When asked Friday who is the face of the team, Washington senior guard Abdul Gaddy gave an all-encompassing answer.
“The team is the face of the team.”
That’s a change for the Washington men’s basketball program. Last year, Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten, both of whom became first-round picks in the NBA draft, were the dominant names before the season.
In past years, Isaiah Thomas, Quincy Pondexter, Jon Brockman, Brandon Roy and others were on the marquee.
This year, the elder trio of Gaddy, fifth-year senior Scott Suggs and fourth-year junior C.J. Wilcox are the expected load-bearers.
Which gives Washington a star-less veteran group for a change. Four of the starting spots appear clear: Gaddy, Wilcox, Suggs and senior center Aziz N’Diaye. A strong candidate for the fifth spot is forward Desmond Simmons, a third-year sophomore.
Washington has no true freshmen on the roster. Two redshirt freshmen, point guard Andrew Andrews and lanky forward Jernard Jarreau, will come off the bench.
“These guys have been together for a while,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “I think that helps and brings a unique quality to this team. We’ve been here 11 years and take any of the other 10 teams, there have not been many that have been just more close knit or had more chemistry than this team.
“We’ve had teams that have been more talented, have been better, but, this team is set apart a little more just because it really is a team.”
It also means all players who are expected to receive significant playing time have been part of a Pacific-12 Conference title, regular season or tournament, and were on last season’s squad that became the first regular-season Pac-12 champion to be left out of the NCAA tournament.
A large reason for that was defense. Though the Huskies are installing a new high-post offense this year to replace their motion offense, Washington did not defend well last season.
Romar vowed when last season ended that Washington would turn to a more fervent defensive approach.
“I think last year, from day one, we didn’t get it,” Romar said. “We went at a slower pace, we just didn’t get it.”
Romar and others think the late-summer trip to Europe and Africa, during which the Huskies practiced 10 times and played six games, helped push them ahead in their preparation.
Now, the real work starts with the opener less than a month away, Nov. 11 versus Loyola (Md.).
HE’LL RETURN … MAYBE
Austin Seferian-Jenkins is listed on the Washington roster and Romar said he expects the big man to be back once football ends.
“That’s a question for Austin and coach Sark, not for me,” Romar said of football coach Steve Sarkisian.
In 17 games last season, Seferian-Jenkins averaged 1.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in just more than seven minutes a game.
HEALTH IS UP
Romar said everyone is healthy, and all players participated in the first full practice Friday. Wilcox had nagging hip issues last season, but said he’s past them. Suggs had surgery Oct. 14, 2011, on his little toe, which led to a redshirt season. Suggs said he was pain-free all summer and the injury is behind him.
N’Diaye had wrist surgery after the season on his non-shooting hand, but Romar said N’Diaye was able to maintain his conditioning and work on his free-throw firstname.lastname@example.org @Todd_Dybas