Washington Coach Lorenzo Romar's biggest accomplishment: taking down a legendary undefeated (up to that point) Stanford team. - Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Cal enters its first Pac-12 homestand having split the LA road trip. After an encouraging win at USC, the Bears look to continue their newfound three-point shooting ability against Washington on Wednesday. We caught up with Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound, SBNation's Washington Huskies site, for a Q & A on UW. Thanks to Ben for his time and knowledge. Go Bears!
1. What UW player on offense should Cal fans know about?
Assuming they already know about UW's leading scorer C.J. Wilcox, I would have to go with the unheralded Andrew Andrews. Andrews is Washington's best at driving to the basket. Once there, he has the vision to dump the ball off to a big man or a cutter or kick it out for an open three in addition to being able to finish it himself.
2. What UW player on defense should Cal fans know about?
Desmond Simmons is Washington's best defensive player. He performed very well on Brock Motum on Saturday (I've heard, wasn't able to watch personally) and has the perfect skillset to defend versatile threats like Motum. He can defend in the post and really uses his length well do bother ball-handlers and clog passing lanes.
3. Washington seems to have developed a reputation for performing weakly early in the season, only to pick up play against conference opponents. What do you attribute this to, and what do think Lorenzo Romar is doing to fix it?
Lorenzo Romar tends to tinker with his rotation a lot early in the season, attempting to find some sort of balance that works. This season started out with Jernard Jarreau and Hikeem Stewart both getting close to twenty minutes each, and now both play very little minutes, with Stewart sometimes being a DNP - Coach's decision.
This season, Romar took his team to play some European pro teams before the season started in what I believe was an attempt to try and fix some of these early-season woes. It hasn't worked, but time is yet to tell if the team is actually playing how they will finish the season, or if it is just another early-season slump.
4. Washington won the regular season Pac-12 title last year (although it is no longer a true round robin with the expansion) but only made the NIT. How bitter are you about that?
I'm a little bit bitter, but I can understand the reasoning. Washington was very underwhelming last season, especially with the talent on the roster, which included two first-round picks and potentially a third when C.J. Wilcox declares/graduates.
Maybe they did deserve to make it into the Big Dance, but they were a fringe team at best, and we all know that there are always going to be "snubs." Whether Washington was snubbed or not is debatable, which may be reason enough to not be bitter about it.
2011-12 Husky Basketball Season Highlights (via UWAthletics)
From this team, Washington lost two top players to the NBA draft.
Yes, I already mentioned Wilcox has the ability to be a first-round pick. His shooting stroke and athleticism will garner the attention of several teams. He doesn't display his athleticism with the breathtaking finishes that Terrence Ross does, but before last season, Wilcox and Ross both reached around the same height when the coaching staff tested the players' abilities to jump and reach as high as they could.
Aziz N'Diaye will get looked at just because his combination of size and strength is something that cannot be coached, and some team may take a chance on him panning out.
There are several players who are on the fringe and very well may get summer league looks, such as Abdul Gaddy and Scott Suggs. Andrews may get there eventually, but he is only a redshirt freshman as of yet.
6. What does UW have to do to win this game?
UW needs a good night from C.J. Wilcox. It is almost impossible for the team to win when he isn't hitting his shots, and like any shooter, he can be a little bit streaky. If his shots aren't falling, it will be a tough night offensively for Washington.
They will also need to slow Allen Crabbe, which may be an impossible task. Washington has struggled mightily against offensive players that have a strong ability to get into the lane, and Crabbe is just that. I expect Crabbe to have a big game, but if UW can slow him down just a little bit they can have a chance.
C.J. Wilcox has been a good perimeter defender, and look for him to be tasked with guarding Crabbe. He may not guard him from the outset, but at some point Romar will match Wilcox up against him.
7. Do you see UW making the tournament this year?
No, this is possibly Romar's least talented team since he has come to Washington, thanks in no small part to the early departures of Ross and Tony Wroten (only one of those made a justifiable choice, even at the time). The struggles on defense are real, and Romar's teams have always relied on their defense in order to get them easy points in transition. This team won't make the tournament unless there is just some switch turned by one of the interior players, whether it be Jarreau, Kemp or N'Diaye, and I don't see that happening.
8. Who do you want to punch in the face?
Tony Wroten. He never should have left, and would be a great addition to this squad. He would have developed his defense, a halfway respectable floater or mid-range jumper, and wouldn't be toiling away in the D-League. He didn't do himself, Washington, or the Memphis Grizzlies any favors by declaring for the draft.