It’s been six years since the Washington Huskies have made an NCAA Tournament appearance. This year, armed with super-frosh Markelle Fultz, can they end the drought?
The general consensus this year is that the Washington Huskies, with their inexperience and the unexpected losses of Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss to the NBA, would finish somewhere in the middle of the Pac-12. But Lorenzo Romar’s crew has some reasons for optimism, even after their opening night loss to Yale that may have wilted some of that optimism already.
First, the Huskies can rely on one of the best college basketball players in the country, Markelle Fultz. Some analysts have Fultz being drafted first overall in next year’s NBA Draft. He has already shown his elite scoring ability, dropping 30 in the Washington Huskies’ loss to Yale. We’ve seen some talented young players come through Romar’s system at Washington, but Fultz might be the best in his career. Fultz also showed some of his versatility in the Yale game, dropping seven dimes and pulling down six rebounds.
Aside from Fultz’s complete set of basketball skills, including outside shooting and perimeter defense, Romar’s crew boasts a few promising sophomores: David Crisp, Matisse Thybulle, and Dominic Green. These three players were in the Huskies’ rotation last year and will be asked to step up even more this year.
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The Washington Huskies’ interior defense, led by block artist Malik Dime, will be helped by Matthew Ategwe, an Auburn transfer who sat out last season. Ategwe is another big body (6’8″ 250 lbs.) with the skills to battle inside for rebounds and rim defense. Sam Timmins, an experienced big man who played for the New Zealand national team, will also aid Dime in the paint.
This year’s Washington Huskies are talented, and if more players step up, like Noah Dickerson, they will be a deep team as well. Last season, they struggled in big games against more consistent and experienced teams. If they plan on ending their six-year Tournament drought this season, they’ll have to play better defense than they did against Yale. Hopefully we see that consistent defensive effort tonight at 8 p.m. against Cal State Fullerton.
The Pac-12 is theirs for the taking if the Washington Huskies can consistently keep points off the board and stay within striking distance. They have the scorers to run with any team in the league. The question will be if Romar can keep his pups focused.