Terrence Ross is a freakishly athletic swingman with a jump shot smoother than a foot of Mt. Baker powder. Tony Wroten is a turbocharged point guard with the height and court vision of Magic Johnson. Combine their skills and you have one heck of an NBA player.
For a Husky basketball team that has often struggled mightily to put the ball in the hoop this season, it was the kind of performance that leaves observers wondering why Ross doesn't assert himself more often. For all his talent, he is UW's third-leading scorer behind Wroten and sharp-shooting guard C.J. Wilcox. Far too often he defers to his teammates, fails to attack the rim, and/or settles for contested treys.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Wroten. The freshman phenom has no shame when it comes to jacking up shots. He relentlessly penetrates into the teeth of the opposing defense, leading to easy lay-ins and trips to the free throw line. Wroten ranks in the top 10 nationally in free throw attempts per game (7.76), and 31st in two-point shots per game (11). Ross, on the other hand, clocks in at 871st in free throw attempts (2.71), and 386th in two-point shots (7.76).
The glaring weaknesses in Wroten's game are turnovers (he ranks in the top 10 nationally in those too, with 70 already on the season), and shooting from more than 15 feet away from the basket. For all his time spent at the charity stripe, Wroten is an Aziz N'Diaye-esque 53 percent free throw shooter. He is also just 6-30 (20 percent) on 3-point attempts, far behind Ross' 34-83 (41 percent).
It's almost as if the two players are mirror images of each other, with the lefty Wroten constantly darting toward the hoop for high-percentage shots, and Ross dropping bombs from the perimeter. Husky head coach Lorenzo Romar discussed the diametrically opposed players in his post-game press conference Sunday.
"Something we're constantly talking to Terrence about is 'Be aggressive, be aggressive," Romar said. "The next part of his game is to make that move and go to the basket...Sometimes guys have a chance to be aggressive but they're not quite sure how to get there. He's still learning how to get there."
As for Wroten, Romar had this to say: "On the flip side is a guy like Tony, who's been so good at getting to basket. Nobody has been able stop him from getting to the basket. Maybe he hasn't spent as much time shooting from the outside, so they both need to work on that other part."
If the two can't learn to coexist soon the Huskies are in trouble. Against the Cougs it took a pitiful shooting performance by Wroten (3-14 FG's, 7-13 FT's), and a fired up Ross (he felt wronged by a charging call, Romar got whistled for a technical foul) for the dynamic to work. Ideally, Wroten still takes his man of the dribble but kicks the ball out to Ross when he hits a wall of defenders. Ross, then needs to learn a pump fake (perhaps Brandon Roy, the master of this skill, is available as a coach), draw a foul, and take the free throws instead of Wroten.
In the long term, Ross will get lost on an NBA roster if he doesn't look for his shot. But for pro scouts, his faults are outweighed by his limitless potential. With his superior leaping ability and penchant for ferocious finishes, when (or rather if) Ross finally becomes comfortable driving the lane he will have a long and successful NBA career. He is widely projected as a top 20 pick in this year's NBA Draft.
Wroten, meanwhile, was pegged as a one-and-done player in the preseason but most forecasters now have him honing his game (and learning how to shoot free throws) for another year and being selected somewhere in the top 20 in the 2013 draft.
If only they could be merged into one body -- a super player named Tonerrence Wross who rebounds, shoots the three, slashes to the bucket, and dunks like Shawn Kemp (senior, not junior) -- the Huskies would be a lock for the Final Four.