The Gonzaga Bulldogs are taking on the Washington Huskies today, and although I encourage you to read up a bit on my preview, I also encourage you to read up a bit on what is coming next.
We spoke with Jason Cruz over at SB Nation’s UW Dawg Pound to answer some of our burning questions about tonight’s game. Specifically, starting with who the hell else is on this team outside of Markelle Fultz?
1) We know the Huskies have Markelle Fultz. The national media has told us this. Do they have any other players on the team the Zags need to know for future years, or watch out for right now?
I think a key to the Huskies season is guard David Crisp. He has improved with his 3-point shooting as he’s at a blistering 46%. But, the sophmore needs to be more of a playmaker for the team to offset the attention that Fultz will receive.
Dominic Green could be another under-the-radar player. Another sophomore, he’ll come off the bench and a legitimate 3-point threat. Green is diversifying his game this season as he’s trying to take the ball off the dribble more. He does seem to be a streaky shooter so if he knocks a couple shots down, look out.
2) The Huskies are coming off of two-straight losses to TCU. What went wrong in those two games?
A lot. Let’s start with turnovers. The Huskies turned the ball over 18 times in the first game, which was the Global Sports Classic Championship game in Vegas (a four team tourney which explains the back-to-back). The Huskies were in the game until the second half when TCU pulled away. Super Frosh Markelle Fultz scored 27 points but fouled out. The Dawgs also allowed TCU to shoot 60% from the field in the second half.
Notably, in the second game (which was on the Dawgs schedule) they were up by 17 in the first half of that game and found themselves down by more than 20 in the second half. Turnovers reared its ugly head once again as UW turned over the ball 25 times to the Horned Frogs nine. TCU scored 30 points off of those 25 TOs. The Huskies have a problem putting the ball in the basket at times and are susceptible to long dry spells. Despite going 10-12 from three they found themselves down by as many as 21 in the second half.
3) Washington has definitely been inconsistent this year. It is an offensive issue or a defensive one? Do you think it is something the Huskies can rectify by the time March rolls around?
That’s a big question in Romarville. Washington’s problem is on both sides. The offense has been inconsistent while the defense cannot stop anyone. Fultz is the key as he averages 22.7 points per game while the next top scorer is Crisp at 13.9 points. Turnovers, as highlighted in the two TCU games are a problem. The Dawgs average 15 a game which is indicative of a young team, but that needs to turn around for the Huskies to have a chance to make the NCAA tournament.
On the defensive end, the Huskies are allowing their opponents to average almost 80 points per game. Although the Huskies are averaging 88 points a game, a couple of those games are against lesser competition. The Huskies are a lengthy team that block a lot of shots, but they have issues rebounding.
Can the Dawgs turn it around by March? Husky fans hope so, but it will take a great coaching effort by Romar to preach defense. Also, one or two more scorers will need to step up to alleviate pressure off of Fultz.
4) The Huskies aren't the largest team in the nation. How do you expect them to deal with Gonzaga's giant Przemek Karnowski, and his backup seven footer Zach Collins?
The Huskies have senior Malik Dime and freshman Sam Timmons to help with the Zags bigs. Dime is a very good shot blocker and average 3 per game this season. Timmons is a work in progress. But, the New Zealand native is 6’11 and should help defend Karnowski and Collins.
5) Overall, do you think the Washington fan base is glad to see this game back on the docket, at least for two years (excluding the fact we randomly played each other as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis last season)?
I think that Huskies fans are glad it’s back for a variety of reasons. This year they might not be as enthusiastic, but the Huskies do not have a lot of big teams in the non-conference. The in-state rivalry plus the competition will benefit both teams in future years.
Big thanks to Jason for taking time to give us a bit of insight on the matchup. You can follow him on Twitter here, and UW Dawg Pound here. Just make sure to remind them both #gozags.