The Arizona Wildcats play the Washington Huskies tonight in Seattle. The Huskies are 16-6 overall and 6-3 in Pac-12 play. They are currently 3rd in the conference and are coming off a home win against ASU. They have won 3 in a row.
#1 David Crisp 6’0″ G (Jr.)
#5 Jaylen Nowell 6’4″ G (Fr.)
#4 Matisse Thybulle 6’5″ G (Jr.)
#15 Noah Dickerson 6’8″ F (Jr.)
#33 Sam Timmins 6’10” F (So.)
Off the bench: #22 Dominic Green 6’6″ F/G (Jr.), #11 Nahziah Carter 6’6″ F (Fr.), #13 Hameir Wright 6’9″ F (Fr.), #14 Michael Carter III 6’4″ G (Fr.)
Offense: The Huskies run a lot of perimeter pick and roll with #15 Dickerson being the focus of rolling and setting up in the post. They also run a few double perimeter screens (two perimeter screens in a row) and a series of screens coming across the baseline to get the guards and forwards open on the wings. Outside of those sets they rely on 1 on 1 dribble penetration to create shots.
Defense: Coach Mike Hopkins is in his 1st season as the Huskies head coach (he replaced current Arizona assistant coach Lorenzo Romar). Previously he had worked for two decades under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. Hopkins brought with him the famous Syracuse extended 2-3 zone defense. The Huskies are very active defensively in tipping and kicking passes and generally getting in the way of passing lanes. They are currently 16th in the NCAA in total steals and are averaging almost 9 per game.
Strengths: Depth and length. The Huskies have 8 players averaging double digit minutes per game with 2 more averaging about 9 minutes per game. They are long and athletic and share the ball very well. Dickerson, Thybulle, and Crisp play well together, with the freshman Nowell emerging as a player to watch. The four of them are the nucleus of this team and each averages double digit points.
Weaknesses: The Huskies are pretty much middle of the road in most major statistical categories. They are good at just about everything but don’t really excel at any one thing. They are a very solid all around team. Crisp is the backbone of the backcourt. He averages almost 34 minutes per game. Much like PJC for the Cats, they rely heavily on his court presence and can get into some trouble if he has to sit for an extended period of time.
Summary: We all have our favorite players, ones we think highly of and are biased towards. For me that’s Matisse Thybulle. He is long and athletic, can shoot the 3, and plays tough defense. He reminds me very much of Kyle Kuzma when he was at Utah. Thybulle is only 6’5″ (to Kuzma’s 6’9″) but his game and versatility are very similar to Kuzma’s. He is only the 4th leading scorer for the Huskies but impacts the game in so many different ways and is difficult to match up with. His ability is obvious and well known in the Pac-12, but he still somehow flies under the radar. Just like Kuzma did.
On defense, the Huskies will look to trap the wings and baseline when the opportunity arises. On offense, they will mainly stick to 2 or 3 sets and at times will look to get some transition baskets.
Keys for the Cats: Exploit the zone. The free-throw line and elbow area will be wide open with precise and quick passes. Ayton and Ristic (or any other Wildcat post or wing player), if they choose, could have decent 15 foot looks all night. Because the zone will collapse quickly towards this area, they will need to get rid of the ball quickly. Shoot it, make a move, or pass it. Don’t hold onto the ball or stay stationary for too long. This extended 2-3 zone can also be beaten with back door and weak side lobs. The Cats are coming off one of their best outside shooting performances all year and Cat’s fans hope that will continue in tonight’s game. Washington’s length and athleticism could give the Cats some problems both on offense and defense. This is an important game for the Huskies as this would be a signature win for them and would probably guarantee them a ticket (and a higher seed) to the tournament in March.