Washington has finally put the band back together, and that leaves coach Lorenzo Romar waiting to see what kind of music it produces.
The Huskies finished a wavering run through the non-conference portion of their schedule at 8-5. They won two road games, though one was played just down the street from Hec Edmundson Pavilion at KeyArena. They also lost three times at home, a first under Romar in non-league play.
Saturday, UW’s Pacific-12 Conference schedule begins with a trip to Pullman to face the Cougars and a crowd surely still pleased about the Apple Cup. Romar hopes his healed and complete Washington team quickly begins to show signs of progress.
“It’s not a video game where you can start over and push a button,” Romar said. “But, I just think we are much better than we were early. Our record doesn’t reflect that, but we see the improvements
that we make.”
And, this is now the team in totality. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has decided to rest and focus on school instead of joining the basketball team for the second consecutive season. Seferian-Jenkins averaged 1.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 7.2 minutes per game last season.
Without him, Washington will continue to focus on defensive improvement. Multiple numbers show the Huskies need to.
Washington’s field-goal percentage defense is 42.3 percent. While that’s comparable to recent seasons under Romar, it’s last in the conference. The Huskies are tied for last in the Pac-12 in 3-point field-goal percentage allowed (36.2). The Huskies moved into a tie in that category only because of Connecticut’s 4-for-17 shooting from 3-point range against Washington.
In addition, Washington is last in defensive rebounding percentage by a wide margin. The Huskies collect 64.9 percent of defensive rebounds. Oregon State is 11th in the conference at 67.7 percent.
“Disappointed with us defensively, early, thought we could have been better,” Romar said. “I thought in spite of the injuries, there were still opportunities where if we defended better we still could have been more successful.”
Romar said the injuries had a trickle-down effect on the team’s defense. The smaller the rotation – Washington predominantly played six or seven players when Shawn Kemp Jr., Andrew Andrews and Scott Suggs were hurt at various points of the season – the more guys would appear to pace themselves knowing they were going to play extended minutes.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence, we’ve been getting better, more guys to rotate, all of a sudden our defense gets a little better,” Romar said. “Time takes care of that, too. In reference to having more veteran guys, you’d think it’d be better earlier, but because of injuries I don’t think we’ve been able to sustain it as much.
“I think in the back of our mind, I’m thinking, I’m going to be tired. I’m going to be worn down. I think that’s kind what has happened with them.”
Washington starts Pac-12 play with three consecutive road games, so there is no time to rest the weary.
“In our guys’ absence there were times we should have played better basketball, obviously,” Romar said. “Today, in January, I feel we have the ability and potential to be a much better team down the road because I feel we have a much better understanding of what we’re trying to do offensively and defensively.”email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas