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November 20, 2012

Huskies must step up on defense




Four games into the 2012-13 season the Huskies are 2-2 and have a long way to go if they are to reach their goals.

For starters, Washington has to start playing better defense. There are questions elsewhere that will not be solved so easily and are more a matter of personnel. But defense is something that is entirely within their power to control.

So far it's not that the Huskies have been horrible on that end of the court. Lately, they have just had trouble slowing down their opponents' premier player.

Some coaches will tell you that they are okay with opponents trying to beat you with one player. Truth be told, that's never how it happens. But lately it makes you wonder whether that strategy is actually paying off.

Consider:

Deshaun Thomas (OSU) - 31 points (12/20), 8 rebounds
Fuquan Edwin (Seton Hall) - 27 points (12/24), 8 rebounds
Mike Black (Albany) - 22 points (8/13), 6 assists
Jacob Iati (Albany) - 20 points (7/15)

The best player on the opposing team is taking a lot of shots, controlling the ball for much of the game, and having lots of success exploiting the Huskies' defense.

It's unlikely that you are going to entirely shut down some of the above players, Thomas especially, but Washington has to find a way to take those players out of scoring position and make them do things they aren't comfortable doing.

Otherwise it's going to be a very long year.

Ohio State didn't shoot well from the perimeter against the Huskies, but they were 24/45 on shots inside the three-point arc. If you're looking for a reason to be hopeful, the Huskies' defense did clamp down significantly in the second half.

Perhaps that was a point of emphasis after Seton Hall outscored Washington 38-22 in the second half to force overtime.

It will take 40 minutes of defensive effort and mental focus to stop some of the premier scorers the Huskies will face in Pac-12 play. But the Dawgs can't contend in the league unless they start to slow those guys down.


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