Losing a starter is never a good thing, but the Washington Huskies should remain the favorite in the Pac-10 conference even after sophomore point guard Abdul Gaddy was lost for the season with a torn left ACL sustained in practice on Tuesday. While Gaddy starts, he’s part of a relatively even timeshare with Venoy Overton, who played the stretch run during last week’s overtime win at USC. Lorenzo Romar may want to keep Overton in a reserve role, where his energy can change games, but the senior is capable of ramping up his playing time to help cover the loss of Gaddy.
The bigger change for the Huskies will be Isaiah Thomas playing regular minutes at point guard. Though Thomas is a candidate for the Cousy Award, he has almost exclusively played the two. But Thomas has improved his playmaking this season–his assist rate has improved from 19.5 to 23.3, not far behind Gaddy (24.8) and Overton (25.1)–and Washington is often more difficult to guard with Thomas at the point because that means putting another shooter on the floor. In Scott Suggs, Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox, the Huskies have three reserve wings worthy of being part of the rotation. Suggs and Wilcox boast True Shooting Percentages above 60 percent, while Ross has been prolific at average efficiency.
The downside for Romar is that he’s been able to spot Ross, Suggs and Wilcox, giving minutes to the hot hand. He may not have that luxury any longer. Washington also is at some risk in case of further injury. The Huskies now have just nine healthy scholarship players, leaving their depth precarious.
The real loss here is for Gaddy individually. After a disappointing freshman season, he worked hard to improve his shooting demonstrated significant improvement at both ends of the floor during the first two months of 2010-11. Gaddy struggled as a scorer in Washington’s sweep of the L.A. schools to open conference play. Instead of getting the chance to bounce back, Gaddy will now have to focus his energy on rehabbing for the 2011-12 season.