Somewhere in the bowels of Hec Edmundon Pavilion, in the hours after the end of the celebrations, postgame press conferences and gladhanding, Lorenzo Romar sat down with his assistants to just relax and take it all in.
As the staff surveyed the box score, smiles crept across their faces once again as Romar and Cameron Dollar exchanged knowing glances, their eyes falling on the same two lines:
Their team had succeded in executing its defensive gameplan to perfection -- two unreliable offensive options had taken 18 shots between them, while Aron Baynes and Klay Thompson took just 12. The final result was predictable.
I want to be clear that this is not a Nik Koprovica bashing post. The guy played his heart out on defense, spending the entire second half on Quincy Pondexter and allowing just four of his 16 total points over the final 17 minutes of the game. He was tough and physical, which is exactly what is needed against a guy like Pondexter who can sometimes start to believe his own myth just a little too much.
But the bottom line is that there is no way on earth that Koprivica ought to be taking eight shots in a game, and the Huskies deserve a lot of credit for making it happen. Their gameplan was clear: Force the ball into the hands of lesser scoring options as much as possible and then make those guys take contested shots.
Both Venoy Overton and Justin Dentmon did an excellent job hounding and harassing Taylor Rochestie and Klay Thompson (when he was able to be on the floor) all game long. And once Lorenzo Romar wised up and double-teamed Aron Baynes every time he touched the ball, the offensive production ended up falling elsewhere.
Whether it should have fallen "elsewhere" is certainly debatable, though.
Koprivica and Forrest each took a number of shots that they could have passed up. Nik's drives were with plenty of time left on the shot clock, that midrange jumper was a terrible decision, and the late 3 attempt was inexcusable. And Caleb should know that he can't take a jumper when his feet aren't absolutely set.
Additionally, Tony Bennett once again elected to go with his veterans down the stretch, rather than finish with the youth that had served him so well over the past couple of weeks.I understood the decision to bench Casto -- he had done exactly what I hoped he wouldn't, flying in to attempt too many blocks and leaving his man wide open for offensive rebounds.
But the decision to leave Capers on the bench for the entire second half was curious, at best, as there's no doubt that Capers brings more to the offense than Koprivica. I've tried to put myself inside Tony's head, and the best explanation I can come up with is that Capers
could have guarded Pondexter would have had to guard one of the guards, which would have necessitated Klay -- in foul trouble all day -- having to cover Pondexter. (Sorry for the original typo.) That would have been a 5th foul waiting to happen. So Tony decided that it was better to not risk having Klay foul out. When looking at the plus/minus numbers, it's tough to argue with that reasoning, although you have to wonder if Marcus could have made a difference in those final two minutes on Thomas.
Give a lot of credit to Washington. They really did dictate our offensive game to their advantage, proving once again that the reason this team is a legitimate threat to go deep into March is because of their improvement on defense.