What Have You Been Up To?: Washington Huskies

Kevin "Kevo" Danna provides the faithful with his preview of the Washington Huskies, including a look at their season since facing Stanford in January, who has been hot and not so hot for UW, and the keys to a Cardinal victory as they look to gain a measure of revenge versus the team which beat them by 33 points in Seattle.

The Farm Boys pulled the proverbial rabbit out of their hat on Thursday night, overcoming an 18-point deficit midway through the second half to knock off the Washington State Cougars 60-58 behind the clutch shooting of Jeremy Green.  Now the Cardinal must turn their attention towards the Washington Huskies, who arrive in Palo Alto with a 6-6 record in conference play: 6-0 at home, 0-6 on the road.  Stanford cannot get too giddy about the Huskies' road woes however since the last time these two teams played one month ago, the Card were blown out 94-61 in Seattle.  Will the venue make that much of a difference?  We will find out on Saturday.  In the meantime, let's look at what has happened with Romar's squad since January 14.

Since We Last Met: 4-3 (4-0 Home, 0-3 Away)

It has been the same old story for the Huskies - play like world-beaters at home and then flop big time on the road.  They had a chance to win at Pauley Pavilion one week after knocking off the Farm Boys.  A Venoy Overton coast-to-coast job put the Lorenzo Romars up 61-60 with just over three seconds to go, as he was basically escorted to the hoop by first Abdul-Hamid, then Roll, and then Nelson who didn't even bother to contest his shot.  All is good for the Dawgs - the road curse is over, right?  Not quite.  Next came a Michael Roll in-bounds pass to half court for Abdul-Hamid, who quickly got to the top of the key, up-faked Overton, and swished the 19-footer at the buzzer to send Washington back under .500.  If UCLA had a timeout to use after the Overton make, it would have been highly unlikely that they would have won.  Ben Howland is the master of the timeout, but a break in the action there would have allowed the Huskies to set up a defensive scheme and a shot would have been much tougher to get off.  The Bruins got that bucket because the Huskies had no chance to set up any sort of press or even mark a man to guard.

Since then, it has been much worse for Washington on the road.  They followed up the 62-61 Pauley heartbreaker with another 61-point effort against the Trojans, who did a little more than match UCLA's Thursday night total.  When it was all said and done, the Huskies lost 87-61, and senior star wing player Quincy Pondexter was held to two points.  UW's last road game was just a couple of days ago, and it was another "L," this time at the hands of the Golden Bears, 93-81.  Isaiah Thomas had 24 points, but the guy he was matched up with (a little-known fella that goes by the name of Jerome Randle) had 33.  Quincy had 18 and Overton had 15 off the bench, but the Huskies couldn't stop the Bears on the defensive end, allowing Monty's bunch to connect on more than half of their shots.

However, they have done serious work in the friendly confines of the Bank of America Arena in Seattle, where they have all the swagger in the world.  After a 123-76 pasting of the former UW assistant Cameron Dollar-led Seattle Redhawks (by the transitive property, the Huskies should have beaten Oregon State by 98 points), Washington took care of their in-state rivals 92-64 after falling behind by four at the break.  Next up were the Arizona schools, and they did what the ‘Zonas did to them in completing the weekend sweep.  They knocked off the Wildcats 81-75 in a hard-fought contest (the Wildcats had the lead at the half) before pasting the Sun Devils 79-56 last Saturday.

But this game is on the road, so will the Huskies be able to find that confidence that has carried them to six conference victories?

Who's Been Hot:

•     Venoy Overton - He has been the perfect sixth man for Lorenzo Romar.  He comes in right before the under-16 and provides relentless on-ball pressure on guards that are starting to get tired.  What's the result?  Venoy has recorded at least one steal in his last seven games and has been great at being able to draw fouls.  He has shot at least ten free throws in three of their last five games, including 9-10 against Cal on Thursday and 16-19 against Seattle.  This guy could potentially be a killer on Saturday.
•     Matthew Bryan-Amaning - He doesn't have the most stellar stats, but he is Washington's only low-post threat, and he has really stepped his game up as of late.  He is averaging 12.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg over his last two games compared to 7.4 and 5.2 for the whole season.  More impressive though has been his ability to protect the basket, as he has registered multiple blocks in each of his last four games and has swatted away at least one field goal attempt in six consecutive contests.
•     Q - So his 18 and six boards might not have been the most impressive state line he has put up this year, but before that, the guy was on an absolute tear.  Prior to that game, he was averaging almost 26 tallies per over his last four, including a three-game stretch that included 27 against Seattle, 29 against Washington State, and 30 against Arizona.  He also had double-doubles in those three games, his first since the Stanford game on January 14.

Who's Been Not:

•     Abdul Gaddy - It has been a rough freshman campaign for the much-heralded Tacoma product.  He is averaging just 4.5 points per contest and is just 2-17 from beyond the arc on the season.  He had one of his best performances against Stanford in Seattle with ten points after scoring 13 the game before against Arizona State.  He was getting the floater to work well against the Farm Boys, but he has only reached double figures one time since (ten against Seattle, but so did five other Huskies).  He is still going to be a very good player; it's just going to take a little longer than most expected. 

Kevo's Keys to Exacting Revenge on the Dawgs:   

•     Ball Control - The Huskies are going to look to hit Stanford in the mouth right off the bat with their pressure defense, and it won't relent when Overton checks in.  If Stanford wants to win, there is no way they can repeat their first half performance against Washington State when they turned the ball over 11 times.  Had they had that first half against the Dawgs, it probably would have been more than 11 turnovers. 
•     Jarrett Mann - In the same vein as the last key, Jarrett is going to need to play big for Stanford on Saturday.  If he can take good care of the basketball and knock down his free throws when he works himself to the line, it will go a long way towards a positive overall showing for Stanford.
•     Strong start - Although the Huskies have had serious troubles on the road, they are still a much more dangerous team than the Cougars.  Stanford cannot be okay with falling behind big early on Saturday, because the Dawgs will be MUCH tougher to come back on since they can score at just about every position on the floor and will not allow the Card to get the perimeter looks that the Cougs gave them.  Last year, the Cardinal got down 15 in the second half and were able to cut it to three with under two minutes to go, but they ended up falling just a little short in a 75-68 decision for Lorenzo.
•     What are you doing at 5pm? - Fan support is going to be huge for this game.   Say all you want about it coming down to the ten guys on the floor, but a loud crowd can go a long way towards discouraging the opponent and getting into their heads, especially when it is a team that hasn't won away from home.  Get out there, y'all!

The Huskies are the last team that has yet to lose to Coach Johnny Dawkins, so let's put an end to that skid tomorrow night, and then check TheBootleg.com after the game for another amazing narrative from "Boom Boom" Salloom!

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