With Washington limited to 8-players available versus SDSU, the young Huskies received some valuable experience against San Diego State which should hasten their development.
However, despite the last second defeat of SDSU, 61 – 59, it was clear the Huskies could have used the veteran talents of Darcy Rees and Lexi Griggsby.
The absence of Rees was particularly notable on offense, as the Huskies suffered a very poor shooting night from three.
The Huskies were not strong in the areas that the San Diego Aztecs were weak, rather the Huskies let the Aztecs off the hook in multiple ways.
As a result, Washington had to endure a nail-biting seesaw battle.
The Huskies must elevate their game on offense and defense because an identical effort is not likely to beat the BYU Cougars on Saturday; nor beat many of their PAC-12 opponents.
Therefore, despite the win, it is necessary to take a look at what needs to be improved, instead of just celebrating.
1. UW shot zero three-pointers in transition and rarely ran against the Aztecs.
Washington were only in fast break/transition offense 19.5% of the time and averaged 0.706 points per transition possession — placing them in the Bottom 30% (29th percentile) of all D-1 teams nationally.
Last season, San Diego State struggled against defending transition offense (the bottom 40% of all D-1 teams, per Synergy) and SDSU allowed 0.898 points per transition (fast break) possession — the Huskies were almost 2 points below SDSU’s fast break average, which is very concerning.
2. The Huskies’ half-court offense was mostly ineffective.
Because they didn’t run, Washington ran half-court offense 80.5% of the time and averaged 0.70 points per half-court possession – which places their half-court offense in the bottom 50% of all Division One teams this season.
Predictably, San Diego State was in man defense 100% of the time.
This stat underscores an ongoing concern that Washington’s offense is not demonstrating enough success against player-to-player defense for opponents’ defenses to be challenged — i.e., it is clear that the Huskies’ opponents do not feel a need to play zone defense.
Clearly, Washington’s offense was not operating well either in transition or halfcourt.
3. The Huskies post-up offense was their only offensive bright spot.
The Huskies ran their post-up offense 16.9% of the time (a total of 10 possessions), and averaged 1.0 points per post-up possession which ranks in the top 33% of Division One teams, per Synergy.
Sophomore Quay Miller scored 10 points on six post-up possessions for a highly efficient average of 1.667 points per post-up and a total of 19 points overall.
Miller’s post play was inspiring because she showed much better post skill than last season, she should be commended for putting in the work.
Haley Van Dyke was the only other Husky to score from post-up offense with two points on four post-up possessions.
However, posting up has never been Van Dyke’s strength. Last season, Van Dyke only posted up 3.9% of the time and scored an average of 0.20 per post-up which ranked in the bottom 1% of all Division One players.
Now that Quay Miller has elevated her post game, posting up Van Dyke is unnecessary, particularly when she has many other things she does very well on offense — such as, isolation plays (Top 7% in Division One); transition offense (Top 7% in D-1); and cuts (Top 45%), per Synergy.
Darcy Rees sat out this game (due to injury), so she should help form an effective post player tandem with Quay Miller.
4. The Huskies ran 9 cut actions; three screens; and 10 pick and roll actions (per Synergy) — including Tameiya Sadler’s last second game-winner — against a team that’s terrible at defending all of the above.
It’s unclear why the Huskies didn’t make the SDSU Aztecs defend cuts, screens and pick & roll actions all game.
Instead, the Huskies fell into the Aztecs’ trap of a halfcourt 3-point shooting contest.
Last season, SDSU ranked in the Top 10% nationally (91st percentile) for team three-point shooting percentage 34.7%.
Against the Huskies, the Aztecs shot 46.2% from behind the three-point line, it is clear SDSU was very comfortable shooting the three against UW.
Meanwhile, the Huskies shot 13% from three (3 for 23 ).
The Huskies needed to make the Aztecs uncomfortable both on offense and defense, but mostly played the Aztecs game, not their own.
5. The Huskies brought their hard hats and won the battle of the boards.
Washington pulled down 42 rebounds compared to San Diego State’s 30 rebounds.
A 12 rebounds advantage is impressive, particularly when UW relied on so many inexperienced players.
Quay Miller pulled down 10 rebounds to complete a double-double performance.
Freshman Jayda Noble had nine rebounds, while Haley Van Dyke added seven boards.
The Huskies domination of the boards was the key to Washington keeping the game close, despite a woeful shooting night.
Rebounding is also a sign of competitive effort, so it is a good sign that the Huskies will “Always Compete” –even when their shots aren’t going in.