The OC: Washington

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Ahh the Pac-10. Sorry, the Pac-12. I live out here in California and I STILL can’t get used to the bizarro name switch. I grew up in a world that made sense, with a Pac-10 and a Big-10 and a Big East. Now we have the AAC and the Pac-12 and I just don’t know which way is up anymore. Sorry, I need a moment…

OK I’m good. So sitting on our horizon early in the season is at least one (and potentially two) matchups with the less-awesome Huskies of the mighty U-Dub. The first potential matchup is in the 2k Sports classic on November 22 at MSG. The second matchup (and the only guaranteed one) is a road game in Seattle on December 22, the second half of a home-and-home series. We beat ‘em last year, and I don’t anticipate us having too much difficulty repeating the performance this year. Maybe my opinion of UConn basketball is a bit inflated (I may be a homer, but you ARE reading this on a UConn blog) but I’ll let you decide that for yourself.

Also, I feel like we might have played these guys in the past, but I can't seem to put my finger on... oh wait, that's right ... this.

And this.

Just gonna leave those up there for a while.

Last Season

18-16 (9-9 Pac 12 [10]), Lost in the 1st Round of the NIT to BYU, 90-79

The 2012-3 campaign was a frustrating one for the other Huskies. Head Coach Lorenzo Romar’s 11th season figured to be difficult, struggling to fill the void left by the early departure of his top two scorers (Terrance Ross and Tony Wroten) to the NBA. He needed to fill the 32 ppg void left by his two departing guards, and he looked to a new, high-post, team centered offensive scheme to do so.

Things started out fairly promising, finishing their non-conference schedule with a 8-5 record (marred by a loss to our beloved good Huskies, 61-53 on December 29). They played then #4 Ohio State well in an early season tournament loss, and were feisty in the game in Hartford until they fell victim to UConn’s patented guard scrappiness in the second half. They even opened conference play with four straight wins. But all of the good vibes of their non-conference schedule were dashed during a frustrating ten game stretch where the wheels catapulted off the bus. Between January 19th and February 23rd, U-Dub was able to salvage a whopping two victories (losing a frustrating four straight by less than 10 points), placing their postseason hopes squarely on a strong Pac-12 (10) tournament showing. But a loss to eventual conference champs Oregon in the second round all but guaranteed they would be relegated to the Not Invited Tournament, where they lost to BYU and Tyler Haws’s 37 points in the first round.

How they look

This looks to be a rebuilding year for U-Dub. Starting back-court mates Adbul Gaddy and Scott Suggs departed for greener pastures after giving Coach Romar their full four years. This year’s starting backcourt will likely consist of redshirt sophomore Andrew Andrews and Sacramento, CA freshman Darin Johnson, but the positions are up for grabs. A lot depends on whether Romar decides to run a two guard or a three guard front to his offense. Where the Huskies will find their strength is on the wing, with leading scorer (and minutes leader) C.J. Wilcox returning for his senior year, and the front court, featuring junior Shaun Kemp, Jr., and senior transfer Perris Blackwell. But in a time where perimeter defense rules are changing and favoring offensive guards, backcourt strength (or the lack thereof) could prove to be the Achilles heel of this team.

On the plus side, the future seems to be bright for Romar’s Huskies. Offseason recruiting landed him Top 100 recruit (#23 SG) Darin Johnson, Top 50 recruit (#6 PG) Nigel Williams-Goss out of perennial powerhouse Findlay Prep (although I wish he still had his sweet sweet dreads), and Los Angeles PG Jahmel Taylor, who will all help to re-build a depleted back-court. Fresno State transfer C Robert Upshaw will fill the void left by the pending graduation of Perris Blackwell, so look for the Huskies to give people fits next year. But, you know, that’s someone else’s problem now isn’t it?

Projected Starting Lineup

Andrew Andrews (6’2", Soph., 7.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.3 apg)

Darin Johnson (6’5", Frosh)

C.J. Wilcox (6’5", Senior, 16.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.9 apg)

Shaun Kemp Jr (6’9", Junior, 6.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.9 apg)

Perris Blackwell (6’9", Senior, 275lbs!!, transfer - DNP last year)

Prediction

U-Dub doesn’t have the firepower to hang with the good Huskies. I think the combination of guard depth and experience will prove to be too much for Lorenzo Romar and his Purple Puppies. If we play them at MSG (home away from home), look for a double digit victory. I’ll call 77-63. When we play at their house expect the game to be closer. I’ll predict a 64-58 victory in that one.

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