For Husky men, C.J. Wilcox’s experience is as important as his scoring
C.J. Wilcox has scored at least 15 points in 15 consecutive games for UW, which has an inexperienced team entering Pac-12 play.
Seattle Times staff reporter
UW @ Arizona State, 5 p.m., ESPNU
Streak? What streak?
That’s what C.J. Wilcox said when asked about the past 15 games for the Washington men’s basketball team, in which the 6-foot-5 senior guard has scored at least 15 points.
“Didn’t even know about it,” he admitted. “It’s cool, I guess, but in all honesty it doesn’t change anything. Not for me. My focus is still the same.”
Heading into the Pac-12 opener at Arizona State, Wilcox is much more concerned about the Sun Devils (11-2), particularly sophomore Jahii Carson, who is considered one of the best point guards in the country, and 7-foot-2 senior center Jordan Bachynski.
“With ASU, it starts with Jahii and the big fella in the paint,” Wilcox said. “(Bachynski) does a really good job of protecting the paint. The thing is, we have to guard Jahii as a team because no one person can stop him.
“Just slowing him down and getting out to their shooters, because they have shooters all over the place. And just taking smart shots on offense, because they have that big guy in the paint who alters and blocks a lot of shots.”
Wilcox admitted he’s curious how Washington’s young players will respond Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena.
Just four Huskies (Wilcox, Desmond Simmons, Andrew Andrews and Shawn Kemp Jr.) have experience in Pac-12 games.
“I think our guys understand that every game is going to be a challenge,” Wilcox said. “We have four of six games on the road to start out. I think it’s going to be a chance for our guys to see what it’s like.
“Hopefully our guys aren’t too wide-eyed when the game starts going. I think we’ll do a good job of adjusting.”
Wilcox acknowledged that Washington (8-5) was less than spectacular in nonconference play. By his assessment, the Huskies beat the teams they were supposed to beat with the exception of their 86-72 loss to UC Irvine.
Still, he’s dismayed UW didn’t fare better against quality opponents such as then-No. 10 Connecticut, then-No. 24 San Diego State, Indiana and Boston College. The Huskies were outscored 343-295 in those contests and lost by an average of 12 points.
Wilcox, however, believes the next 10 weeks will be even more challenging.
“The trick is not panicking if something doesn’t work out,” he said. “It’s going to be important to just get through adversity because we have a lot of young guys who haven’t been in that environment.”
Wilcox, one of two UW co-captains, said there’s only so much he can tell his teammates to prepare them for the Pac-12 season.
So far, his biggest contribution has been his scoring.
He’s averaging a career-high 20.5 points, nearly four points more than last season. He’s also shooting better from the field (44.7 percent, up from 41.9), behind the arc (41.1 percent, up from 36.6) and at the free-throw line (89.4 percent, up from 81.6).
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “He’s playing kind of with a been-there, done-that, I-know-how-this-thing-works attitude ...
“And he is healthy and practicing every day. The thing that I think affected him the last two years is he’d go weeks and didn’t practice. Just play in the games. I don’t care who it is, that’s hard.”
Wilcox is the only player since Romar took over 12 years ago who has scored at least 15 points in 15 consecutive games. Nate Robinson had an 11-game streak covering the 2003-04 and ’04-05 seasons.
For Wilcox, who started the season 23rd on UW’s all-time scoring list and has climbed to eighth, the streak means more than just points.
“To me, it says I’ve been consistent, which is difficult because you understand at the same time the other team is trying to stop you from what you’re trying to do,” Wilcox said. “But then I knew that was going to be my role this season.
“Just being somebody you can count on. That’s what seniors do. You have to be somebody the guys can count on every game in order for your team to win. Whatever that is, I’m going to try to be the one to do it whether it’s scoring, getting rebounds, making plays for others or playing defense.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen