This is something the Huskies didn’t do particularly well last year, and one of the reasons why they lost five nonconference games and eventually missed the NCAA tournament despite winning the Pac-12. Senior center Aziz N’Diaye returns as UW’s best defender, but where the Huskies need to improve the most is at the guard position and in transition. With three veteran starters in Abdul Gaddy, Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox, those areas could improve.
Find a go-to scorer
Last year, the Huskies had Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten. The three years prior, they had Isaiah Thomas. Quincy Pondexter fit the bill, too. But for the first time in a few years, coach Lorenzo Romar’s squad doesn’t have a proven go-to, give-me-the-ball scorer who can create his own shot at will. Guards C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs are both reliable shooters who will be relied on more to score this season. So, too, could PG Abdul Gaddy.
Adjust to the new offense
Romar has scrapped his motion offense in favor of running things through the high post, a major departure from recent years. The Huskies will still look to run and push tempo – a Romar staple – but the coach admits the team’s offensive scheme will look entirely different this season. Whether the Huskies adjust quickly to the offense once the games start will tell a lot about how consistent they can be offensively this season.
Get the bigs involved
This might be the least-proven group of post players Romar has had at Washington, especially from an offensive standpoint. N’Diaye is experienced but has never been a scoring threat. Desmond Simmons, a 6-foot-7 forward, contributes mostly on defense and on the boards. Shawn Kemp Jr. spent last season knocking off rust and hasn’t shown much other than slam dunks and layups. Freshman Jernard Jarreau is unproven. With the new offense giving UW’s bigs a larger role, they need to take advantage or the Huskies will be pretty limited in the halfcourt.
Take care of the ball
Wroten’s big-play ability was contrasted by his at-times out-of-control style, which led to more turnovers than the Huskies wanted. With a little less free-wheeling in the high-post offense – and a more controlled point guard in Gaddy – UW’s turnovers may decrease, especially if their backcourt players make the right decisions in transition.