A quick review of the state of the Huskies after their most recent performance vs. Northern Arizona.
The Good: The undefeated Huskies are now 2-0. A Win is a Win.
T.T. Watkins continued to demonstrate that during her season away — she opted out of last season due to COVID concerns — Watkins developed and elevated her game.
In 21 minutes against NAU, T.T. scored 12 points with one (1) assist and one (1) block.
Watkins shot 80% from the field overall — 100% on two-pointers and 50% on three-pointers– for an excellent average of 1.2 points per possession.
Huskies seemed to find some solid help off the bench.
Washington’s 19-2 run in the third quarter gave the Huskies a commanding lead heading into the fourth.
Sixteen (16) of the nineteen (19) points came from T.T. Watkins, Alexis Whitfield, Trinity Oliver and Nia Lowery.
The only Husky player with a higher points per possession (ppp) average than T.T., Trinity Oliver had a team-leading 1.33 points per possession average with eight (8) points in 13 minutes (with one steal and one rebound).
More importantly, Trinity looked much more comfortable and more explosive against NAU than she did against San Diego.
Oliver showed flashes of her ability to physically impose her will against opposing guards.
Nia Lowery received her first playing time of the season and showed why she’s one of the Huskies’ best two-way players.
In 10 minutes against NAU, Lowery had two points, one assist, one block and one steal; and she raised Washington’s competitive level with her athleticism, decision-making and toughness making a significant impact.
Alexis Whitfield demonstrated that she’s an excellent two-way performer and solid backup to starting center Nancy Mulkey.
In 11 minutes, Whitfield posted a solid 0.83 points per possession on offense with five points; as well as three rebounds, one block, one assist and one steal.
The Huskies committed 24 total turnovers which is still more than last season’s high of 23 turnovers (versus UCLA).
And these turnovers came against Big Sky competition, no less.
(If you think this is being unduly negative, just wait until you see Louisville’s pressure defense this Saturday.)
Bench Development is still an issue.
The Huskies went nine players deep against NAU.
That isn’t going to get it done in the PAC-12, when you factor in foul trouble and injuries that are almost guaranteed to rear their ugly heads at some point this season.
Assuming an eventual Darcy Rees return, the Huskies could have a total of 10 veterans with experience.
But what about the future? There are four highly ranked freshman recruits on the bench — Olivia Pollerd and Marisa Davis-Jones have played very few minutes, while Jess Finney and AVery Van Sickle have not played at all.
Overall Impression: The Huskies have made progress in two gams, not significant progress, but they improved.
Washington’s offense is excelling in two specific offensive areas– pick and roll actions and spot-up jumpshots.*
The Huskies are in the Top 6% of all division one WBB teams in pick and roll efficiency with a 1.0 points per possession average.*
Also, the Dawgs are in the Top 13% in shooting efficiency for spot-up jumpers with a 1.0 points per possession average.*
However, UW’s 64.5 points per game ranks 187th in scoring offense overall (out of 348 teams); and is ranked 10th among all PAC-12 teams.*
So, a lot of improvement is needed offensively.
Defensively, the Huskies excel at half-court player-to-player (man) defense — ranking in the Top 15% nationally by allowing an average of 0.574 points per possession defended.
The Dawgs are also excellent at defending against shots around the basket (not post-ups) — ranking in the Top 2% nationally by allowing an average of 0.593 points per possession defended.*
However, UW’s 58.0 points allowed per game ranks 131st in scoring defense overall; and is ranked 9th among all PAC-12 teams.*
So, a lot of improvement is needed defensively, as well.
The Huskies have six more nonconference games to improve before PAC-12 play begins.