After tossing up a couple of airballs, the University of Washington basketball team opens conference play at Utah on Thursday, trying to overcome a lot of glaring deficiencies.
Look for the Huskies (0-2) to shake up their lineup, turning to one or more new starters against the Utes. They need more size to fix the most obvious weakness: rebounding. They came up embarrassing short on the boards to Baylor 50-19 and to Riverside 49-33.
Which means 6-foot-9, 220-pound USC transfer J'Raan Brooks likely replaces 6-9 senior wing Hameir Wright, who's not a physical player at all, and joins 6-11 sophomore center Nate Roberts for the opening tip at 3 p.m. The Pac-12 Networks will air the game.
UW coach Mike Hopkins also needs to find more offense, so look for him to open with sophomore guard RaeQuan Battle instead of junior Jamal Bey.
That leaves point guard Quade Green and Wichita State transfer Erik Stevenson, the team's two best offensive threats at 10 and 7 point per game, to reclaim their starting assignments.
"We've got to maybe look at different lineups," said Hopkins, normally upbeat at all times but notably downcast following each loss. "Our best offensive lineup, that's what we've struggled with, is our small ball. It's really hurt us. We've got to figure it out."
The Huskies, with a lot of offseason roster change and considerable size going out the door, struggled to do anything right in their opening games, losing to Baylor 86-52 and to Riverside 57-42.
Utah, which hasn't played a contest yet because of COVID issues, returns seven of its top eight scorers off a 16-15 team, led by junior guard Timmy Allen, an All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.3 points per game.
The Huskies need to show improvement against this veteran team, but it could be another long afternoon.
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