Team’s makeup dictates Washington Huskies switch to high-post offense
The way Lorenzo Romar talks about his team’s new offensive approach, you’d think he’s been waiting to try it his entire career.
In a way, he has.
The Washington men’s basketball team has rarely lacked dribble-drive shot creators in Romar’s 10 seasons as coach, and so UW’s motion offense suited its talent and athleticism.
But gone now are first-round NBA draft picks Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, two all-conference players a year ago who carried the Huskies offensively and led them to the Pac-12 regular-season championship (though the Huskies became the first major conference champion in the modern era to miss out on the NCAA tournament).
Without that star power they’re doing it differently this season. Romar installed a high-post offense during the offseason, a throwback to his days as an assistant under UCLA coach Jim Harrick.
“It’s totally different,” Romar said. “We relied a lot on guys beating guys off the dribble before. Now there’s a lot more screens being set, there’s a lot more different looks, just a lot more different looks in it.
To UW’s advantage was a six-game trip to Europe and Africa during the summer, preceded by 10 practices that allowed the Huskies some early acclimation to the new system.
Romar said his players have embraced it, and seem to be “more together” than teams in the past that have featured all-conference players or potential NBA picks.
And while the Huskies have some known talent this season, it’s not quite as heralded. With the losses of Ross, Wroten and senior Darnell Gant, the Huskies also lost 52.4 percent of their scoring from last year.
“We don’t really have that dominant personality, that one guy that’s the face of the team,” senior point guard Abdul Gaddy said. “The team is the face of the team.”
“People know who the captains are,” Romar said. “People kind of have an idea who’s probably going to be the guys to take the last shot in the game, already know their roles to a degree.”
Some of those roles are clearly defined. Gaddy, who Romar expects to thrive in an offense with more direction, is the team’s leader as its starting point guard. Fourth-year junior C.J. Wilcox, the team’s leading returning scorer (14.2 points per game last season), is one of the nation’s best 3-point shooters. And fifth-year senior Scott Suggs, who redshirted last season due to injury, will likely start alongside Gaddy and Wilcox in an experienced UW backcourt. Freshman point guard Andrew Andrews, who redshirted last year, should also contribute.
The post positions are less defined. Aziz N’Diaye, the Huskies’ 7-foot-center, is back for his senior season. Sophomore forward Desmond Simmons started UW’s exhibition game against Western Washington and played quite a bit as a freshman, but his offensive game is limited. So is 6-foot-10 sophomore Shawn Kemp Jr., and slender 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman Jernard Jarreau is a bit of an unknown.
“The bigs are involved much more than they were in our motion,” Romar said. “The bigs were kind of at the mercy of the guards (before). Here, there are just a number of built-in options for them to get the basketball in places to be effective, so I think it benefits everybody.”