The Washington Huskies took advantage of the NCAA’s rules regarding foreign tours (programs can take a trip once every four years) by traveling to Australia for a set of five games. Lorenzo Romar’s team finished 3-2 on the tour, while building team chemistry, figuring out their role allocation and developing it’s young players with real live in-game situations.
I know I’ve already raved about Markelle Fultz, but after watching a couple of the Huskies foreign tour games live online, I was able to draw a few more observations regarding Fultz and the rest of their squad.
So without further ado, here are my thoughts:
- Fultz isn’t just good, he’s great, and he’s so much fun to watch. Not only does he glide with the basketball in his hands, but he never seems to force anything, is always on the attack, and is able to get to the basket at will because of his athleticism and his understanding of the game. His creativity on offense is second to none, giving him the ability to score on all three levels (inside, mid-range and beyond the arc).
- The freshman, Fultz, is known for his scoring, however, he’s also a really really solid defender. He digs in on that end of the floor, has quick hands to force turnovers and can even blocks shots around the rim. A guy who can play that well on both ends of the court will certainly be able to uplift a squad in the Pac-12 and go on to be a lottery selection in the 2017 NBA Draft.
- Fultz and David Crisp are interchangeable at the lead guard position. Both players can handle the basketball, so it really doesn’t matter who plays on or off the ball. Fultz loves to have the ball in his hands and will almost always have that responsibility at the end of the shot clock or late in games. However, Crisp is a talented rising sophomore and cannot be overlooked. He changes direction successfully, is very quick, is a capable outside shooter and a good passer.
- Matisse Thybulle is known for his defense. He was third on the team in steals (1.1 per game) and third on the team in blocks (0.9 per game) during his freshman season. He also has the size and length to be a lockdown defender. While those are great numbers and the physical tools are there, sometimes the stats and tools don’t tell the entire story. Thybulle can take the next step as a defensive stopper if he develops better focus and does not commit fouls. The Washington native showed some lack of discipline (fell asleep at times) on that end of the floor during the foreign tour. It’s a small sample size though, so there is no doubt Thybulle is still a breakout player to watch for the Huskies.
- Washington may struggle to shoot the three this season. They shot 33 percent from long range last year, but lose Andrew Andrews and Marquese Chriss. Although Fultz is a great three point shooter, he would prefer to attack the lane. Crisp is capable, however, he can struggle with inconsistency at times. Thybulle shot 37 percent from long range last year, so he could be the answer, but other than him and Fultz, where does the consistency come from?
- Noah Dickerson (scorer) and Malik Dime (shot blocker) are the “vets” of the front court, but Matthew Atewe and Sam Timmins will get their fair share of minutes. Atewe looks very raw and doesn’t have great hand-eye coordination. He is a shot blocker and rebounder though. Timmins is 6’10”, 250, so his size certainly won’t hurt.
- Dominic Green is a nice role player because of his size, length and versatility (he handled the ball some on the foreign tour). Where he needs to improve: His shot selection. Green forces too many three pointers and he just doesn’t look comfortable beyond the arc. He’s just not a good enough shooter to be forcing those types of jumpers.
Overall, Romar has a nice roster of young talented players. Fultz is going to be the lead of the pack, but someone else will need to breakout. Will it be Thybulle or Crisp? Will Dickerson take the next step offensively? How about Dime? Does he add some offense?
We’ll find out soon enough.
For now, the Huskies are in good shape and could potentially make the Big Dance if things break the right way.