UW is Gaddy's Team Now

SEATTLE - Washington scored 90 points Tuesday against Oregon to advance in the NIT, their highest total in over two months when they pasted 91 on Seattle University. A big reason for the outburst was the play of Abdul Gaddy who scored 11 points, handed out 10 assists, and collected a tied-for-team high seven rebounds - all while logging 37 minutes.

It's as close to a triple-double as any UW player has had in recent memory.

‘It was one of my better games," Gaddy said. "I was finding guys and guys were knocking down shots."

On top of his stellar offensive performance, he guarded Oregon's best offensive player – Devoe Joseph when the Huskies went to a man-to-man defense. Joseph came into Tuesday night's matchup averaging 17 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the floor, including over 20 points per game in the NIT - but Hec Ed has become a house of horrors for the senior transfer from Minnesota. Gaddy was the key factor in holding Joseph to 12 points - his second lowest point total of the year - on 4-15 shooting. Throw out a meaningless uncontested layin with ten seconds left and Gaddy's defensive stat line on Joseph becomes that much more impressive.

"I was just trying to make him (Joseph) uncomfortable and be physical with him," Gaddy said of his defensive effort. "He's a tough scorer and a good shooter – he knows how to get his jumpshot off. I was trying to make it tough on him and use my length to my advantage. I really pride myself on guarding the best player and trying to shut him down. I thought I did a pretty good job on Joseph. He got a few wide open looks, but I tried to do the best I could."

Down the stretch Gaddy made two crucial defensive stops, one of which was a charge on potent scorer E.J. Singler. It was the senior's fifth foul of the game, and it came with just under a minute left and the result was hanging in the balance. Oregon could have used Singler - who has deep shooting range - but Gaddy's play meant Singler would finish his UO career on the bench.

"I knew E.J. had four (fouls) and I was just trying to make a play so that they couldn't score. A lot of it was just instinct," said Gaddy.

Statistically Tuesday's game was his best of the season. But for the past month Gaddy has brought consistency to the floor and has finished the season strong. It appears that UW fans can finally put his knee injury to rest, as the junior from Tacoma is playing with the poise, patience and savvy that was showing up at the end of the 2010 season when the Huskies made an NCAA Sweet Sixteen Tournament run.

Ironically what gets Gaddy going down the stretch hasn't been his passing or his defense; it's been his ability to knock down the open jump shot - especially from 3-point range. Since the USC game on March 1, Gaddy has connected on 45 percent of his shots from downtown. When Gaddy is able to hit the outside jumper, it gives him confidence on the offensive end and keeps defenders honest. That allows Gaddy to open up his full arsenal, and he's at his best when he's getting his teammates involved. In the past few weeks, Gaddy has averaged six assists over UW's last six games, and dishing out the dimes has really turned into his calling card.

After playing in only 13 games last year before tearing his ACL, Gaddy showed why he was one of the most improved players on the team, averaging 8.5 points and four assists, coupled with efficient shooting percentages of 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from outside the arc. After sitting out the 2011, Gaddy has been inconsistent up until the end of the Pac-12 regular season. It should be said that he was technically playing the tail end of his sophomore season, as he is actually a year younger than most players in his class. Now that the squad is well into the post season, on Gaddy's clock he has advanced into his junior year and he has responded like a veteran.

Come 2012, when Tony Wroten may have likely left for the NBA, Gaddy will be an integral part in running the show on offense, as well as grooming Andrew Andrews, who used his freshman year to redshirt. With his blossoming offensive game and his underrated defense, Gaddy has now entered into the lineage of great guards that the University of Washington has been fortunate to have over the past decade under coach Lorenzo Romar.

Where he ends up on that list is yet to be determined.

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