Well, we knew that this was going to be a tough game. I was feeling confident about it, but our little house of horrors has dealt us a blow yet again. What is it about Seattle that we just can't seem to pull through there. True, we did not have Aaron Brooks. But we still had plenty of opportunities to win this game. Washington took their opportunities. We didn't. And not having Aaron Brooks was no excuse.
However, having Brooks would have majorly helped in this game. I point out three areas where he would have been huge. One is defensively. Now, Justin Dentmon is a solid player, but he is not so good that he should be torching you for 25 points. For has good as Tajuan Porter has been this year, he is not exaclty a defensive stopper. Dentmon had 25 as a point guard without even making a three. You have to believe that Aaron would have done a better job on him last night.
Another reason Brooks would have helped is that 18 turnovers is unacceptable. Porter had 4. Odia, who probably wouldn't have even been playing if Brooks was in, had two. And the Huskies made us pay.
Finally, we had multiple offensive lags. Brooks usually senses those and gets a big shot for us. Nobody was there to hit the big shots tonight.
But enough about Brooks. This game was still very much there to be won. But we failed in two areas where we haven't failed all season: rebounding and defense. Brockman and Hawes were manhandling us all game long. Leunen wasn't boxing them out. Schafer wasn't boxing them out. They only outrebounded us by nine, but they had 13 offensive rebounds. That's a lot of second chance points, and those are way too easy. The defense was also really bad. How many times did Dentmon break down the defense and either have easy shots, or a dish to a wide open Hawes or Brockman?
Obviously, their size gave us trouble, and that is something we have to work on going forward. But lets be honest, we knew that there was a real possibility of us losing this game. We are still in great shape, almost a lock to make the NCAA tourney, and still a contender for the league title. There is no reason to panic. Even if we lose tomorrow, there is no reason to panic. In fact, we are very lucky. We have our MVP coming back, and he is going to be a very pissed off MVP.
- I thought that this might be the game that Malik Hairston finally broke out and led the team to victory. I couldn't have been more wrong. All he had were ten points, two boards and foul trouble. You hardly knew he was in the game. In fact, he probably had less of an impact on this game than on any game he has played this season. He has all the talent, but if he wants to be a great player, he has to step up.
- Bryce Taylor was the one Duck who was really solid. He came to play and was not intimidated at all. Yet another game where you look at the box score and say "wow, Taylor had 19 points?" But if anyone kept us in the game, it was Bryce.
- Poor Maarty Leunen. He was exerting so much energy on the defensive end of the floor that his offense really suffered. He never found a rhythm offensively. He can handle one big guy. Two or three is just too much for one guy.
- Most people were surprised by the play of Ray Schafer. I was surprised he played so much (Zahn was out and Catron was terrible). While he looked good offensively with ten points in 19 minutes, we know that points are only part of the game. He didn't box out much (zero rebounds in 19 minutes for a seven footer is unacceptable), and gave up far more than the ten points with bad defense. I don't blame Schafer, that is a tough situation to come into having not played in a month. But he didn't play as well as everybody thinks he did.
- Joevan Catron just seemed to struggle. That's a big reason Schafer played so much.
- Platt? Well, he had a nice pass.
- I say again, does anything good ever happen when Churchill Odia comes in. The offense looked stagnant with him in, and he turned the ball over. There is a reason he doesn't play much.
- Tajuan Porter had a tough game. He tried really hard to provide what Aaron usually does, he just isn't that good yet, which is to be expected of a freshman. He tried to hit those big shots to pull us out of slumps, but they just didn't go down. And he generally got schooled on the defensive end. Porter is a very good guard, but he still has a ways to go.
- Fifteen points on better than 50% shooting for Champ. He looked pretty good stroking the ball out there. Hopefully, this will give him a confidence boost and get him going again. We need Champ to make a tourney run.