Aziz N'Diaye looked down and slowly rubbed his palms together. "They're pretty good," he said. He was talking about his hands or more specifically...
Aziz N’Diaye looked down and slowly rubbed his palms together.
“They’re pretty good,” he said.
He was talking about his hands or more specifically his ability to catch passes. During his three seasons at Washington, the 7-foot center has been tagged as an unreliable receiver on the basketball court.
“My first year I didn’t have good hands and I’ve been working on it, making sure I have better hands,” he said. “I’m still working on it and getting more comfortable.”
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N’Diaye is fulfilling promises since he transferred from College of Southern Idaho in 2010.
He’s averaging 10.8 points, more than four points higher than his career UW average, and a Pac-12 best 11.0 rebounds, which is nearly three better than last season.
He’s also shooting 67.9 percent from the field, which is second in the conference.
“When you’re shooting that well from the field, you earn the right to get more touches,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “And he will get more touches.”
N’Diaye has been one of the bright spots in a season filled with early disappointments for the Huskies, including defeats in the past two home games.
Washington (2-3) looks to snap the skid at 9 p.m. Wednesday against Saint Louis (3-2) at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said the Billikens “ambushed” the Huskies last season in a 77-64 UW defeat at Chaifetz Arena.
SLU was more physical in a brutal game in which guard C.J. Wilcox suffered a concussion when he ran into a screen.
N’Diaye, Washington’s resident enforcer, is normally called upon when the Huskies need to get tougher inside. He does his best work blocking shots or rebounding.
But lately, he’s began making an impact on the offensive end.
“The thing I’ve seen from him is he’s more aggressive around the rim and looking for his shot,” sophomore forward Desmond Simmons said. “That’s something new, but we’ll take it.”
Reputations die hard, but perhaps the scouting report on N’Diaye’s ability to score began to change two weeks ago.
Late in the first half of its 84-73 overtime win against Seton Hall, point guard Abdul Gaddy started a fast break with a high-arching pass that traveled the length of the court.
Galloping in full stride, N’Diaye caught the ball near the baseline and in one fluid motion powered in a layup despite being fouled and falling out of bounds.
The career 41.4 percent free-throw shooter capped the three-point play with a foul shot that swished through the net.
It was the kind of play that’s been rare for N’Diaye.
“It’s trusting yourself and trusting your hands so you can make plays like that,” he said. “For me, being able to catch those types of passes is going to give the guards more confidence of throwing me the ball more. I just got to keep doing that.”
• The Huskies scheduled a home-and-home series with Saint Louis to give Scott Suggs, a native of Washington, Mo., a game in front of his hometown friends and family.
Turns out the fifth-year senior won’t play in either game against the Billikens. He sat out last season with a right foot injury and will miss his second game Wednesday with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.