Pac-10 season: Mid-way Marks

Lorenzo Romar (UW Media Relations)

After the first four weeks of the Pac-10 season, Washington stands alone at the top of the conference standings with a 7-1 record. Next up they head to the Palouse to take on the extremely game Washington State Cougars Sunday at 7 pm.

Washington's overall record after 19 games stands at an impressive 15-4, with all four of those losses coming on the road, and by a grand total of 15 points. The Huskies have taken care of business at the new Alaska Airlines Arena, winning all 12 contests.

The Huskies are number one in scoring, averaging 87 points per contest, and number one in scoring margin, averaging 19 points per contest more than their opponents. The Huskies are the best shooting team in the conference, hitting on over 48 percent of their field goal attempts, and second from behind the three-point line, making just a shade under 40 percent from long range. The Huskies are also the best offensive rebounding team in the league, and average 40 boards per game. Washington's rebounding margin is tops in the conference as well, as they collect 6.6 more boards per contest than their opponents.

Washington's offense is one of the most coordinated ones in the conference as well, which is why they lead the league in assists at 17.74 per game. They have 40 more assists than the next best passing team, Arizona State.

Defensively, the Huskies are just as solid. They are the third-toughest team to shoot against, only letting their opponents hit on 40 percent of their shots, and they are tied with UCLA with the most blocked shots per game at 5.0. Washington is number one in turnover margin at a plus 4.0. Their 226 turnovers are the fewest in the conference, and their assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5 is also tops in the league.

It's hard to complain about much if you are a Husky fan, unless you are really just looking to gripe.

The team suffered what could've been a terrible setback three weeks ago when starting point guard Abdul Gaddy tore his ACL and had season-ending surgery to repair the injury. Gaddy is expected back next year, but he was bringing his best basketball of his career to the floor. His outside shot was going down, his free-throw shooting was lights out, and his assists to turnover ratio was a solid plus.

In Gaddy's place, junior versatile guard Scott Suggs has seen an increase in minutes and has come through with some clutch shooting and solid defense. Terrence Ross, the freshman from Portland, also has seen a surge in playing time and has taken full advantage. Isaiah Thomas has moved comfortably from the two to the point guard position and is having the season of a lifetime.

Thomas, since moving to the one-guard spot, has showcased his passing abilities. He is the number one assist man in the conference, averaging 5.8 per game. He has over 20 more assists than the second best passer, Klay Thompson of WSU. Thomas, the one they call "Zeke", runs the Husky offense better than any other point guard in the Pac-10 right now.

The other area where it seemed that Washington would struggle this year was rebounding. The Maui classic showed the Huskies to be vulnerable against board-crashing teams and physical front lines.

Washington remedied that in a big way by inserting newcomer Aziz N'Daiye, a 7-footer from Senegal, into the starting line up. N'Daiye has been able to add 5.9 rebounds per game to go with Matthew Bryan-Amaning's 7.7 boards and Justin Holiday's 5.3 boards per contest. All three of these players have been extremely dependable on the boards. N'Daiye's presence for the Huskies has been huge, as he also blocks 1.3 shots per game. He and Matthew Bryan-Amaning are a formidable tandem on both ends of the floor.

Let's give a player by player review for the Huskies to date:

PG Isaiah Thomas: A - How can you give the little guy from Tacoma any other grade than an A+? He is third in the conference at 16.9 points per game, number one in assists, and he runs the show for the most prolific offense in the conference. However, Zeke needs to hit more free throws. He has improved in that area, but with as often as he gets to the line, his 72 percent mark could be higher. Still, I would not trade Thomas for any other point guard in the Pac-10. He is also one of Washington's best defenders now.

SG Scott Suggs: B - Suggs looked tentative when he was coming off of a knee tweak, but he has stepped up with some huge shots in Gaddy's absence. He is the top three-point shooter in the conference and his defense has really gotten solid. He is taking advantage of his increased minutes and has really found his role this year. He's looking more and more confident.

SF Justin Holiday: B+ - If his outside shot wouldn't have left him in the previous six games he would be a solid A. Holiday is the most valuable player on this team because he can do so much. He is the third best scorer, the third best rebounder, the most versatile defender, and tops on the team in steals. He also sees the floor incredibly well and beats his defender time and time again to the spot on the floor that he wants.

PF Matthew Bryan-Amaning: A - MBA is having the year so many Husky fans wanted to see from him. He has carried this team for long stretches of games, particularly in the conference. He has been very consistent since conference play began. He averages 16.2 points, 7.7 boards, 1.5 blocks, and he is connecting on 58 percent of his shots from the floor. The only reason he is not an A+ is because of his 61 percent free throw mark.

C Aziz N'Daiye: B- - For a first year player, N'Daiye is exceeding expectations. He defends well for the most part and grabs rebounds in the paint better than any Husky on the roster. He isn't expected to score yet, so his 4 points per game are a bonus, but when he does shoot he is hitting at over 50 percent. The two areas he needs to work on are foul shooting and committing fouls. Both should improve over time when he won't have to think so much.

SF Terrence Ross: B - The true freshman is ahead of where most thought he'd be. His shot is finding the mark and his rebounding totals are going up as his minutes increase. His defense continues to improve, and his ability to get to the rim and finish make him a favorite target of Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton. He needs to work on his foul shooting now.

PF Darnell Gant: B - Gant has found his niche on this team, to provide solid minutes off the bench when N'Daiye gets into foul trouble. He is not a rebounder, but a very good low post defender and has the ability to knock down the occasional mid-range to long-range jumper. He is connecting on 43 percent of his three-point attempts. He is not a good rebounder but that isn't his role.

PG Venoy Overton: B- - Overton has been slowed by injury this year thus far, so he hasn't had that explosiveness on a consistent basis. Still, he is dishing the ball extremely well, picking up 4 assists and 1.5 steals per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio is in the top five in the league. His shot isn't falling this year and his free throw shooting has gotten worse.

SG CJ Wilcox: C+ - During the non-conference portion of the schedule, Wilcox could not miss. He was shooting unconsciously. Now a staph infection has hampered him and he has been tentative ever since. He is a solid defender but has slipped behind Suggs in the rotation for now. If his shot comes back, he is a terrific weapon off the bench.

Lorenzo Romar: A - For those pundits that claim that all Romar does is roll the basketball out onto the floor and let his guys play, I suggest you look at the statistics. Washington leads the league in assists, shooting percentage, points per game, offensive rebounding, and fewest turnovers. Those are all indicative of a team that has a scheme and runs it well. Washington looks well coached, they make good decisions, they execute their offense, and they play lock down defense. Romar has had to cope with losing his starting point guard as well as a distracting investigation, yet he has refocused his team and they are responding.

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