UW’s New Look.
The Washington Huskies were not a team known for subtlety. Hoisting up long threes and throwing down dunks were the hallmarks of a high-speed, high-entertainment Husky offense.
When Lorenzo Romar announced in the preseason that UW would be switching to a vintage-UCLA, high-post offense, reactions were mixed among the Washington faithful.
On one hand, the switch may better suit this year’s roster. But could such a change really work for the Huskies? Let’s take a look at how Washington’s high-post offense has worked over the course of the season.
What is a High-Post Offense?
The high post offense spreads the floor with either three guards out and two big men inside, or four players out and one inside.
The man on the block is frequently in an isolation situation where he can score with his back to the basket. Or if the play isn’t there, he can kick it out to one of the rotating shooters on the perimeter.
The high-post offense requires a big man with passing skills, and wings with a sniper’s touch and good shot selection.
Is it Working for UW?
So, has UW run the offense even remotely well? Do the Huskies have a prayer as a…half-court team?
With a solid all-around win over Cal Poly, Washington improves to 7-4 on the season. A couple early losses had Husky nation uncertain about the future. However, I think Washington has the personnel and the coaching to pull off the high-post offense—the marked improvement they’ve displayed in the last few games is proof of that.
First of all, Lorenzo Romar has to realistically assess his squad. This isn’t one of the high-flying athleticism-driven squads of the past. There is no Tony Wroten, Nate Robinson, Terrence Ross, or Matthew Bryan-Amaning on the team this year. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
What do the Huskies Have to Work With?
In C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs, Washington boasts a pair of solid shooters. C.J. Wilcox in particular is as smooth a shooter as you’ll find anywhere in the nation. Abdul Gaddy may never live up to his high school hype, but he’s a fully competent guard and a great distributor of the ball.
Lastly, redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews has flashed potential as a shooter and penetrator, although that is less important in the high-post offense.
A quality big man is something Washington traditionally has struggled to find in recent years. But the seventh wonder of the world, Senegalese seven-footer Aziz N’Diaye, is that man.
I know N’Diaye has struggled in past years fitting into the flow of the offense and catching and handling passes in the paint, but the slower-paced, less crowded high-post offense will suit him better. He’ll have more space to work in and variety of options to pass out to if he gets overwhelmed.
After N’Diaye, Washington is a little iffy in the frontcourt. Martin Breunig and Jarnard Jarreau are unproven, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins will probably not return to the hardwood.
Additionally, in the offseason, Washington brought in Division II national champion coach Brad Jackson from Western Washington University. Jackson has helped make the offensive transition smoother.
What Does It All Mean?
To sum it up, Washington has the coaching, the big man (hopefully men), and the guards to run the high-post well. There’s been some early-season hiccups—losses to Colorado State and Albany are the most prominent. Washington looked uncertain and confused offensively, but the team has improved its ball movement and timing since then.
A solid loss to a nationally ranked Ohio State team and a close defeat to a solid Nevada squad are the Huskies’ only other losses.
Since playing Colorado State, Washington has been on a roll, with the Nevada game being the only blemish.
Things are beginning to click offensively for the Dawgs. N’Diaye has been scoring inside and is doing a good job of passing out to open shooters.
There will be a few more stumbles for the team, as is to be expected by any group learning a new offense. But Washington has the brawns and the brains to make the high-post work.
Watch out, UCLA.