Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A with UW Dawg Pound’s Lucas Shannon

With Penn’s matchup at Washington less than 24 hours away, it’s time to go behind enemy lines with Lucas Shannon, hoops editor of UW Dawg Pound, the SB Nation Washington Huskies community.

Check out a flipped Q&A at UW Dawg Pound in which I let Husky fans know what to expect from the Quakers.

Ivy Hoops Online: UW Dawg Pound editor Kirk DeGrasse said you didn’t have high hopes the Huskies would win vs. Texas Friday, but they did. What did this young team show you against the Longhorns that was a pleasant surprise?

UW Dawg Pound: I shared his sentiment.  Like many other Husky fans, I didn’t expect the Huskies to knock off the Longhorns, so the win itself was a pleasant surprise.

The team as a whole showed that they are already able to fight through adversity. They had to travel nearly 5,000 miles for the game as it took place in Beijing, (though to be fair, Texas had to travel 7,000 miles for the game) and overcame a tough shooting night, and were able to scrap out a hard fought victory. This team is obviously very raw and needs to clean up their play a bit—they coughed the ball up 17 times — but the fact that they were able to travel across the world and beat a relatively experienced Texas team is impressive.

In terms of personnel, The contribution of freshmen big man Devenir Duruisseau was certainly a nice surprise. While he didn’t have a huge game, he gave the team some nice energy of the bench in the first half, and showed that he can hang with the big boys on the glass. Duruisseau was one of the least talked about players in the Huskies heralded recruiting class,and seemed like a player that was destined to redshirt, so to see him contribute early and often was a great sign.

IHO: Interestingly, KenPom has Washington ranked second in the country in defense by effective field goal percentage after UW’s season-opening 77-71 win over Texas. What are the strengths and weaknesses of UW’s man-to-man defense, particularly in the interior?

UWDP: Ah, gotta love one game sample sizes. The Huskies were able to hold Texas to an abysmal 26 percent from the floor, and just 13 percent from three. Part of that had to do with the Huskies ball pressure and full court defense, but I think Texas’s shooting woes were also influenced by playing in a different venue for the first time and jet lag. But we will take it nonetheless. The good news about the Huskies defense is that they have returned  to their full-court press pressure defense, which  became a bit of a hallmark for the Husky teams of the mid and late 2000s. However, head coach Lorenzo Romar had been forced to abandon the havoc-inducing pressure for a more modest half-court defense in recent years due to the fact that they no longer had the athletes to properly run their press.

But that has changed this year, as this may be the most athletic team to ever come through Montlake. While this team should be one of the best defensive units in the entire Pac-12 in the near future (possibly as early as the end of the season), their ranking as the No. 2 defense in the country is a bit of a misnomer. They missed quite a few defensive rotations against Texas, and seem to have the tendency to take poor closeout angles on the perimeter.

The Huskies big men are undersized as they have only one player over 6’10”, and are rather skinny as well. However, they make up for these disadvantages with their athleticism and knack for taking charges (Noah Dickerson seems to be particularly good at drawing offensive fouls.) I expect Penn’s big men (Lake Washington product Darien Nelson-Henry in particular) to be able to use their size advantages against the Huskies at times, but they will also need to be wary of the shot-blocking capabilities of the Huskies frontcourt players, Malik Dime and Marquese Chriss in particular.  Penn fans should make sure to look out for Dime on the defensive end. He only comes in at 6’9” 225 pounds, but he boasts an incredible 7’5” wingspan and supreme athleticism which allows him to erase shots above the rim with ease.

IHO: KenPom also ranks Washington 28th in the country in adjusted tempo after just one game. Does this team want to get out and run on offense, and what else should Penn followers look for from the Huskies on that end of the floor?

UWDP: Much like the full court press, the Huskies have also committed to bringing back their up tempo offense that was their calling card years ago but had to be scrapped. Romar has been adamant that he intends to push the tempo this season, and it was evident against Texas last Friday. Over the last three years, the Huskies have slowed the tempo and implemented a high-post offense. Though the slow pace is gone, there were still elements of the high post offense used against Texas, and the team’s big men, particularly Dickerson and Chriss, are skilled enough to run the high low offense. However, if last Friday’s game was an indication for how the remainder of the season will play out, the Huskies will primarily rely on a dribble drive offense that puts the ball in their hands of their skill play makers on the wings and in the guard positions.

IHO: UW was ranked by 247 Sports as having the No. 11 ranked 2015 recruiting class in the country. Where is coach Lorenzo Romar at in the process of figuring out how these freshmen and other Huskies fit together?

UWDP: The recruiting class was actually ranked even higher by, at No. 6 in the country, and is the highest-rated class to ever come through Montlake. Honestly, it’s hard to answer that question, because I am not at practice every day and watching the process take place firsthand. What I can say though is that this team certainly seems to play with a lot of confidence, and they don’t seem to be intimidated by the moment much at all. Obviously, the chemistry is a work in process and this team is far from a finished product, and I still question whether senior point guard Andrew Andrews and freshman point guard David Crisp should be on the floor together at the same time. That being said, it is easy to tell that these guys like playing together, and that even though all of the freshman possess impressive individual talent, they do seem to rally together well as a team.

IHO: What do you expect the atmosphere at Hec Edmundson Pavilion to be for this matchup?

UWDP: Honestly, I’m not expecting a very raucous crowd. Attendance for Huskies basketball games has a dipped a bit in recent years as the Huskies have missed the tournament and stagnated a bit. Husky fans also don’t seem to come out in overwhelming numbers for smaller (no offense intended) nonconference teams. I expect the biggest advantage for the Huskies in terms of homecourt advantage will be the fact that Penn has to make the trip across the country for the game.

IHO: Does anybody on the Huskies have a beard like Penn senior center and Kirkland native Darien Nelson-Henry, the inspiration for this game being scheduled?

UWDP: Haha no, not even close. The Huskies are a pretty clean shaven club, with only a few guys sporting some peach fuzz. Forward Malik Dime does sport a pretty impressive flat top though.

IHO: What’s your prediction for Saturday’s matchup?

UWDP: Since the Huskies are such a young club, it is really hard to predict how their games will go, mainly because we just simply haven’t seen them play together all that much yet. That being said, this team is incredibly talented (albeit it is very raw talent at this point) and athletic, and I expect their up tempo play and full court pressure defense, as well as their athleticism to eventually overwhelm the Quakers. I do expect them to give the Huskies a tough half or so though. However, I do  expect the coaching staff, as well as the few remaining players from last year’s team, to mention  the game against Stony Brook last year (Stony Brook came into HecEd and knocked off the then undefeated Huskies 62-57) and what can happen if they overlook teams they “should” beat.

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