BY Todd Dybas 08:12PM 12/29/2011

Wroten powers Huskies past Oregon State

Tony Wroten scored 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a Pac-12 opening win.

Tony Wroten put together his best game as a Husky on Thursday night. He may just be getting started. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Tony Wroten turned the ball over on Washington’s first possession Thursday night.

Then, he thought what everyone else was thinking.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God, here we go again Tony,’ ” Wroten said.

Wroten, for all of his emphatic scoring with his powerful left hand, stumbled into the Pac-12 opener with his warts. His 49 turnovers outweighed his 35 assists entering the game.

Forget that. Thursday night was a wunderkind performance by Wroten that would leave Doogie Howser red with envy.

Wroten’s 26 points, nine rebounds, fours assists and two — read it, two — turnovers pushed Washington (7-5, 1-0) past Oregon State (10-3, 0-1) 95-80 in the Pac-12 opener for each Thursday night in Hec Ed.

Many spent the evening at home watching Washington and Baylor make cases for multiple offseason firings on the defensive side of the ball. They missed Wroten’s most efficient night of the year.

Following his initially botched foray, Wroten turned the ball over just once more. This was not against minimalist competition like Houston Baptist, but against Oregon State, which is fifth in the country in steals.

It was the second game the 18-year-old had more assists than turnovers. It was the first game he didn’t throw ball away when attempting a no-look pass.

Three were on point. Zoomed at angles into open space for three dunks. Desmond Simmons, Aziz N’Diaye and Darnell Gant were merry holiday recipients.

Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar was thrilled with the execution.

“Sometimes that happens as you get older,” Romar said. “It’s not like he’s 22 all of a sudden, but he has had 11 games under his belt. The really talented ones, they learn to figure it out.

“This is a different type of game, it’s more wide open. Oregon will probably be a slower pace, but I thought it really showed that he’s made substantial improvements in terms of impact on winning.”

Ah, there’s the key phrase: impact on winning.

For all the shine Wroten displayed in prior games, his overall positive impact was rightly questioned.

Too many bad decisions. Too much lackadaisical defense. Too much to learn.

It made him an unintentionally divisive figure.

The criticism was harsh, and discounted his age, elevating expectations for his play to an unfair level.

The blind support was equally misguided. Wroten’s overall value was not reflected solely in his points. Many of his mistakes were left out of a boxscore.

But Thursday, that was an epiphany both sides can walk away from wondering what Wroten’s ceiling is.

He’s comfortable in the post, presenting a daunting matchup conundrum for opposing coaches with mini guards. It was a problem for Oregon State. Only once during the night was Wroten not able to bully his way to the rim, and that was when Jared Cunningham held his ground after a defensive switch.

“I’m real comfortable there, because ever since I’ve been young, I was taller than the average point guard,” Wroten said. “Me and Terrence (Ross) are always working on post moves.”

Wroten even made five of his seven free throws. It was Abdul Gaddy efficiency, but with 26 points.

“He is darn good,” Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. “That is why everyone had him being one and done.  He is strong and he has a good way about him even though he is young.  He has a mature way about him.”

Gaddy, it should be noted, had another skilled performance. Six assists, 13 points, two turnovers. Lacking Wroten’s flair by no means confirms inability.

Washington led by 20 points in the first half. It held off Oregon State, which, despite a laughable non-conference schedule, was being touted as a sudden Pac-12 front-runner. The Huskies got everything they wanted offensively.

It was just 40 minutes Thursday night. Though it’s likely to prove monumental for previously sliding Washington and Wroten.

At least until Saturday.


YourThoughts

  • Soggyblogger

    Great article. You fairly summarized the Wroten situation. I’m glad he is growing as a player. We need him.

    Though everyone says he will be a “one and done” player, to my knowledge no one has publicly asked him that question, and only two coaches (once in this article by you and once last year by Romar) have used that phrase in regard to Wroten, and then only as a description of his talent. I expect that from internet forums, but one would think professional sports writers would take the time to ask TW if those are his intentions, and if the answer is equivocal, to report THAT rather then continue this local sports MYTH.

    Part of the criticism of TW has been that since he WILL BE (it is assumed) “one and done” he ought to be LESS of a work in progress. Though I have no doubt he would get drafted were he to opt for that choice, I am still waiting for some official word from Mr. Wroten on the subject.

    Personally, I am hoping he will enjoy and value his time at the UW enough to make him want to remain a Husky for as long as the NCAA will let him. With everyone throwing insults at him for being less than the second coming of Magic Johnson, I get worried he is NOT enjoying his collegiate career all that much.

  • Soggyblogger

    Great article. You fairly summarized the Wroten situation. I’m glad he is growing as a player. We need him.

    Though everyone says he will be a “one and done” player, to my knowledge no one has publicly asked him that question, and only two coaches (once in this article by you and once last year by Romar) have used that phrase in regard to Wroten, and then only as a description of his talent. I expect that from internet forums, but one would think professional sports writers would take the time to ask TW if those are his intentions, and if the answer is equivocal, to report THAT rather then continue this local sports MYTH.

    Part of the criticism of TW has been that since he WILL BE (it is assumed) “one and done” he ought to be LESS of a work in progress. Though I have no doubt he would get drafted were he to opt for that choice, I am still waiting for some official word from Mr. Wroten on the subject.

    Personally, I am hoping he will enjoy and value his time at the UW enough to make him want to remain a Husky for as long as the NCAA will let him. With everyone throwing insults at him for being less than the second coming of Magic Johnson, I get worried he is NOT enjoying his collegiate career all that much.

  • Artthiel

    Fair point. That’s part of why we have elections. However, for an SB bid, the city needs mostly to approve. Allen and the host committee will have to take all initiative. H’s capable. 

  • Wafwot

     Why play the Super Bowl in a warm climate or under a roof?  The playoffs that lead up to the Super Bowl aren’t played in warm weather.  I would LOVE to see a Super Bowl played in the SNOW.  NFL fans will go to a Super Bowl in any climate!

  • Artthiel

    Rickm, look out your window. Who needs a roof?

  • Artthiel

    No need to build a thing. Just a cop or two to pivot a stop sign to a slow sign