BY Bob Sherwin 12:23PM 11/08/2010

Aziz N’Diaye’s presence not present yet

Huskies’ 7-footer still feeling his way inside

Washington center Aziz N'Diaye has three years of eligibility to use in his developement. (Drew Sellers/Sports Press Northwest)

Big guys take longer to develop. That’s the rule of thumb in almost every level of basketball.

The problem with that is the fixed shelf life. There are just so many years of college eligibility and if that big guy doesn’t come along at an acceptable pace than the returns become diminished.

UW Coach Lorenzo Romar has had two 7-footers in his nine seasons. Joe Wolfinger was reshirted his freshman year (2006) and had foot surgery. He then played two seasons for the Huskies (2007-08, 2008-09) averaging 1.4 rebounds and 3.5 points. He transferred after his junior year to Citadel. He never did develop.

The second big guy is Aziz N’Diaye, the 7-footer transfer from the College of Southern Idaho. He is literally this team’s high hope. He has three years of eligibility but this may be the season the program needs him the most. It’s a solid, veteran team, ranked 18th in the nation, and a potential inside force from a 7-footer such as N’Diaye would make this team formidable.

However, based of an admittedly small sample size – Saturday’s 97-76 victory by UW over Division II St. Martin’s – N’Diaye will need to bring more to the floor.

N’Diaye played just 11 minutes and fouled out. He scored four points, shooting 1-for-2 from the floor and hitting both his foul shots, pulled down four rebounds and committed two turnovers.

Fans turning out for the team’s first game no doubt were most anxious to see what N’Diaye could add to an experienced Husky team. It’s a team in need of inside presence. The team’s tallest player is 6-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning but he’s not a guy who will change or block many shots inside. He needs a complementary player and N’Diaye is that guy – potentially. But he couldn’t stay on the court.

N’Diaye entered the game at 15:33. On his first trip down the floor, he flipped up an awkward hook shot under the basket that only had a chance if the basket was moved four feet to the right. Then within the next minute and a half he committed a pair of offensive fouls, departing at 12:07. He played again briefly late in the half.

Early in the second half, Romar tried to do what he had planned, put N’Diaye and Bryan-Amaning on the floor at the same time. That happened from19:16 until 17:01. N’Diaye picked up his third and fourth foul and was removed.

Late in the game, when the outcome was not in doubt, N’Diaye seemed to play within himself. He wasn’t in a rush. He held his position. He seemed more in control. He picked up his first rebound with 5:30 left. The Huskies, by the way, were out-rebounded by a much smaller team, 42-32.

“It was great to see him out there because it’s the first time he has played in over a year,” Romar said of N’Diaye, who is coming off leg surgery. “It was good to see him get his feet wet out there. Aziz is going to be fine. He’s got to get used to how the officials are calling the game.

“He loosened up in the second half.”

You can’t make judgment on N’Diaye after 11 minutes in an exhibition. He needs to feel comfortable, physically and well as within the Husky system.

“It’s our first exhibition game,” N’Diaye said afterward. “We’re gonna watch films and see ourselves and some stuff we going to be working on. We have to figure out ways to play together and figure out how to get better. And we know that.”

One thing Romar and his staff can’t do is teach height. N’Diaye has all that. How to best spread out the use of that height over the course of the game will be the challenge.


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