BY Bob Sherwin 04:00PM 03/12/2011

SPNW at Pac-10: Huskies challenged in ’12

Graduations and possible early departures leave Huskies more vulnerable than any Pac-10 team next season

Washington will miss the inside presence of forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning next season / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

LOS ANGELES – Now that the Washington Huskies have repeated as a championship finalist, what are the chances of a three-peat?

Not so good.

Based on returning/departing players – not factoring in incoming freshmen, redshirts or transfers – the Huskies will be hurt the most in the league, by far.

Washington loses forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, guard Venoy Overton and forward Justin Holiday. They are taking with them 33.3 ppg and 16.1 rebounds. They represent two of the team’s top three scorers (MBA, Holiday), their best rebounder (MBA) and best defender (Overton).

In addition, there is a good chance this could be the final season for junior guard Isaiah Thomas. He may declare early for the NBA, and he doesn’t have to be a lottery pick.

“If it’s guaranteed, yeah, no doubt about it,” Thomas said. “If you’re a guaranteed first-round pick, you have to weigh your options, the good and the bad. But if it’s guaranteed, yeah, I got to look at it. Now I’m a Washington Husky and that’s all I’m worried about.”

If Thomas goes, that’s a loss of three starters and a half (Overton) and 49.9 points and 19.8 rebounds out the door. Thomas also is top in assists in the conference.

The Huskies will have injured Abdul Gaddy coming back from major knee surgery and redshirt forward Desmond Simmons. But they will be thin inside, both in numbers and body type.

Compared to the rest of the league, the Huskies’ personnel turnover is dramatic. Four conference schools have no seniors. Most have many starters returning.

Here’s a look at the other Pac-10 teams, based on best-to-worst personnel adjustments:

Stanford (15-15, seventh place): No seniors.

Oregon State (10-19, ninth place): No seniors.

Washington State: No seniors, although there is a good chance junior guard Klay Thompson’s Cougars career is up in smoke. Like Thomas, he’s not staying if he’s guaranteed first-round money. The NBA is his dream. His 43-point effort against the Huskies Thursday can’t hurt his chances. If he goes, he takes his conference-leading 21.5 average, plus his 5.1 rebounds per game.

California: Forward Markhuri Sanders-Frison (11.2 ppg; 7.4 rpg). He’s the team’s top rebounder and a starter but it’s not a loss that can be readily made up.

UCLA: No seniors, but there’s also the threat of losing players at One-And-Done-U. Three possibilities to depart are junior guard Malcolm Lee, sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt and possibly freshman center Joshua Smith. He clearly needs more experience but an immovable, big body like his is coveted in the NBA. He may have people whispering in his ear. If all three depart, the team would lose 36.4 points and 16.7 rebounds per game.

Arizona: Forward Jamelle Horne is the only senior but Pac-10 Player of the Year sophomore forward Derrick Williams is a lottery pick. He can’t not declare early. It would take a Jake Locker-type mentality to stay. If those two leave, the teams loses 25.1 ppg and 11.7 rpg.

Oregon: Forward Joevan Catron and guard Jay-R Strowbridge, taking 25.3 ppg; 8.6 rpg with them. They are the first and third top scorers, respectively, and Catron leads the team in rebounds (6.3 rpg). He’s a big loss because it’s hard to find that kind of presence in the middle.

USC: Forward Alex Stepheson and guards Donte Smith and Marcus Simmons. That’s 24.3 ppg and 13.5 rpg that the Trojans will need to replace. Two are starters. Stepheson is the second-best rebounder (9.0 rpg), Smith is the fourth-best scorer (9.9 ppg) while Simmons was selected conference Defensive Player of the Year. There’s also the chance that junior forward Nikola Vucevic could declare early. He’s 6-foot-10, 260 with a 17.7 point average a 10.3 rebounds per game. If he goes, the Trojans will approach the Huskies in departures. USC would lose 42 ppg and 23.8 rebounds.

Arizona State: Forward Rihards Kuksiks and guards Ty Abbott and Jamelle McMillan. That’s three starters and three of the team’s top four scorers. That means a rebuilding job in Tempe. They take with them 30.2 ppg and 8.8 rpg.

HUSKY AHEAD: The Huskies will need more impact than normal from newcomers, especially inside. You can make a case, curiously, that the Huskies could return six starters: Thomas (if), Aziz N’Diaye, Scott Suggs, two late-season freshman starters, C.J. Wilcox and Terrence Ross and Gaddy, returning from injury.

The problem is, five of those are guards. This doesn’t include the recruits, 6-5 Tony Wroten and 6-3 Hikeem Stewart.

Inside, the Huskies will have N’Diaye, who doesn’t have a hint of an offensive game, 6-8 Darnell Gant, 6-7 Simmons and incoming 6-10, 210-pound Jernard Jarreau, who makes N’Diaye look like he should be on the Biggest Loser. There is also JC player, 6-8 Kevin Davis.

STANFORD REIGNS: For the first time, the women’s teams played their tournament at the same venue as the men. But it’s the same old story.

Stanford (29-2), which ended Connecticut’s record 89-game win streak earlier this season, won its eighth tournament title in the past 10 years with a 64-57 victory over UCLA. The Cardinal have won 57 straight over Pac-10 opponents. Their tournament record is 27-2.

Stanford forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike won the Most Outstanding Player award for the second straight year.

The final game attendance was 2,618, most in three years.


YourThoughts

  • Gordon Hansen

    With all due respect to the young man, but if Aziz would return home, my prayers would be answered. There is no basketball talent there and not enough time to teach him all he needs to learn to be of any real help to this team. Yes, we loose a 7′ center, but then, he’s hardly been here when he has played. If Coach Wooden could adjust and play with 4 guards and win a championship, Romar should be able to adjust with a small group of players.

  • Brett

    This is an overdramatic article. First of all, Thomas isn’t going anywhere. He won’t be a first round pick, so it’s just not going to happen. Overton won’t be nearly as big a loss as I thought before this season. Frankly, he was terrible this season outside of the last two weeks, and was hardly the team’s best defender. Hell, the team just put together its three best games of the season without him. While Holiday’s defense and intangibles will be missed, he has provided virtually nothing offensively over the last month. Ross and Wilcox have outplayed him as of late. The component this team will miss the most is MBA’s inside scoring, since there will be no proven low post scoring threat going into next season. But with the returning players to go along with newcomers such as Tony Wroten, this will still be one of the most talented teams in the conference. The inside play could be an issue, but the guard and wing play should be better.

  • Alvin Kroon

    It’s so nice to see you enjoying the Huskies’ dramatic win and a 7th seed in the tournament. I guess your glass is half-empty! Relax and let us enjoy the win and 2010 possibilities.

    After the win yesterday I went to this site and the top posting on the Huskies is the negative predictions about next year.

    Nice marketing…

  • http://seattlealaskasports.blogspot.com/ Soggyblogger

    I disagree. We’ll miss all three seniors, but they are being replaced as we speak. CJ and Ross, plus Gaddy and Gant, Aziz and IT make for a tremendously athletic team returning. Aziz is already better than Tom Burleson at this stage of his career. He has more skills, too. Aziz has a lot of potential. He is already a game changer at times. Gant is already asserting himself in the rebounding dept. and now needs to work on his post moves. No one has a better attitude then Gant. Simmons could add a lot, and the sky is the limit for Wroten. The rest of the incoming class may have some surprises, and Davis sounds like he could contribute right away as well. Unless D Williams or K. Thompson stay in school, I am pretty sure the Huskies will have a legitimate chance to repeat as tourney champs. If IT declares for the draft – that would be a blow and the most difficult player to replace, but that is hopefully unlikely. I think IT would be making a big mistake unless he was projected a lottery pick. He has the chance to cement himself in history. He has already set some records, but one more year will elevate him to local legend. That opens up a lot of career choices after basketball. If he leaves early he loses a lot. If he stays he will have more opportunities to polish his skills and move himself into the lottery. Much may depend on how far this team goes. The publicity of a national championship would improve his draft status considerably.

    Your article did impress me with how much improvement we might see across the league next year. Especially Cal and Stanford. And Arizona had an awesome recruiting year so they could be trouble again. But I like the Huskies chances to dominate the Pac 12 next year.

  • Myk

    Gordon…Aziz was one of the reasons UW stayed in the game last night. He doesn’t have a very good offensive game. But for his first year in D1 basketball he did just fine playing defense and rebounding. He will be an important piece to next year’s team

  • Gabe

    “Based on returning/departing players – not factoring in incoming freshmen, redshirts or transfers – the Huskies will be hurt the most in the league, by far.”

    Why would that be a helpful way to look at next year’s team? You don’t think UW will be picked to finish in the top 3 of the conference and get some votes to finish first? Come on.

  • JD

    @Soggy and Myk,
    AGREED.
    Gordon is smok’n. You don’t throw away a 7 footer after their first year.
    You can’t compare any modern NCAA squad to a program that reinvented structured motion 30 years ago and act like Romar or anyone could do it. Some squad will win again with 4 guards but it’ll be out of necessity.