Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Washington Huskies Men's Basketball Season Preview

By Kevin Calderhead

Last year, Washington Men’s Basketball, having lost two key players to the NBA draft, posted a disappointing 18-16 record (9-9 Pac-12). The loss of Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten left a big hole that evidently was not filled effectively. As the Dawgs begin to practice, we must put last fall and winter behind and look to what is to come in this brand new season.
As in any college sport, seniors will graduate (hopefully). Three starters from last year will not return this season: point guard Abdul Gaddy, guard Scott Suggs, and center Aziz N’Diaye. Coach Lorenzo Romar seems to know how he is going to compensate for the loss of these players.

Let’s begin with point guard position. Abdul Gaddy was supposed to be the greatest point guard UW had ever seen. Gaddy was ranked the second best point guard in the country during high school. The only guy in front of him on that list was John Wall. Yeah, he was that good. Unfortunately, after a knee injury, Gaddy was never the same. He played well, but not great. His replacement, Nigel Williams-Goss, has the potential to be the Gaddy that never was.

Where do I start with this guy? He was the 19th ranked recruit on ESPN, and his high school team, Findlay Prep, went 124-8 during his four years there. Williams-Goss played in both the McDonald’s All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic. Even though he’s only a freshman this year, Romar says he is emerging as a leader. Let’s not forget about the other point guard on the Huskies’ roster. 6’2” sophomore Andrew Andrews showed last year that he can play a little basketball too.

Nigel Williams-Goss looks to fill the void left by Abdul Gaddy.
Getty Images

So that solves that problem. Moving on to filling N’Diaye’s spot.

Romar looks to use 7’ center Gilles Dierickx (Will we ever have a big man whose last name we can spell?) and 6-9 forward Perris Blackwell. Both are transfers that redshirted last season, due to NCAA regulations. Dierickx didn’t post great numbers at his previous school, Florida International, only 2.6 points per game and 2.2 rebounds per game in 14.9 minutes. However, having a player of his height helps immensely on defense, and if he can perform offensively as well he could be a key part of this Husky basketball team.

His counterpart from University of San Francisco, Perris Blackwell, is the offensive threat that the Dawgs need down low. Coach Romar wants his guards to feed Blackwell the ball, and with the Husky’s high-post offense he could be very successful. He posted 12.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in the 2011-12 season at USF.

Returning from last year are Shawn Kemp Jr., Jernard Jerreau and Desmond Simmons. Kemp showed signs of greatness in his 18 point and 6 rebound performance against Arizona State last year. Jerreau has yet to have a breakout game, but as a sophomore, can only improve from here on out. Desmond Simmons works the hardest out of any guy on the team, always fighting for rebounds and playing great defense. I think everyone overlooks Simmons, and I’m really not doing him justice. He’ll be one of the key players on this Husky team, like last year.

What the Huskies lost in Suggs was a great scorer and most importantly, the team leader. For this spot this year, all eyes go to senior guard C.J. Wilcox. Wilcox is the best scorer on this team, and not only will he need to be consistent in his performance, but he must emerge as a team leader. He was 2nd team All-Pac-12 last year, had an honorable mention in 2012 and made the Pac-10 All-Freshman team in 2011. All last season, Wilcox was plagued by a stress fracture in his foot. After the season ended, he had surgery to repair it in May.

C.J. Wilcox is the most integral piece of this basketball team. He has the most experience of any of the other players on the roster. And he absolutely has to be the leading scorer if the Huskies want to win a substantial amount of games this season. Hopefully the surgery fixed the nagging foot injury, and he can perform as he is fully capable of.

CJ Wilcox looks to lead this Huskies team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.
The Husky Haul

Now the real question: Can the University of Washington make the NCAA tournament this year?

That all depends. The 2013-14 Huskies are a very young team. And if the pre-season media prediction, in which the Dawgs were picked to finish eighth in the Pac-12, is correct, then the answer is absolutely not. However, there are so many new faces that we haven’t seen play yet that there is no real way to tell. If the young players can prove that they can perform, then there is a chance that they can make the NCAA tournament. But honestly, it’s too early to say at this point.

I don’t think the Huskies will finish as low as eighth in the Pac-12, but I also don’t think that they will be in contention for first place in the Pac-12. Arizona and UCLA are too good of teams. So I’ll put the Dawgs at fifth place. But who knows, maybe the Huskies will exceed everyone’s expectations and be serious contenders in the Pac-12. Here are my final predictions for this year’s team:

Starting Lineup:
PG: Nigel Williams-Goss
G: C.J. Wilcox
F: Perris Blackwell
F: Desmond Simmons
G: Andrew Andrews

Leading Scorer
Is there really any question? If it’s anyone other than C.J. Wilcox, it’s likely that this season just didn’t pan out well for the Dawgs. I’m predicting he averages about 18 points per game, up from 16.8 last year.

Leading Rebounder
This is a tougher one. This one really depends on who Coach Romar plays and who he doesn’t. I’m going to say Perris Blackwell, with 7 or 8 rebounds per game, followed by Shawn Kemp Jr. with about 6.

Leading Assister
Nigel Williams-Goss. He’s going to get most of the playing time at point guard, so hopefully around 6 assists per game.

Breakout Player
I think Shawn Kemp Jr. is going to have a big year. Watch for him to throw down some big jams this year. Hopefully his dad has taught him a thing or two about bangin’ out.

Sixth Man
Andrew Andrews. He’ll be a great guard off the bench if Williams-Goss needs a break, or the Huskies run three guards. On that note, I don’t think we’ll see much of four guards on the court like we did with Wilcox, Ross, Wroten and Suggs.

Well those are my predictions. I’ll revisit these predictions at the end of the season to see if I’m completely right, or way off the mark.

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