The Washington Huskies men's basketball team will play seven of its next eight games at home. The only road game during the stretch is across town to play Seattle University at KeyArena.
After a somewhat satisfactory East Coast trip that included an overtime win over Seton Hall and an 11-point defeat to No. 3 Ohio State, the Huskies settle into their longest homestand of the season.
Seven of the next eight games are at Alaska Airlines Arena against mid-major teams, starting with Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. tipoff versus Colorado State.
Washington’s only “trip” during the stretch is a crosstown trek to KeyArena to face Seattle University.
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The upcoming slate appears to be the weakest part of the schedule for the Huskies (2-2), who won’t leave the city again until a Dec. 29 game at Connecticut concludes the nonconference season.
The Pac-12 season starts Jan. 5.
In theory, Washington should collect several lopsided wins the next month while fine-tuning its new high-post offense and gaining experience for deep reserves.
However, Colorado State (3-0), which played in the NCAA tournament last season, isn’t a run-of-the-mill tuneup.
And when it comes to Washington, which lost 63-62 to Albany in its last home outing, nothing is a gimme.
Several Huskies say they’ve put the upset behind them, but in truth it’s a game they’ll never forget.
“Every college team has the potential to beat you,” redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews said. “Every single one. So you can never look at a team and say on paper we’re better than them. We have to come out and play every day.”
Washington hasn’t played a solid 40-minute game this season. Even the wins have been disjointed efforts.
The Huskies started slowly in the season opener before burying Loyola Maryland in the second half en route to an 85-63 win.
Washington had a sensational start against Seton Hall and led by 16 at halftime before falling apart in the second half and pushing the game into overtime, when it regained control.
Part of the problem has been getting adjusted to a read-and-react offense that relies heavily on jump shots while failing to establish an inside scoring presence or create fouls.
“We’re still not just free-flowing in it and just playing in it,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We’re still thinking a little too much in it. When we get to a point where we’re just free-flowing, passing the ball and taking advantage of our opportunities and making the offense work for us, then we’ll be much more pleased.”
Statistically, Washington’s scoring average is just a tick behind last season’s team.
With Abdul Gaddy (16 ppg) and C.J. Wilcox (15.5) leading the way, the Huskies average 74.2 points. Last season the Huskies averaged 75.6.
“At times it works well when we actually run it, but sometimes we kind of break away from it and that shows,” Wilcox said. “We don’t get as good of shots. With the offense, we don’t get to the free-throw line because we get so many open jump shots, and it’s hard not to take them.
“So we just need to find some more options that will get us to the line more and we’ll be good.”
Wilcox is an indicator of Washington’s offensive conundrum. He’s perfect at the line and is one of the best shooters in the Pac-12, but he’s failed to attempt a free throw in three games.
He’s also been inconsistent from the field.
Despite the scoring droughts, Romar’s faith in Wilcox never waivers.
“He should always keep shooting,” Romar said. “He should shoot until he’s on, and then when he’s on, shoot until he’s off.
“And when he’s off, shoot again until he’s back on. Keep shooting.”
Wilcox, who averaged 14.2 points last season, hasn’t lost faith in the new offense.
“It does suit my game because I’m coming off screens, but I was doing that in the old offense too,” he said. “With the personnel we have it could work, we just need to practice and get better at it.”