Let’s face it. You could read a Husky Basketball Preview anywhere. Every mainstream media outlet can offer a preview. Every pretentious blogger who knows more than you can offer a preview. Everyone and their mom can offer a preview.
I’ll be honest. I started writing a preview. Then I got bored with my own words. I figured if I was bored with my own words, you’d probably be bored with my words, too. So I said to hell with it. Delete.
You know how much thought generally goes into one of my articles? About as much thought as the average person puts into breathing. Mouth-breathers excluded, of course.
The fact is, when I start researching and thinking and actually putting, you know, substance behind the words, the writing itself kind of sucks. You want data? I highly suggest you go to one of those sites where the person writing wants to show you how much smarter he is than you. I’m here because I’m one of you. And in reality, I know just as much as you do about the 2010-2011 Husky Basketball team. Because we’re all fans. I’m not going to pretend that I’m any more than that. I’m not. I don’t have any media credentials, and if I did, I’d simply have them pulled by some jackass in a suit. So let’s not play make-believe.
Here’s the thing about the anti-preview. I’m just going to give you my thoughts on each player. My honest opinions. You can take ’em or leave ’em. I pissed off Isaiah Thomas last year because I called him Stacy Patton in print. But you know what? After that article was published, the dude played his best basketball of the year. Probably just to prove something to me. If I have to take one for the team every year, I’ll gladly do it. (And to my own credit, I followed up the Stacy Patton article with this IT lovefest.)
The only thing I want to see hanging from the rafters of Hec Edmundson Pavilion is an NCAA Championship banner. Don’t care which players lead us to that. Don’t care how flashy we play to obtain it. Don’t care what our jerseys look like, what our players act like, none of that. I care about the W at season’s end and the W in the logo. That’s it. Let’s do this.
If the Dawgs plan to go far this year, the first thing they need to do can be summed up by the title of a Public Enemy song: Don’t Believe The Hype.
Don’t Believe The Hype should be the team’s unofficial motto. Because we all know what happens when these guys buy into their own hype, and it isn’t pretty.
Keep in mind that these players have yet to accomplish much of anything during their time on Montlake. Unless you consider a Sweet Sixteen berth something to write home about. I don’t. We’ve seen that before. It’s a nice accolade, but only earns you a pat on the butt and some free gear.
That’s not to say that the hype surrounding this ballclub isn’t warranted; by all means, it is. This team is capable of winning a national championship. Think about that. They have title-caliber talent from top to bottom. We should be levying these lofty expectations upon the Huskies. We just need to hope that they don’t let our prognostications go their heads. It’s as simple as that.
The players (listed alphabetically)
Tyreese Breshers, Sophomore, F, 6’7″, 255 lbs
You’re probably wondering why Breshers is on this list. The dude retired, you’re yelling at your computer screen. Don’t worry. I feel you. But you know what? He’s still in the team photo and still listed on the team roster. Thus, I feel I should briefly touch on him, if only for a minute.
Let me start by acknowledging the obvious: Breshers did retire in September due to chronic leg injuries. He’s still technically a member of the team, but he’ll be finishing out his abbreviated career on a medical scholarship.
This year’s squad could certainly benefit from Breshers’ bulk on the interior. Instead, the Dawgs will be forced to rely much more heavily on junior college transfer Aziz N’Diaye.
A healthy Breshers would have been an absolute blessing for the ballclub. Unfortunately, injuries simply took their toll on his ailing body.
Best of luck to Tyreese in pursuing his education and making the most of life after hoop.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Senior, F, 6’9″, 240 lbs
Just think about how far Bryan-Amaning has come in a year. Twelve months ago, we were ready to send this guy back to England. He had size, he had talent, he had ability, no denying any of that. But he simply could not put it all together.
He was soft, he committed fouls like an octopus, he showboated on blocked shots, then disappeared completely from the offense. Fans were calling for Breshers to get the starting nod over MBA. Heck, fans probably wouldn’t have been too disappointed if Brendan Sherrer started over MBA.
And then, suddenly, two-and-half-years into his Husky Basketball career, everything just clicked.
Bryan-Amaning went from being an underwhelming big man to becoming arguably the most talented power forward in the Pac-10. And, what’s more amazing, he seemingly did it overnight. One day he was putting up 8-and-5 stat lines, the next day he was a consistent 15-and-10 performer. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I’m not sure I’d believe it.
If he continues to play like he did at the back half of last season, MBA can expect an All-Pac-10 nod and a spot in next June’s NBA Draft. Whodathunk that was even possible last November?
Abdul Gaddy, Sophomore, G, 6’3″, 190 lbs
Abdoooooooool! My favorite thing about Gaddy is saying his first name. Try it. You’ll like it.
Okay, enough of that.
This was supposed to be Gaddy’s last year in college, remember? He was going to be this two-and-done (he was 17 when he entered college) wunderkind that bolted to the NBA as soon as his sophomore season had concluded. Well, good news everybody! If his freshman year was any indication, Gaddy might be sticking around for a few more years.
Here’s the thing about Gaddy, though. And the casual fans might not believe me. But it’s true. So I’ll say it: Gaddy is really, really good. He is. On top of that, when he ultimately does land in the NBA, he’ll be even better (yes, better) than he ever was in college.
Think of a guy like Deron Williams. That’s who Gaddy best resembles. Williams was a decent ballplayer during his amateur days at Illinois. But when he got to the NBA as a member of the Utah Jazz? Dude became a star. The same thing will happen to Gaddy. Mark my words.
Gaddy won’t light up the stat sheet with his performances; hell, if he gives you a 10-7-5 line, you should probably go buy a Lotto ticket. But he’s a hell of a point guard. He navigates the ball up and down the court like a surgeon. He hits dudes who didn’t even know they were open with needlepoint passes. He seemingly glides (a la Brandon Roy, I might add) from end to end, and at times has the ability to make defenders look foolish.
Sure, his defense needs work. And yes, his outside shot is far from automatic. But no one’s asking this guy to score. Just run the offense, control the tempo, and distribute. That’s what you’re going to get with Abdul Gaddy. And that should be enough to win plenty of ballgames.
Darnell Gant, Junior, F, 6’8″, 225 lbs
I used to joke that Ron Gant could take Darnell Gant in a game of one-on-one. It was a little cold-blooded. For those who don’t know, Ron Gant is a former Major League Baseball player who is best known as an outfielder for the Atlanta Braves during the early-nineties. He probably wouldn’t be able to take our guy Darnell anymore. If he ever was able to in the first place. Where the hell is Ron Gant, anyways? We should probably go track him down.
Anyhow, that’s neither here nor there.
What is both here and there, however, is Darnell Gant’s game. The guy has gone from being the designated defensive player in the starting lineup (Romar always has to have one of those, just ask Artem Wallace) to being more of an all-around hooper off the bench. He’s still a defensive stopper. But he’s also capable of doing more than just blocking shots and grabbing rebounds now.
Two years ago, I distinctly remember the start of every game. Okay, so I don’t really. But I have a general cognizance of what occurred. What did occur, you ask? Great question. I’ll tell you. What occurred is that Gant, then a starter, would come out and put up one or more front-rim bricks from 15 feet out nearly every single contest. Seriously. It was automatic. He’d catch the pass on the wing with literally no one defending him (because if the other team had read a scouting report, they knew that this was the shot they wanted), go up for the shot, and brick off the front iron. It was bound to happen. If he put up two of those bricks, he was on the bench for most of the remainder of the first half. And let me give you a little insight into my life for a minute. Every time Gant caught that pass, I would shudder. And every time he left his feet for the shot, I would scream, “Nooooooo!” And every time after I screamed, “Nooooooo!” he would miss. And my life would suck for a possession or two.
Towards the end of last season, Gant finally started hitting those wide open 15-footers. It was a miracle. It was like some divine force intervened and said, “You know what? I’m sick of this crap, too. Let’s just start letting him make those easy buckets.”
Gant is by no means an offensive juggernaut. But he’s no longer a black hole at one end of the court anymore, either. And that’s good news.
His size will be needed all season long off the pine. Expect big minutes from Darnell Gant. And a few jumpers along the way, as well.
Justin Holiday is an NBA-caliber player. Go ahead. Dwell on that for a moment. It’s a little shocking, I know. But it’s true. And that’s all that matters.
A year ago, Holiday was better known to everyone outside Seattle as Jrue Holiday’s older, less-talented brother. It sounds harsh, but it’s no lie. Over the course of his junior season, however, Holiday went from afterthought to bona fide Pac-10 starter. The strides he made were tremendous. And if his ability to knock down threes this year is any indication, the guy is only getting better.
We all know what he brings to this squad. He’s an outstanding defender. He’s lengthy. He can shoot, he can get to the rack, he has the poise demanded of a leader. That sure sounds like an NBA hooper to me. Not to mention the fact that his spindly 6’6″ frame is exactly the type of body that scouts drool over.
Justin Holiday is an NBA player. All we ask is that he gives us one more great year before making the leap.
Antoine Hosley, Freshman, G, 5’11”, 185 lbs
Where my Hos at?
Can I just say it. I’m just gonna say it. Hosley is Washington’s version of Percy “Lil’ Romeo” Miller, the former USC Trojan who “retired” from the game a year ago. Like Miller, Hosley was part of a package deal more or less. Miller walked onto USC’s squad by tagging along with high school teammate DeMar DeRozan. Hosley walked onto Washington’s squad by tagging along with high school teammate Terrence Ross.
There. It’s been said.
Beyond that, I really like Hosley. He inspires fellow short guys like me. And gives Brendan Sherrer someone other than the team managers to talk to during games.
Aziz N’Diaye, Sophomore, C, 7’0″, 260 lbs
I have never been more excited about a JuCo transfer ever in the history of the world than I am about Aziz N’Diaye. The fact that we get three full years of this guy is absolutely boneriffic. Yep. Boneriffic.
I’m looking forward to watching him swat the living crap out of some punk who thinks he can drive the lane, dunk on one of those pasty twigs that Stanford calls forwards, or wag his finger at someone like he’s Dikembe Mutombo. Please wag your finger at people, Aziz. That would be renegade cool.
Do we know what Aziz is truly capable of? Not yet, we don’t. But we can dream. And when it comes to the Senegal native, I’m dreaming big.
Venoy Overton, Senior, G, 6’0″, 185 lbs
Let me just say that it has been an absolute pleasure watching Venoy Overton play basketball for the past three seasons. I can’t believe the dude is a senior. I remember witnessing him unleash the beast on the New Jersey Institute of Technology during his freshman year, way back in 2007. Sigh. They grow up so fast.
Remember when Venoy was committed to USC? Just think about that. He could have been a Trojan all these years. Damn. We should consider ourselves lucky. There’s no one who entertains me more than Young Overton. The force is strong with this one.
I don’t even need to tell you what he’ll give us this year. You already know. He’s gonna make opposing points guard regress to their toddler years as they whine and cry about his defense. “But he plays too hard, mom! I don’t like him! He’s a bully!” Whatever, bitch. No one can handle Venoy. Just know that going in and accept it. If VO is in your grill, it’s Game Overton. Everybody knows this.
I want to be there on his senior night so I can give him a standing ovation. The dude embodies what it means to be a Washington Husky. The video coordinator needs to put together a highlight reel of some of Venoy’s finest plays and show it to every incoming Dawg for years to come. “Play like this guy. Or else.”
You’re the man, Venoy. Keep doing what you’ve been doing.
Terrence Ross, Freshman, G, 6’6″, 190 lbs
Damn, he’s 6’6″?
I have a feeling a number of opposing coaches will be saying that to themselves as they peruse our scouting reports throughout the season. For a dude with that kind of height, T-Ross is silky smooth. Like a Bruno Mars slow jam. Makes you wanna get down and get with somebody.
It might take a few epic performances or (God forbid) injuries for Ross to really crack the rotation this year, but he’s got a bright future in purple-and-gold.
From what I’ve seen of his high school highlight footage, the kid can basically do it all. He’s got a nice shot, he can get to the rack, he has the length to play defense. If Elston Turner was a Toyota, Ross is a Lexus. Sorry, Elston. But he’s here, you’re not, and it’s pretty much the truth, anyways. Ross can play.
I look forward to watching him do his thing over the next few years. But this season, I’m not expecting a whole lot. That says a lot about how good we are. Embrace that, Dawg fans.
Brendan Sherrer, Junior, F, 6’8″, 245 lbs
I love Brendan Sherrer. Everybody does. There are few people in this world who inspire this type of reaction:
Slow, repetitive fist pump; head down; eyes focused on the ground; silly grin; slight laughter; and the word “Yes” repeated softly under your breath two or three times.
That’s the way I react to Sherrer 99-percent of the time. Literally. He is like inspiration, comic relief, and victory all rolled into one oversized package.
Two things I want to see from him this year (he is not beyond the setting of goals):
1) A three-pointer. I hear he can shoot it a little bit. Let’s see it.
2) The Jordan shrug after he knocks down a bucket.
That’s all. Get it done, Brendan!
Desmond Simmons, Freshman, F, 6’7″, 215 lbs
It was announced after the season opener against McNeese State that Simmons will be redshirting this year. It’s for the best. He was the victim of a numbers game and would likely never have seen the floor.
Best of luck in practice this year, Desmond. See you in 12 months.
Scott Suggs, Junior, G, 6’6″, 195 lbs
I’ve always been a big Scott Suggs fan. Anyone who can shoot like that has my respect. Make no mistake about it. Dude can shoot.
The advances Suggs made between his freshman and sophomore campaigns were tremendous. If he can make those same advances from his sophomore to his junior year, we have a star in the making on our hands.
Because of his relative lack of bulk, Suggs might have a tough time getting to the cup or doing much of anything inside 12 feet. But that’s okay. From 12 feet and beyond, the man is an absolute killer. Call him The Plumber. Dude can drain anything.
His defense has supposedly improved and with those rangy arms he could be a stopper on the perimeter. I like what Suggs brings to the table. Everyone should. He’s steadily becoming the real deal.
Me and Isaiah go way back. You may have heard. If not, please reference the fifth paragraph of this increasingly-long anti-preview.
Let me just say that when IT is on, he’s the best player in the Pac-10 conference. Not one of the best players in the conference. The. Best. Player. Period.
And can I just say that I’m thrilled that Jerome Randle has moved on from Cal? Thank the lord. Now the pundits can stop comparing Isaiah and Randle like they’re two of a kind because they both happen to be, you know, short. Fact is, Isaiah is better than Randle. Randle could pull from anywhere, and hit from anywhere. But Isaiah is a complete baller. And Randle was never even close to that.
Isaiah can shoot, he can drive, he can move without the ball, he can distribute (when he wants to), and, oh yeah, he can play defense, too. I never saw Randle play defense. I heard he sat on the bench when his team was at the other end of the court. That may have just been a vicious rumor. Who knows.
This team will only go as far as Isaiah takes it. With his talent and ability, that could easily be the Final Four.
C.J. Wilcox, Redshirt Freshman, G, 6’5″, 190 lbs
I watched C.J. Wilcox shoot around before a game last year and he looked like a Scott Suggs clone. The dude can hit, and hit, and hit some more. He’s a pure shooter with that same willowy frame like his teammate Suggs.
To be honest, I don’t really know much else about Wilcox beyond that. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. With a handful of returners in front of him, opportunities might be limited for the Utah native. But if he gets an open look, watch out. Like I said, the dude can hit.