Tourney Talk: The Players

LOS ANGELES - Well, Washington knows who they are going to play on Thursday at noon in the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament - the Oregon State Beavers. But more than anything else, the Huskies need to concentrate on the things that they need to do well. With that in mind, here's Kim Grinolds' thoughts on each player as they get ready to defend their regular-season crown.

Terrence Ross - Terrence was a breakout player in the conference tourney a year ago. The confidence he gained was what really started his development and gave everybody a glimpse of what he can really do. Terrence being Terrence is absolutely good enough. It's not just scoring....look at his rebound numbers and his defense. he's a big time player who can carry this team as long as he avoids the one chink in his armor - cheap fouls. Stay on the floor and he can do his damage; if he's on the bench with foul trouble, the Huskies will have lost a major gun in their arsenal.

Tony Wroten - Tony thrives on the big stage. Look at what he did against Duke at MSG. If Tony stays within himself, that's also good enough. When you talk about a War Daddy on the basketball court, that's Tony. He will absolutely reach down your throat, grab your heart and stomp on it if that's what it takes to win. That attitude from Tony is what they really need from him to go deep. If he continues to develop defensively, makes his free throws and has positive assist-to-turnover ratios, his scoring always seems to take care of itself.

C.J. Wilcox - Even though he had 22 against UCLA, it just feels like C.J. hasn't reached his stride yet. That part of the season where he missed three games was tough on UW, and even though he's played in 11 games since, his patented shooting stroke just hasn't been as reliable as it normally is. And his hip is definitely an issue. If they can limit his minutes early, they'll be much better off. Can his leg take the pounding of three games in a row? We'll see.

Aziz N'Diaye - Nobody has worked harder to improve his game more than Aziz, and his recent addition to the Pac-12 All-Defensive team speaks to that. He may still be limited offensively, but what he brings with his defense, toughness, hustle and heart - his enforcer role can't easily be replaced. He has to be around, especially at the end of games, to be that rock in the middle. He's had something to prove for a while, and hopefully it'll come out here like it started to at the end of last year. Now N'Diaye needs to add the confidence coming from that post-season award, and hopefully that's going to add the swagger to the rest of the package. Aziz is huge to the success of this team. He always eaves it all out on the floor.

Darnell Gant - Senior leadership, rebounding and efficient offense - that's what Darnell Gant should be all about, all the time; and if that's all they get out of Darnell, that's more than good enough. He should look to score 6-10 points per game, and have at least as many rebounds. But more than anything, he has to keep the team together when things invariably go south - because they will from time to time. His passion is contagious, and as coach Romar has said many times, the things he tells his teammates are winning thoughts. He just needs to stay positive throughout and push the younger players.

Abdul Gaddy - If they can get out of Abdul what they did at UCLA, this team could go a long way. He had 10 first-half assists against the Bruins, and when the ball was in his hands Washington's offense seemed rock-solid. He's the guy Lorenzo mentioned as a possible breakout guy in the tournament, and if that means mixing in more made threes and more penetration off high ball screens for layins, that would be a blessing for Husky fans. He can be the glue that holds together the offense if he runs the show like he's capable of.

Desmond Simmons - He's disappeared for a few games, but he has a chance to get it back during the tournament. He brings that hustle and relentlessness to the paint which frustrates, aggravates, and just wears opponents down. If he can grab rebounds and add energy, that's all they need from Desmond. He can be one of those guys that is just dogged against Oregon State, and since the Beavers have already expended a bunch of energy in beating WSU, he can help grind them down as much emotionally as physically with offensive rebounds and a lot of second-effort, hustle plays.

Shawn Kemp - Kemp will be vital in giving Aziz rest. If the Huskies have any chance to win three games in three days, Kemp will be asked to do all the things N'Diaye does well when he's not in the game; rebound, be physical, play hard-nosed defense, and don't try to do too much. When he does that, he's most effective.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins - He needs to be physical when they put him in the game. When they need somebody to bang and make their presence known inside, he's their guy. He doesn't need to score, he just needs to be that enforcer when it's called on. And again, with most of the younger guys - he can't go out and try and do too much. If he just stays within the game plan and does what he needs to do on the defensive end, he'll be fine.

Martin Breunig - Don't be on Sports Center getting dunked on, that's all I ask. He'll probably get some spot minutes here and there, but if he doesn't play at all that means UW has stayed out of foul trouble and are doing everything the right way. But if he is asked to play, just be steady, rebound, and hustle for a few minutes a game.

Hikeem Stewart - Same as Breunig, but instead of rebounding just stay in front of your man on defense and keep it simple on offense. It's all a matter of stealing minutes with those two.

The rest of the bench - Wave the towels, pump the fists, and keep the enthusiasm high.

What do you think?


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