Head Coach: Lorenzo Romar
Overall Record: 19-15
Conference Record: 9-9 (tied for 7th in the Pac-12)
2015-16 Pomeroy Rating: #66 (8th in the Pac-12)
2015-16 Sagarin Rating: #61 (8th in the Pac-12)
Overall Off. Adj. Efficiency: #86
Overall Def. Adj. Efficiency: #70
Overall Scoring Average: 83.9 ppg (1st)
Overall Scoring Defense: 80.8 ppg (12th)
Conference Scoring Average: 83.5 ppg (1st)
Conference Scoring Defense: 84.6 ppg (12th)
While the Huskies managed a .500 record in conference play, 2015-16 marked Lorenzo Romar’s 4th consecutive season where he failed to reach 20 wins; Romar had reached 20 wins in 6 of the prior 8 seasons. Any way you want to look at it, the program that Romar had built into a conference power in the early part of the 2000s has faltered in recent year.
The easiest explanation for this modest regression is that the types of recruits Romar had in those earlier years — Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Bobby Jones, Jon Brockman, Justin Dentmon, Isaiah Thomas, Quincy Pondexter and Justin Holiday — were more team oriented and stuck around longer than the recruits Romar has snagged in recent years like Terrence Ross, Tony Wroten and Nigel Williams-Goss, who all spent less than two years in the program.
Unfortunately for Romar, the situation was exacerbated this year as two members of Romar’s prized 2015 recruiting class unexpectedly blew up and turned themselves into First Round NBA Draft picks. And with that, the Huskies head into 2016-17 without their three top players from last season, including All-Conference point guard Andrew Andrews, 1st Round Pick Dejounte Murray and Lottery Pick Marquese Chriss. Romar does have one big ray of sunshine in newcomer Markelle Fultz, rated by some as the top overall player in the Class of 2016.
The Back Court:
The Huskies’ back court play was so dominated by the frenetic Andrews and Murray that the two accounted for approximately 94% of all minutes played at the 1 and 2 spots. Their absence is going to leave a huge void. Andrews and Murray accounted for nearly 65% of the Huskies’ assists.
Andrews and Murray were so aggressive in pushing the ball that the Huskies ranked 2nd in the entire nation in fastest adjusted tempo, according to Pomeroy. That pace of play was common to Romar teams during their best season, but had become unusual in recent years, with half court guards leading the team in scoring. With Andrews and Murray gone, and leaving a void at the point, it’s hard to imagine the Huskies keeping that pace of play.
With so much uncertainty at the point guard position, Romar will likely place his prized recruit, Fultz, in charge of ball handling duties. The athletic and hard charging Fultz has a style not unlike Murrary, but with a superior jump shot. Fultz led Washington in scoring during its 5-game summer trip to Australia and New Zealand.
Fultz’s back court teammate will be the Huskies top returning back court scorer, David Crisp, a full court gunner, who took nearly five 3pt attempts per game in conference play, while making only 25.5%.
Matisse Thybulle and Dominic Green were both key recruits in Romar’s huge 2015 Class. Thybulle, who boasts a 7-foot wingspan, is one of the top athletes in the conference; while Green projected as a top outside shooter. Both will need to step up this season, but Thybulle in particular, who played in excess of 800 minutes last season, will have to become a key contributor on the offensive end. Both struggled with their outside shooting on the trip to Australia and New Zealand.
The Front Court:
Despite the loss of the Lottery pick Chriss, Washington should be better off along the front line, where Noah Dickerson and Malik Dime (both newcomers last season) return. Dickerson is the kind of big body with skill that should steadily improve over four years of college. The former juco Dime, more renown for his shot blocking, had some breakout performances last season, but was just as likely to score 4 points or fewer as to score in double figures during conference play.
The key newcomer in the front court figures to be Auburn transfer Matthew Atewe, who has a thick frame and should be able to scrap at the rim. The lone Husky figuring to contribute who was on the team two years ago is swing man Donaven Dorsey, who has a high major frame, but probably not high major skills.
If both Murray and Chriss had stuck around for their sophomore seasons — as pretty much everyone expected at this time last year — Washington might be the Pac-12 favorite. If just one had stuck around, the Huskies would almost surely be a Tournament team.
But with both gone, and Washington having to rely on a freshman phenom as not only its primary scorer, but also its primary ball handler, getting to the NCAA Tournament is going to be an uphill battle.
That’s not to say that Washington doesn’t have some interesting pieces that could get hot. Crisp, Thybulle, Green, Dickerson, Dime and Atewe all are candidates for break out seasons. But based on what we’ve seen, and how Washington performed in Australia, we’re guessing this will be a team dominated by Fultz with Dickerson providing most of the scoring punch down low. That, on its own, probably isn’t enough to seriously compete for an NCAA Tourney bid.
G Markelle Fultz
G David Crisp
W Matisse Thybulle
F Noah Dickerson
C Malik Dime
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