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