Washington loses post defense but gains interior offense

SAN FRANCISCO – C.J. Wilcox is the familiar face in Washington. For the second year in a row, the Huskies will ride the swingman's scoring prowess throughout 2013-14.

Nigel Williams-Goss is the big-time recruit. Coach Lorenzo Romar will put a lot on the freshman point guard from the first tip of the first game.

But hidden amongst the storylines for Washington, which was picked eighth in the Pac-12 preseason media poll, is the situation in the paint. The towering Aziz N'Diaye exhausted his elgibility, and that leaves a big hole in the middle.


“Unless you have someone that's a very good shot-blocker like that, I don't think you make up for the loss in the way he went about his business,” Romar said at Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day Thursday in San Francisco. “He was definitely a force in there.”

So there's not any way to replicate a 7-foot, 260-pound center, nor his 1.2 blocks per game, 9.1 rebounds or shot-altering abilities once defenders found routes to the basket. Stopping opponents from getting in the paint at all is, simply, the best answer to the problem.

“I just think that we're just going to have to do a better job in terms of our rotations and keeping people in front of us this year knowing that we're not going to be able to rely on that shot-blocker in terms of that backline defense,” Romar said.

Of course, the Huskies could gain some net positives at the center position on the other end, too.

Fifth-year senior and San Francisco transfer Perris Blackwell is likely that answer. After sitting out last season because of transfer rules, Blackwell could become a key figure in Washington's offense.

“He's 6'9", 270 pounds and kind of gives us a low post presence we haven't had in many recent years,” Romar said. “That really helps us. It helps C.J. and our other wing players to score because it loosens up the defense a little bit.”

Where N'Diaye was good for only 6.6 field goal attempts per game, a good bit of those came off his 3.4 offensive boards per game. Blackwell could be a bull in the paint: in his junior season at San Francisco, he took nearly nine shots per game and hit 58 percent of the attempts.

So the Huskies might indeed have lost defense to gain a bit of a new wrinkle on offense.

Said Romar of Blackwell: “He's probably a guy who's going to be in our starting lineup and probably one of our top scorers.”