BY Todd Dybas 11:13PM 12/31/2011

Dybas: Washington clicks with balancing act

C.J. Wilcox accepting coming off the bench has allowed the Huskies to remix their chemistry with winning results.

C.J. Wilcox made six 3-pointers and exposed Oregon on Saturday night. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

On one knee, head bowed and arm curled, Oregon coach Dana Altman was reduced to the position often reserved for national embarrassment: Tebowing.

Altman wasn’t testing the power of prayer or performing a late-game homage to Denver’s second coming. Though, if he checked in with the Almighty, his hopes went unanswered.

Instead, he glanced at the floor after yet another of C.J. Wilcox’s angelic 3-pointers went in, then turned to smack the undeserving Alaska Airlines Eskimo.

“I was looking down a lot,” Altman said.

Washington is suddenly turning submissive body language from opponents into the norm. The Huskies stalled Oregon’s sets, then picked apart the Ducks’ defense Saturday night in an 76-60 win. Maybe assistant coach Jim Shaw should send his resume down the hall to Steve Sarkisian.

The Huskies enter the new year just two weeks away past the South Dakota State debacle. It’s a different team.

Wilcox, who scored 24 points and made six of eight 3-pointers Saturday, has enabled roles to be sorted. To open Pac-12 play, he began coming off the bench. It’s a distinct difference between being put on the bench. He’s averaged 31.5 minutes the last two games, second only to cogent Tony Wroten.

That Wilcox is skilled enough to influence a game with such grandeur off the bench is secondary to his acceptance of doing so.

He’s laid back. Often talks with his father, Craig, who balled at BYU. All evidence, — performance, answers — indicate he’s all right with not being on the floor at tip.

“(Coach) Romar told me it wasn’t like a demotion or anything like that,” Wilcox said. “Said it was better for team chemistry. As long as we’re winning, then I’m OK with it.”

What the move has done is balance out a previously distorted mojo. That, plus brisk learning from Wroten and an actual defensive presence have altered the sense around the team.

“Roles are starting to be filled,” Wilcox said. “We’re starting to know who’s going to take what shots, how many minutes are going to be played, so, I think we know who’s going to take this team as far as it’s going to go.

“Now, we’re starting to figure out what shots are good shots for certain people, and we’re starting to click.”

That’s the pretty part.

The gritty change for Washington has been on defense. It would not have been surprising to hear rhythmic whistling in the background during prior games. The Huskies were dribbled around with ease, no red, white and blue ball needed. Layups, open 3-pointers, career nights, all were allowed.

The last two games, Washington has sealed the sieve. Oregon State and Oregon combined for 40 3-point attempts this week against the Huskies. Each made just five.

The Ducks left with a 32.3 percent shooting percentage, the expected equivalent of what Wilcox could do with a blindfold and straight jacket on certain nights.

“Hats off to our guys today, I thought we defended as well as we defended all year for an entire game this time,” Romar said. “That was good to see as we go out on the road again.”

The resurrection is in line with an advantageous schedule. Washington travels to Colorado next Thursday, then faces incapable Utah Saturday.

A bludgeoning of Seattle University at home should follow. Then, three consecutive Pac-12 games at home: Washington State, California and Stanford.

Following a careening non-conference, Washington is beginning to align itself for a dominant Pac-12 run.

And it’s needed. The conference’s national reputation is sullied. Washington’s national reputation is little better, the margin of losses to Marquette and Duke discarded in favor of the flat result.

Rarely has 8-5 felt so grandiose.


YourThoughts

  • http://twitter.com/kingwabbit Jeff Shope

    national embarrassment tebowing? really Todd I’d say fans in Denver would disagree

  • http://twitter.com/kingwabbit Jeff Shope

    national embarrassment tebowing? really Todd I’d say fans in Denver would disagree