After two surprising losses in the last three games, the Washington Huskies face a lot of questions as they prepare to open their Pac-12 schedule against UCLA.
The Washington Huskies head into Friday’s Pac-12 opener, with a lot to prove. With a record of 8-4, they find themselves tied for most losses in the conference.
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Two of those losses have come in the last three games, against supposedly inferior opponents. This is hardly the way to inspire confidence, as the Huskies prepare to take on a UCLA team currently ranked 25th in the country.
UCLA leads the all-time series 96-40. However, it’s worth nothing that UW have won eight of the last 10 meetings at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar was full of praise for UCLA, when he spoke to the Seattle Times and the rest of the media on Thursday: “Every guy on that floor can hurt you on offense.
“And if you slip up at all, they can expose you defensively. If you make one mistake they’re going to capitalize on it because they’re able to do it.”
In particular, Romar is concerned about Bryce Alford and Issac Hamilton. Alford is on course for career-highs in points and assists, while Hamilton is averaging 15.3 points per game in his second year with the team.
Romar said: “They can shoot three. They can drive to the rim. They can shoot the mid-range shot.
“They’re both more than capable passers. So if you pay too much attention to them, they can hit the open man.”
Understandably, a lot of Huskies fans will be wondering how their team responds, after the recent losses to Oakland and UC Santa Barbara. Romar called these defeats a wake up call.
The Huskies coach was asked how his players had reacted to the Santa Barbara game: “I think pretty good. The team has watched film and gone out on the floor and walked through some things.
“We’ve talked about some of our errors. I think that we’ve addressed them in practice, but it has to become second nature…where we’re not thinking about it, but just doing it.”
All eight of the Huskies top rotation have scored in double figures at least once this season. However, all eyes will be on Andrew Andrews to lead the way for his teammates.
The senior has taken his game to new heights this season, as he takes aim at leaving his mark in Washington’s record books when it’s all said and done. He is currently scoring 19.7 points per game, while also averaging career-bests for assists and rebounds.
While Andrews is key, the team as a whole will need to respond to the challenge in front of them. Romar was asked about how the players, particularly the younger ones, will deal with the increased intensity that comes with facing opponents who are more familiar with them.
Romar said: “We can say that until you experience it you don’t understand, but we have to do the best job we can do as coaches, to makes sure we’re sound and worry about where we are. What’s our standard and try to play to it and hopefully be able to deal with these first (few games).”
After last season’s disastrous finish (5-15 after starting 11-0), there were calls for Romar to be fired. Fortunately, sanity prevailed and he was given another chance.
However, don’t mistake this for meaning the former Golden State Warriors draft pick’s job is safe. The only way he can get any security is to win games consistently, starting with UCLA.