that. He was a terrific rebounder and defender but he was also only 6’9. Aziz is the first true “center” that Romar has had to play with and he creates mismatches that Romar has never been able to take advantage of before.

He’s definitely correct on the “40-minute masterpiece” part. Unfortunately, I don’t see this team ever “getting there” this year. The Huskies seem to always have streaks where they string together poor shots, turnovers, and defensive lapses every single game. Their ceiling is so high that every Husky fan sees the potential but it never materialized.

PH: I also need some help understanding the uber-talented Terrence Ross? Tony Wroten?

MM: Terrence Ross is an enigma. I think it’s safe to say that he has the most pure talent of anyone not named Joshua Smith in the league. He doesn’t yet have the killer instinct that all of the greats possess. In my opinion, he needs one more year in college to develop his confidence.

Tony Wroten is raw as raw gets. He’s got some elite weapons and has flashes of NBA-ready skills. His passing skills that he showed in high school have yet to adapt to the college game and, in kind, his turnover numbers are high. He is a very poor perimeter shooter which allows teams to play five feet off of him. NBA teams are still drooling over his potential and as much as I would love to see him return to Montlake next year, he will probably be a lottery pick this year.

PH: Where did “raise the roof” go?

MM: Haha. It went to Sacramento along with Isaiah Thomas. What should we bring back next? The Macarena?

PH: I read a scathing account of the Romar tenure and then a statistical rebuttal. As with all arguments, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle but which side of the LoRo fence do you sit on?

MM: I’m very pro-Romar. While his in-game philosophy may not be the best, he is probably the best human being that I have ever met. What he does for this community and his players is truly remarkable. People tend to forget how UW was never an annual Pac-12 title contender before he arrived and they still don’t have the alumni support like Arizona or UCLA. The question I always ask people is “Who should we hire instead?” They can never give a realistic answer that would be an improvement.

PH: You recently polled your readers about UW’s season and the Pac-12 to date, what’d you guys learn from that?

MM: Most surprisingly, to me at least, is that 15% of our fans think that this team would be better or no different if Tony Wroten wasn’t on the roster. I’m just shocked at that. I’m not sure if 15% of our readers are trolls, but I have heard from a vocal minority that some people believe this to be true. I think Arizona fans would greatly appreciate it if Wroten wasn’t on the Huskies after his block earlier this year.

PH: It’s been the best rivalry in the Pac for the past few years and Saturday’s noon tip should be no different (besides the fact that Arizona is oh-for-their-last-four in Seattle). How do you see this one shaking out?

MM: It’s been so hard to predict these Pac-12 games this year. Arizona is playing really well lately and both teams need this win if they want to keep pace with Cal at the top. I know that the Dawg Pack will be camping out for the game and it’s also Senior night for Darnell Gant as well as potentially the last game at home for Wroten and Ross. I’m going to predict a 5 point win for Washington as they will have the emotional edge, something they have lacked in many of their losses.

PH: Is the SLUT part of your commute?

MM: Only on the weekends. Go Dawgs!

And there you have it: Pacific Northwestern perspective from a man who once ended a 151-game win streak! I greatly appreciate Griffin and the Madness team for taking the time to answer my bonehead questions. Montlake Madness is a staple of my webtime and should be a part of yours, too. If you haven’t before and even if you have, get to Seattle in the summer as it’s the most beautiful summer city I’ve ever visited and there are a disproportionate number of blondes in that city.

Thanks fellas.

Week 4 Pac-12 Basketball Review

This post can also be found at ryanrecker.com, the blog of podcaster extraordinaire and face of KVOA-TV sports, Ryan Recker.

If you need a metaphor for this year’s Pac-12, I present to you Chip Kelly.

Seriously though, if you’re a fan and you’ve been paying attention, nothing that happens in this conference should surprise you anymore. By that logic, things are following suit and by that logic we’re being treated to a pretty good Pac-12 season. While the basketball hasn’t been the prettiest, this weekend’s slate lived up to the billing of “moving day” in that there were some phenomenal games: AZ-CU, Cal-UW, UCLA-OSU, WSU-Cal.

But if Saturday was indeed “moving day” then we would have awoke Sunday with some clarity on league leadership and not had six teams within a game-and-a-half of first place. And who knows, maybe Kyle Williams wouldn’t have had to relive the 2009 Territorial Cup (joking aside, read this on Williams. Sports!).

Keep watching as this week the Pac-12 will make a rare appearance on the worldwide leader.

Leader in the Clubhouse: I seriously contemplated just filling this section with a single question mark. But I didn’t so I’m going to say it: Oregon is the best team in the Pac-12 right now. Sure, Cal is the most complete team but the loss of Richard Solomon, while it didn’t effect them (THURMANATOR!) against UW, his absence was felt against a much lesser Washington State squad. So Oregon it is. Sure they’ve lost to Cal but Cal’s pretty good. You know who isn’t that good? Oregon State and Washington State, the two teams the Golden Bears have fallen to. In doing a quick resume scan we note that Oregon’s five losses have come against teams that rank, on average, 43rd in KenPom’s ratings (the worst of which was UW). Cal’s five losses have come against an average rating of 50th (worst being WSU). And the Ducks have been winning on the road, always a sexy attribute in the eyes of the selection committee. But maybe resume’s are a moot point for this conference? In this week’s ESPN bracketology, the Ducks are excluded in lieu of Stanford, and Cal is a nine seed. In Rush the Court’s bracketology, only Cal is making the tournament. Look, Cal is the best representative but they have holes and as of right now, Oregon is playing the best and has the most favorable stretch of games (OSU followed by the Ski Trip). Plus they have got to leverage some of the Kelly returning excitement.

Game of the Weekend: I mean, if last week I’m going to pick Cal @ UW as the Game of the Weekend and it turns into a 69-66 thriller in which the Huskies had a drawn up shot to tie it as time expired, then I’m obviously going to re-point out that I was right. Cal lived up to their hype as the top team in this conference (at least until Saturday rolled around) and led throughout much of this contest. Abdul Gaddy reemerged in CJ Wilcox’s absence – a good sign for the now shorthanded Huskies – and Aziz N’Diaye took advantage of the undersized Bears. Alas, they didn’t get the W and Cal did. The Bears however needed a huge performance from walk-on Robert Thurman. The junior forward scored 16 points and grabbed 7 boards in a career high 21-minutes en route to occupying Jeff Goodman’s twitter avatar. If the Bears need the Thurmanator to play like that to remain the conference favorites, I’m not loving their chances. And if the Huskies can’t beat the Solomon-less Bears at home, I’m not loving their chances. But this isn’t a prediction section it’s a recap section and it was a helluva game that very few got to see on TV.

The Big Loser: UCLA. They were swept at the Oregon schools for the first time since 2004 and looked meek in doing it. But calling the Bruins this weekend’s biggest loser pertains to far more than bounce passes and jumpers. The sweep got BruinNation fired up (these guys spit fire) to the point that they laid out a succession plan for Ben Howland. Then, in a poll of their readers, 45% felt Howland has not earned the right to remain head coach. What’s worse is that even the reportedly mild-mannered and team first, Anthony Stover, is frustrated with Howland. The under-used center tweeted an article calling for him to receive more playing time (sorry I couldn’t find the link). It’s been discussed quite a bit how much this program has struggled and perhaps this weekend was the straw to break the camel’s back. Against Oregon, they were up thirteen at the half and playing well. In the second half, the Ducks tied the game up in less than five minutes and then won it down the stretch. It’s indeed a sorry state of affairs in Westwood/Watts/Anaheim and possibly only getting worse. I’d also like to give a shout out to ASU in this section as they lost to Utah by 21 and produced both Kyle Williams and Billy Cundiff (2009 MBA program graduate).

What We Learned: Well if Faisal Aden is making shots then that WSU team ain’t too bad. The senior guard blew up for 57 points on the weekend and shot 65% in doing such. He also fired up a Jared Cunningham-esque 20 FTs, connecting on 19 of them (Cunningham has shot the second most FTs in the nation). He’ll no doubt be named the POW as the Cougars swept the Bay schools. I unfortunately don’t think we learned a ton this weekend outside of the fact that Richard Solomon’s absence is going to hurt the Bears. Here’s a few bulleted thoughts:

  • Arizona so glaringly has no go-to player that they couldn’t settle on anyone to take the final shot Saturday at Colorado. They dribbled out the final thirty seconds before air balling a desperation three. Having used their final time out with more than two-minutes remaining, Sean Miller was unable to draw up a play the Wildcats so painfully needed.
  • Stanford may play a very tough, extended defense, but that doesn’t necessarily translate on the offensive end. They averaged just 66 ppg this weekend and are relying heavily on the three pointer – a shot they’ve taken more often than any other Pac-12 team and made at the fourth worst rate 34%.
  • Colorado runs a staunch defense and has a legit shot to win this thing. They’ll host the Bay schools and their remaining toughest road swing is to Oregon. They still have to play at UCLA (worth reporting?) and at Arizona but with Carlon Brown filling it up, the Buffs have to like their chances.
  • Harper Kamp did not step up in Richard Solomon’s absence (see the aforementioned Robert Thurman). He averaged 10/3 for the weekend. Decent, but I maintain that Monty and Crew will need more from the AZ native if they’re going to make a big run at this.

Early Week Youtuber: Forever we’ve heard about how soft Pac-12 officials are. That there’s no bruising out here on the West Coast and fouls thirty-five feet from the basket are as abundant as gold circa 1949 . Well he may not be particularly hard, but check out this zebra: