- The Future of Basketball Is Here, and it Looks a Lot Like James Harden – Excellent look at how the Houston Rockets have engineered their roster and the manner in which they play basketball. It’s interesting to read how NBA teams work so hard to maximize their offensive potential while the college game is so widely centered on defense. The talent discrepancy can’t be ignored and defense often allows you to mask those gaps. But it would be interesting to see a college team try something along the lines of what the Rockets are doing.
- Art of the Alley-Oop – This was evidently pieced together by students at the Washington journalism school. It’s well done and tells a good story of one of our favorite plays. Also some unique design elements.
- Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter – There is a hidden brilliance in this counter-trolling effort by the Frederick News-Post. I encourage you to read this and note the first letters of each of the article’s paragraphs. I think you’ll like this one.
A week ago I was asked to rack my brain about the conference’s favorite newcomers. I answered with Gary Payton’s son, GP2. Other answers to the RTC Burning Q included Jakob Poeltl and Kevon Looney. Great responses. But noticeably missing was Washington’s Robert Upshaw and so I’m here now to note Upshaw’s newcomer significance and exactly what’s going on in Seatlle. The LoRo Revival, their newcomer defense.
Ranked for the first time since 2011 and since they weren’t invited to the 2012 NCAA tournament, Washington is good. But maybe it almost wasn’t. Continue reading
This week we’re going to hear all about strength of schedule, quality wins, and conversations about who beat whom and by how much. Many conversations about resumes, upset scenarios (and I know all of them), and the human element. Debate. Baylor has hired a PR firm to help bolster the conversation surrounding them. All of which will lead to a Selection Sunday – and we love those.
So while college football is headed to its first playoff, a tournament, for which no one can explicitly prepare, college basketball teams have been playing tournaments all over the world and in front of no one. From Maui to New York to the Bahamas, preseason tourneys (otherwise known as non-exempt events) have filled our November-into-December plates. They are crowded events preparing teams for the sport’s biggest stage.
On this past Sunday night, Washington won the Wooden Legacy tournament!
It maybe wasn’t the biggest tournament (that was Maui with 12) or the sexiest (that was the Battle for Atlantis with 63% of the field holding a national title) but they won. Previous Wooden Legacy winners include:
- 2013 SDSU (Sweet 16)
- 2012 Cal (Second round)
- 2011 St. Louis (Second round)
- 2010 UNLV (First round)
- 2009 West Virginia (Final Four)
- 2008 Wake Forest (Second round)
…and so on. Now winning this tournament most certainly does not guarantee an NCAA invitation. But it seems there is a precedence. Further, and of obvious importance, Washington has been playing improved basketball to win themselves a tournament crown.
A season ago was the worst defensive team Lorenzo Romar has put on a basketball court. By a long shot (or rather by a lot of shots that went in). Thus far, and I know we’re early, but the Huskies are yielding just 94.5 points per 100 possessions which is 10 points fewer than last season. That ranks a relatively pedestrian 62nd in the country, but it’s 10 points per 100 possessions fewer than last season (worth noting: a 94.5 DRtg would’ve ranked 14th last season). All we can ask is that they improve. Through six games, they’ve won a tournament and they’ve improved! The Huskies rank 15th in the country in defensive eFG% (39.4%). The Dawgs are defending!
Individually, I’d like to highlight Shawn Kemp Jr. Last year he was committing 7.2 fouls per forty minutes. That’s comically bad. It’s fouling out nearly two-and-a-half times per contest. This season, however, he’s dropped that number to 3.5 fouls per forty minutes. Consequently he has nearly doubled his minutes played per game and has led the Huskies in scoring three times. He’s averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 boards each night. Needless to say, these are career highs. If we thought the Huskies were missing a low post presence it seems they needn’t look far. They maybe just needed a way to keep him on the floor.
Adding further depth to the front court is big man – and former question mark – Robert Upshaw. He’s working his way into the lineup but when in there, he’s wildly effective. His usage is at 23%, he’s blocking shots at the highest rate in the nation, and he’s absorbing missed shots like Kemp used to absorb illegal contact. I presume he’s working into improved playing shape as he’s seeing minimal court time (just 16.5 mpg) but his high usage and maximal efficiency (119 ORtg) suggest that his presence will soon be more regular.
I could probably go on but so too must the season. We’re early in this thing and we’ve got a Selection Sunday to prepare for. Furthermore, you don’t need me to regurgitate statistics. Just tune into a UW game and you can see for yourself – they look like a much improved team. Nigel Williams-Goss can create; Jernard Jarreau is a healthy weapon; Andrew Andrews has the same name twice; and Donaven Dorsey is in a nice situation by which to develop and contribute.
So let’s be clear: There’s reason for optimism in Seattle and not just because of recruiting. These Dawgs are tournament champions.
I didn’t have the opportunity to dive deeply into watching the Washington game. But even peripherally it appears that our concerns about Washington’s front court were affirmed by Tom Crean and company. The Dawgs yielded 102 points to Indiana despite trying to slow them in a zone (in stretches) and coughing up just nine turnovers. By most accounts, nine turnovers is a recipe for victory. The catch, is on the glass. Or otherwise said, a lack of catching, and this is where our front court hypothesis is affirmed
You see, while Washington only forfeit nine turnovers, they were out rebounded 50-29. Of those 50 boards, the Hoosiers snatched up 20 offensive boards and subsequently 20 additional possessions by which to approach the century mark. A mark they achieved.
We knew that Washington was going to miss the presence of Jernard Jarreau, but this much? Shawn Kemp Jr. joined us for nine minutes; or just long enough to commit five fouls but not long enough to grab more than one rebound. Giles Dieroidsajflkxvlkjasgcxz grabbed 100% more rebounds than Kemp (2). As I explained on a Daily Dose of Dyl (I start at the 4min mark) this week, Washington is still learning itself. JJ was to be a big piece of what they were doing and Nigel Williams-Goss is still getting his feet wet. CJ Wilcox is fantastic but he doesn’t necessarily create his own shot. Sure, Perris Blackwell has proven pretty formidable on the blocks (13/8). But if 20% of his offense is coming off of put backs, it suggests he’s still not a threat worthy of letting Wilcox get open.
More on the rebounding. Check this out and search for the patterns:
|Wash Rebs||Opp Rebs||Opp Oreb||Result|
What’d you find? I’ll tell you what I found: get out rebounded and you’re likely to lose. In UW’s case, they’ve suffered this punishment twice and lived to see another day, once, when they danced with the Devil in Cameron Dollar form.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins isn’t soon going to run out of the seven win tunnel to remedy this. He’s got an NFL draft to prepare for and Jon Brockman certainly isn’t on the way.
We knew the Dawgs were going to need some front court help. Who’s going to do it?
While this group doesn’t hold a candle to the collective guard talent, there are some formidable pieces. The conference has brought in solid transfer bigs and we could see a record fall in Tempe. I’ll propose the question: What is Kyle Anderson and why’d ya do it, Eric Moreland? The bigs:
- Arizona – Three five-stars that each bring a completely different set of skills to the table. You can push Aaron Gordon to the three and he can talk all about his desire to play there, but the fact of the matter is, the kid plays above the rim. That’s Kaleb Tarczewski big. The impending health of Zach Peters (recently cleared) offers another six-feet-and-ten-inches of unique skill set (shots).
- Stanford – Maybe they haven’t won much but between Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis you’ve got everything you’d want in a front court. Each has springs and can play physical. Powell can score from all over the place while Huestis is about as tough defensively as they get.
- UCLA – I already gave Kyle Anderson some back court love, but last season he was asked to be more of a forward and he excelled at that – averaging nearly a 9 boards/game. The Bruins already feature the Wear family who’s been formidable and while Travis is out injured right now, David is healthy again and should have an improved season from a year ago. The unknown to this group – and the piece that could make them a pretty scare team – is the improvement and conditioning of Tony Parker. It’s an unfortunate annual event that we discuss the conditioning of a Bruin big but if one of them ever gets it about them to be in shape, look out.
- Colorado – Josh Scott had a great first season and particularly when he had fresh legs. His output tapered some as the season dragged on but that’s what sometimes happens with freshmen. He’s now a year aged and while he lost his rebounding running mate, Xavier Johnson projects to fill in nicely at the wing-forward spot while Buffs fans are also very high on Wesley Gordon.
- Oregon – One of their starters was suspended but that’s not the key piece. Mike Moser has proven to be a terrific power forward. In 2011-12 he was amongst the nation’s best players. Then a year later he wasn’t. Who is Oregon getting? I’m thinking it’ll be a lot more of the former than the latter. If Ben Carter can recover from his salesmanship and produce, this group could be tough with all those guards.
- ASU – Depth maybe isn’t their strong suit up front but if Jordan Bachynski can replicate last season, he will be the Pac-12’s All-Time leading shot blocker. That’s saying something.
- Oregon State – Let’s note right up front that Eric Moreland will be out for 14 straight games. We’ll also note that he’s a very good basketball player and flirted with the NBA. The First Team also has Devon Collier and returns everyone’s second favorite Aussie, Angus Brandt. In most any other system, I think these guys might be a top-four front court. But this is a school averaging just 15 wins a year the past three seasons. Sigh.
- California – I’ve said it before, I like Richard Solomon. I think he could have a big year. But to this point he’s been a foul prone athlete in Cal’s paint. His services have been supplemented by a walk-on named The Thurmanator. Solomon has the skills to be great, but will he? The other big in Haas is David Kravish who has a very sound skill set, a solid big, but he’s just not that big. Front court depth will also be a Bear-issue.
- Washington – They lose their anchor in Aziz but they’re bringing in a very interesting piece that LoRo says has the “potential to lead the team in scoring.” That’s nice – and scary, frankly, considering CJ Wilcox is on the team – but what I like the most about the addition of Perris Blackwell is that he’s a big body who’s going to let all those guards run amuck. Between him and the Rain Man Jr. (along with Desmond Simmons), the Dawgs have a few guys to get dirty in their second attempt at the high post offense. And this.
- Utah – This ranking hinges squarely on the fact that Jordan Loveridge is fantastic, he’s a double-double about to happen. Maybe he’s manning the middle alone now (bye Jason Washburn), but he’s man enough to do it. Worth noting, K did mention an improved and healthy Renan Lenz.
- USC – I don’t think these two are well suited for Andy Enfield’s tempo but they are serviceable bigs. Omar Oraby and DJ Haley are just too big for Dunk City. This is an offense that needs to get out and move and 7’2″ and 7′ tends to be a bit rigid when it comes to the fast break.
- WSU – Uhhhhh. They have their full allotment of scholarship athletes?
For whatever reason I’m compelled to open by citing that the Abdul Gaddy era in Washington has officially come to a close with…the emergence of a promising local, five-star point guard expected to be a game changer. Anyhow, the parallels are always funny but that’s the beautiful promise of change. And change the Huskies have, going all high-post offense and sh** while missing on Mike Moser and Aaron Gordon. But that’s neither here nor there. It’s Nigel-time.
Why I love them: I can’t figure out whether or not I love that there are Huskies named Nigel, Giles, and Perris. Those are some James Bond villains right there and have you seen Giles Dierickx’s bio pic? Allow me:
The guy’s name ends with three consonants. Three consecutive consonants is a sound. If a seven footer with an onomatopoetic closing to his last name doesn’t dispel some of the Huskies’ post issues, then I don’t know what will. If you listen to Romar, however, he feels it’s going to be Perris Blackwell – a USF transfer weighing in at 275lbs – who’s going to give the Dawgs a post presence they haven’t “had in years.” Romar told us he could threaten for leading scorer which is saying something considering the reason I really do love the Huskies is their guard play. CJ Wilcox can flat stroke it and carried this team for much of last season. He lead the team in both percentage of shots taken AND ORtg. Gotta like that combination. If nothing else, the thick bodies of Perris and Shawn Kemp Jr can set monster screens for that guy to get open. Additionally, his running mate doesn’t just have two first names, but rather TWO OF THE SAME NAMES! Andrew Andrews, folks.
Why I hate them: They’ve lost Aziz and really don’t have anything proven in the post besides a guy better recognized for his name than his game: Shawn Kemp, Jr. They run a high post offense which is to ask a lot of their bigs to be decision makers. Good decisions – like wisdom – generally come with age and familiarity and unfortunately the Husky frontcourt returns players who posted the following in % of minutes: 59.3% (Desmond Simmons), 37% (Kemp), 28.7% (Jernard Jarreau). Now, inexperience is not the kiss of death, but it sure ain’t helping me love the Huskies any more. Blackwell helps, though.
In their words: More coming here but the guest post was so damn well done it’s going to get it’s own posting.
Stat you need to know:
That is the KenPom AdjT ranking of the 12-13 Huskies – their first in the high post offense. That pace was the lowest a LoRo offense has ever ranked by 146 spots. That’s right, the previous LoRo slow was ranked 57th in the nation at 70. Last year they paced out at 65.7 – nearly the only ever Romar team in the 60s. Alas, after finishing 18-16, Romar has vowed to pick things up again.
“The heat will get hotter unless there’s a noticeable shift upward either this season or next. The good news for Washington is that freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss is the type of prospect who could spark a turnaround.” – CBS Sports’ UW preview
Outlook: These Dawgs are increasingly interesting as I absolutely love senior guards and the Huskies have CJ Wilcox. Their frontcourt pieces are intriguing but not necessarily promising like their backcourt. Nigel Williams-Goss is a pleasant addition and I always love a Lorenzo Romar offense. A season ago he was missing the depth to really get things going. It seems the Dawgs have the opportunity to regain some of that high octaine swagger we all know and love from Seattle. I don’t think Washington fights for a Pac-12 championship or really even much of an NCAA birth. They’re going to spend the season causing problems for people and then giving us a few head scratchers. They’ll pose a threat inside HecEd but I can’t see this group getting mentioned on a Sunday afternoon CBS show.