Beach's Bits - Georgia State

SEATTLE - C.J. Wilcox and Tony Wroten stood out as the Huskies put their immense length and athleticism on display during the team's 2011-2012 debut. The result was a 91-74 win over Georgia State in the first round of the World Vision Basketball Classic Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Washington's size is going to give opponents fits this season. That much was obvious as the Huskies cruised to victory against an athletic Panthers team with a fondness for launching three-pointers.

Overall, their debut was a successful one. Despite several blown defensive assignments typical of college basketball in November, the Dawgs lived up to their advanced billing as one of the most dangerous teams in the West.

Wilcox was unsurprisingly unconscious from behind the arc. After sinking five three-pointers on an "off night" in Washington's exhibition tune-up against SPU, the talented redshirt sophomore picked apart the Panthers from the perimeter, sinking five more bombs en route to a team-leading 22 points on the night. Wilcox showed that he's more than just a long range specialist, penetrating the lane and finishing at the basket successfully on multiple occasions. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished three assists while playing mostly stellar defense, adding two steals.

The Huskies are a team with immense potential defensively. That much became clear midway through the first half, as the team settled in and got comfortable. One of the most exciting aspects of this particular group of players is their exceptional size and length. We finally saw how that length would manifest itself on the floor as the Huskies smothered the Panthers, holding them to 41 percent shooting from the field.

Their efforts were far from perfect, however. They struggled defending the Panthers from the perimeter. Georgia State guard Rashaad Richardson torched the Huskies from outside, connecting of 7 and 10 from behind the arc. Many of those wide-open shot attempts came as a result of Husky defenders being caught out of position. In spite of that, Washington's overall defensive efforts were impressive.

The Huskies' point guard play was another highlight of the game. Despite a rough shooting night from Abdul Gaddy, both he and Wroten did a little bit of everything in the win. Playing side by side for much of the game, both players were especially effective on the glass, grabbing 14 boards between them. They also combined for nine assists, and despite the occasional passing gaffe did an excellent job of running the team.

Wroten was a scoring machine as he penetrated the paint - not dissimilarly to his predecessor, Isaiah Thomas. Every one of his 18 points came within arms reach of the hoop, as he flashed through the paint.

Gaddy netted seven points and grabbed seven rebounds, while leading the team with six assists.

The much-ballyhooed season debut of Terrence Ross never really materialized. The talented sophomore scored 11 points on 3-7 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in 28 minutes.

Aziz N'Diaye's first game back after missing the exhibition game with a concussion was a mixed bag, though his game did improve as he settled down. On the one hand, his physical presence was undeniable. He blocked five shots and proved an effective field goal deterrent as he stalked the paint.

But offensively he looked much the same player as last season, connecting on just two of his five field goal attempts and generally appearing awkward with the ball in his hands. As the minutes ticked by, the robustly-built junior got more comfortable, ultimately grabbing a team-high eight rebounds after closing the first half with just two.

N'Diaye had plenty of help in the paint. While there isn't a prototypical post scorer on the roster, the post-by-committee strategy was effective with the Huskies' super-sized backcourt providing much of the scoring and rebounding punch.

After a disappointing exhibition game, Darnell Gant was extremely effective shooting the ball. He scored 18 points on 7-8 shooting – much of it coming in the form of jump-shots.

Desmond Simmons' stat line won't elicit much attention, but his overall energy and intensity set the tone for the team whenever he was on the floor. He's a fierce competitor, and grabbed five rebounds in 16 minutes.

The other freshmen were mostly non-factors.

The Huskies struggled in a few important areas.

The defensive perimeter struggles were the most glaring weakness, but it wasn't the only area where Washington needs work. While N'Diaye eventually warmed up and made his presence felt on the glass, the Husky bigs need to assert themselves more in the paint. Gant had a strong shooting night but still struggled on the glass, grabbing just two rebounds in the game.

For a 6-foot-8 senior possessing such a high degree of athleticism and experience, two rebounds is unacceptable.

Washington's transition defense was marginal, as they were repeatedly beaten down the floor.

And than there was the free throw shooting. UW's achilles' heel showed up again, as they managed just 60 percent on the night from the stripe. Wroten was 4-8, which is alarming because he's going to spend so much time at the charity stripe.

Overall though, the Huskies' season start was a successful one. Post scoring aside, Washington appears to have all of the ingredients necessary to successfully navigate the loss of four starters and possibly improve on last year's success. Top Stories