Tag Archives: Isaiah Thomas

The Morning After: Central Washington

Since this was an exhibition, here is a condensed version of what will be the usual next day coverage of the Huskies after a game. We’ll start off to see if yesterday’s questions were answered.

How does Matthew Bryan-Amaning play as a starter?

The play of MBA left something to be desired offensively, although his rebounding play was very strong with 10 boards, an encouraging sign that the team will maintain their high rebounding abilities from last year despite the loss of Jon Brockman. But in order for the Huskies to make a deep run, there needs to be a legitimate low post scoring threat to keep the pressure off of the guards on the perimeter, and MBA is the most logical guy to fill that role. MBA needs to pick it up offensively, but for rebounding it was an encouraging night.

How does Abdul Gaddy handle playing off the bench?

The play of Gaddy is what should be expected the entire season, and that was running the offense and dishing a high amount of assists. The play of Overton showed why he is starting, but it still would not surprise to see Gaddy starting the games soon. Its certain though that the play of the guards is the strength of the team as Gaddy, Overton, and Isaiah Thomas were often the best players on the floor. Any combination of the three will work it seems like.

How will Tyreese Breshers play in his first game back in over a year?

The play of Breshers was perhaps the best part of the night as Husky fans saw his Brockman like ability down in the paint. Breshers hustled and fought for baskets and rebounding, at one point leading the Huskies offensive charge. Along with MBA, Breshers will need to step up to replace the presence of Brockman, and if last night was any indication, Breshers is headed in the right direction.

Will free throws be an issue?

The least encouraging stat of the night, Washington shot just 18/37 from the line, bringing back memories of 2007/2008 when the poor shooting from the line literally killed their season. This has to be fixed if the Huskies are to repeat as Pac-10 champions, its called the charity stripe for a reason.

How will Scott Suggs play?

Suggs’ play was encouraging. He was able to hit a three pointer and put down another two points, ending the night with five points on 2/6 shooting. It should be interesting to see how much he plays in the first few games, only then will we get an indication as to how much he is going to play and how much his abilities have grown.

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Exhibition Today, Overton Named Starter

Today finally brings the day MFB and the rest of Husky basketball fans have anxiously waited for, and that is the return of Husky basketball.

Sure its in the form of an exhibition game against an inferior Central Washington, but any college basketball should commence celebration, especially in Seattlle where there is no longer any professional basketball.

The preview will be short because it is an exhibition and against a small school opponent like CWU, but here are some things to look for during the game…

  1. How does Matthew Bryan-Amaning play as a starter? His play could be the difference between a deep tourney run and a season that ends sooner than it should, the Huskies need MBA to step up down in the paint and replace some of the post scoring lost in Jon Brockman’s departure.
  2. How does Abdul Gaddy handle playing off the bench? Today delivered the somewhat surprising news that Gaddy would start on the bench, something few projected although Romar has said all along that Gaddy and Overton were battling for the final spot. He says Gaddy, Overton, and Isaiah Thomas should be considered three starters, but it will be the first time in a long time that Gaddy has not started for a team, should be interesting to see how he reacts.
  3. How will Tyreese Breshers play in his first game back in over a year? Breshers is going to have to step up this season and help in the replacement of Brockman. His style of play is very similar to Brockman’s so maybe he will excel, but we will no know till we see him on the court.
  4. Will free throws be an issue? This was the problem that plagued the team two years ago and then was fixed for the most part last season. But for a team as highly regarded as Washington, they must maintain their free throw success to build towards a deep tournament run. Last season they fixed it by getting to the line often and converting, but this season sees the departure of the best free throw shooter on the team last season, Justin Dentmon. At the end of games someone will have to step up and be that guy to take those crucial free throws at the end of games.
  5. How will Scott Suggs play? There may not be a more intriguing story line to follow this season than the development of Suggs. He came in last year as the highest ranked incoming recruit, but saw the least amount of time out of the entire group of freshman who were eligible to play (Breshers obviously redshirted). Suggs admitted that he though of transfer at one point, but has come in this year greatly improved according to coaches and teammates. Tonight could be the preview of him writing a new chapter in his Husky career.

Just to touch on the Gaddy/Overton situation a bit more; it really should not be a big deal in the end Husky fans. It was known from the beginning that the three guards would play a huge amount of minutes, so starting really is not that big of an issue when all three will receive such heavy minutes. But I must admit, I like the idea of having Overton come off the bench and be the energy to help turn around games. There has been no one else on the internet that has praised Gaddy the way I have over the off-season, so this was something I was not necessarily anticipating. But in the end it should just be small potatoes.

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Reactions From First Scrimmage

As I guessed yesterday, players made comments about the “closed door” scrimmage against St. Mary’s through Twitter. Normally it is very difficult to gain any insight to what occurred in these scrimmages, but with today’s social networking we now have the ability to learn a little bit what the players and coaches are thinking about these closed door events.

The general consensus with the players is that the scrimmage did not go well initially until the team was able to pick it up in the second half, or as Isaiah Thomas says, “We played horrible the 1st 20min but after that we played like Washington basketball suppose to play!”

Yesterday I guessed there could be some problems with the team because of lack of practice time together and poor conditioning as a result of the flu that got to the players over the past week. It looks like I may have been right about the lack of playing time together as we go to Thomas’ Twitter again as he says, “We gon be ready, mark my words! We was alil rusty today playin wit each other bcuz we basically had 2 days.”

There are two big things to take from the scrimmage. The fact that everyone came away healthy is the biggest thing, there are no tweets about any injuries (I hate having to use the word “tweet” so often). Maybe more encouraging is that the team supposedly recovered in the second half, showing the team came together and played well despite all of the adversity they faced over the past week with not being able to practice together as a unit.

The trip appears it may have been successful, but here are some more tweets with reaction from the game…

Isaiah Thomas

“We gotta take what we did wrong 2 heart and build on it and get better plain and simple. We good, still early I aint worried at all. Go time”

“NOV 13th 1st regular season game. We gon be ready, mark my words! We was alil rusty today playin wit each other bcuz we basically had 2 days of practice where we had enough guys to go up and down and scrimmage alil bit. So were good we jus gotta get some chemistry! That’s all!”

Tyreese Breshers

“Just got done wat our scrimmage … We figured a lot of things about ourselves and I figured out a lot about me …”

“Just landed …. watchin film wit Coach the whole flight … learned a lot of stuff … I got a lot to work on”

Matthew Bryan-Amaning

“ok so on the way bk 2 the 206…the trip as a learning curve we’ll see in practice if we leant anything!!”

Abdul Gaddy

“On way to airport!! Learned a lot about our team!! Time to get back n the lab and improve on weaknesses….”

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All Black The New Color For Huskies

Twitter has opened up the world to fans who wish to get to know celebrities on a bit more personal level. It also has been the source for new information to accidentally leak, such as when Matthew Bryan-Amaning let Husky Nation know a bit earlier that Husky Hoopla was to be on ESPN.

Today we find a bit of news from Isaiah Thomas, who took a picture of new Washington basketball uniforms. Apparently the school has hooked up with Nike to put together an all black alternate uniform. What this means for the gold alternates is unknown, but for now it appears that we will see the Huskies in some new threads at times this season.

I’ve never been a big fan of schools adopting an all black uniform if it was not part of the school’s primary colors, so I’m indifferent about these. But there is no doubt that the team likes the new uniforms, and sometimes the school’s uniforms can actually help sway a recruit. So if a black alternate makes the players happy, I’m okay with it.

I still would love to see a return of the Roy era uniforms, so clean and classic.

Here’s the new uniform…

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Nine Man Rotation Means Someone Will Lose Out

Something that came out of the Percy Allen Q&A with Lorenzo Romar a couple days ago was that the Huskies plan on having a nine man rotation for another year. Last year Romar said the same thing and the nine guys we saw playing did indeed add up to nine (Brockman, Dentmon, Pondexter, Thomas, Gant, Bryan-Amaning, Overton, Holliday, and Turner), but this season appears it will be a bit trickier in finding the nine guys who will make up the rotation without seeing a talented guy on the bench. There are no obvious guys to sit such as a Joe Wolfinger or Artem Wallace, especially with some hints players and coaches have discussed about the development of certain players.

There are a few players who we know will be playing significant minutes no matter what, Romar even confirming that two of them are going to be starters.

Locks

Quincy Pondexter, Senior – Pondexter will be a starter and will be the leader of the team, there is no question about it. He slides in at the number three spot in the starting five and should play the most minutes out of any other player on the team.

Isaiah Thomas, Sophomore – Thomas is the only other player that Romar confirmed as a starter in the Allen interview. This is another no brainer as Thomas is the top returning scorer on the team and one of the top scorers in the country.

Abdul Gaddy, Freshman – It is widely assumed that Gaddy will be starting at point for the team. One of the top recruits in the nation in 2009, Gaddy will team with Thomas to form one of the top backcourts in the country.

Venoy Overton, Junior – Hard to believe that Overton is already an upperclassman, seems just recently I was watching him lead Franklin in the state tournament. But Overton is the top on the ball defender on the team and has played significantly since he first stepped on campus. He’ll be the first man off the bench.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Junior – Probably has the biggest potential to break out this season, and many expect him to start with the departure of Brockman.

Darnell Gant , Sophomore – The surprising starter from last season who played a significant role on the team defensively. With an improved offensive game he has a great shot to start again. We could be looking at a four year starter by the time he graduates, which I’m sure would have come as a surprise to many if you said that on the day he signed. Demonstrates that a redshirt in basketball could really be benefit for some.

Tyreese Breshers, Freshman – Last year’s redshirt will be playing often because of lack of depth at power forward as well as his great rebounding ability. A lot of buzz has surrounded Breshers this off-season from scrimmages and open gyms, he could start ahead of Gant if he puts in a good camp.

Elston Turner, Sophomore – Could have a breakout role coming off the bench, perhaps he provided a sneak preview with his play in the Purdue game. Turner has a bright future with the team and should be the primary deep shooter for the team.

Bench Players

C.J. Wilcox, Freshman – Because of how the roster stacks up it is unlikely Wilcox sees much time his first year on campus, although his ability to shoot from deep should allow him to see some more time on the court.

Clarence Trent, Freshman – Trent appears to be more of a long term project for the team as his potential is among the best in the country. But right now he sits and learns for the possibility to play some bigger minutes next season.

The Toss Ups

With eight locks for the rotation and two guys who will more than likely be bench guys, that leaves two players who will fight for that final spot in the rotation. Justin Holliday and Scott Suggs will be battling it out, and the reason why this is a difficult debate is because of how enamored it appears that the coaching staff is with the potential of Suggs and the production that Holliday brings to the table.

Justin Holliday, Junior – Having been one of my favorite players the second he committed to the team in 2007, it is tough to potentially see Holliday on the bench. While he is likely the favorite in this playing time battle, if Suggs does indeed impress in camp than he could see his role diminish. Holliday brings some of the best defense on the team, but has yet to show any offensive production.

Scott Suggs, Sophomore – Suggs was perhaps the most hyped recruit to sign with Washington nationally when he picked the Huskies over schools such as Illinois, Florida, Missouri, and Kansas. But he played sparingly as a freshman and appeared not to be ready for the college game immediately. Still the coaching staff said he could end up being an All-Pac 10 player when all is said and done, which is why it is difficult to project the final spot. But with four guards already known to be locks he will be playing at a disadvantage. His ability to shoot the deep ball should help him as that appears to be a weakness for the team with the loss of Justin Dentmon and Thomas’ questionable shooting from deep. He is all potential right now, so if he utilizes that potential in camp he will get the final spot.

The Winner

In the end most likely Holliday will come out on top, and maybe Suggs will still see some more minutes than most 10th guys in Romar’s system. Holliday just offers too much defensive ability, and may be the the guy to sub in for Pondexter at the three. Its tough to potentially see Suggs sit on the bench for another season, but it is up to him what his future and impact with the team will be.

Suggs may be tempted to transfer if he does indeed sit for another season, but his well liked by his teammates and could see a big jump in minutes in 2010/2011 when Pondexter has graduated.

With the level of talent that Romar keeps on bringing in with each recruiting class, talented guys like Suggs may receive the short end of the stick. But it is also just another sign of the talent on the team that potentially could be headed towards a Final Four in the near future.

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Thomas To Go Bald As MBA Takes Twitter Crown

Husky basketball fans got their share of Twitter action yesterday when Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning took part in a friendly competition to see who would reach 500 followers first. Unfortunately for the loser they would have to go bald upon MBA coming back to the states.

MBA proved to be too much as almost the entire Husky team took part in the Twitter battle, cheering on both sides to come up with creative ideas to entice fans to follow. Thomas offered his game worn jersey that was played in the Purdue tournament game to a random follower should he have won, with MBA offering two game worn pieces of clothing to two random followers should he win.

MBA also took the initiative to create a YouTube video pleading for subscribers.

No matter who won, it was nice to see the great team chemistry from last year carrying over. Teammates who took part in the battle included Thomas, MBA, C.J. Wilcox, Abdul Gaddy, Clarence Trent, and the Twitter veteran Quincy Pondexter.

But after the final result in which MBA won by about a margin of thirty, Thomas will be going bald.

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2011 Class Offers Intriguing Possibilities For Huskies

There may not be anything more enjoyable than speculation. This allows for dream sequences to be played out where matchups are played in the minds of many, with a “logical” outcome in the end.

With football season having kicked off, that means the next significant sport to begin will be college basketball in about seventy days. Paired with the fact that it appears recruiting for the 2010 class has hit a standstill for the Huskies until Josh Smith or Terrence Jones announce their college destinations, having a little fun with 2011 will provide some good discussion for now. Keep in mind that I will not be factoring the next 2010 recruit to sign on as Smith, Jones, whoever have not announced yet.

First, lets look at the roster shaping up at the end of the 2010/2011 season with no one leaving…

  1. Elston Turner Jr., SR
  2. Isaiah Thomas, SR
  3. Darnell Gant, SR
  4. Scott Suggs, SR
  5. Abdul Gaddy, JR
  6. Tyreese Breshers, JR
  7. Clarence Trent, JR
  8. C.J. Wilcox, JR
  9. Desmond Simmons, SO
  10. 2010 Recruit #2, SO

Its safe to assume that there will be another recruit added in 2010 as Romar will not want to continue to leave a scholarship sitting around for a second consecutive year.

With ten scholarships currently being used should no one leave (debatable since I believe Gaddy will be gone after two years, but you never know) that leaves three scholarships to be taken by 2011 recruits.

The obvious lack in position are in post players and depth at point guard. So far in 2011 recruiting the Huskies have demonstrated this by the players they have targeted. Lets look at the top targets for the Huskies as well as possible targets (* represents possible)…

  1. Tony Wroten, G, WA
  2. Norvel Pelle, PF, CA
  3. Angelo Choi, C, CA
  4. Gary Bell, G, WA
  5. Nick Johnson, PG, NV*
  6. Spencer Dinwiddie, PG, CA*
  7. Jabari Brown, SG, NV*

The list features prominent prospects who are among the best in the country, with the premiere recruits being Wroten, Pelle, and Choi. All three figure to be rated among the top players in the country by scouting services, while the remaining four should also be included in almost every “Top-100” lists.

The top targets of the Huskies may very well be Pelle and Choi as the Huskies need some more post play as Gant and Breshers appear to be the only true big men on the rosters pending the final scholarship in 2010. Both Pelle and Choi have been receiving heavy interest from the Huskies and both list Washington as their number one school, a testament to the recruiting prowess of the Washington staff to appeal this much to elite California talent in the backyards of UCLA, Cal, USC, and Stanford.

Pelle may be the most exciting prospect of the bunch as his defensive ability is among the best in the nation. Paired with a sound offensive game Pelle will likely be one of the most sought after recruits in the country for 2011. Right now he is hearing from mainly the Pac-10, but expect the national powerhouses to step in at some point. But a positive for Husky fans is that Romar and staff have made the early impression on Pelle, which may pay off in the end.

Choi is similar to Pelle in that his defensive ability is the strong point of his game, although that should be expected seeing as how he didn’t pick up a basketball until the seventh grade. Watching video of Choi its obvious he has an incredibly high ceiling, making him one of the most intriguing prospects in the country. Having two more years of high school should help him add on to his slim frame and give him a body more prepared to battle against the big men in college basketball. One aspect of his recruitment that I think could play into the Huskies favor is the new addition of Raphael Chillious as assistant coach. In his years as South Kent Prep’s coach he brought in many international players and was able to coach them to national success and great college success (Matthew Bryan-Amaning being one example). With a history of success with international players Romar and Chillious may be able to convince Choi that with his background as a player from Sudan, Washington is the best fit for him for long term success.

Pelle and Choi may be the biggest targets for Romar in 2011, as well as the most important. Jon Brockman was able to prove that having a steady defensive and rebounding force down low helps the Husky guards more than anything. With Thomas around and a chance at having Gaddy for one more year, adding two more talented big men to the rotation will probably do more or the team than Wroten will add as another guard.

Wroten is the prospect that will receive the most attention locally as he is the hometown guy consistently rated among the top-10 players in the country. While adding him will no doubt help the Huskies, I have written in the past how Wroten may not exactly be the best fit for Washington as opposed to a player such as Bell. Adding Wroten to the fold would do wonders towards raising the national profile of the school as a Pelle, Choi, Wroten class very well could be ranked #1 in the country and all representing Washington in the McDonalds game, but at some point you need to stop worrying about raising national profile and get to the point where you no longer need to fight for attention because you have already demonstrated success in March (something that is very possible these next two seasons).

When I look at Bell I see someone similar to Avery Bradley last season. Bradley was the local guy who everyone knew about but flew under the radar nationally for awhile before blowing away the scouts during spring and summer camps and tournaments. Bell has been doing the exact same thing these last few months, and I fully expect his recruitment to become bigger as each day passes. While his game lacks the pure athleticism and defense that Bradley has to offer, it could be argued that Bell is just as much as a pure scorer. Bell would also less likely need to command minutes when he arrives with Thomas, Turner, Suggs, Gaddy, and Wilcox taking minutes at guard, maybe even redshirt to allow him to put more muscle on his frame. Then the next season he could be in a situation where he will start with the graduation of players. Bell could very well be the four year player that the Huskies can continue building success off of.

Johnson is a player that may not being recruited as heavily by the Huskies but could prove to be incredibly valuable down the road. He has absolutely insane athletic ability and playmaking abilities, should he arrive with Bell they would be the backcourt for the Huskies for four years. Johnson just transferred to basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep, a place every college coach in the country will have to become familiar with because of the talent going through there every year. Romar likely already has some connections there as Clarence Trent and Bradley each played there for a season.

The final two prospects of Dinwiddie and Brown are two players who could appear on Washington’s radar should they whiff on some of the above recruits. Dinwiddie is someone who is a pure point guard and could develop into a nice distributor over four years, maybe a poor man’s Will Conroy. He has tremendous passing and ball handling ability and will be able to run an offense well, but needs to improve defensively. I’ve always been a fan of these type of players, hence my infatuation with Gaddy, but Dinwiddie could be someone to watch over the next few years. Brown is also a Findlay Prep guy and is a tremendous scorer that could become a nice role player immediately and have a solid future with the team. But the need for a shooting guard (should Bell commit) would not be a priority.

Now that we have looked into the prospects, lets plug them into Washington’s lineup to see what the roster could look like in 2011.

Pelle, Choi, Wroten Class

I would assume that Choi would start off the bench as he will likely still be working on an offensive game and be learning the college game and Darnell Gant will have had four years of college experience (including the redshirt season) under his belt learning Washington’s system and playing the four and five. Pelle is likely someone to start from the beginning and would play the four along with Breshers for the majority of the game. The Pelle/Breshers combo would allow for strong defense and hustle throughout the game with Pelle offering a bit more polished scoring around the rim.

Wroten is a tricky situation since both Thomas and Gaddy would be the starters without question. Even in a situation where Gaddy leaves early for the NBA, Scott Suggs, Elston Turner, and C.J. Wilcox could all be starting at that point. Wroten is someone who will expect to start immediately, hence my concerns with team chemistry should he not start or his play taking the minutes from one of the three listed above.

Turner seems like someone who will be a starter maybe even this season, so it is unlikely that Romar would remove a three year starter from the lineup. The coaching staff seem to be convinced that Suggs will be a great player, so should he fulfill those expectations it is unlikely they would cut his minutes. Wilcox would appear to be the odd man out, but his shooting ability is among the best in the country for the 2009 class while Wroten’s shot fell flat his sophomore year. This is just another reason why I think Bell is the best option for the Huskies. But here’s a rotation with Wroten…

With Gaddy

PG: Gaddy SG: Thomas SF: Turner PF: Pelle C: Gant

6th: Wroten 7th: Breshers 8th: Suggs 9: Choi 10th: Wilcox 11th: Simmons 12th: Trent 13th: 2010 #2

(6-13 interchangeable)

Without Gaddy

PG: Thomas SG: Suggs/Wroten SF: Turner PF: Pelle C: Gant

6th: Suggs/Wroten 7th:Breshers 8th:Choi 9th: Wilcox 10th: Simmons 11th: Trent 12th: 2010 #2

Either lineup gives the Huskies a stacked roster and really does show how strong the recruiting has gotten where there is a point where nobody seems like the logical person to sit ala Joe Wolfinger last season. With what Pelle offers to the front court and the play of the backcourt it could be the most talented Husky team ever. Either situation presents a backcourt that is among the best in the country, helped significantly by the presence of Thomas.

The talent on the bench would rank among the top of the country, giving Romar the opportunity to use a premiere shooter in Wilcox, a rebounding and hustle man in Breshers, tempo guys with Trent and Simmons, and a defensive presence with the ability to explode in any game with Choi. Having those type of role players that could make incredible impacts at any time are what make up championship teams.

Pelle, Choi, Bell Class

When looking at this class you have to look more towards the future because adding Bell would likely mean he plays sparingly or redshirts before being slotted into the starting lineup the next season. Here is a possible starting lineup with the recruiting class that I believe would be the ideal situation for Washington…

With Gaddy

PG: Gaddy SG: Bell SF: Simmons PF: Pelle C: Choi

The team’s success would largely hinge on the success of the 2012 class as five players will be leaving following 2011. The need for a point guard should Gaddy leave is obvious, perhaps making Gary Franklin a more attractive option for this 2010 class to be paired with Simmons.

With the graduation of Thomas, Suggs, Turner, Breshers, and Gant following 2011/2012 season, it appears two years from now may be the most likely scenario for Washington to win a national title in the foreseeable future. So whoever jumps on for the 2011 class may be the small piece that makes the difference from a Sweet Sixteen team to a trip to New Orleans.

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