It was about the fourth time through film review of the beaten-on-the-boards loss to Texas A&M that Washington men's basketball coach Lorenzo Romar decided to make a giant lineup switch.
Giant – like really big.
For the first time, 7-foot UW rookie Aziz N’Diaye and 6-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning got the start together – mainly as a way to jumpstart the team’s latest sagging rebounding totals – and the Huskies saw progress in an 80-52 thumping of San Francisco in front of 9,807 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on Saturday night.
Reserve guard Scott Suggs led four Huskies in double figures with 15 points, including two key 3-pointers in the first half of the team’s 22nd consecutive nonconference home victory.
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But improved rebounding is what Romar wanted to see, and he did as the two biggest UW players led the way to 11 offensive rebounds in the first half.
The Huskies outrebounded USF, 40-33.
Now you might say it was USF in the building, not Kentucky or Kansas or even UCLA. But the Dons came in as one of the better rebounding teams for a mid-major program, featuring 6-10 center Moustapha Diarra, and 6-8 forwards Perris Blackwell and Angelo Caloiaro in the starting lineup, as well as 6-9 Justin Raffington coming off the bench.
“And, well, I was just reminded we got outrebounded by Eastern (Washington) and. Saint Martin’s (in an exhibition game), so I felt it was progress,” Romar said. “We don’t always judge the opponent as much as what we were supposed to do.”
Romar said the team will stick with the same starting lineup for its final nonconference tune-up Wednesday against Nevada.
With N’Diaye occupying much of the Dons’ attention, Bryan-Amaning roamed the weak side and came up with three offensive boards on the team’s first five possessions.
“Playing with him and being able to crash (the glass) together takes a lot of pressure off the other (post player), because he’s such a big force and he generates so much attention,” Bryan-Amaning said.
Midway through the first half, the UW hit its scoring spurt, generating baskets on eight possessions in a row.
The highlight came on a three-on-one break, with Isaiah Thomas leading the way. He double-clutched in mid-air, went behind his back and fed Tacoma counterpart Abdul Gaddy for an easy layup.