Defensive Quickness is Winning for Huskies

You've got to appreciate defense if you are watching the Washington Huskies play basketball. Coach Lorenzo Romar has created a great rotation of long and quick athletes and it is one of the big reasons they are so improved as a team this year. To sweep the two LA schools, and to do it with defense and free-throw shooting, was almost surreal.

They all pressure the ball well and are really conscious of their weakside responsibilities. They aren't afraid to take a charge and will trap often to stop the penetration of the ball. It's fun to watch. They employ long arms and quick feet and that's a lethal combo. They aren't afraid to pick up full court and pressure the ball all the way, frequently driving it into double-team traps.

Then, just when the other team starts to adjust to their relentless pressure, they switch to a zone and really have a variety of looks in their zone defenses.

Their game against USC was a defensive win. Plain and simple - they won in spite of their offense, which basically consisted of Justin Dentmon carrying his team. Against the Trojans, Jon Brockman and Isaiah Thomas each scored 1 point in the first half and the Huskies were still winning. Even so, they would have held the Trojans to 27 points in the first half had they not allowed Daniel Hackett to take the ball all the way up court with just over three seconds and hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Saturday, they used the exact same defensive mindset against the UCLA Bruins in the first half, and even though they were being outplayed they kept themselves within striking distance by making their free throws and playing all out on the defensive end.

Venoy Overton and Justin Holiday look like they are the defensive specialists for the team, although Quincy Pondexter and Darnell Gant are also quick and long and both start because of how they defend and crash the boards. Everyone knows Brockman can bang in the post, but the thing that makes them so special is they all really go to the backboard. And when people choose to zone them they really slash the seams for offensive boards.

Overton, Dentmon and Thomas offer extreme quickness on the perimeter and are fast enough to stop the advance of the ball. Matthew Bryan-Amaning gives them a long-armed shot blocker who is excellent in their many traps and double teams.

The real irony of the LA sweep was Washington's effort to make their free throws. They all stepped up with confidence and belief and simply won both games at the line. I didn't hear any complaining by the opposing coaches about the foul discrepancy because the truth is the Huskies earned those trips to the line by driving so hard to the basket.

It's going to be fun seeing what happens against the Arizona schools, but for right now the Huskies need to draw from the same formula of confidence, defense, and 80 percent free-throw shooting. If they can do that and continue to focus and play hard for 40 minutes, they'll be in good shape. Top Stories