Editor’s note: Every now and then we like to feature guest writers here at Seattle Sportsnet. Today, we bring you a piece from Matt Holt (@TheMattHolt on Twitter), one of my good friends who also happens to be an unabashed Husky homer. You may have noticed lately that I (among others) have spent a good deal of time ripping on Abdul Gaddy. While Gaddy may have earned some of the criticism coming his way, Matt writes up a defense, of sorts, in favor of Washington’s senior point guard. Take a look and decide for yourself: Will Abdul Gaddy’s legacy at Washington be that of a failure, or one of success?
By Matt Holt
I get it. It is really easy to make fun of Abdul Gaddy. I mean, really easy. He came in as the No. 2 point guard in his class, he encountered lofty expectations, and we were told he was going to lead us to the Sweet 16 and beyond. Those predictions never came true and Abdul’s career failed to unfold as we wanted.
To many people, Abdul is the core of our Husky problems. The program fails because he has failed. While there may be some truth to the statements people are making about Gaddy, there may still be a way the Huskies can salvage this season and, in turn, Abdul’s career. And all it takes is a few key wins starting now.
I would imagine Abdul would be the first person to tell you that his Husky career has progressed in a way that he never could have imagined. When he came to Washington, pundits and fans alike expected him to be a two-and-done player. Due to the NBA’s age restrictions, we were all excited that Gaddy arrived at UW as a 17-year-old, forced to play a minimum of two years at the college level before entering the NBA Draft (or so we expected). The Huskies had a team poised to make deep runs into the postseason with established players like Quincy Pondexter, Venoy Overton, Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, and later on, Terrence Ross.
A true point guard who had put together an impressive prep résumé, fans expected Gaddy to come in, immediately display his leadership abilities, take control of the Husky offense, and be the team’s court general, even as a freshman. But stuff happened along the way. Abdul simply didn’t adjust to the college game as anticipated his freshman year. This isn’t anything new — players often struggle during their freshman year. Just look at a guy like former Oregon Duck Malik Hairston. Back in 2004, Hairston, then a high school senior, boasted to media that he was going to “Carmelo-ize” the University of Oregon (Carmelo-ize (v.): to win the National Championship as a freshman, then immediately turn pro at season’s end, a la former Syracuse forward Carmelo Anthony). Despite his verbal display of confidence, Hairston labored through his freshman campaign, then ultimately spent a full four years in Eugene — a far cry from his over-exuberant one-and-done prophecy. The point is, what Gaddy went through has happened before. And luckily for Abdul, at least, his struggles didn’t follow ridiculous self-made proclamations.
The unfortunate part for Gaddy came during his sophomore season. He got injured and his year was a total loss. As a result, we entered uncharted waters with this player: an unexpected junior year.
As a junior, Gaddy played okay. But it wasn’t his team. Looking back, we all know now that Tony Wroten controlled the 2011-2012 Washington Huskies. Our hopes lived and died on his left hand. When Wroten departed for the NBA after that lone season, it shifted the spotlight back onto the shoulders of none other than Abdul Gaddy.
That brings us to the senior season, wholly unexpected just three years prior. Very few thought we would ever get here with Gaddy when he first signed to play at Washington. And what happens to the Huskies in the year of the point guard’s swan song? We suck. We lose to teams like Nevada, Albany, Oregon State, Utah. Worse yet, Abdul plays badly. He makes terrible mistakes — egregious turnovers, stupid decisions, ugly shots. So we all blame him. We don’t blame Lorenzo Romar, or Scott Suggs, or C.J. Wilcox, or anyone else. Damn it, it is Abdul’s fault. It must be.
In the same way that the quarterback of a football team gets blamed when his team loses, the point guard is often at fault when a basketball team falters. So in a sense, it is easy to see why Abdul has found himself taking the brunt of fan angst. And at the same time, the venom Abdul has endured is very difficult to argue against — frankly, he has played badly at times. So as Abdul’s career proceeds to virtually go down in flames, one can understand why Seattleites may remember him the way we remember guys like Doug Wrenn, Bobby Ayala, or Vin Baker — players with a bevy of talent who just plain sucked.
But as I alluded to before, all of this can change. The Huskies, as a team, can salvage Abdul Gaddy’s career. And it can be done within the next two weeks.
On Wednesday night, Washington beat USC by a score of 65-57. Individually, Gaddy’s performance in victory wasn’t spectacular, but the team won and that’s all that matters. To date, the Huskies have won four of their last five contests. Behind the curtain, one could argue that a great deal of credit for the team’s mini-run of success should go to Abdul.
Over the past five games, the senior point guard has logged 28 assists, while committing just nine turnovers — an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.1:1, which is pretty damn good for a point guard. In addition, Gaddy has chipped in 8.8 points per game over that span, which may be below his season average of 11.0 points per game, but comes in tandem with the fact that he’s been making some far better decisions with the ball in his hands.
Record-wise, the Huskies currently sit at 17-13 overall (9-8 in conference play) and have an RPI of 82 (which improved by two points, up from 84, following the win over USC). Combine that with a strength-of-schedule of 43 and the Dawgs aren’t nearly as bad on paper as one might think. If Washington can magically go on a run and defeat UCLA in their final regular season game, then win at least two games in the Pac-12 tournament, their RPI will increase, their conference record will remain above .500, and they’ll reach the all-important 20-win plateau. And if we’ve been prone to lay blame upon Abdul Gaddy for the team’s struggles on the season thus far, then we must certainly be willing to give the man credit as this team’s court general should we find ourselves suddenly winning.
Gaddy’s recent run of inspired play could lead this reinvigorated Washington ballclub to the NCAA Tournament. And if that were to happen, Abdul’s legacy at UW would be changed forever.
If the Huskies can somehow manage to sneak into the Big Dance, Abdul Gaddy’s legacy will not be that of the heralded recruit with high expectations who failed, but of the scrappy senior point guard who led this Husky team from the depths of nowhere into a magical postseason. Believe it.
Filed under: Husky Basketball
Everyone has their line. One can only withstand so much anger, so much vitriol towards another human being before it becomes too much. Even if that venom is not directed towards you, even if it’s directed elsewhere, just witnessing the hate-fest from the sidelines can be taxing; it’s emotionally draining, to say the least. And while a part of every one of us may agree that harsh criticism can certainly be warranted, there is similarly a more humane part of each of us that aches when the subject of such criticism is repeatedly torn to shreds.
Thus we have Exhibit 1A in the form of Abdul Gaddy, Washington’s senior point guard who has come to personify the failures of a Husky Basketball season slowly spiraling down the drain.
Gaddy is a mercurial subject in that his personality would seemingly prevent him from becoming the target of pure loathing. He appears to be an intelligent, reserved, humble young man who utters nary a word of angst about his struggles. That alone makes him worthy of respect, no matter how much we may not like the guy. Anyone who can face adversity and bite their lip — especially with all the access to social media outlets that we enjoy today — is stronger than most of us will ever be.
But while there are certain traits about the young man that are distinctly not negative, there are few characteristics about Gaddy that beam with positivity. Abdul Gaddy, for all his reserved humility, is bland. And there’s no getting around that. If he possesses charisma, we don’t see it. If he exudes warmth, affability, and a sense of humor, we’re not exposed to that. His play on the court doesn’t show it, while his actions off the court aren’t well-known to fans. Part of that is his own doing (it is his personality, after all), and part of that is the university’s fault. Of late, the Washington Athletic Department has done a remarkable job at limiting media access to players, shielding them from the public eye (or, perhaps, ear) without much reason. Fans haven’t really been given the chance to get to know Gaddy the way they got to know guys like Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Will Conroy, Isaiah Thomas, and other stars of Husky Basketball past. The result is a disconnect between fans and student-athletes. That disconnect is a contributing factor in the, shall we say, misunderstanding of Abdul Gaddy. But at whose feet we lay blame for this misunderstanding — the player, the school, the fans, some or all of the above — is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that we don’t know Abdul Gaddy as well as those players we’ve liked. And that’s a problem.
Much like the players we accept or reject, Seattle sports fans are a curious bunch. For inexplicable reasons, this city gravitates towards athletes that possess a certain, indescribable je ne sais quoi. We frequently turn average backups (Willie Bloomquist, Doug Strange, John Jaso, Steve Scheffler, to name four) into cult heroes. On the flip side, we sharply critique even our most noted superstars (Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Shaun Alexander, to name three). We hate and we love all at the same time. We’re no different than most fan bases in that regard. But our ability to look past stats and demand something more from our athletes cannot be refuted. You can be a great player or a bad one; if you don’t establish some kind of footprint in the community outside the locker room, however, we won’t embrace you. And that’s really what it amounts to. We want our athletes to be human. We want to relate to them. Think about the uber-relatable success stories like Felix Hernandez, Matt Hasselbeck, or the aforementioned Robinson, guys who played at a superhuman level, yet were just like us in so many other ways. In contrast, consider Alexander, a man who set records running the football, yet was more or less run out of town when his play declined, in part because he never could completely warm up to the public. This is how we segregate our athletes in this city. Love it or hate it, it’s reality.
This leads us back to Gaddy, who once again finds himself as a unique lightning rod for our understanding of athletes. Aside from actual performance, he has distinctively emerged as a Shaun Alexander-type, an individual who hasn’t fully been embraced by fans for reasons that can’t necessarily be codified by numbers or big-picture analysis. But to better understand why this happens to be the case, we need to first understand the trajectory of Abdul Gaddy’s ascent to status, an arc that began to take shape four years ago.
Prior to the 2012-2013 Husky Basketball season, Gaddy was neither loved nor hated by Seattle sports fans. A talented prodigy coming out of high school, the Tacoma native was heralded as one of the most notable University of Washington basketball commits ever, which in and of itself places a heavy burden upon the subject of such accolades. Upon donning the purple and gold for the first time as a freshman in 2009, Gaddy was viewed as a cornerstone of Lorenzo Romar’s program. It was universally understood that Gaddy would be an NBA player someday. It was expected that he would not only succeed at the college level, but flourish. He’d become an All-American, he’d lead the team to the NCAA Tournament every year, the sky was the limit.
Gaddy’s freshman campaign was underwhelming — he averaged just 3.9 points and 2.3 assists per game — but not entirely unexpected for a first-year player fresh out of high school (one who, at 17, was younger than most of his peers, as well). His sophomore year got off to a more tantalizing start before he suffered a severe knee injury, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and ending his season after just 13 games.
As a junior, Gaddy returned from the ACL tear and its subsequent surgery and played okay. He tallied 8.1 points and a career-best 5.2 assists per game in what was basically written off as a comeback year, a mulligan if you will. Not only that, but with high-profile freshman Tony Wroten Jr. on the squad, Gaddy was a mere afterthought at his own position, let alone on the roster. And as teammate Terrence Ross evolved into an NBA lottery pick, Gaddy was all but forgotten about.
When Ross and Wroten elected to go pro after the 2011-2012 season, the focus quickly shifted back to the few remaining impact players that were left behind, Gaddy among them. Entering his fourth and final year on Montlake, and with a knee now fully healthy, anticipation began to ramp up once again for the Bellarmine Prep alum. It was as if the last two Husky squads hadn’t even included Abdul Gaddy — fans had forgotten the man existed until others began departing. Seemingly content to always take a back seat to more commanding players, Gaddy was now exposed to the masses as a leader prepared to make a name for himself. Whether he would be willing to take on the challenge was irrelevant. Expectations, though somewhat neglected in the two preceding seasons, had been in place for three full years; now was the time to fulfill them. At least that’s how so many people saw it.
The season began with a whimper. A loss to little-known Albany in just the second game quickly had fans second-guessing the makeup of a team without two of its best players from a year prior. Two out of the next three contests after the Albany disaster also yielded defeats for Washington, and thus full-on panic set in for fans.
It was around this time that people began noticing that not only was Abdul Gaddy on the team, but he wasn’t playing all that great, either. His reserved style was now being labeled “soft.” His even-keel temperament on the court was now a sign of dispassion and laziness. Did Gaddy even care? Had he ever cared? What the hell was he even doing out there? Where was the highly-touted recruit we had inked back in 2009? And who was this imposter we were staring at now, this staid mannequin of a point guard who had failed to live up to the hopes laid out for him at the beginning of his college career?
This is of course where we start to question what this criticism of an Abdul Gaddy tells us about ourselves. It’s an interesting discussion that divides sports fans on a daily basis, separating each of us into one of a few different factions, unique in their own composition.
For instance, there are some who think it’s fair to rip some athletes, but not others. This is best exemplified by the “college-versus-pro” debate, which essentially reasons that it’s unfair to ever critique a college athlete because college athletes, as we know, are amateurs. They are not paid professionals like their counterparts in the NBA, the NFL, Major League Baseball, or the like. They are student-athletes and that’s it. As a rule, we do not take shots at them. Why is that rule in place? Why do some live by that rule? Who knows. You could argue that in some ways student-athletes are getting paid — they do earn a free college education, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in most instances — but that rule won’t fly for the fans in this camp. Likewise, you could point out that Gaddy is a 21-year-old man (he’s a man by definition, not an adolescent in any form or fashion) who, despite his amateur status, is still much older than some of the paid professionals that a fan living by these morals would criticize. There are 16-year-old baseball players earning less in the way of financial value than college athletes, but because college athletes are “amateurs” and teenaged baseball players “professionals,” we can only reasonably pick on the teen pros, despite any age gap. This is one faction of fans in this discussion.
Then there are those who feel that it’s okay to criticize players of any ilk — amateur or professional, paid or unpaid, blue or green — so long as those criticisms aren’t aired publicly. Oh sure, behind closed doors we may call athletes every four-letter word in the book. We may say horrible, horrible things about these public figures with our friends, at a bar, in our own living rooms, but so long as we don’t record our thoughts or our words, so long as there’s no paper trail of our feelings, we’re okay. In essence, we can express whatever we want privately. But when we read it online, when we hear it on the radio or see it on television, only then are we moved to disgust. It’s a borderline hypocritical stance that blows the “think before you speak” mindset out of proportion. See no evil, hear no evil…but think evil all you want.
There are others whose criticisms know no bounds. Everyone’s a target, without limitation, without special “rules,” and without regard for much of anything at all. Much like the comedian who insists he’s not racist because he hates on every race equally, the fan who takes shots at every athlete can’t be viewed as a hypocrite for picking and choosing the times he delivers acrimony because he’s spread his malevolence around with particular aplomb. These individuals vary in their levels of sanity. At one end of the spectrum you have the enraged cynic, a fan who has been absolutely ravaged by failure throughout the course of his life and hates everything as a result, athletes included. At the other end, you’ll find a jokey jokemaker, someone who uses the convenient misfortunes of public figures as part of a niche role he serves to others, either as comedian, public voice, or something else. Regardless of where fans in this faction end up on the range of intellect, they are the ones who typically fuel this “ripping athletes” discussion more than everyone else. They are the leaders of the ensuing social movements that arise as a result of any team or athlete struggles, and because many of these critics are seen as respected voices (due to jobs in media or otherwise), they tend to spawn similar behavior from their respective followings.
The majority of sports fans can be thrown into one of these three groups. The Abdul Gaddy conundrum centers around the divide between each of these factions. There are those who won’t criticize Gaddy because he’s a college amateur; those who are okay with deriding Gaddy in their own homes, but not publicly; and those (like me, for example) who give zero f**ks about anything and would put Mother Teresa on blast if she committed more turnovers than assists.
About the only thing that unites all sides of the debate around Gaddy are the facts about his performance. Not only has his play remained relatively stagnant since his college career began, but it’s been particularly ugly at the most inopportune times. Late in close games and at critical junctions in contests, Gaddy has crumbled. The word “clutch” is ambiguously used to describe players who excel in pressure situations; Abdul Gaddy may very well be the opposite of clutch.
Fair or unfair, this assessment of Gaddy is accepted (begrudgingly, by some) by most fans. The argument then shifts to how we convey the agreed-upon assessment in reasonable fashion. The harsher the conveyance of our understanding of Gaddy (or any other athlete), the more likely it is that people will react angrily. You can call it “bashing,” you can call it “ripping,” but what everyone’s saying in one way or another boils down to this: Abdul Gaddy isn’t playing very well. After that, it’s all about interpretation.
Above all else, it’s the interpretation that gets to people. Assessing Gaddy in a 140-character diatribe laden with expletives will assuredly be seen as “bashing.” On the contrary, painting a picture of an unfortunate anti-hero burdened by unfair expectations and the potential after-effects of injury will be accepted as just. It comes back to that line of tolerance we all set for ourselves as individuals. There’s only so much each of us can take. And as the mercury rises in our barometers of permissiveness, we inch closer to that point where we can’t stand it any longer.
About the only thing all this “ripping” of Abdul Gaddy has told us about ourselves is that the outer-most reaches of our tolerance boundaries have been stretched. Gaddy has been so polarizing this season (on such a frequent basis, no less) that he’s caused us to react to our own reactions. His divisive play — call it poor if you wish, I know I do — has driven us to analyze our own behavior as fans. That’s damn near insane. But because it’s sparked such a debate of morality and righteousness, we have to talk about it.
Are you a better person because you don’t “rip” Abdul Gaddy? Maybe. But you might also be hypocritical or lacking in the courage it takes to share your opinions.
Are you a jackass for “bashing” Abdul Gaddy? Possibly. But you might also be revered for having the balls to speak your mind, openly and honestly, without fear of repercussion.
And are you even really “ripping” or “bashing” Abdul Gaddy when you convey your opinions on his performance? Or are you just stating the obvious, then leaving it up to the power of interpretation?
Our general understanding of Gaddy has led us to believe that he’s a bad basketball player. That’s based on expectation, hype, and ultimately, results. Were he a walk-on with no pedigree, we would have surely extended him a longer leash before criticizing. But certain elements of his performance — repeated critical late game flubs, for example — would have caused us to react negatively as fans no matter the background of our subject.
We hear it all the time. We’re individuals, we’re unique, we all see the world differently, blah, blah, blah. There may not be a better vehicle for displaying our individuality than Abdul Gaddy. So we can get mad. Mad about him, mad about how he’s understood or misunderstood, mad about other fans for their interpretations of him. Or we can just live with the fact that this dude, this individual, has tested us, has stretched us, and has temporarily divided us.
But know this: at the end of the day, when everything is said and done, we’ll always find our way back to a shared fanaticism of our team, be it the Huskies or otherwise. Because two months from now, Abdul Gaddy will be a former University of Washington student-athlete. And no matter how you view his legacy, no matter how you choose to remember him as a Washington basketball player, you — like me, like all of us — will reemerge as just another fan come April.
Until then, we’ll deal with one another and we’ll deal with Abdul Gaddy. And here’s hoping this situation doesn’t repeat itself next year.
Filed under: Husky Basketball
I didn’t get to go to the gym on Tuesday. The Huskies were taking on 11th-ranked Marquette in Madison Square Garden. I needed to watch. Husky Basketball takes priority over any workout I could possibly accomplish. But I couldn’t let the day go to waste. I had a bagel sandwich for breakfast, a sizable burrito for lunch, and around about snack time I killed some Chex Mix. That’s a lot of carbs for one day. And I am not one to let those carbs go to waste. So I took the logical step of creating my own workout plan. Or as I’m currently calling it, the Wroten Workout Plan, in honor of Tony Wroten, Jr.
The Wroten Workout Plan is fairly simple. Every time the freshman point guard commits a turnover, I do 25 push-ups. Likewise, every time he hits a free throw, I do 25 more push-ups. The thinking here is that there are push-ups for positives (made free-throws) and push-ups for negatives (turnovers committed), so that the workout doesn’t have an entirely bad or good connotation. In the words of athletes everywhere, it just is what it is. And what it is is a way to pass the time during a ballgame. Kind of like a drinking game. Only better for you, I guess.
Regardless, the Wroten Workout Plan was a tremendous success. In one game alone, I knocked out 175 push-ups (see the above photo for an action shot). I try to do 300 push-ups every day, so 175 was solid activity. The only unfortunate part was that there were more negative pushups (100, the equivalent of four turnovers) than positive pushups (75, the equivalent of three made free-throws). As time goes on, we can only hope that those numbers will adjust. Either way, though, I certainly recommend everyone get on the Wroten Workout Plan. It has potential. You’ll get ripped.
And now for some thoughts on the team…
OMG, Romar! Why didn’t you use your time-out?!
Yes, the social networking world is ablaze in fiery angst over the fact that Lorenzo Romar did not burn a time-out with six seconds remaining in the game on Tuesday night. For those who missed it, the situation was as follows:
With just under seven seconds left to play, a Marquette player knocked down a basket to give his team a one-point lead. The Huskies inbounded the ball on the Golden Eagles’ baseline, into the hands of point guard Abdul Gaddy. Gaddy hurried the ball up court, pressured by three defenders the entire time, then launched an ill-advised desperation heave from roughly 19 feet as time expired. The shot came nowhere near the hoop. Worse yet, it was taken directly in front of the Washington bench, where, presumably, Romar could have very easily called a time-out. So why didn’t he? Good question.
I have a theory, of course. This whole point would be moot were it not for a theory. My theory is rather pedestrian, but perhaps it makes sense to some of you. Fact is, Romar doesn’t like to use his time-outs late in games because we don’t have any good set plays to execute. That’s it. That’s the whole theory.
Have you ever seen us break from a time-out with a great play? No. Never. In nine-plus seasons of the Romar regime, I can never remember us running a play out of a time-out that made me happy. Not once. That’s not our style of play. We’re a run-and-gun team. When we slow things down, we’re giving our opponent an advantage. That’s just the way it is (like Bruce Hornsby).
That said, I still love Romar. We all have our weaknesses, and his appears to be set play execution. Fine. I can live with that. I have lived with that. We all have. His strengths atone for that solitary glaring soft spot. We’ll move on from this.
Abdul Gaddy: OTFW
OTFW. Own The F**king World. It’s a mentality you have to have to be successful. And right now, the Huskies’ junior point guard does not appear to have it.
Gaddy is what you would call a “heady” player. He’s smart. He can read a defense. He has great awareness. He knows how to control his emotions. Being a heady player can act as a double-edged sword, however. Sometimes, the headiness gets the best of you and overwhelms inherent talent and instinct. That’s what appears to be happening to Gaddy right now, and it’s a problem.
I said it before and I’ll say it again: it was like Ndamukong Suh was making Gaddy’s decisions down the stretch in Tuesday’s game. Every play he tried to make failed. He turned the ball over, he committed costly fouls, he put on a how-not-to clinic on the game’s final play. Is that the real Abdul Gaddy we saw? Let’s hope not. Changes have to be made in order to improve.
Watching Gaddy play, you can almost feel him thinking. He controls the tempo to the point of over-controlling it. While the intelligence is appreciated, there are times when the 19-year-old (he’s still only 19!) needs to shut the brain off and let his ability take over. Ability requires confidence, however, and right now the dude doesn’t seem to have it. His teammates have a distinct swagger about them. Gaddy needs that. He needs to OTFW. It sounds ridiculous. It kind of is. But it works. And it will work for him, too.
OTFW, Abdul. You can do it.
T-Ross the Boss
Terrence Ross is a freak. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time together and I’m ready to say goodbye after this season, if I must. The man is a lottery pick. He just is. Sure, there are things he could work on. But when you watch him take a lob pass and nonchalantly turn it into a 180-degree alley-oop dunk, you know you’re witnessing something special.
In the annals of Husky Basketball history, I’m not sure if we’ve ever seen a player as athletic as Ross. His dunks are like coitus. His jumper is like silk. He can seemingly do it all. His game is Jordanesque. The NBA will want him badly. And we’ll have to prepare to give him up early.
Again, there are certainly things he can work on. And yes, the reality is we’re asking a sophomore to carry this ballclub. But damn if that dude doesn’t deliver every time. He sure looked impressive in crunch time against Marquette. His next test will come on Saturday versus Duke. If he keeps performing on the big stage, the world will be forced to take notice.
Terrence Ross is for real. Enjoy him while you can, Husky fans.
C.J. Wilcox isn’t so bad, himself
When he gets hot, no one can guard him. He can shoot from five feet, 10 feet, 15 feet, 20 feet, 25 feet…the distance is inconsequential. When Wilcox is on, there’s no finding the off switch. Like Ross, he, too, is a future NBA player.
Watching Wilcox go on a tear in the second half of Tuesday’s game reminded everyone that there are more scorers to stop than just Terrence Ross. And while many think of Wilcox as a marksman, the redshirt sophomore is proving he can do more than drop buckets from Jimmer range.
In addition to attacking the paint and ball-faking opponents into the stratosphere, Wilcox has displayed substantial improvement on the defensive end, as well. Against Marquette, the six-foot-five-inch swingman recorded four blocked shots, a career-high, which gave him a total of nine rejections on the year. Last season, Wilcox had 10 blocks all season long. He’s nearly reached that mark already through seven games.
If Ross leaves after this season, as many expect him to, Wilcox could very well be the main guy on the 2012-2013 squad. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here, but it never hurts to do a little forecasting. Are we looking at a 20-points-per-game guy in C.J. Wilcox? We very well may be.
Aziz get better
Aziz shoot. Aziz score. Aziz fall. Aziz run. Aziz swat. Aziz rebound. Aziz do it all.
There is no one more deserving of the team’s Most Improved Player award (at least through seven games) than one Aziz N’Diaye. The seven-foot junior has been so drastically different than the guy we saw wearing jersey No. 5 last year that you have to wonder if they traded in their center for a newer model. He’s been that good.
On Tuesday night, I watched Aziz cradle an entry pass (without it bouncing off his fingertips, no less), patiently lull his defender into a trance, shake right, then come back left to drop in a beautiful baby hook on the block. It was a patented big-man move. It was clean. It was polished. I shed a single tear.
Forget the numbers. All you need are two eyes to see the strides the Senegal native has made. He just looks better. He’s more comfortable, more orthodox, more conditioned. But if you do put weight in stats, consider this: he hasn’t fouled out once this year. That alone should make you want to hug somebody. Hugs for all! Aziz play whole game!
Keep it up, Aziz. You’re on the right track.
Filed under: Husky Basketball