Huskies need Matthew Bryan-Amaning to bounce back
Washington is 1-4 when Matthew Bryan-Amaning fails to reach 10 points.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Lorenzo Romar doesn't do knee-jerk reactions. He's all about trends, patterns and charting performances over a length of time.
No surprise the Washington coach didn't overreact following Sunday's 87-80 defeat at Washington State when standout forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning finished with just one field goal and a season-low six points.
"There's been games when he had the same opportunities and scored 16-18 points," Romar said. "It just didn't go down for him in this particular game. The free throws didn't go down for him as much. The shots didn't go down for him as much.
"He's shooting somewhere near 58-59 percent going into that game. If he shoots somewhere near that, it's a different ballgame."
Sunday's off-shooting performance — 1 for 8 from the field and 4 for 8 on free throws — may have been an aberration for Bryan-Amaning, but it reaffirmed a belief that existed before the season began.
If Bryan-Amaning is unable to score inside, the Huskies will likely lose.
Washington is 1-4 when he fails to reach 10 points. In UW's five defeats, the 6-foot-9 senior averages 8.8 points, which is nine fewer than his scoring average against Pac-10 opponents.
Without Bryan-Amaning's dunks, layups and baby hooks, opponents are able to push the Huskies out of the middle and make them shoot from the perimeter.
WSU ran that game plan to perfection. The Cougars compressed a 2-3 zone around Bryan-Amaning. They forced the Huskies to take 31 three-pointers, and UW missed 20.
In the second half, Bryan-Amaning attempted just three field goals and two free throws even though the Cougars' front line was in serious foul trouble.
"The game over the weekend, they did a good job in their zone," Bryan-Amaning said. "They weren't letting anything happen inside."
It was a similar problem three weeks ago when he took just one shot in the second half of a 58-56 loss at Stanford.
When UW fell 63-62 at Texas A&M, Bryan-Amaning scored eight points. He had seven points in the 74-67 defeat to Kentucky.
"He's a big part of our team," junior co-captain Isaiah Thomas said. "I'm the point guard (and) that has a lot to do with me. I didn't feed him as much as we should, but at the same time I'm out there trying to make plays.
"It's not that I'm not going to him. But we need to get him the ball a little bit more, and he needs to finish."
At times this season, Bryan-Amaning, who averages 15.7 points and 7.9 rebounds, has looked like a Pac-10 Player of the Year candidate, which is an astonishing feat considering he was benched for four games in the nonconference season.
UCLA coach Ben Howland said he'd cast his POY vote for Bryan-Amaning, Thomas or Arizona's Derrick Williams.
"It's nice to get some recognition from the coaches in the league," Bryan-Amaning said. "They go up against us and know us individually more so than anybody else."
Bryan-Amaning appears poised for a bounce-back because the 20th-ranked Huskies (15-5, 7-2 in Pac-10) face Oregon State (8-12, 3-6) Thursday night at Gill Coliseum.
He destroyed the Beavers in a 103-72 victory last month at Edmundson Pavilion and finished with a career-high 15 rebounds and 24 points.
The Huskies will see another zone, however. The Beavers run a unique 1-3-1 zone defense.
"They like to trap you in certain places and spread their zone along the floor as much as possible," Bryan-Amaning said. "They try to trap in the corners and press up on the guards on the perimeter, whereas Wazzu packed it in a lot."
Less defenders in the middle means more room for Bryan-Amaning to operate.
"I hope so," he said.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org