SEATTLE — Just days after dispatching one demon, another awaits.
Washington heads to the Bay Area for today’s 8 p.m. tilt with California and star Allen Crabbe in Haas Pavilion as the UW’s road tour of the Pacific-12 Conference continues.
The Huskies (9-5 overall, 1-0 Pac-12) just handled Washington State’s Brock Motum, who led the conference in scoring last season, in Pullman on Saturday night. Tonight, they get Crabbe, who currently leads the conference in scoring at 21.4 points per game.
Crabbe is a different menace than Motum. He’s a liquid 6-foot-6 wing player who has stopped fading toward the 3-point line and begun to charge at the hoop when coming off screens this season. He’s more than doubled his trips to the free-throw line this year with 5.5 attempts per game, up from 2.6 last season. His 3-point attempts are down from 6.1 to 4.7.
Crabbe means business his junior year after spending the summer lifting weights in order to handle the bumps defenders would previously use to throw him off his game.
“This year, at times, he’s like a slasher as opposed to just a shooter,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “He’s more durable now.”
Durability is becoming a question for the Huskies’ Scott Suggs, who will likely start out defending Crabbe. After missing last season because of a toe injury, then being knocked out of the game against Albany by a concussion and dealing with plantar fasciitis after that, he now has a tweaked knee.
Suggs said he hurt his knee Monday in practice during a scrimmage. He expects to be ready tonight to chase Crabbe around the single-double screens that Cal (9-5, 1-1) sets to get Crabbe loose. Suggs also anticipates a lot of the same offensive sets the Bears ran for wing Patrick Christopher from 2006-10.
“He does a good job, if you trail him, curling real tight and getting to the hoop,” Suggs said.
C.J. Wilcox will also spend time guarding Crabbe at some point.
That’s half the Cal equation. The other half is point guard Justin Cobbs, a sturdy, 6-3 redshirt junior who averages 15.6 points per game.
All of this will be taking place during Washington’s first Wednesday-Saturday trip in the Pac-12’s brave new scheduling world. The schedule has been revamped this season, with the conference moving away from its traditional Thursday-Saturday format, to accommodate the new Pac-12 Networks ensuring each game is on television.
The Huskies flew to the Bay Area on Tuesday night and will return in between games on a charter flight before heading back down for Saturday’s game in Palo Alto against Stanford. This is the first week of classes to start the new quarter, so Washington administrators are hoping the extra flying allows for more classroom time.
This trip also marks just the fourth time in the past 70 years that Washington has opened conference play with three consecutive road games. The others were in 1943, 1993 and 1999.
“Big trip for us,” UW guard Abdul Gaddy said. “We’re really going to have to play at our top level if we’re going to come out with wins on this road trip.”
Washington (9-5, 1-0 PACIFIC-12 CONFERENCE) at California (9-5, 1-1)
8 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, Calif.
TV: ESPN2. Radio: 950-AM, 102.9-FM.
All-time series: Cal leads, 78-77.
Scouting report: Cal lost to a hot UCLA team on the road, 79-65, then won a tight fight with USC, 72-64, to open Pac-12 play. Despite having one of the league’s premier shooters in Allen Crabbe, the Golden Bears are shooting 31.2 percent from behind the 3-point line. Opponents have been hurting Washington from long distance. The Huskies moved from last in the conference heading into conference play to 10th in 3-point field-goal percentage defense. Cal will likely have trouble stopping Washington center Aziz N’Diaye. Expect the Huskies to try and get the big man rolling early.
Desmond SimmonsF188.8.131.52 38.177.3
Aziz N’DiayeC184.108.40.206 62.644.3
Next: Washington visits Stanford on Saturday (8 p.m., Root Sports).email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports firstname.lastname@example.org