Huskies hope to erase painful end to last season

Huskies hope to erase painful end to last season

SEATTLE (AP) For all the firsts Lorenzo Romar has experienced in his decade-plus tenure at Washington, this was one he didn't want his program associated with.

Last March, after the Huskies captured the Pac-12 Conference regular season title, Washington flamed out in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament and left its postseason fate in the hands of the NCAA tournament committee. When the Huskies were bypassed for the NCAAs and forced to accept an NIT bid as a consolation prize, they became the first regular season champion of one of the six power conferences to not get an NCAA bid

Embarrassing as it was hearing that fact repeated constantly, it's now become motivation for the Huskies entering a new season rife with questions about how they will go about replacing two first-round picks in the NBA draft.

``I don't feel like we have this mentality that we have to prove the world wrong,'' Washington forward Desmond Simmons said. ``We do play with a chip on our shoulder, we all have a chip on our shoulder about the fact that we only went to the NIT last year.''

For the last four years, Washington has claimed either a regular season of conference tournament crown. It's the longest run of success at the top of the Pac-12 in Washington's hoops history.

Yet staying there for the 2012-13 season will be difficult. There are questions about scoring with the loss of Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten to the NBA, front-court play and defense. Proven depth off the bench is also an issue and there have been changes in Romar's coaching staff.

It's the first time since the early years of Romar's return to his alma mater that Washington has not been expected to be a conference title contender. In some regards, the Huskies like it that way.

``We've got the underdog mentality and the fact we're going to have to come out here and work hard every day and we're going to have to try and grind out games and prove to everyone we're not fifth or sixth. We're trying to be the best,'' guard Abdul Gaddy said.

In many ways, Gaddy will end up being the tone setter for Washington.

On the defensive end, his ability to improve defending the perimeter will be a key considering that aspect of Washington's defense was a problem a year ago. Offensively, Gaddy will be at the head of the Huskies' new high-post offense, moving away from the motion system Romar used since the mid-2000s when Washington thrived on its athleticism.

Romar said the move to the high-post was based off personnel now and for the future. It's the system he was taught coaching on Jim Harrick's staff at UCLA and he saw the Bruins win a national title in 1995. It's proven to work, but will take time for the Huskies to master.

``Sometimes when you change your offense or change certain things you want to do within your team, guys fight it,'' Romar said. ``Our guys have embraced it. I think that's a really important piece in this whole thing.''

Two of the biggest beneficiaries of the new offense will be shooters C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs. Wilcox is Washington's top returning scorer after averaging 14.2 points last season, while Suggs returns after redshirting last season due to a foot injury. Because of how the new offense functions, the duo won't need to create their own shots as much, but should have open looks based off the system.

``There are not a lot of positions to break down one on one like there were last year,'' Wilcox said. ``It's more reading off of screens, what the defense does and finding open slots and the open man.''

Aziz N'Diaye and Simmons are the only proven players in Washington's frontcourt. N'Diaye's strength is at the defensive end, but adding additional offensive production could be important for the Huskies' success. The same could be said of Simmons: defense, a strength; offense, a question.

Behind those two lurk Washington's biggest depth questions. Shawn Kemp Jr., Martin Breunig and Jernard Jarreau will all be counted on in the Huskies frontcourt. Kemp and Breunig played significant minutes last year, while Jarreau redshirted while adding weight to his lanky 6-foot-10 frame.

If Washington can answer those questions and navigate a strong non-conference schedule, they could erase the bitter memories of last season.

``It left a big chip in the fact that's one of the big reasons you come to college. You want to play in the NCAA tournament,'' Gaddy said. ``That's one of the perks of playing college basketball. You get to play in the NCAA tournament, where you get to have all those people come watch you. It's just a great moment you get to live. Us not being able to live in that moment made us upset.''

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.


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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 3: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 3: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Friday night in Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Series: Raptors lead 2-0
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream:
Radio: 1500 AM

Do or die

If the Wizards lose on Friday night, the series will technically not be over. They will be down 0-3 with a home game up next and an opportunity to extend their season and send it all back to Toronto. That said, the odds would not be good. In fact, they would be pretty much as bad as they can be.

No team in NBA history has ever come back from down 0-3 in a series. So, unless the Wizards feel like they can make history, like UMBC over Virginia history, then they better win Game 3. 

Now, some teams have come close to making it happen. Three times before a team has gone down 0-3 and forced seven games. The last time was the 2003 Blazers, who fell in Game 7 to the Mavs. 

Recovering from an 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game series has happened in both baseball and hockey, most famously in 2004 when the Red Sox beat the Yankees to reach the World Series. At some point it will happen in basketball, but the chances are essentially next-to-none. The Wizards will be much better off by winning Game 3, just like they did last year when they went down 0-2 against the Celtics in the second round and forced a Game 7.

Beal and Otto

The Wizards are hoping to see more from both Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. It was a big topic of discussion at Thursday's practice how both guys need to be more aggressive in looking for their own shot. Beal was held to just nine points in Game 2 and Porter, the NBA's third-best three-point shooter, didn't even attempt one three.

Brooks held a meeting with Beal and John Wall to discuss how they can get Beal more opportunities, but ultimately it's up to him and Porter to force the issue for themselves. It would seem likely at least one of them breaks out in Game 3. They both were great against the Raptors during the regular season and both proved throughout the year that they can score against anybody.

Too many threes

The biggest reason the Wizards are down 0-2 in this series is the three-point shot. The Raptors have hit a ton of them and even though the Wizards have been intent on stopping them, they have had no such luck.

The Raptors hit 16 threes in the first game to set a playoff franchise record. They shot 51.7 percent from long range. In Game 2, they hit 13 and 11 were in the first half. They made seven of them in the first quarter alone to the tune of 44 points, the worst defensive quarter in the playoffs in Wizards franchise history since 1965.

This is how much the three-point shot matters: the Raptors' 11 first-half threes in Game 2 helped them outscore the Wizards by 18 points by halftime, but in the second half when they hit only two threes, the Wizards edged them by seven points. Washington has to stop the three-pointer, it's that simple.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast: