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Husky Men's Basketball Blog

Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies.

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March 19, 2008 10:21 PM

Valpo aftermath

Posted by Bob Condotta

You didn't necessarily think it was going to end tonight. Not once Jon Brockman shook off the warmups and entered the game midway through the first half, then hit six of his first eight shots.

But if it was going to end, you figured it would end this way ---- with a lot of missed free throws, and clanked shots and a general inability to get it done when it really counted.

"Free throws, finishing games, we had numerous opportunities where we could have stepped up,'' Brockman said, agreeing that the 72-71 loss to Valparaiso was pretty much a microcosm of the season. "A lot of times in close games like that it's just the more mentally strong, experienced team (that wins). The team that isn't going to get flustered and isn't going to change the way they play but just play the same way the whole time.''

The Huskies finish 16-17 overall, their first losing season since Lorenzo Romar's first year in 2003, and 2-7 in games decided by four points or less.

They also don't take advantage of the second (or maybe it should be third) chance given to them by the CBI to make something of this season.

"They just wanted it more than us today,'' said UW guard Joel Smith.

Maybe, though no one really questioned the effort a whole lot afterward.

Speaking specifically of this game, the Huskies were definitely hurt when Artem Wallace went out with a knee injury less than two minutes in. For all the things he's not, he is one of UW's best defenders, and Valpo immediately took advantage by going inside time and again. Anybody who didn't know who Bryan Bouchie is knows who he is now after he scored 20 points on 9-12 shooting.

Wallace suffered what may be a serious ACL injury, though it won't be known for sure until he is examined further, and that may not happen for a few days. Wallace said later his knee simply buckled as he tried to jump for a rebound. "I hope it's just a sprain,'' he said, though otherse feared it may be worse.

Wallace's absence helped force the hand on the decision to use Brockman. Romar said he hoped he wouldn't have to play him in this game at all.

"When neither team scored too much early, we decided to give him an opportunity just to see how he would look,'' Romar said.

Brockman looked just fine on offense, hitting 9-13 shots and grabbing 12 rebounds. But he didn't seem to move well on defense, saying he couldn't jump and didn't have much explosion, and with Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Joe Wolfinger each struggling, as well, Valpo's inside guys had some of their best days of the season.

"He didn't have his normal spring,'' Romar said. "Even during timeouts, as he walked back out on the floor, I could see as the game progressed his limp became stronger.''

With Wallace out and Brockman still gimpy, Valpo, which came in with a reputation as a dangerous three-point shooting team, scored 34 points in the paint.

"They didn't go crazy from the three-point line (7-25) but I think that spread us out and we just had one-on-one coverage (inside),'' Romar said.

So that was a problem specific to tonight.

The other problems, however, we've seen all season.

UW hit just 11-24 free throws, 3-12 in the second half, with Brockman missing two that could have put UW ahead with 4.7 seconds left. He finished the game 4-8, sadly almost right on his average of 53.6.

Brockman said he had hit 84-100 in practice Tuesday and felt like he was going to make them. He said later that "it's a mental thing.''

But he wasn't alone. Quincy Pondexter was 2-5, Tim Morris 3-5 and Justin Dentmon 1-3.

"We definitely were a horrible free-throw shooting team this year and that's one of the keys that we need to focus on this summer as a whole,'' said guard Joel Smith.

Said Romar: "If we were a decent free-throw shooting team. I firmly believe we'd be in the NCAA Tournament.''

UW finishes the year at 58.6 percent from the line, the second-worst in school history (worst was the 2000-01 Huskies of Bob Bender at 57.5)

UW also simply couldn't convert down the stretch, missing its last eight shots in the final 3:10. Brockman, Pondexter, Dentmon and Ryan Appleby all had makeable shots in that stretch that just didn't go down.

'It's frustrating,'' said Smith, who played one of his best games of the season with nine points and three assists in 20 minutes. "We scrapped and tried to get the job done. We just couldn't pull it out in the last couple of minutes.''

Just like the two WSU games, or the Pitt game, or the Stanford game, or the two Cal games.

UW ends the year on a three-game losing streak, the defeats coming by a combined seven points.

"I'm obviously very disappointed,'' Romar said speaking of the game, and surely the season.

It was a somewhat weird atmosphere all night with just 3,227 in attendance. But when things got exciting, the crowd got loud, and no UW players or coaches used the somewhat odd surroundings as an excuse.

"This is our homecourt,'' Smith said. "It shouldn't be a weird atmosphere at all no matter how many fans are there. We still have to bring it to the floor.''

UW will lose money on the deal, having to pay a $60,000 guarantee for the right to host. It figured it needed at least 4,000 to break even. But Husky officials said they would do it again, saying their ultimate purpose is to provide opportunities for their athletes. "I'm grateful we got a chance to participate although we had a quick departure,'' Romar said.

The loss came two years and one day after the Huskies beat Illinois to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.

The Huskies may seem far away from such heady days now.

But Romar remains confident the program is on the right track, and while I know there is frustration in the fan base, it's absurd to even bring up the issue of Romar's future. He's 119-72 in six years at UW, a winning percentage just shy of that of Marv Harshman (who was 246-146) and miles beyond his predecessor, Bender, who was 116-142.

Sure, there are questions about where it's all headed, and lots of issues about the future to ponder.

I won't get into those tonight as we'll have lots of time to ponder those later ---- a lot more time than anyone wearing purple and gold hoped.

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Posted by Packy (Tennessee)

11:18 PM, Mar 19, 2008

Thanks for that last statement Bob. All those calling for Romar's head need to remember he is the one who made husky basketball what it is today...unlike his counterpart Ty....Did anyone else know that this season would end on missed free throws?

Here's hoping that Turner, Suggs, Brasher, and Thomas know how to shoot (from the line).

Cant wait till UW-Oregon!!!

Posted by junkman

11:29 PM, Mar 19, 2008

Great analysis, Bob. Thanks for your excellant coverage this year!

Posted by 206er

12:17 AM, Mar 20, 2008

sad, sad, sad. just pathetic. we deserve all the crap we will be getting from fans of other teams. our team gave a poor effort and this was a disappointing close to a disapointing season. how embarrassing. hopefully it's all a learning experience.

Posted by 808Dawg

12:32 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Thanks for your continuous coverage this year, Bob. Other than Brockman, none of the players consistantly plays with any heart. Hopefully, the incoming recruits will inject some fire into the program.

Posted by Pac10football

3:17 AM, Mar 20, 2008

My god, this is just like watching the football team. Gag it down the stretch. Need some big time playmakers coming in next year.

Posted by fudazz

5:51 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Yeah, right Bob. Its absurd to think about Romar's future. Let's wait for another couple of years of what we've seen the last two. Let's give him a pass because he's had couple of great players come through. Let's wait until he's proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is really weak in developing players, and creating a cohesive successful unit out of the ones he's got. A couple of more years of paying salaries to coaches who can't teach kids to shoot who spend hours a day in the gym. Just a few more years.

Posted by AZ Dawg

6:06 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Looking at the attendance, it appears obvious fans know when the product is bad. I don't think effort is to blame. It's talent. We either need better talent or to improve. I didn't see improvement all year so it must be better talent.

Does a team like ASU have better talent? Sendek is sure getting W's with what he's got...

Posted by MT Husky

6:48 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Fabulous commentary Bob, thank you.

I loved your last few paragraphs...personally I wouldn't mind if you showed a little more emotion and personal opinion like that more often.

However, I do want to question you on this phrase:

"it's absurd to even bring up the issue of Romar's future."

I have been a pretty outspoken Romar supporter on this blog...and I would agree that to call for his head right now is unrealistic and unreasonable.

However, I don't think it is absurd to discuss his future.

Despite his winning % and all his other positive coaching attributes, I don't think it is unreasonable to question a loss of this magnitude.

This IS NOT a game the Huskies should have lost and it is fair and reasonable to question how/why this occurred.

Why were they not better prepared? Why is Romar putting Dentmon in instead of Overton when Dentmon has made poor decisions in the final seconds of games his entire career?

I'm not calling for Romar's head...but I am concerned with how the season ended and I think it is not unreasonable as a fan to want evidence in the coming year that Romar can do a better job then I feel he did last night.

Posted by Husky Fan In New York

6:51 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Bob, excellent commentary and thoughts. I didn't see the game but it sure sounds like if Artem Wallace hadn't gone down and/or Brockman was healthy, they wouldn't have won.

Regardless, sub 50% free throw shooting and bad field goal shooting outside of Brockman won't get it done. I really look forward to next year with the continued development of MBA and Overton plus some new guys. Hopefully Wolfinger and Smith develop some more too.

I hope Wallace is ok and it's just a sprain that won't need surgery.

Posted by Cousy Award

6:59 AM, Mar 20, 2008

At the beginning of the season Justin Dentmon was placed on the Bob Cousy Award list (top 25 point guards in the nation). I firmly believe through this trying season that we need a point guard (Overton) and that Dentmon's role should be null. The pg is the team's leader (see Collison, Chalmers, Rose, or Mayo). Romar's insistence on sticking with Dentmon is out of control. Oh well. Let's just throw this season away as there will be next year.

Posted by KirklandDawg

7:36 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Joel Smith played a great game.Even though the CBI experience was only a single game, his was a positive one that will only give him more confidence going into next year. Look for him to step it up both on the floor and with his leadership.

Posted by Caldawg

8:10 AM, Mar 20, 2008

So many angry thoughts. How did Appleby ever break the record. He just throws is up and prays. I wouldn't give a scholarship to a player that couldn't make 60% of their free throws. On any day you can drop by any gym in the country and watch school girls sink over 70% consistently.

Posted by boycott nike

8:14 AM, Mar 20, 2008

1) Your comment about Ty is irrelevant and absurd.
2) What exactly is Husky basketball today? From my point of view it's an 8th place Pac 10 team that lost to the 9th place team in the Pac 10 tournament and then lost to a double digit underdog from the - what was it - Horizon League? The basketball team is ALL Romar. He has all of his recruits playing his system. That's a big difference from the situation on the football team. I'm not of the opinion that Romar should be dismissed but I am concerned about the direction of the program. Another thing, for years a lot of people felt that if UW could lock up the local talent, they'd be in pretty good shape. Let's see what happens with some of the local talent in the next couple of years.

Posted by james

8:29 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Brockmans sub 50% FT shooting and lack of any clutch ability or even the ability to make anything besides a tip in really REALLY hurts the team. His stats are inflated as he is the only option and only hits shots with in 3 feet. He isnt deserving of even an honorable mention pac10. Honestly, he is one of the cancers that this team must rid it self of in order to win. He never won in HS and has yet to win in Bball. he is like the isiah stanback of UW basketball. an "athlete" who cant win and isnt clutch. In short, him, wolf, MBA and dent need to get lost.

Posted by UW alum 06

8:30 AM, Mar 20, 2008

These guys are pathetic! They make Mike Jensen look like the greatest player on the planet! How can they be so un-clutch? It's a free throw! I feel like all it takes is a little focus, this falls squarely on Romar for not keeping his guys focused! Maybe there's a correlation between shooting in practice when they just stand there vs being tired in a game setting. I say make them run lines in between each two free throw attempts and turn on massive amounts of crowd noise to try and throw them off!

Posted by Everett

8:41 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Bob, thank you for your efforts as always.

I was wondering if you happened to know if the NCAA still had a senior-only slam dunk/three point contest and, if so, what the odds were that Ryan Appleby might be able to participate in it. I vaguely remember ESPN2 airing the festivities late night, but they may not be doing that any more.

Posted by MDK

8:42 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Coach Romar is a great guy and a man of character but can he recruit? The Huskies lost Hardin to ASU last year and Holliday to UCLA this year. Those two would have made a big difference to Husky basketball. The future does not look good for Husky basketball. If Brockman should leave, we are looking at a season that could parallel the OSU Beavers. It mostly boils down to talent and recruiting, in which the Huskies are lacking(except Brockman). The 06-07 class looked good on paper but didn't turn out so, the 07-08 class is below average, and the incoming class of 08-09 looks pretty average. There are some good high school juniors and sophmores in the Northwest but will we get them? I see where one has already committed to AZ and another is considering Louisville. The incoming football class could possibly field a basketball team that would challenge the basketball recruits. The question is how long can we wait to see if the recruiting and talent will improve?

Posted by Mix

8:46 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Thanks for your great coverage Bob!

The Dawgs will be much improved next year!

Posted by Dawg_Ed

9:14 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Nathan gave plenty of kudos to Valpo. Anyone who attended the game (and I did) saw a Husky team come onto the floor looking like they were there for an intramural recreational game. The team clearly didn't buy-in to the tourney and didn't want to be there - regardless of what any of them now say. There were moments of intensity - Dentmon brought the most. Brockman was valiant but not very effective with his injury. Q worked at times. Wolfinger looked like he was drugged. It took a snarl from a team member to get him to defend with his arms in the air - and even that was half-#$%#%ed. The kids showed off occasionally - just to let Valpo know they had moves but basically they just didn't have the pride or respect for their fans and the program they represent to come to play.

The kids showed a lack of character last night and Nathan is right that the coaches need a hard look. Honestly, I do have to wonder about Romar. His picks for the team including coaches haven't been all that impressive and we've obviously lost fundamentals and discipline.

They had to know that Valpo would bring their AAA game and they just couldn't muster up the interest to care.

Shame on the men's program.

Posted by VA Husky

9:24 AM, Mar 20, 2008

With each passing season, it appears the success achieved by the Huskies in 2005 & 2006 is more attributable to Brandon Roy than Romar. Romar will need to prove himself in 2009 or start to look for his name next to Ty's (if he is still around) on "Coaches on the Hot Seat". The entire 2007-2008 year athletically is the legacy of TT's emphasis on the "student-athlete" experience. Ask any one of these players and I'm sure they would have rather experienced the NCAA Tournament!

Posted by dawgy

9:34 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Honestly, romar just appears not to care. He knows he is set and has huge money guarenteed to him. Ever see him get fired up? no. Ever see him coach the guys? no. Ever see him make half time adjustments? no. His practices are basically and and 1 session where the guys street ball it up for 30 minutes. He is real bad.

Posted by wayupwaydown

9:55 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Mt Husky,

I agree with about everything you said. I am with you on Romar. I am not ready to throw him under the bus, but to me next year is put up or shut up time.

I think he has a worse season coaching than the players had playing.

He has lost several players to transfer.
Issues that plagued the team all year did not get better.
Many players on this team haven't improved.
Many players on the court didn't fit his style of play.
The defense was atrotrious in many games.
It didn't seem that the players were consistently ready to play. They would be up in some games, and others seemed to go through the motions.

That all lays at a coaches feet.

But I do believe Romar has earned the right to have a chance to fix it. I am sure he also agrees with a lot of our analysis. He is a class guy, he has had success here, and he doesn't deserve to get fired this year.

For those that give Brandon Roy all the credit, remember who recruited Roy and the others. Roy and the others also improved under Romar. You can't blame Romar now and not give him credit for the good years.

But they need to go to the NCAA's next year. No excuses.

Posted by Dawg_Ed

9:56 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Romar cares - I don't question that. He's a good man but that doesn't mean he's a great coach. Does he have the vision or the intensity? Hard to say. In the absence of real details, ie., being in the trenches at practices etc., we are left with evaluating the results which point to - again - poor fundamentals, lack of discipline - and perhaps a lack of intensity. Nate was the team's emotional leader back when and now we don't have someone like that. The coaches don't seem to inspire it.

Posted by wayupwaydown

9:59 AM, Mar 20, 2008

I am so pissed I can't type or spell today. No patience.

Posted by Husky's Will be OK

10:04 AM, Mar 20, 2008

I am not worried at all about the Husky Basketball future. I think it is in the right hands with Romar. All of you saying he doesn't care because he is set, do not pay nearly enough attention to him. And he doesn't get fired up? PLEASE. I watch the huddle during timeouts and see Romar continually getting in players faces who are not playing with any emotion. Instead of booing the refs after a questionable foul call I watch the coaches and see Romar barking and lobbying with officials constantly.

I think Q will be a great player the next two years. He has learned how to create his own shot (ala BRoy and no I am not comparing the two just saying they both can create thier own shot) and just needs to learn to finish them. Free throws can't get anyworse and I think this season taught every player on this team that they need to always give just that little extra effort to win games.

Posted by Wolf!

10:04 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Who snarled at Wolf?

Did anybody notice brockman blaming overton for brockmans terrible pass? That really bothered me and showed poor leadership...

Posted by MT Husky

10:12 AM, Mar 20, 2008

A lot of great commentsÖIím 100% on board with the others who are expressing opinions that we need to give Romar at least another year but he also needs to show us something in the upcoming season.

The difficulty I have is really knowing how much is Romarís fault and how much is beyond his control.
For instance, Dawg Ed Ė I really appreciated your comments as one of the 11 people who attended the game. I was struck by your comment that the players didnít want to be there. I hadnít considered that. Is that Romarís fault? I donít know.

Also your comment that Dentmon was the only one who brought intensity. Typically I stand by my opinion that Overton should be in and I question Romarís judgment for using Dentmon like he does/hasÖbut if Dentmon was the only one brining intensity, then should he be in? I really donít know.
Personally, I WANT Romar to be a good coach. I WANT last night to be an anomaly and not his fault. I will readily and quickly retract criticisms Iíve made of Romar if evidence is produced that he can do something with this team.

I agree that Romar deserves credit for even raising the level of expectations we now have. But at the same time, he also has a contract and compensation package equivalent of top notch coaches across the country and so are we being unreasonable to want similar results?

Despite the sad ending, I will give Romar a pass for this past season because there were a lot of obstacles and I don't think we have an overall talent level that can compete. But I also hope that in the coming months we are provided information as to what Romar will be doing to improve the play of next yearís team and to lead a team that finds success in the Pac-10 conference.

As UW alumni, fans and supporters I donít think in any way that is unfair or unreasonable.

Posted by dawginbtown

10:15 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Artem and his family should consider legal action against Romar and UW. Romar potentially ended his career and crippled him for life in a meaningless game he didnt give an ish about. Reckless irresponsibility on his part, easily grounds for a large suit as artem could use the fact he was a big recruit to argue he would have got mega nba money but wont as romar has effectively ended his career.

Posted by Hutch

10:25 AM, Mar 20, 2008

AZDawg, did you watch ASU this year? Pendergraf, Abbott and Harden are serious ballers. ASU had a good team.

Posted by KeiferNandez

10:26 AM, Mar 20, 2008

The loss came two years and one day after the Huskies beat Illinois to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season "and then had UCONN on the ropes until Mike Jensen committed the dumbest foul in history and laughed about it on the bench like a fool to blow UW's chances at the Elite Eight and make UW's most promising season in the program's history go down in flames."


Posted by Seattle Sports Blog

10:29 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Thank the lord this season is over...the team of misfits and errant free throw shooting is over. How can we have a 7 footer that only shoots 3's? How can we have a 6-8 big man that shoots 23 from the FT line? I agree with Bob that Romar probably isn't the problem, however, discipline and coaching DO indeed influence FT. Practice, practice, practice....I feel that he neglected it the whole year and it cost us too many games. His rotation? Why, oh why do we have to sit through another year of watching Justin Dentmon dribble the ball off his shin again and again next year? Please give Joel Smith ample playing time and send Dentmon back to Chicago, Illinois! The only way this team is good next year is if Brockman returns.....let's hope that happens. I'd like to see this as the starting 5 next year: Wallace, Brockman, Pondexter, Joel Smith, and Overton.

Posted by MT Husky

10:32 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Carbondale Illinois (other end of the state)

Posted by Dave H.

10:33 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Oh those poor damn Huskies. First they stoop to paying $60,000 to get themselves a number one seed in the Crappy Basketball Invitational (CBI), then they top it off by losing on their home court to a crappy Valparaiso team before a crowd of only 3200, far below their regular season average of 9000. So not only have they totally disgraced themselves, but they even paid to do it. Reminds me of the former governor of New York.

Posted by KeiferNandez

10:33 AM, Mar 20, 2008

Brockman is not going to the League after this season.

If teams are hesitant to take Kevin Love in the first round because of his (lack of) size, Jon isn't going to get drafted next year.

Posted by Dawg_Ed

1:44 PM, Mar 20, 2008

Wolf, Appleby "snarled" at Wolfinger to get his armes up. I was right there and saw it.

MT Dawg: To clarify, Dentmon, I thought, he brought the most intensity when he brought it and was probably most consistant - Q next I think. Dentmon was not the only one. Since my original statements were broad statements, I wanted to be sure to acknowledge some efforts. Overall, the light switch was turning off and on with effort, focus - you name it. Tough to watch.

Posted by jed

10:06 PM, Mar 20, 2008

Dentman may be a risky choice to direct the team at the end of games but in the Valpo game early on he was one of the most productive offensive players. He is very up and down and I hope he is not our best SG candidate next year and definately less upside at PG than VO.

Not surprised by the comment that the players looked half hearted about this game during warmups. That's about the way we all felt about it.

I have to take strong issue with those who say Romar doesn't care. Nothing could be further from the truth. This team did show improvement this year although you would never know it from the Valpo game; that game should be ignored as an anomaly. It will be good to see Appleby, Morris graduate. Wolf needs to transfer; would take a miracle for him to be a significant contributor at this level. Dentman and Smith are probably about as good as they will get. They wiil both have one more year left but would not pin our hopes there; they should be more role players. IMHO our best hopes lie with Brock, VO, MBA (altho he looked bad vs. Valpo), Holiday, Gant, Wallace (undoubtedly an ACL tear by Romar's comments) and the four guys coming next year.

As to comments about Romar I remain a big supporter of him. I don't think he is a great fundamentals coach ala Bobby Knight and perhaps Bone is a better Xs and Os coach but he does motivate players in his own way and they want to play for him. At this stage not as good a coach as Harshman and may never be but he is an excellent recruiter. As I said players like him, trust him and want to play for him. I liked Detlef Schrempt but getting good local players certainly beats having to rely on foreign players. B. Roy and Conroy were recruited by Bender but for the first time in UW history they are getting better and local talent.

Romar needs to stay. His vision of what success looks like on offense is less structured and relies on players using their own abilities to create but in the context of the rest of the team. Exquisite when it works but you need talented, confident yet team minded players who have played together a lot. Very well suited to having a B. Roy.

Posted by J Nolan

7:34 AM, Mar 21, 2008

"They just wanted it more than us today,''

This is at least the 2nd time I have seen this quote by a Husky player this basketball season.

What's up??

I think Romar is a great coach. I'd love to see him succeed. He seems to recruit well, but he can't get these guys to play.

I don't know squat about coaching. But when players can throw out that statement over and over again, I think the coach needs to make some adjustments.

Good coach, tons of talent, what gives??

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