Terrence Ross

Abdul Gaddy is the key to Washington’s season

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Senior point guard Abdul Gaddy had made a career out of being a pretty good point guard for the Washington Huskies.

He came of the bench as a freshman, spelling Venoy Overton and Isaiah Thomas. He moved into a starting role as a sophomore, averaging 8.5 points and 3.8 assists before tearing his ACL that January, and followed that up with averages of 8.1 points and 5.2 assists as a junior. Throw in two NCAA tournament trips in those three seasons, and Gaddy has had himself a decent collegiate tenure.

The problem with Gaddy having a ‘decent collegiate tenure’ is that he was supposed to be oh so much more.

A McDonald’s All-American back in 2009, Gaddy was the No. 2 point guard in the class, sitting squarely behind John Wall. By comparison, the No. 2 ranked point guard in the Class of 2008, according to ESPN, was Kemba Walker. In 2010, it was Brandon Knight. In 2011, it was Myck Kabongo. Impressive company.

This season is Gaddy’s final chance to prove that he is capable of living up to those lofty expectations, and it happens to coincide with a year where Washington desperately needs to him to be a star.

Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar may have lost Terrence Ross after last season, but there are still plenty of pieces at his disposal, particularly on the wing. Scott Suggs and CJ Wilcox are both big, athletic wings capable of putting up 20 points on any given night, while sixth-man Andrew Andrews looks like he has the chance to be really good down the road. Aziz N’Diaye anchors the front court, and while he isn’t much more than a shot-blocker and a rebounder, Desmond Simmons has had a solid start to the year, averaging 9.0 points and 7.0 boards through three games.

But it all comes back to Gaddy, the tie that binds.

And never was that more clear than on Saturday night, as Washington knocked off Seton Hall 84-73 in overtime in the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off.

In the first half, the Huskies looked utterly dominant. They shot 61.3% from the floor, they scored 49 points and they went into the break with a 16 point lead. And Gaddy? He was sensational, finishing with 14 points, five assists and just a single turnover while shooting 6-8 from the floor. He hit a three. He drove the lane and finished at the rim. He penetrated, drew defenders, and found the open man. He showed off a decent mid-range game.

“He played as good a first half as any guard around, I thought,” Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. “When he plays that way he makes our team play at a high, high level.”

And when he doesn’t?

“If no one else steps up, we’re just not that good. We don’t have much ‘superstar’ on our team, so if a couple guys aren’t performing at a high level, there’s not a lot of margin for error.”

That was evident in the second half.

As good as Gaddy was for the first 20 minutes, he was that bad in the second 20. Well, maybe bad is the wrong term; nonexistent is probably more accurate. He took just three shots from the floor. He didn’t score a single point or notch a single assist. He turned the ball over twice, but that’s not really an outlandish number.

Perhaps the biggest sign of Gaddy’s struggles were Washington’s struggles, as they blew that entire 16 point halftime lead. Seton Hall made went on a 31-9 run, eventually taking a 66-60 lead, as the Huskies struggled to get open looks and, at times, to simply get the ball across half court.

And that’s where Gaddy’s importance lies.

It’s not simply the points or the assists; it’s initiating the offense and getting the ball to the right people in the right spots at the right time. It’s facilitation more than simple production. And when he’s doing that effectively, the points and the assists are going to be a by-product.

The Huskies need him to be a leader, to be able to reliable on his consistent production.

It’s the difference between being a tournament team and a team that blows 16 point leads to Big East also-rans.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Washington continues the adjustment process with an 88-78 win over Western Washington

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The first college basketball exhibition that wasn’t of the intra-squad variety took place on Wednesday night, as the Washington Huskies took on Division II national champion Western Washington.

Lorenzo Romar’s team had the benefit of a preseason trip to Europe and Senegal to adjust to life without NBA draft picks Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr., so the opener was essentially an extension of the adjustment process.

C.J. Wilcox led the way with 21 points and fellow guards Abdul Gaddy and Andrew Andrews scored 14 apiece as the Huskies used some late defense to pull away for the 88-78 victory.

Scott Suggs, who missed all of last season with a broken bone in his right foot, and Desmond Simmons were the starters alongside Gaddy, Wilcox and Aziz N’Diaye. Suggs finished with 13 points and four rebounds in 32 minutes of action.

One of the biggest questions for the Huskies entering the 2012-13 season is just how aggressive Wilcox will be now that much of the focus offensively will be on him.

In his first two seasons in Seattle he was able to be a member of the supporting cast, but Washington will need him to stand out if they’re to be a factor in the Pac-12 race. And while last night was only an exhibition it’s a good start for Wilcox.

“C.J. Wilcox had an outstanding game. If you take his points away he still rebounded, stole the ball, deflected the ball, he defended, he took charges—a really complete game,” said Romar.

“When your best players are there they need to step up like that. That’s what you expect from guys that have been in the program and know what they’re doing.”

Offensively the Huskies will have a different look as Romar has transitioned the team from a motion offense to the high post system that John Wooden used at UCLA.

And their redshirt freshman Andrews took full advantage in the first half, as he scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half as Gaddy sat with three fouls.

“Andrew played a very good basketball game. I’ve been saying all along that this is just an exhibition game so who knows what’s going to happen,” noted Romar.

“Much was made that we didn’t get any recruits. Well, find me a freshman guard that goes out and does that. He played with a lot of confidence and a lot of boldness out there.”

Washington has work to do on both ends of the floor, especially defensively where the consistency was lacking last night.

Offensively the strength of this team is once again in the backcourt, and Gaddy and Wilcox will need to adjust to roles in which they’ll be asked to do more scoring than in years past.

Whether or not they’re able to will play a major role in how successful Washington is this season.

Quotes credit: University of Washington

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Pac-12 preview: Influx of talent should result in an improved product

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

There’s no sugarcoating the fact that the last three seasons have been rough for the Pac-12. While Larry Scott’s conference has seen a team reach the Elite 8 recently (Arizona in 2011), in the three years since earning six spots in the 2009 NCAA tournament the Pac-12 has snagged a grand total of  eight bids. But with the freshmen and transfers entering the conference, Pac-12 supporters are hopeful that the on-court performance will improve in 2012-13.

Two of the top five recruiting hauls in the country were produced by Pac-12 teams, with Arizona counting on its three elite big men to assist Angelo Chol in the paint and push conference Player of the Year candidate Solomon Hill to his more comfortable spot on the wing. And then there’s UCLA, which landed four recruits headlined by Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad. Those two can have a major impact on the Pac-12 and national discussions…provided they get cleared by the NCAA.

But to think that the work of the Wildcats and Bruins makes this a two-team race would be a big mistake, as both reigning Pac-12 tournament champion Colorado and Stanford have a good mix of established returnees and talented newcomers to rely on. The Oregon schools, California, Washington and even USC should all be a part of the fight for a spot in the top half of the league standings. Here’s a look at the Pac-12 in 2012-13.

Five Things to Know

1. Arizona picked up two valuable point guards in the transfer market this offseason and both played in the Atlantic 10 last year. Senior Mark Lyons is expected to be the answer for the Wildcats this season while Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell has to sit out 2012-13 per NCAA transfer rules. To say the least this is an upgrade over the enigmatic Josiah Turner, and junior Jordin Mayes should earn minutes as well.

2. Washington State was one of seven Pac-12 teams to take an offseason trip, going to Australia to play four games. But some of the progress made may have been undone by senior point guard Reggie Moore getting dismissed from the team. The Cougars now have a major question to answer at the point, but the also have one of the league’s best players in senior forward Brock Motum.

3. After a tough season away from Pauley Pavilion UCLA gets to return home, and expectations are high in Westwood for Ben Howland’s team. In addition to Anderson and Muhammad the Bruins add Jordan Adams and Tony Parker, but just as important will be the play of veterans such as the Wear twins (David and Travis) and Joshua Smith.

4. Two Pac-12 programs added players from a Rice program decimated by transfers. Omar Oraby is now a USC Trojan while first team All-Conference USA forward Arsalan Kazemi is at Oregon. There’s hope in Eugene that Kazemi will be granted immediately eligibility, and if that happens the Ducks can surprise some folks.

5. California loses the Pac-12 Player of the Year (Jorge Gutierrez) and forward Harper Kamp, but the Golden Bears welcome back junior forward Richard Solomon. Solomon was academically ineligible for the second half of last season, but a positive in the form of freshman David Kravish getting more minutes could pay dividends for Mike Montgomery’s team in 2012-13. Oh, they also return guards Justin Cobbs, Allen Crabbe and Brandon Smith.

Impact Newcomers

F Brandon Ashley, F Grant Jerrett and C Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona)
If Arizona is to accomplish anything either within the Pac-12 or nationally they’ll need these three to be factors. Ashley is the most versatile of the three as he can be productive with his back to the basket or in a face-up role, “Zeus” is the power in the middle and Jerrett is a player who some believe has the highest upside of the trio.

F Kyle Anderson and G Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA)
This one obviously comes with the “if they’re cleared” caveat, but assuming that they are Anderson and Muhammad are vital to UCLA’s Pac-12 hopes. Anderson, who can play the role of a facilitator offensively, reportedly meshed well with North Carolina transfer Larry Drew II on their offseason trip to China. Muhammad didn’t make the trip but the explosive wing is capable of being one of the best players in college basketball the moment he steps on the floor.

G Jahii Carson (Arizona State) 
For Sun Devil fans it probably feels like it’s been an eternity since Carson enrolled, as he had to sit out last season for academic reasons. Arizona State needed help at the point desperately, and with the addition of Carson they have a player who is a threat to make something happen as soon as he touches the ball.

F Josh Scott (Colorado) 
Austin Dufault didn’t receive the accolades that Andre Roberson did last season, but he big fella was a key figure in Colorado’s rotation. With Dufault gone Scott will likely assume his role in the middle, and as one of the best front court prospects in the western United State it’s expected that the Colorado native will be productive. If Scott can be a factor in the paint Colorado can win the Pac-12 title.

G J.T. Terrell (USC) 
Terrell began his college career at Wake Forest before transferring to Peninsula JC for his sophomore season, where he averaged 24.4 points per game and shot 47% from the field last season. USC was the worst offensive team in the Pac-12 from an efficiency standpoint, and the addition of Terrell can help change that.

Other newcomers of note: G Andrew Andrews (Washington), G Dominic Artis (Oregon), F Jordan Loveridge (Utah), G/F Victor Robbins (Oregon State), G Tyrone Wallace (California).

Breakout Players

G Kevin Parrom (Arizona) 
To say that the senior from the Bronx had a tough season last year would be an understatement, as he struggled with both his health and the death of his mother. Now healthy, Parrom will likely slide into a 6th man role for the Wildcats, and with classmate Solomon Hill could form the best wing tandem in the Pac-12.

C Stefan Nastic (Stanford) 
The Postseason NIT champions were one of five Pac-12 teams that didn’t take an offseason trip overseas, but Nastic picked up some international experience as a member of Serbia’s U-20 national team (they finished 4th in the U-20 European Championships). With Josh Owens graduating the Cardinal will need a big man to step up if they’re to contend for the conference title, and Nastic is capable of doing so.

G C.J. Wilcox (Washington) 
Last season it was Terrence Ross who went from being a wing with potential to a first round draft pick. With Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. gone there won’t be time for Wilcox to play the background offensively; Washington needs him to be aggressive from the start if they’re to earn an NCAA bid.

G DaVonte’ Lacy (Washington State)
An honorable mention Pac-12 All-Freshman selection, Lacy averaged 8.5 points per game on 38.9% shooting as a freshman. With teams focusing much of their efforts on Brock Motum, Lacey’s going to need to step up if Ken Bone’s team is to return to postseason play.

F Eric Moreland (Oregon State)
Moreland’s (5.2 ppg) 2010-11 season ended after just four games due to a shoulder injury, but he made up for lost time by ranking fifth in the conference in rebounding last season with an average of 6.8 rebounds per game. Moreland also broke the school record for blocks in a season, and if the Beavers are to improve defensively he’ll need to produce even more.

Player of the Year: F Solomon Hill (Arizona)
Hill (12.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 50% FG), one of the conference’s most versatile players, can do just about anything that’s required of him on the floor. With the newcomers in the front court Hill gets to move back to the three, and he played that role during Arizona’s summer trip to the Bahamas. Look for the Los Angeles native to finish his career with a bang.

Coach under pressure: Herb Sendek (Arizona State)
After three seasons of 21 or more victories Arizona State has won just 22 games in the last two seasons combined. With a reshuffling of the coaching staff (Eric Musselman and Larry Greer were officially hired in early September) and a new boss in Steve Patterson (hired in late March), this is an important season for Sendek. The good news is that Jahii Carson is eligible, but will Arizona State have enough scoring punch to move up the Pac-12 standings?

All-Conference Team (* – Player of the Year)

G Chasson Randle (Stanford)
G Allen Crabbe (California)
F Solomon Hill (Arizona)*
F Andre Roberson (Colorado)
F Brock Motum (Washington State)

Predicted Finish

1. Arizona (How well the Wildcats perform will depend on two areas: Xavier transfer Mark Lyons at the point and their young big men)
2. Stanford (Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright lead a rotation that is better than many are giving them credit for, even with the loss of Josh Owens)
3. UCLA (What happens with Anderson and Muhammad? Have the returnees improved enough to be factors? Is Joshua Smith focused? There’s both talent and question marks in Westwood)
4. Colorado (Even with Andre Roberson, Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie back, the Buffs’ Pac-12 title hopes may depend on freshman Josh Scott’s impact)
5. California (Richard Solomon returns after missing the spring semester due to academics, and guards Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs form one of the best tandems in the conference)
6. USC (The Trojans have their health and some talented transfers, but chemistry will be critical)
7. Washington (Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox are going to need help from players such as redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews)
8. Oregon (E.J. Singler is one of the Pac-12’s most versatile players, and if Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi is cleared to play immediately this spot may be too low)
9. Oregon State (Offensively the Beavers are a talented bunch, but can they defend? That was a big issue last season)
10. Arizona State (Carson and Gordon will help the likes of Chris Colvin and Carrick Felix, but how much?)
11. Washington State (The preseason dismissal of senior point guard Reggie Moore puts the Cougs in a very tough spot)
12. Utah (That non-conference slate will result in an improvement on their six wins last season, but Larry Krystkowiak has a lot of work to do in Salt Lake City)

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Washington announces that guard Mark McLaughlin is leaving the program

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Mark McLaughlin is on the move again, this time deciding to leave the Washington program to pursue other opportunities the school announced on Friday.

A 6-6 guard who led the nation in scoring last year at Tacoma CC, McLaughlin was expected by many to be an immediate contributor with Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. moving on to the NBA.

But after a short stint in Seattle, the Bothell, Washington native apparently decided that it was best for him to move on.

“Mark McLaughlin has decided to leave the University of Washington to pursue other opportunities,” said head coach Lorenzo Romar in a school release.

“Although he was only here for a short time, we enjoyed working with Mark and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

McLaughlin committed to Washington in early April, shortly after Ross and Wroten declared for the NBA Draft, and Washington is the fourth program that he’s been a member of.

McLaughlin was at first a commitment to Washington State before signing with Nevada, who released him from his Letter of Intent after Mark Fox took the job at Georgia.

From there he made stops at Baylor and Seattle University before enrolling at Tacoma CC.

With the number of unknowns for the Huskies on the offensive end of the floor, McLaughlin’s arrival definitely could have benefited Washington on that end of the floor.

But with this move, Washington’s upcoming trip to Europe and Senegal (they won’t be playing games in Senegal) becomes even more important for a C.J. Wilcox (who’s the primary scorer at this point) or Andrew Andrews (redshirted last season).

Washington can definitely fight for an NCAA tournament bid, but this news (that isn’t entirely surprising given McLaughlin’s path) doesn’t help in that quest.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Now without Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, Washington unveils Pac-12 schedule

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Washington was considered one of the bigger snubs this past spring, left out of the 2012 NCAA tournament after finishing with a 14-4 mark with the Pac-12 and a 24-11 record overall.

But the 2012-13 Pac-12 will be much different than the edition we saw this past season, with Arizona and UCLA bringing in two of the best recruiting classes in the country and the Huskies now without their two centerpieces from a year ago, Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross.

The 2012-13 Pac-12 schedule was unveiled this week for Washington and, in this new and improved landscape, challenges lie ahead.

They begin their conference schedule on the road against in-state rival Washington State which kicks off a three-game swing away from home, including games against California and Stanford.

They return home to host Pac-12 tournament champion Colorado on Jan. 16, and probably already have their calendars marked for the Jan. 31 against a much-improved Arizona team.

In addition to the strong recruiting class, the Wildcats bring in graduate transfer Mark Lyons from Xavier to run the point.

As for matching up with UCLA, the home-and-home in-conference series begins Feb. 7 in Westwood, before the Bruins come to Washington for the final game of the conference schedule on March 9.

The biggest key for Washington will be compensating for the scoring losses of Ross and Wroten, who contributed close to 33 points per game last season.

But, as Rob Dauster touched on a few weeks ago, CJ Wilcox could fill that void in part after averaging 14.2 points per game in 2011-12 and shooting over 40% from three-point range.

Washington will take an August trip to Europe and Senegal to prepare for their season, beginning Aug. 25.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Washington will need a big season from C.J. Wilcox to return to the Big Dance

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While the Washington Huskies aren’t being mentioned with the likes of Arizona, Stanford and UCLA when it comes to favorites to win the Pac-12, Lorenzo Romar’s team has the capability of being a factor.

With Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. both moving on to the NBA however, redshirt junior shooting guard C.J. Wilcox will have to be a major contributor if they’re to do so.

Wilcox, who averaged 14.2 points per game as a redshirt sophomore last season, has recovered from the stress fracture in his leg that plagued him for much of the year.

From a health standpoint Wilcox is ready to go; all he needs to do now is go out and produce.

He has to be a leader. He has to make shots under pressure. He has to make his teammates better, and he has to take a Washington team that woefully underachieved last season to expected heights.

“This is a big year for sure, but I’m ready for it to start,” Wilcox said. “I think we have the chance to have a really good team. I just want to win. That’s my first goal. Everything else is secondary.”

The Huskies relied a great deal on Ross and Wroten Jr. for their offense, with the latter playing a role in 32% of their possessions according to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers (subscription required).

Wilcox finished the season with a possession percentage of 20%, but his offensive rating was the team’s best (120.5 per statsheet.com).

He’s been an efficient factor for the Huskies, and the return of Abdul Gaddy at the point will certainly help that continue, but he’ll need to be more aggressive in looking for his own offense.

“I thought the Kevin Durant camp was very good. It gave me a chance to test myself against some of the best players in the country. It’s given me a lot of confidence that I can play with and compete against anyone.”

In addition to his experience at the Kevin Durant camp Wilcox will have the Huskies’ preseason trip to Europe and Senegal at his disposal when it comes to getting used to a different role.

Aziz N’Diaye leads the returnees inside and redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews will help on the perimeter.

But if the Huskies are to return to the NCAA tournament after missing in 2011-12 Wilcox will have to be the leading option.

And it sounds as if he’s ready for that responsibility.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.