Huskies still struggling to click

The last four games have made it absolutely clear that Washington is not a top-10 basketball team. At the moment, they don't appear to be a top-25 team either. There are a multitude of reasons why this absurdly talented group of players has found it so difficult to find any rhythm of late, though it's hard to determine what the biggest culprit has been.

But for starters, they aren't sharing the ball well. During the first three games the Huskies averaged 17 assists a game, compared to just 12 per game the last four. The biggest regression has come from sophomore Isaiah Thomas, who seems to have reverted to the same selfish play that plagued him during the second half of Pac-10 play last season.

As a scoring playmaker, Thomas' penetration skills, coupled with his exceptional court vision, makes him almost unstoppable, not to mention one of the most dangerous players in the country. As a volume shooter focused purely on attacking the basket and drawing fouls, his value can diminish considerably and his deficiencies quickly become obvious if those fouls aren't always called.

Their defense has been erratic as well. At times they seem unstoppable. Part of that has to do with the constant rotations and gambling nature of the Huskies pressure/deny schemes. Though extraordinarily effective when synced, missed steal attempts, slow defensive rotations and momentary lapses in focus leave gaping holes easily exploited by opponents.

The lack of consistent production from the bigs is one of the team's biggest areas of concern – and possibly the most difficult to overcome. For the Huskies to win a second consecutive Pac-10 title and be a factor in the NCAA tournament, at least one of Washington's posts must develop into a consistent contributor in the paint. It may not happen. Tyreese Breshers seems the most likely to emerge as a legitimate threat at both ends of the floor, but his inability to avoid foul trouble has limited his playing time more so than his lack of conditioning.

It's also become clear that the time for smaller rotations has come. After the game, Head Coach Lorenzo Romar acknowledged that the constant shuffling of players makes it difficult for players to find rhythm; therefore, the rotation should tighten up a little bit starting next Saturday against Georgetown. But who rides the pine? Judging by the distribution of minutes so far through seven games, Romar is having a difficult time narrowing things down.

Lastly, the Huskies have stopped taking care of the ball. Lackadaisical play sank the team against Texas Tech, where they compiled 19 turnovers, and the hangover continued Sunday night against CSUN, where they coughed up the ball 20 times. During their first five games, Washington averaged a miserly 11 turnovers a game until spiking to 19.5 half the last two. That won't fly against teams like Georgetown, Portland and Texas A&M. The point guards in particular must do a better job of managing the game than they have of late.

This Husky squad still possesses oodles of potential. Encouragingly, Abdul Gaddy had his best game yet against CSUN and is destined to eventually solve many of the Washington's half court struggles. Elston Turner and Scott Suggs both possess game-changing firepower, as does Breshers, and all three are poised for a breakthrough. For those players, taking the next step isn't a matter of "if," but "when". But "when" needs to come sooner, rather than later.

But if you have to look to one player that could make the difference, Thomas is the one that needs to step it up. He holds the keys to the kingdom, and when he's sharing the ball there's no stopping him. Hopefully he gets the message before Greg Monroe and the Georgetown Hoyas deliver it for him. Top Stories