Inconsistent Washington at least has a true leader in C.J. Wilcox

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C.J. Wilcox put up a career-high 30 points -- but in came in a loss Friday. (USATSI)

NEW YORK -- Well, I'm not sure if Washington's good enough to be an NCAA tournament team, but it seems undeniable that the Huskies have a bona fide leader in C.J. Wilcox. That's going to count for something, and could be the difference between the letters "NCAA" and "NIT" four months from now.

The 2-3 Huskies senior shooting guard put up a career-best 30 points Friday night Washington's 89-78 loss to Boston College at Madison Square Garden. He was the one true reliable player in what was as close to a must-win game -- for Boston College -- as you could ask for in mid-November.

(The Eagles were 1-4 and on the brink of completely staining their non-conference slate. Washington might not prove to be a terrific win at year's end, but nevertheless, it's much worse than the alternative.)

Back to U-Dub. It's a team hurt by injuries right now (small forward Desmond Simmons is out with a knee for a few more weeks, and power forward Jernard Jarreau will miss the year with a torn ACL), and had Boston College not sunk eight 3-pointers in the first half, perhaps this would've been different for Washington.

"We had two guys out and we kept battling and I think we can take something away from that," Wilcox said.

But for a team that's got a mix of veteran pieces and talented newcomers (freshman Nigel Williams-Goss will become a star in the Pac-12 at some point), the Huskies have as much promise as frustration. They are undersized and the defense remains an issue. Having said that, Boston College, for all its faults, remains an effective and high-potential offensive team this year. It tapped into that against UW Friday night. Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said his team had lapses and failed to give full effort as a team on many possessions.

Fix that -- which is not easy -- and Wilcox's role becomes all the more effective.

"C.J. is clearly this team's leader," Romar said. "Offensively, he had a really good game."

Twenty points, five assists, three rebounds, a pair of steals. It'll be what Wilcox provides, on average, in the stat sheet. And then of course there's the leadership Washington will need from him this season. Romar has overachieved with some teams in the past, teams that didn't have the talent this one has.

"Not having everyone on the same page right now, it makes it tougher for us," Wilcox said.

It's clear the coaches and players agreed that communication breakdowns were the larger issue at hand on this trip to New York. Washington fell 102-84 to Indiana Thursday night.

Who knows how good Washington ends up being this year, but at the very least it seems the team has a reliable senior, and that always has and always will mean something important in college basketball.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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