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Notes On The Reeling (But Dangerous) Dawgs

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Bruins have the day off today. They are getting ready to take on a Washington Husky squad, which is going through its toughest season since Lorenzo Romar taking over that program in Seattle. Sportsline.com has update on the reeling Dawg loser of three straight at home:

The Huskies are nearing the point of no return on the season, falling to 12-11 overall and 3-7 in Pac-10 play after a 73-59 loss to USC on Feb. 7 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

It was UW's fourth straight loss overall and has them in danger of their first losing season since 2002-03, Romar's first.

The Huskies have lost three of the games in this stretch by 15, 14 and 14 points and have lost five of their seven conference games by 14 points or more, indicating there's quite a gap between UW and the best of the best in the Pac-10.

Other than junior forward Jon Brockman, who is averaging 18.4 points per game, UW has no consistent offensive threat. The next leading scorer is senior guard Ryan Appleby who is at 10.5 per game but is at 9.0 in Pac-10 games.
Nathan Ware who writes on the DawgBlog (hosted by the Seattle Press Intelligence) sounds demoralized:
The Huskies are lacking in many areas. They lack scorers from the outside. Someone has stolen their mojo from the free throw line. They don't have a steady presence at point guard. They don't have a small forward that can put the ball on the floor and drive it to the hoop with any regularity. Their confidence is shot. They don't bring any intensity on defense.

A great example of the frustrating aspect of this team is shooting guard Ryan Appleby. He can only get a shot in a catch-and-shoot situation. He can't create a shot off the dribble. You'll watch him weave his way through the defense to get an open look off of a screen but opposing teams can easily dedicate a defender to him and shut him down. Maddening.

It's a mess. Forward Jon Brockman is the only player you can count on from game to game. Coach Romar has to be wondering what has happened to his once-promising program.
Well Coach Romar himself seems a little lost particularly after an ugly loss against the Gap Closers from South Central. The loss was even more disheartening considering the fact that they got stomped in a 19-0 run after scraping and clawing their way to even the score at 38 early in the second half. From Bob Condotta in the Seattle Times:
"When they went on the 19-0 run we missed some shots and I just thought we were negligent,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "We didn't rotate defensively and we weren't able to sustain a solid effort on the defensive end for the entire shot clock. We turned the ball over and it just began to unravel at that point. I probably waited too long to call time outs in that situation. I thought we could've called a couple.''

Romar had made a rare admission before the game, going with a 2-3 zone to start sticking with it for most of the night.

"I didn't feel we matched up very well in the beginning with the five that we had,'' Romar said.

But like everything else UW has tried of late, it did little good. USC isn't a great three-point shooting team, another reason to go with a zone, but the Trojans hit 5-13 and were able to get a lot of penetration to set up other shots.

Asked how USC got such good penetration, Romar said "because we weren't doing a good job (defensively). I wish I could give you some complex answer, but we just didn't do a good job of keeping them in front of us.''
I imagine we are going to see lot of that 2-3 zone tomorrow, which will mean we are going to need DC, RW, and Shipp to attack the rim again to create options for themselves or their team-mates. Also it will be imperative for our guys to be patient and execute on offense, while making sure we run our offense through Love.

I am not sure Bruins can afford to feel comfortable while the Huskies are doing soul searching in Seattle. Knowing Coach Romar well he is not going to quit on his team. And he is going to work away to figure out some answers no matter how dire the circumstances are in his program:
"Our players are really good kids and they try to do what we ask,'' Romar said. "If they were a rebellious group that didn't want to try to do what we ask, I wouldn't mind blaming them. But they try to do what we ask so I can't put it on them. I've got to do a better job.'' (I should point out he laughed slightly as he said the comment about "blaming them'' if they were a rebellious group. I don't think he meant he'd literally go around bad-mouthing his players).

In general, Romar said he's had a hard time getting a read on the right buttons to push for this team, both schematically on the floor and in terms of handling the players off of it.

"There are some things how we maybe have managed the players individually to where maybe I would have done it differently,'' Romar said.

I know you're probably wondering who he's talking about there but this wasn't the day or the setting where Romar was going to offer a lot of specifics with practice in the offing.

And Romar said the team would practice for the UCLA game as it has every other in this season and seasons past.

"We are going to come to practice today and we are approaching it to go out and win the game on Sunday,'' he said. "So we are still trying to get things resolved.''
I am fully expecting a fired up Husky team that will come out tomorrow treating their game against UCLA as their championship game of the season. Anyone who wants to discount the Huskies' chances against our Ben Ball warriors should look up what happened last time we played them in Seattle in a game we didn't come out with a lot of focus and intensity.

They still have a talent like Jon Brockman who is leading the league in rebounds and top-5 in scoring (18.4 pts/11.3 rebs pg, See Pac-10 stats). I am sure Brockman is going to be a little fired up trying to prove himself against Kevin Love. Brockman and his teammates lead the league in offensive rebounds.

What the Bruins cannot do tomorrow is to let the Huskies have any kind of edge in terms of intensity and hustle on the court. Statistically Bruins lead the Huskies in all categories and they do have matchup advantages on both sides of the court (to see our notes on Huskies before our first game go here). What we must do is it come out strong on defense and make sure that Appleby, Morris and rest of the Husky guards are not getting any opportunities for dribble penetration or any open look from the perimeter.

Without Luc one of our key factors is going to be Shipp's play in the backcourt. Some interesting notes from the LAT today on Shipp. Coach Howland must have read Telemachus's post noting how Shipp had 8, not 6 points against the Cougars. But more importantly Coach Howland as pleased with Shipp's over all game against the Cougars:
"Josh played really good defense on a great player, Kyle Weaver," Howland said. "He had four assists, he created some really big baskets at key junctures, he doesn't turn the ball over much. You can do so many things to help your team win and with Josh, the No. 1 thing, the only thing, is winning. He has really exemplified that with his play. He's just a winner, everywhere he's been, he's a winner."

During UCLA's current five-game winning streak, Shipp is averaging 12 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, two steals and 1.2 turnovers.
Speaking of winning Dohn has a write up on how the Ben Ball warriors have been playing at a different level since their last loss against the Gap Closers. Let's hope Shipp and his teammates continue their heady play tomorrow.

Again they can't afford to relax against the reeling Huskies. Because if they do they will find themselves looking for the reset button once again after what should be an inspired effort by the Husky team tomorrow afternoon in Seattle. They need to come out focused and intense to keep intact what they have been building since the afternoon of January 19.

GO BRUINS.