Tyreese Breshers (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)
SEATTLE - No one would argue that the Washington Huskies didn’t play to their potential Wednesday night, but they performed well enough to secure a relatively easy 77-48 win in an exhibition game against Central Washington University at Bank of America Arena Wednesday night
After Venoy Overton’s 3-point shot to start the scoring, it was largely the Huskies’ show, but a pretty dismal one if it’s any indication as to future execution when the regular season starts next week. They didn’t succeed in many aspects, going 27 for 71 (38.0 percent) in field goal attempts, 5 for 21 (23.8 percent) on threes and 18 for 37 in free throw attempts (48.6 percent).
“The thing that you could say was glaring was free throws, we didn’t shoot free throws well and we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well,” Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. “But the thing that glared to me was that we fouled too much. We’ve got to be able to defend without fouling as much, and that will come. We’ve been preaching such an aggressive-style defense that we get over zealous at times.”
The Huskies racked up 26 personal fouls, half of which were committed by the team’s four freshmen. Guard Abdul Gaddy (4 personal fouls) acknowledged after the game that adjusting to the officiating and speed played a factor in his performance. “It’s definitely different than a high school game,” he said. “It’s a lot faster and the pace is just really fast. That’s one thing I’ve got to work on, just getting used to the pace of the game.”
Sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas led both teams in scoring, contributing 18 points and 6 rebounds, while Quincy Pondexter added 15 points and 7 rebounds. Forwards Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Darnell Gant both had 10 rebounds. Noble’D Shelton led Central Washington with 10 points, and the Wildcats trailed by just five total rebounds by the end of the game. Despite some shortcomings, coach Romar indicated his overall satisfaction with the progress the younger players showed.
“I was pleasantly surprised at the energy that we came out with tonight,” Romar said, noting that the Huskies practiced a rare nine consecutive days to make up for lost time when the team had the flu two weeks ago. “For us to come out and play with the intensity that we did, I was pleased with the effort.”
Coach Romar promised this game would showcase many on-court combinations, and he delivered. The starting five (Overton, Pondexter, Thomas, Gant, and Bryan-Amaning) didn’t remain in the game long before freshman Gaddy made his debut to a rousing ovation. The remaining freshmen came in quickly and saw significant playing time. Romar played three guards at times; Thomas, Gaddy and Overton - while testing out the three big men together - Bryan-Amaning, Pondexter and Tyreese Breshers - for some minutes.
Gaddy proved himself to be as billed when it came to his passing ability. He threw the ball to Pondexter for an impressive alley-oop dunk with a minute and a half left to play in the first half, and overall displayed ball handling ability beyond his 17 years, tallying six assists.
Other newcomers had an opportunity to show their stuff to the Hec Ed crowd: Clarence Trent contributed on both sides with five defensive rebounds and six points, including a stunning slam-dunk with 4:30 remaining in the game, sending the crowd of 8,570 into a frenzy. C.J. Wilcox and Breshers also contributed six points each.
The only Husky that didn’t see playing time was junior forward Justin Holiday, who is recovering from a sports hernia. Coach Romar warned earlier this week that while Holiday would be able to play if needed, he would more than likely be kept out.
With their one and only exhibition game behind them, the Huskies will spend the next week preparing for their first regular-season game next Friday against Wright State University, 7 p.m. at Bank of America Arena.