What a breath of fresh air the Husky hoopsters' 94-61 annihilation of Stanford was last night. Sparked by Justin Holiday and his Spiderman frame, the Dawgs' hyperkinetic defensive intensity gave us a clue as to how they earned their lofty preseason ranking, and even Matthew Bryan-Amaning looked better than average, throwing down a Sportscenter-worthy dunk in the first half.
"Look, ma, both hands!" Will Gaddy's double-palmed runner become his signature move?
But on a night of stellar performances up and down the roster, perhaps none was more encouraging than Abdul Gaddy's. Entering the season, the Bellarmine grad was ranked by Scout.com as the second-best freshman point guard prospect in the country, behind Kentucky's John Wall, currently the best player on one of the nation's two best teams and a virtual lock to be the top player selected in this June's NBA draft. Thus far, Gaddy has fallen short of that billing by a friggin' continent, posting season averages of 4.7 points and 2.4 assists.
Against Stanford, however, he turned in a nearly spotless, if still somewhat restrained, performance, scoring 10 points on 5-6 shooting. He also exhibited what could become his signature move: a knuckleball floater in the lane reminiscent of vintage Gary Payton, except released--rather bizarrely--with both hands. This comes in the wake of a 13 points, 5-7 performance against Arizona, marking the first time this year Gaddy has strung together back-to-back double-figure games (although his total of two assists in those contests aren't all that point-guarderly).
But it's a testament to how low that bar's been reset that Dawg fans come to see this as progress. To see what real progress looks like, Steve Kelley gives you Gaddy's Wazzu counterpart, Reggie Moore. The Dawgs declined to recruit Moore, a Rainier Beach grad, once they locked up Gaddy. Big mistake, at least in the near term: The statistics of Moore, the Cougs' starting freshman point guard, are downright gaudy compared to Gaddy's, and he notched a career-high 25 points in a tough loss last night versus league-leading Cal.
Speaking of Cal, it's hard to imagine a more meaningful mid-season tilt than tomorrow's for the Dawgs. Beat the Bears, and UW is back in the tourney conversation. Lose to them, and the NIT nightmare looks ever more realistic. Only one thing is for certain: In concert with the charity World Vision, UW is sponsoring a "Fill the Bucket" campaign to benefit victims of the Haitian earthquake, in which attendees will be encouraged to stuff a bunch of buckets with well-intentioned wads of cash. But don't get too hammered tonight: The game starts at 11:30 a.m.