Huskies' backcourt still figuring out who will lead
Abdul Gaddy, Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox are all candidates to be a leader for a team that doesn't have a clear one yet.
Seattle Times staff reporter
After chemistry issues spoiled what was supposed to be a better finish last season, Washington is promoting a team-first mentality — which sounds good in theory.
But if the Huskies are truly going to work this season, then Abdul Gaddy, Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox must figure out who among them is going to be the star.
Maybe it'll be all three, or a combination of two. However it shakes out, Washington will only go as far as its trio of talented guards carries them.
"(Wilcox) will be one of the guys that we'll look to shoulder the load," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Along with that, Scott Suggs really, really has to, and will, emerge as someone who will help shoulder the load with C.J. as well.
"Abdul Gaddy without question is going to have his best year as a Husky."
The Huskies must also find a starting forward, increase the offensive production from center Aziz N'Diaye and stay healthy, which is no small feat for a team whose projected starters have battled significant injuries.
Still, priority No. 1 is solving the pecking order in the backcourt.
"Coach Romar stresses it every day in practice — if I hit a couple we're going to run through me," said Wilcox, UW's leading returning scorer who averaged 14.2 points last season. "The same way with Scott and Abdul. We're going to play off of whoever is playing right.
"I don't think it's going to be one man's team. Me, Scott and Abdul are the front line and whatever we do, however we lead and however we play, everyone else will follow."
It's easy to read too much into the order of things sometimes. Who is the face of a team? Who takes the last shot?
But in the case of the Huskies, it's important because those questions went unanswered for most of last season, when a Pac-12 regular-season championship yielded a disappointing finish in a 68-67 defeat to Minnesota in the NIT semifinals.
Wilcox admits the Huskies are not as talented as they were last season.
How could they be, after losing their leading scorers Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr., who were taken in the first round of the NBA draft, and replacing them with Suggs and redshirt freshmen Andrew Andrews and Jernard Jarreau?
Still, Wilcox believes in the power of team chemistry.
"As far as us as a team, everybody has been here and our chemistry is going to be a lot better," he said. "Last year we had to figure it out because we had so many new players."
Washington's personality is undefined and likely won't fully take shape before the Huskies begin the season Nov. 11 at home against Loyola (Md.).
While implementing a new high-post offense over the next three weeks, they're hoping a star — or stars — will emerge.
When asked who is the leader of the team, Suggs and Wilcox gave similar responses.
Said Suggs: "I would say myself, Gaddy and C.J. We're the guys who have to show the guys how to fight through adversity."
Said Wilcox: "I feel like it could be any one of us. It could be me, Gaddy or Scott."
However, Gaddy, a four-year starter and two-year co-captain along with Suggs, put the onus on himself to lead the Huskies.
"You can't be like, 'It's my team' and be selfish about it," he said. "You have to be able to take the responsibility with that.
"I'm one of the guys that has stepped up and said, 'I'm willing to take that responsibility'... because I'm a senior and I've seen other guys do it. I know what it takes, and they've taught me well. Not in a selfish way, but it does take somebody to be like, 'This is my team.' "
Even Romar is curious to watch how the alpha-dog power struggles unfold.
"I'm anxious to see — two minutes left in the game, who's going to take over?" he said. "I have some ideas. There's some candidates, but who is it going to be in a month when we start playing?
"Which one? Or which few?"