Hop back on the rollercoaster
The 2011-2012 Washington Huskies men’s hoops season is in the books. The season was a wild one, with many ups and downs. Going into the season there were many questions surrounding this team.
How would they fare without a true leader like Nate Robinson or Isaiah Thomas? What kind of impact will phenom Tony Wroten have on this Huskies team? How will Lorenzo Romar handle a team so young that they only have 1 senior? Could they get the coveted three-peat and defend their Pac 12 title?
With all those concerns rearing their ugly heads, the Huskies had lots to prove this season.
And while they fell into some bad places and struggled at times, they still managed to find a way to win.
Despite the level of success they achieved this season, there was so much more to be desired when all was said and done. I’m going to dissect the good, the bad and the in between from the 2011-2012 Washington Huskies men’s hoops season.
Tony Wroten – I know this sounds crazy. Let me explain. After watching a few of Wroten’s Garfield games live as well as seeing the videos from the AAU games and games thrown together by locked out NBA‘ers, it was clear this guy had some serious talent. How can you gauge the talent jump from high school to college, though?
You can’t. And that’s why he’s my most surprising player.
Wroten averaged 15.9 points, 5 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Those were the good stats. Surprising for a freshman in most cases.
He also finished the season shooting .443 from the field, .583 from the free throw line, and .161 from three-point. For a guard, those are all horrendous numbers. Also surprising numbers.
To throw one more in there…one of Wroten’s biggest issues of the season was turnovers. He averaged 3.7 per game.
When you see how good he is going to his left side and how bad he is going to his right side, it is surprising to see the level of success he achieved. When you see a stellar player like Wroten, you don’t expect him to put up such low shooting numbers despite the fact that he still got his 15.9 points per game.
And when you see that he doesn’t have a very good jump shot being his position and skill level, it HAD to have surprised you.
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 vs. Oregon Ducks – NIT Tournament
The Huskies made it to the semi-final round of the NIT tournament only to come face to face with the conference rival Oregon Ducks for the third time this season. The two teams split the season series 1-1 after each team won at home with the Ducks winning that battle, blowing out the Dawgs 87-52 in Eugene.
What sweeter way to get revenge on the Ducks by winning the rubber match of the series AND ending their season?
The Huskies achieved that sweet, sweet season victory with a 90-86 win over the Oregon Quackers. Washington played their best game of basketball all season, with a balanced mix of offense and defense, keeping the tempo and pressure up on Oregon. The team only committed 7 turnovers in the game and 77% from the free throw line, both well above the team average on the season.
In the end, the win sent the Huskies into a place they’ve never been before – the NIT Final Four.
Washington had never made it past the quarter-finals prior to this season. After the victory over the Ducks, the Huskies catapulted into the semi-finals for the first time in school history.
This one is deserving of a tie. First, the 2 game slide to end the season for the Huskies was probably the most detrimental thing that happened to them. Sure, had they pulled out a win or two during the season they wouldn’t have been in that position. But they WERE in that position and still let it slide through their fingers.
With a 69-75 loss to end the regular season at UCLA, the Huskies began to tarnish their image. After the early exit in the second round of the Pac12 tournament following the 86-84 defeat at the hands of Oregon State, the Huskies cemented their doomed legacy for the season.
With those 2 losses combined, the Huskies knocked themselves out of the running for a coveted spot in the Big Dance.
Instead, they were relegated to the NIT. It also ended their chances to three-peat their Pac12 tournament title run.
The other worst moment was the 67-68 loss to Minnesota. Not just because they played poorly, but it ended their season for good.
Terrence Ross – Without a doubt, Terrence Ross was the best player on the Huskies this season. He lead the team in points per game (16.4) and was second on the team in free throw percentage (.766), three point percentage (.371), rebound (6.4), steals (1.257) and blocks (.943).
The stats don’t tell the story, though. A game wasn’t complete without a thunderous Terrence Ross throwdown, usually coming of an alley oop pass from Wroten or Abdul Gaddy. His ability to get above the rim was really second to none, not only on the team, but against most teams the Dawgs were paired with this year.
Ross also added leadership in most scenarios when they team needed it down the stretch.
At the beginning and middle of the season, there was no clear leader on this team. As the team improved, got hot, and rolled through the second half of the season, you could see Ross take control of the young Huskies team.
His lead by example style of play paid off, getting the Huskies farther than most imagined possible this season.
Last season Ross averaged 8 pts, 2.8 rebounds, .971 assists, .559 steals, .353 blocks per game, shooting .758 from the free throw line, .352 from three point range and a .443 field goal percentage.
Realizing he played with Husky legend Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, and Justin Holliday, it’s justifiable why his numbers were so low last year as a freshman. This year, though, he improved his numbers way more than any of his team mates.
Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross have both announced they are hiring agents and declaring for the 2012 NBA Draft. Predictions and mock drafts have both guys being drafted in the mid to late first round. We would all expect Terrence Ross to be drafted first, but you never know in a league that values talent more than skill.
Brendan “The Human Victory Cigar” Sherrer and Darnell Gant will be leaving as well, with this year being their senior years at Washington. Sherrer was given that nickname, because he mostly only saw playing time when the Huskies were ahead at the end of the game (or sometimes down by A LOT).
End of Season Noteworthy News
Scott Suggs will be returning to the team next season. Suggs, who was a senior this year, got an extra year of eligibility because he was out with injury all season. In the 2010-2011 season, Suggs average 7.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1 assist per game and shot .485 from the field, .765 from the free throw line, and .450 from three point range.
The most valuable aspect is the leadership he will bring to the team next year couple with Aziz N’Diaye and Abdul Gaddy’s added leadership contributions.
This season also marked the first time in history a team who won their “Power” conference’s season didn’t make the NCAA Tournament.
Tony Wroten won Pac12 Freshman of the Year along with earning First Team All-Pac 12. Terrence Ross was also name First Team All-Pac 12. Lorenzo Romar won Pac 12 Coach of the Year. Abdul Gaddy got Pac 12 Honorable Mention while Aziz N’Diaye was named to the Pac 12 All-Defensive Team.
The Huskies finally received their first commitment for the 2012-2012 season in 6’6″ guard Scott McLoughlin. McLoughlin has had a long, crazy journey to get where he is and ended up at Tacoma Community College last season. He averaged 28.4 points per game which led the nation amongst the junior/community college ranks.
McLoughlin will have 2 years of eligibility at Washington.