BY Todd Dybas 12:25AM 01/21/2011

How the Huskies worked over Derrick Williams

Huskies use a swarm of bodies to slow Arizona’s premier forward

Washington collapsed defender after defender onto Arizona star Derrick Williams Thursday night. (Drew McKenzie/Sportspress Northwest)

Sitting under plentiful headphones more than an hour before the game, Derrick Williams bobbed his head.

Reclined and sure, he sat on cushioned chairs with “Huskies” imprinted into them. He finished tweeting at 6 p.m. He sat calm like a bomb.

Williams is among a triumvirate of Pac-10 Conference player of the year candidates. His 19.7 points per game supplemented by 7.3 rebounds makes the conversation revolve around him, Washington’s Isaiah Thomas and Washington State’s Klay Thompson.

He is the core of Arizona’s team. The lead issue on Washington’s scouting report. The drop-off between Williams and his lumbering backup is akin to the difference between the sun and a keychain light.

Washington center Aziz N'Diaye was a large resistance to Arizona star Derrick Williams on Thursday. (Drew McKenzie/Sportspress Northwest)

During Washington’s 85-68 win over Arizona Thursday night, Williams met long, multiple resistance.

Seven-foot Aziz N’Diaye extended his arm toward Williams following the opening tip. What N’Diaye lacked in foot speed was squared by length.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning also tracked the Wildcats sophomore. His speed allowed him to manage Williams in a different way.

Washington sat in a zone half the night to slow Williams. The Huskies put a player in front of and behind Williams while the fluid 6-8 NBA prospect floated from elbow to elbow.

As much as control can be claimed when the final numbers are 22 points and 11 rebounds, the Huskies can claim it.

Williams had not viewed such attention since tangoing with second-ranked Kansas. The Jayhawks held him to, ahem, to 27 points. The Huskies did better.

Washington tried to force Williams right, a counter-intuitive ambition considering he’s right-handed. Facing up on the wing, Williams prefers to jab step, then dribble hard left. N’Diaye staggered his feet in anticipation.

Arizona ran pick-and-pop with Williams once. Williams is shooting 70.8 percent from behind the 3-point line, though he does not take a high volume of shots there, about two per game. Still, it appeared a worthy consideration against the laggard feet of N’Diaye. But that was the lone instance.

That left him to his usual prime tactic: Follow force with calm. Williams uses hard dribble-drives to end up at the free throw line. He tried just that against N’Diaye.

“I wanted to get into his body,” Williams, affable and full of credit for Washington post-game, said. “In the first half they weren’t calling those little body contact fouls I’m used to getting at home. I just have to try to adjust and get by them and finish more than looking for the foul.”

The forward took 16 free throws against hapless Arizona State last Saturday. Just seven against Washington.

That was also part of Washington’s scout. Build a straight-up wall of hands without fouling. Making Williams shoot over without allowing him to dive into. Darnell Gant, N’Diaye and Bryan-Amaning accomplished just that.

He was in foul trouble almost throughout, facing a second swarm of height after shedding an initial defender. Williams still had 22 points and 11 rebounds, but he never came close to controlling the game.

“As soon as I got the ball on the wing, they sagged off and played the middle and just wanted our other players to win the game for us basically,” Williams said.

They couldn’t. Washington managed to defend another multi-purpose threat the way they survived previous stars such as James Harden and Ike Diogu. The Huskies proved the mob mentality could corral the individual.


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