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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Tuesday, May 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Washington Huskies men’s basketball 5 keys to success

1 Finding C.J.’s surrogate. Guards Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews are obviously more-than- capable scorers, but C.J. Wilcox was the kind of weapon who forced teams to game plan for him. What’s more, he took 42 percent of the Huskies’ 3-pointers last season and was far and away their most accurate long-distance shooter. His presence allowed Williams-Goss to blossom, and now he’ll be the one getting all the defensive attention.

2 There is no “I” in “D.” But there needs to be an “E” – as in everyone. Statistically, the Huskies were the Pac-12’s worst team in field goal defense (47.5 percent? Ugh!) and easily the worst by the eye test. This was largely an interior failing – the graduated Perris Blackwell was hardly the human eraser. The arrival of 7-footer Robert Upshaw figures to be a significant upgrade in this department, but Shawn Kemp Jr. needs to assert himself as a rebounder, too. And mostly, the Huskies have to look like they care about stops.

3 Living large. Where are you Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes? Finding the right rotation up front is important for coach Lorenzo Romar, but anything impactful up there would be. Romar loves the guard-wing orientation, but the Huskies need to be able to do some work inside, too. Again, a big season from Shawn Kemp Jr. would help, but even if it’s by committee, the Huskies need to find some scoring and some defensive muscle, too. Having freshman Tristan Etienne leave the team in October was not a helpful development.

4 Accelerated adjustment. Two transfers figure to play substantial roles: Upshaw, the 7-footer from Fresno State, and wing Quevyn Winters, a one-time Duquesne signee who arrives from junior college. Transfers, despite their collegiate experience, often require time to get their bearings in a lineup or rotation, but especially in Upshaw’s case the Huskies don’t have time to waste. Then again, better late than early. Mike Anderson seemed to make a quick adjustment to D-I ball last season, but was a non-factor the last month of the season.

5 LoRo go-go. Seeing UW coach Lorenzo Romar’s name on the obligatory “hot seat” lists going into the season seems ridiculous, but such is the college basketball culture these days. The wheels have hardly fallen off the program, but not being in the NCAA tournament three years running makes you not “relevant” anymore. There’s no question the Huskies have lost their old edge. Whether that means Romar has lost his is arguable, but at the very least the Dawgs need to check their IDs.

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