By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Just days after dispatching one demon, another awaits.
Washington (9-5, 1-0) continues its road tour of the Pacific-12 Conference with an 8 p.m. game in the Bay Area against Cal (9-5, 1-1) and fluid wing Allen Crabbe.
The Huskies just handled Brock Motum, who led the conference in scoring in 2011-12, in Pullman on Saturday night. Tonight, they get Crabbe, who currently leads the conference in scoring at 21.4 point per game.
Crabbe is a different menace than Motum. He’s a liquid 6-foot-6 wing who this season has stopped fading toward the 3-point line and has begun to charge at the hoop when coming off screens. He’s more than doubled his trips to the free-throw line, going from 2.6 attempts per game last season to 5.5 now. His 3-point attempts are down from 6.1 to 4.7.
He means business his junior year after spending the summer lifting weights in order to handle the bumps defenders would previously use to throw him off his game.
“This year, at times, he’s like a slasher as opposed to just a shooter,” Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar said. “He’s more durable now.”
Durability is becoming a question for the Huskies’ Scott Suggs, who likely will start out defending Crabbe. After missing last season because of a toe injury, then being knocked out of the game against Albany by a concussion and dealing with plantar fasciitis after that, he now has a tweaked knee.
Suggs said he hurt his knee Tuesday in practice during a scrimmage. He expects to be ready tonight to chase Crabbe around the single and double screens that Cal sets to get Crabbe loose. Suggs also anticipates a lot of the same offensive sets the Bears previously ran for wing Patrick Christopher when he was at Cal from 2006-10.
“He does a good job, if you trail him, (of) curling real tight and getting to the hoop,” Suggs said.
C.J. Wilcox also will spend time on Crabbe at some point.
That’s half the Cal equation. The other half is point guard Justin Cobbs, a sturdy 6-foot-3 redshirt junior who averages 15.6 points per game.
All of this will be taking place during Washington’s first Wednesday-Saturday trip in the Pac-12’s brave new scheduling world. The schedule has been revamped this season, the conference moving away from its traditional Thursday-Saturday format, to accommodate the new Pac-12 Network and assure each game is on television.
The Huskies flew to the Bay Area on Tuesday night and will return on a charter flight, before heading back down for Saturday’s game in Palo Alto against Stanford. This is the first week of classes to start the new quarter, so Washington administrators are hoping the extra flying allows for more classroom time.
This trip also marks just the fourth time in the past 70 years that Washington has opened with three consecutive road games. The others were 1943, 1993 and 1999.
“Big trip for us,” Abdul Gaddy said. “We’re really going to have to play at our top level if we’re going to come out with wins on this road trip.”