Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 3/27/12
Just keep it up

The Washington Huskies have finally gotten over the fact that they’re in the NIT and not the NCAA tournament. While they’re disappointed in not being invited to the big dance, they still have something to prove.

So with a chip on their shoulder, the Huskies have been rolling through the NIT and have steamrolled their way to the Final Four.

They already downed University of Texas-Arlington, Northwestern, and conference rival Oregon. Now they face a Minnesota team who shocked Indiana this season as well as took several GOOD teams to the wire in 1 or 2 point games.

This may be the NIT, but they’re in the Final Four now, a group of teams who could’ve been in the tourney but were shunned like the Dawgs were.

The Huskies can go all the way in this tournament if they follow these fundamentals.

Out rebound the opponent

The one stat that the Huskies have consistently won was the rebounding totals. Washington has out rebounded all 3 teams they’ve faced in this tournament which has led to more opportunities and more points.

Whether it be Aziz N’Diaye or Darnell Gant down low or Tony Wroten following up his bad shots and grabbing the board, the Huskies need to continue rebounding the ball well.

The Huskies out-rebounded Northwestern 42-24 and Oregon 37-34. Washington is ranked 5th in the country in rebounding.

Don’t turn the ball over

One of the Huskies big problems this season was their turnover statistic. Tony Wroten led the charge in a big way, but the rest of the team was not perfect. They were one of the worst teams in the conference in turnovers.

This is to be expected with a young, aggressive team, but it has caused enough trouble for the Dawgs over the course of the season that they should probably be trying to avoid them more than ever now.

The Huskies had 8 turnovers against Oregon which is a mind blowing number for the Huskies.

These 2 need to make their free throws to make a difference

Hit free throws

Another big issue the Huskies had this season was free throw shooting. In fact, they were one of the worst in ALL of college basketball. For the regular season, the Huskies were ranked in a tie for 328th place in college basketball with a .612 free throw percentage.

C.J. Wilcox has basically been the team’s only consistent three point shooter with everyone else struggling to stay above the .500 mark for free throw percentage.

This tournament, though, the Huskies have shot 65%, 79%, and  77% from the line already. That is well above their season average and was probably a big reason they edged out Oregon in their last game.

If the team can step up and continue to hit their free throws, they should be in good shape.

Team leadership

All season long, Husky fans looked for a leader on this young team. Nobody emerged and it showed, as the Huskies often seemed lost or almost divided at times on the court. With no court general to lead, you look lost and perform worse in a game. That’s exactly what happened.

There are still arguments as to who the team leader is, was and could be. I’m pointing my finger at Terrence Ross. He, to me, has been the one who has finally stepped up and and led this team on the court. The team has rallied around him and it has shown these last few games.

Who knows what will happen next season with Ross and Wroten, but one thing is for sure…this team needs to find it’s leader a lot sooner than it did this year. If Ross does come back for another season, expect it to be him.

The tournament is in it’s final stages and the Huskies are looking good. If they can just keep up with these basic fundamentals of basketball, they should continue their winning ways.

Yes, the spectacular alley-oops and posterizing dunks are really nice, but fundamental basketball wins games. Make your shots, make your free throws, don’t turn the ball over, and rebound.

CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE HUSKIES BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!

© Brandon Choate for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: Aziz N'Diaye, C.J. Wilcox, Darnell Gant, Huskies, Huskies Blog, NIT, Terrence Ross, Tony Wroten, Washington, Washington blog, Washington Huskies, Washington Huskies blog

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