SEATTLE — The purpose of the Washington men’s basketball team’s new defensive scheme, implemented during nonconference play, is simple at its core: prevent dribble penetration that leads to easy layups.
Those kind of baskets killed UW earlier this season, but they have been largely diminished by a new defensive style that coach Lorenzo Romar’s players seem to be embracing more and more each week.
Now, a new challenge.
With the 15th-ranked Colorado Buffaloes visiting Hec Edmundson Pavilion on Sunday, the Huskies’ defense will face a backcourt duo that, as Romar likes to say, “puts the heat on you.”
Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker, the Buffaloes’ starting guards, lead the team in scoring and are a big reason why Colorado attempts more free throws (499) than almost every other team in the country.
“They have a really, really dynamic pair of guards out there on the floor,” Romar said. “They can really score the ball. They’re potent offensively, but they’re very sound defensively. They’re a well-coached team with talent. That’s a tough challenge.”
That’s in spite of the Buffaloes losing their most productive player from a year ago: Andre Roberson, a 6-foot-7 forward who crashed the glass and defended better than most anyone in the Pac-12 Conference but turned pro at the end of last season.
Colorado (14-2, 3-0 Pac-12) might be the premier challenger to top-ranked Arizona for the conference championship. That’s largely because Dinwiddie and Booker form one of the best offensive backcourts in the Pac-12.
The 6-6 Dinwiddie (15.2 points a game) is a difficult matchup for most opposing point guards, evidenced by his 116 free-throw attempts in 16 games this season. He has made 99 of them. And he shoots 41.9 percent from 3-point range.
“Spencer’s just really solid,” UW guard C.J. Wilcox said. “And Askia, he hits a lot of tough shots and plays well in big games. So we’re going to have to keep him in check on Sunday.”
Especially in dribble-drive situations.
“I just think their scheme, I think they take advantage of their strengths, and they have some players that are hard to defend one-on-one,” Romar said, “and I think they create situations like that. They set a lot of ball screens, and with those ball screens, those guys get a little room to maneuver and wiggle and make plays.”
TACOMA’S FLETCHER SETTLES IN AT COLORADO
Tre’Shaun Fletcher said that even though he played basketball at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, he was never all that interested in playing for the Huskies.
“I’m for sure looking forward to playing against them,” the 6-7 Colorado freshman swingman said.
Fletcher — his last name was Lexing before he changed it to honor his mother — is a part of the Buffaloes’ rotation, averaging 3.5 points and 1.9 rebounds off the bench in 10.2 minutes a game.
“It’s going pretty good,” said Fletcher, who left Lincoln as its career scoring leader. “I’ve had my good games and bad games. I’m just trying to get a little bit of consistency.” firstname.lastname@example.org
No. 15 Colorado (14-2, 3-0 Pac-12 conference) at Washington (10-6, 2-1)
Noon, Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Seattle
TV: Fox Sports 1. Radio: 950-AM.
The series: Washington leads 8-7.
Scouting report: Any analysis of Colorado must begin with its starting backcourt, which features guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker, the team’s top two scorers. Because they do so much of the Buffaloes’ scoring, the team’s assists-per-game number — 12.6 — isn’t all that impressive. But Colorado is so tough in one-on-one situations, particularly with the rate at which it gets to the free-throw line, that assists aren’t really a great measure of how potent the Buffaloes can be offensively. Their 499 total free-throw attempts this season rank fourth in the nation, and their 363 makes are No. 2 nationally. Josh Scott, CU’s 6-foot-10 forward, doesn’t get as much attention but is one of four Buffaloes averaging double-digit scoring. Former Lincoln High School swingman Tre’Shaun Fletcher has played in 15 games as a CU freshman.