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Husky Men's Basketball Blog
Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies. E-mail Bob.
As the Huskies prepare for their Pac-10 opener against Cal this Friday, here is a look at the potential road bumps and land mines for the UW during conference play.
Jan. 8, at UCLA: Last year, the Huskies were only beaten twice during the regular season by one team. The Bruins gave the Huskies trouble with their huge size advantage last year, and you better believe they remember that. Ben Howland has a fantastic group of freshmen, and he started four of them against Michigan State recently.
Jan. 27, at Arizona: I’m willing to bet a lot of money that Lute Olsen circled this game on his calendar the day he got it. How often does Arizona lose three games in a year to the same team? The Huskies beat U of A soundly every time they saw them last year, including Nate Robinson’s coming out party in Seattle last January. The Huskies will run into a very motivated Wildcat team.
Jan. 30, at ASU: The Arizona trip will be extremely demanding for UW. Ike Diogu is the single best player in college hoops. The guy has recorded a double-double in every game he has played in at ASU! That is absolutely absurd. I don’t think Mike Jensen is going to break that streak. Sorry Mike.
Feb. 10, at Oregon: Nate Robinson’s dunk in the waning seconds of last year's game in Seattle did not sit well with the Ducks, and they’ll be ready for the Huskies. So will Oregon’s fans, who are among the rowdiest in the country. Aaron Brooks still doesn’t scare me though.
Trips to Stanford and Cal at the end of the year could be tough, but so could any road game in the Pac-10. I really think that the Huskies can run the table at Hec Ed, because the crowd is so incredible. Remember, these are only POTENTIAL problems for the Huskies. They won at Arizona and ASU last year, and are much better than Oregon and UCLA. Washington State has one of the most anemic offenses in the country. I didn’t know Oregon State still had a basketball team, and USC is still clearly a football school
One more thing to keep in mind. On Friday, for the first time all season, the Washington Huskies will be at full strength. Hakeem Rollins will play, giving Lorenzo Romar his full rotation. I know I just ran down a list of games the Huskies could lose. But the way this team has played, and is capable of playing, I really could be (and hope I am) wrong on all of those.
Posted by Bob Payne at 2:49 PM
RPI rating: UW has risen one spot to No. 5 this week in these computer ratings. collegerpi.com
Sportsline's RPI: Not sure how different their formula is from the one above, but here the Huskies come in at No. 6. Sportsline RPI
Sagarin ratings: UW has risen 3 spots to No. 4 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. Sagarin men's basketball
AP Top 25: UW today is ranked No. 13 in voting by the media. They dropped one spot, basically switching places with Gonzaga. AP rankings
Sportsline's player rankings: Not sure what formula they use, but Sportsline continues to rank UW's Nate Robinson No. 1 nationally for player productivity. And Tre Simmons comes in at No. 15. Player rankings
Frankly, I don’t know how they did it. After playing and beating one of the best teams in the country on Sunday, how do you get up to play one of the worst teams in the country on Wednesday? Where is the motivation? Wherever it was, the Huskies found enough motivation to absolutely humiliate Sacred Heart, 114-53. I believe we owe a big hand to Mr. Lorenzo Romar.
Not only did Romar have his team focused, he had them fired up to play. After a sloppy beginning, the Huskies put together a 24-0 run in the first half and a 21-0 run in the second half. They scored inside on dunks and post moves. They shot threes. Eight players scored in double figures. They forced 34 turnovers, and had 30 assists. The Huskies were so focused that they allowed only 22 points in the second half. Usually in these types of games, bench players occupy most of the second-half minutes and the score gets closer. Not last night.
This is another example of how right Lorenzo Romar is for this job. His kids love him. They believe in him. If he says they weren’t playing hard enough on defense, they go out and force 34 turnovers. If he says get out and run, they turn the game into a track meet. During warm ups, Lorenzo Romar gets the biggest reaction from the crowd when he comes out. He hosts taco feeds for students before games. He speaks at fraternity houses. He hands out pizza to students waiting to get into games. At a school with a long romantic involvement with its football team, a secret affair has begun with its basketball team.
There is no other way to say this. Lorenzo Romar coaches the right way. He doesn’t let his players showboat (too much). He makes them dress the same. If one guy has a headband, they all have to wear one. If one guy has long hair, he has to cut it or everybody has to have long hair. It all goes back to having a team atmosphere. Romar turned the Doug Wrenn “everybody-for-themselves” Huskies from two years ago into the Lorenzo Romar-led Husky team you have today. Which one do you enjoy watching?
Posted by Bob Payne at 10:53 AM
RPI rating: UW has risen one spot to No. 6 this week in these computer ratings. Interestingly, its next two opponents aren't faring so well. Sacred Heart comes in at No. 318 (out of 330) and Houston at No. 106. collegerpi.com
Sportsline's RPI: Not sure how different their formula is from the one above, but here the Huskies come in at No. 3. Sportsline RPI
Sagarin ratings: UW has dropped to No. 7 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. They've got some pretty heady company here just above them are North Carolina and Georgia Tech. Sagarin men's basketball
AP Top 25: UW today is ranked No. 12 in voting by the media. That's a jump of six places this week. AP rankings
Sportsline's player rankings: Not sure what formula they use, but Sportsline still ranks UW's Nate Robinson No. 1 nationally for player productivity. And Tre Simmons comes in at No. 16. Player rankings
Now then, Husky fans, we may have something special going on here. Yesterday, the Huskies didn’t play particularly well. They turned the ball over more than North Carolina State, and they had fewer assists. They only hit two three-point shots. Nate Robinson was taken completely out of his game by a bigger defender and foul trouble. The referees were absolutely terrible. And, we won. That’s how good this team is. They can get sucked in to playing at another team's tempo and win. There is one reason for all of this. Brandon Roy.
During warmups I noticed that Roy was dressed and shooting around. I almost had a heart attack. I couldn't believe he was ready to go. It had only been three weeks! When he didn't start, I decided that it had just been a decoy and it probably had been a pretty good one. Fifteen minutes into the game though, it was clear that N.C. State was good enough to take us out of our game and not allow us to get into a rhythm. Nate Robinson was rattled, and even though we were leading for most of the first half, I never felt comfortable. Then, I looked and saw who was checking into the game.
The crowd got to its feet when it realized what was going on. Roy played the last four minutes of the first half gingerly, trying to see what he could and could not do. He didn't start the second half. Nate Robinson couldn't get on track. Then Brandon Roy came into the game, and on a fast break took a pass from Mike Jensen and effortlessly finished with a dunk. But he was just getting warm.
After playing stifling defense on All-American Julius Hodge, Roy put his emphatic stamp on the game with one of the most incredible tip dunks I have ever seen. His confidence was back. The Huskies' swagger was back. Hec Ed was deafening. There was no doubt in my mind that the game was over.
While Nate Robinson has been the darling of the college basketball world this season, Brandon Roy proved yesterday that he is the one who turns the Huskies into a legitimate threat to go deep into the NCAA tournament. He passes, defends, rebounds and scores. There is nothing he can't do. Everybody in Romarville knows that, and all of a sudden, everybody in the country knows that too.
Last February, Julius Hodge said he would score 40 points against the Huskies. He didn’t. He scored 11. He was in foul trouble for most of the game, and really did not contribute in the win. I know the Huskies went to North Carolina State and lost by five last year (77-72), but that was their first real road test after they established themselves as a legitimate team. Oh my, how things have changed in a year.
Currently, N.C. State is ranked No. 12 in the AP Top 25, and they are undefeated. You know what? Big deal. Who have they beaten? Have they played anybody in their conference, like North Carolina, Duke or Georgia Tech? No. Here are the teams they have played: New Orleans, Elon, East Carolina, Campbell, Purdue, Manhattan, Liberty, and Louisiana Lafayette. Seriously? This is a Top 20 team, with that schedule? Please.
For anybody who has attended a game at Hec Edmundson in the last year, they know it is loud and intimidating for visitors. The Stanford game last year was so loud that the TV announcers were barely audible during their broadcast. Now, firmly ranked in the Top 25, the Huskies are a legitimate powerhouse in college basketball. They know how to win big games, and they are still getting better. I promise you, they have not forgotten that loss last year, nor have they forgotten Julius Hodge’s boasting.
I know that Hodge is a great player. He’s an All-American, and good for him. The thing is, there is a guy in Husky uniform that shut him down a year ago, and I’m willing to bet he does it again. I would put Bobby Jones one on one with anybody in America, and feel confident that he could contain him. The guy just doesn’t know how to play less than full speed.
I’m not going to guarantee a win for the Huskies. What I will say is that the game on Sunday will be high energy. The crowd will be frenzied. The Huskies will be eager to avenge the loss last year, because this is an opportunity for UW to show the rest of the country that they are really a dangerous club. But, you know what? I think the rest of the country already knows this. Why do I say this? Read the papers. Has Julius Hodge opened his mouth this year? Absolutely not.
This Sunday's matchup with North Carolina State may be the most significant Husky game since March 19, 1998. (If the date doesn't ring a bell for you, it should. That was the UConn game, when Richard Hamilton hit that last-second shot.)
ESPN.com recently posted its Power 16. They chose only one team from the West. That would be your Washington Huskies. In the Power 16, the breakdown is as follows:
ACC- 5 teams
You see if you add all of this up, it equals "East Coast Bias."
Even with that East Coast Bias, the Huskies were projected No. 3 seed in the tournament. Now, I know that March is months away, but a victory over N.C. State predicted to be a No. 4 seed would send a clear message to the Gods of college basketball. There would be nothing quite as sweet
Finals are over, which could mean one thing: it is officially college basketball season. The “Getting to Know You” stage came and passed, inflated and overhyped teams met their match and the unknowns have made their presence felt. Now it is time to settle down and hold on for dear life as the Huskies embark on what looks like one of their most promising seasons in recent memory.
The Huskies have looked very good early on. What we know:
What we don’t know:
Final thoughts: Sonics beat Suns tonight, Seahawks beat Jets, Dawgs beat the Wolfpack, and M’s sign Beltran; pandemonium ensues. Merry Christmas Seattle!
Think back to the glory days of Husky football. What made those teams so great? The starters blew out the competition by halftime. By the middle of the third quarter the second and third teams were in the game. That provided valuable experience and playing time for "next year's team."
This year, the majority of minutes are going to a key group of upper
Looking forward to next November, the team expects to lose seniors
Of course, everyone is eagerly waiting for next year's top recruiting
This year, Romar has done a great job of mixing up his rotation so
So throughout this season, look for these three players to get
Posted by Bob Payne at 12:28 PM
Let's hope Husky players are concentrating on their exams this week and not paying attention to the rankings. Here's a sampling:
RPI rating: UW has risen two spots to No. 7 this week in these computer ratings. collegerpi.com
Sagarin ratings: UW has risen to No. 5 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. They've got some pretty heady company here above them are Illinois, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Georgia Tech, while ACC powers Duke and North Carolina come in at No. 6 and No. 7. Keep in mind ... it's early. Sagarin men's basketball
AP Top 25: UW has fallen two spots to No. 18 in this week's voting by the media. The drop came despite winning both their games this past week. And, to top it off, one of the teams that leap-frogged them was Alabama, who they beat in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout. AP rankings
Sportsline's player rankings: Not sure what formula they use, but Sportsline ranks UW's Nate Robinson No. 1 nationally for player productivity. And Tre Simmons comes in at No. 9. Player rankings
What do you do when a guy averaging 18 points per game hurts his knee? Panic? You could. Give up on the season? Perhaps. Lorenzo Romar did none of those things. He smiled, said that losing Brandon Roy was tough, then announced that Tre Simmons would start until Brandon Roy comes back. There was no panic. Romar was calm, cool and collected. He obviously knew something that we didn't.
Yesterday's game against Loyola Marymount was the third straight 20-plus point performance for Simmons. In that stretch, he is 10-16 from behind the three-point arc and 5 for 5 from the free throw line. Keep in mind, this is a guy who averaged 28 points per game in junior college. He has one of the softest, sweetest shots you will ever see in college basketball. As effortless as all his movements look on the court, he is lightning quick and much stronger than he appears. And, I know firsthand. You see, I have played against Tre Simmons.
We played in a pickup game at the IMA building in early 2003, before I even knew who he was. I just thought he was some guy looking for a game (which, he actually was). I told him to go find one more guy so we could play five on five. He did, and then he tore us apart. He didn’t miss a shot, he got every rebound, he played relentless defense, and he was very nice about everything. I didn't think anything of it, until I recognized him when the Huskies took the floor during their first home game of the 2003-2004 season. I looked at my buddy who had been with me, he looked at me, and we both figured out who we had been playing with.
It’s not often that a team's best all around player goes down for a sustained amount of time, and his replacement puts up better numbers than he did. Not to say that Brandon Roy isn’t a fantastic player, because he is, and he most definitely will be reinserted into the starting lineup when he is healthy. What Tre Simmons has provided for his team is stability, and the opportunity for Brandon Roy to get completely healthy before he returns.
Sure, the Dawgs look good right now, but was Sunday's win against
After watching both the Gonzaga and LMU games, my level of concern was
The Huskies have played a difficult nonconference schedule, nobody
UW has won three impressive games against opponents at Hec Ed, making
Only four of their first 18 games of the season are on the road (not counting the three in Alaska). Two of those games are/were against average USC and Loyola-Marymount teams. And if Sunday's game at LMU was any indication, it’s something they need to work on. Because seven of their last 11 games of the season are on the road.
Will they be ready? Let's hope so.
I know it's hard to find something to complain about after back-to-back blowout victories. But there was one thing from last night's game that bothered me.
Mike Jensen scored four points, and then fouled out with 15 minutes to go in the second half because he got a technical foul. Does anybody know what happened to this guy? How does a guy who goes 6-foot-8, 240 pounds play like that? He likes to hang out on the wing, shoot jump shots, and then charge the lane and jump up the backs of people to try and tip dunk.
I am pretty sure that all of this is in his head. Sometimes, he looks fantastic. He'll drill a three, then come down on the other end and make a great defensive play. But, then he forgets what he's doing. He'll have an open lane to the hoop, but not be able to decide if he wants to dunk or lay it up, and he'll lose the ball out of bounds. He'll try to beat someone off the dribble. He'll run into the lane for a rebound and jump over one of his own teammates, and knock the ball away.
This team needs Mike Jensen to play like he is capable of playing. Against Gonzaga, Ronny Turiaf showed that the Huskies could be a donut team, with nothing in the middle. Imagine if every time Nate or Will drive and have a defense collapse on them, they know that they have a reliable, sure-handed Mike Jensen to dump the ball off to.
Imagine being able to dump the ball down low to Mike Jensen, only to have a double team come immediately, leaving any one of the Huskies shooters with an open look at a three. How much more dangerous does that make the Huskies? Without a doubt, this team needs Mike Jensen. The question is, will he be there?
Question: When was the last time the entire crowd of a basketball game on its feet at the end of a 33-point blowout?
Answer: Sunday, after the Huskies finished up with Eastern Washington.
The cheers weren’t for Nate Robinson, Will Conroy, Bobby Jones, Tre Simmons, or Jamaal Williams. They were for Zane Potter, Hans Gasser, Alex Johnson and Brandon Burmeister. Guess who was leading the cheers? Nate, Will, Bobby and the rest of the team.
To some people, this might not seem that remarkable. Teammates usually encourage each other and try to motivate each other. But, this was a blowout. This wasn’t a conference game. There were two minutes left. So what was the entire UW team doing standing and screaming and cheering for their seldom-used reserves?
I’ll tell you what they were doing. They were cheering for their friends. This team likes each other. They care about each other. They care about their fans. They want every single person to bask in the glory of the other’s success. When Zane Potter went to the free throw line, I thought Will Conroy was going to get a technical foul for running onto the court because he was so excited.
Nate Robinson was standing on a chair trying to get the crowd to quiet down so Zane could concentrate on his free throws. If you look up and down that bench, nowhere will you find a Doug Wrenn or C. J. Massingale, guys complaining about not getting minutes. Every guy on that bench wants to be there, and will do whatever it takes to stay there.
Last season, when Curtis Allen showed his displeasure towards Lorenzo Romar over playing time, he was benched during crunch time of a game, and UW lost. In doing so, Romar proved for the final time to his players that TEAM is all that matters.
There must be something in the Seattle water recently, because the “team” concept has even managed to make it into the NBA. Nate McMillan and the Sonics are torching the rest of the league by playing better team basketball than they have in nearly a decade. Even so, Seattle’s true fascination is with its Huskies. In recent memory, there hasn’t been a Husky basketball team that played with this much passion for the game and each other.
The next time the Huskies are up big late in a game, try to catch a glimpse of the starters who are sitting on the bench cheering for their friends. They may be having more fun doing that than anything else.
Last night, Washington State did belong to Gonzaga. I was sick about it. I blamed the refs for hometowning us, I called the Bulldogs “cheaters” and “babies,” and I couldn’t believe a guy like Derek Raivio, who looks like he is 14, hit five of six from three point range. I had to calm down. I went on a long run, and thought about what had just happened. I thought about the three games in three days played 2,000 miles away last week. I thought about the woodshed beating that Illinois put on the Bulldogs this past weekend. I thought about this game being the first marquee matchup in Gonzaga’s new arena. Finally, I remembered that it was pretty ridiculous to hope for an undefeated season. Then, I didn’t feel quite so bad.
Simply put, one good team beat another. The Huskies played three big games in three days. Gonzaga had been humiliated over the weekend. That was still fresh in their mind. They are a much better team than they showed against Illinois. The Huskies were coming into one of the toughest places to play in college basketball and Gonzaga was fired up. They were ready. Gonzaga hit huge shots. They refused to miss. Ronny Turiaf could have thrown shots up backwards and they probably would have gone in. It was that kind of night. People might start to worry about this Husky team after this loss. Let me be the first to tell you, don’t. This isn’t like the team last year, where a blowout loss at home sent them into a five-game funk. This isn’t like the team two years ago, which lost a heartbreaker in overtime, and then didn’t know how to recover. This is a team that already knows how to win, and hates to lose. This is a team that believes it should always win, and when they don’t, all they want to do is get back out on the floor and punish whoever is next. I think that is exactly what they will do.
There is no question that the loss of Brandon Roy hurts. Tre Simmons is most effective coming off of the bench and changing the entire flow of a game. That being said, there is more than enough talent and desire on this team to hardly miss a beat. There wasn’t one player who didn’t want to take a big shot. Jamaal Williams proved again that he will be a money player as the year goes on. He scored 18 points against Gonzaga’s front line that runs 6’10”, 6’9”, and 6’8”. Will Conroy, the senior captain, hit three straight threes in the first half, each one quelling a Gonzaga run. Even Mike Jensen, who sometimes looks lost on the floor, carried the offensive load for a period in the second half. Bobby Jones turned in his usual “Mr. Everything” performance. Then there is Nate Robinson. All he did was score 22 points, and produce the first great highlight of the young season when he drove right by Derek Raivio and dunked for the whole world to see.
The frightening thing is, this team has been at full strength for only 12 minutes this year. During the first half of the Oklahoma game, the Huskies played with all their weapons, and they were nearly dominant. Even when Roy took himself out of the game, they didn’t miss a beat. Now they are going to have to adjust their game to fit the pieces they have now, and there is no doubt that Lorenzo Romar will do just that.
Romar will also make sure his team remembers how they felt when they walked off of the floor in Spokane last night. As much as the loss stings, it is something that shouldn’t be forgotten. This is the kind of game that could cripple a young team. This is the kind of game that could stun an up-and-coming team. The Huskies are neither of those things. The Huskies are an experienced team that knows how to win. This loss will motivate them. Look what happened to North Carolina after they were upset by Santa Clara. The Tar Heels averaged nearly 100 points a game and won the Maui Invitational, then hung a 30-point drubbing on USC.
Here we are, on Dec. 2, and the Huskies are 4-1. They have a legitimate chance to be 10-1 or 9-2 by the time the Pac-10 season starts. With that in mind, here is a thought. With a 10-1 or 9-2 record in their back pocket, the Huskies are also going to get their best all-around player back on the floor.