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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.
Ike Diogu had 14 points and 13 rebounds on Sunday against the Huskies. This from a guy who is averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds a contest. He also got to the free throw line one time. Diogu leads the country in free throw attempts, and the Huskies held him to one attempt (he missed it). So what does that mean?
Early season scouting reports had the Huskies struggling against teams that were bigger than them. So far this season, the only teams that have beaten the Huskies have shot extremely well from the outside and played fantastic perimeter defense. Size has not been an issue.
When your front line doesnít have anybody bigger than 6-8, eventually it would seem that it would catch up to you. But after the Huskies beat ASU and Diogu to run their record to 17-3, it seems maybe it wonít. At least not yet. The Huskies have played very well against teams with talented big men. Andrew Bogut at Utah was held in check up in Alaska. Ronny Turiaf didnít dominate inside. Channing Frye didnít take over the game the way he should.
To succeed in March in college basketball, teams either need to have a dominant inside force (like the 1998 Huskies, who dumped the ball into Todd MacCulloch constantly) or they need to be able to defend an inside force. I do think it would be a stretch to call Mike Jensen a dominant inside force, but the combination of Jensen, Hakeem Rollins, Bobby Jones and Jamaal Williams have proven to be very capable defenders. Everybody knows where the offense comes from on this team, but it is the efforts of those four guys that gives the Huskies the best chance to win in March.
Of course, the Huskies still need to be able to play better perimeter defense and they need to be able to force teams out of zone defense. But, when the NCAA draw is out in March and the Huskies are eventually faced with a Big 12 or ACC team with dominant inside guys, donít panic. We know that our guards can play with anybody in the country. We are only now learning that our big men can do the same thing.
P.S. For anybody who hasnít heard, former Husky reserve David Hudson (now known as ďJunyaĒ) has entered the rap game. One of his tracks is dedicated to his former team, and is called ďIt Must Be Husky.Ē It has to be heard to be believed.
Posted by Bob Payne at 1:32 PM
RPI rating: UW stays at No. 6 this week in these computer ratings. collegerpi.com
Sportsline's RPI: The Huskies rise one spot to No. 7. Sportsline RPI
Sagarin ratings: UW is ranked No. 6 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. Sagarin men's basketball
AP Top 25: UW today dropped three spots to No. 13 in voting by the media. Just below them at No. 14 is Pac-10 rival Arizona. The Wildcats lost to Washington State on Saturday. AP rankings
Sportsline's player rankings: Sportsline ranks UW's Nate Robinson No. 18 nationally for player productivity. Player rankings
Iím still not worried.
Yes, the Dawgs let another big lead get away, and yes they got home-towned a little bit. They went into a hostile environment and got beat. They lost on the road to the 11th ranked team in the country. Letís put this into a little bit of perspective here. On the same night, Wake Forest (fifth in the country) got beat by Georgia Tech (21st in the country).
Instead of focusing on the negatives, (like 34 three-point attempts and getting to the foul line half as may times as Arizona) letís look at the positives. Brandon Roy was incredible - 15 points, 9 boards and 7 assists? Is it possible to have a better all-around game? Also, the Huskies didnít exactly wilt under pressure. Arizona shot 40 free throws, and made 38. 38! If Arizona only goes to the line 30 times, and makes 28, the Huskies win. Letís not forget to give credit where credit is due. Lute Olson had his team prepared with their 1-3-1 zone, and it took UW out of their offense.
Iím not making excuses for the Huskies. They should have had an answer for the zone, and should not have jacked up 34 threes. Thatís unbelievable, especially when they have two of the top players in the country when it comes to slashing to the hoop (Roy and Nate Robinson). They got in foul trouble very early in the game, I think that Arizona was shooting free throws with 11 minutes to go in the first half. Jamaal Williams may as well have been on a milk carton because he just didnít show up. Talented big men like Channing Frye clearly give him trouble.
But again, this isnít the end of the world. The Huskies are 16-3. Arizona still has to come to Seattle at the end of February. If you think the Huskies will let the memory of this loss get away from them before that, think again. Keep in mind, at this time last year, the Huskies were 8-8 overall, and 3-5 in the conference. This is a poised and talented Husky team. Now that Brandon Roy is back and healthy, they are only going to get better.
So, letís recap. Whatís good: 16-3 record, top 20 ranking, healthy team that is going to get better. Whatís bad: Exactly, whatís bad?
Do you think that Bank of America Arena has the attention of the Pac-10? Never you mind the fact that the Huskies are unbeaten at home for more than a calendar year. Forget the fact that it is nearly impossible to get in the door on game night. Coaches for other teams are scared. Actually, they are terrified.
While the Huskies were slowly killing the will of the Cougars this weekend, reputable WSU coach Dick Bennett made an obscene gesture to the student section. He immediately was remorseful, so sorry he did it, yadda yadda yadda. Ernie Kent complained that the students were too close to the visitors bench and that ďthe situation could provoke something similar to what we saw in Detroit in November.Ē
Iíve seen the students. They are loud, rowdy and into games. They arenít violent. They arenít threatening. They boo the opposing teams. They ride opposing players. But they arenít dangerous or threatening to visitors. Whatís happening here is something we have longed for at Hec Ed. People are making excuses when they come to town. They need a scapegoat for why they played so poorly.
The fact of the matter is, itís nearly impossible right now to come into Seattle and steal a win. The team is too good, and the fans are too loud. Thatís what it is. Iím willing to bet that when Coach K first turned Duke around some 25 years ago people said the same thing about Cameron Indoor Arena. Now, itís one of the most hallowed grounds in college basketball. I love the fact that some of the best coaches in the land canít handle coming to Seattle.
The Huskies have to endure it when they go on the road. This weekend at the Arizona schools is going to be brutal. The fans in Tucson will certainly have not forgotten what happened last year, and they will surely be all over Lorenzo Romar and his bunch. So this weekend, when the crowds are rowdy and berating the Huskies, look for Lorenzo Romar to take it all in stride and maybe even smile a little. Do you think opposing coaches and crowds would react this way if they didnít know just how damn good this Husky team is?
Posted by Bob Payne at 12:46 PM
RPI rating: UW stays at No. 6 this week in these computer ratings. collegerpi.com
Sportsline's RPI: The Huskies are No. 8. Sportsline RPI
Sagarin ratings: UW is ranked No. 6 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. Sagarin men's basketball
AP Top 25: UW today remained at No. 10 in voting by the media. Just below them at No. 11 is Pac-10 rival Arizona. The Huskies travel to Tucson to take on the Wildcats this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. (FSN TV) AP rankings
Sportsline's player rankings: Sportsline ranks UW's Nate Robinson No. 20 nationally for player productivity. Player rankings
This past weekend, the Huskies did something that is unheard of. They beat a conference opponent by 40 points. That just doesnít happen. Coaches and writers across the country realized this, and in this weekís Top 25, UW moved up four spots to number 10. In honor of the Huskies being ranked in the Top 10 for the first time since Gerald Ford was President, here are 10 reasons why everybody in Seattle (and the country, for that matter) should be on the UW bandwagon.
10. This 15-2 start has helped Husky fans quickly forget (for now at least) the debacle that was the Husky football team this past fall.
9. Because so much of the talent is local, Seattle is getting national attention as a hotbed for basketball products. For years, schools like Rainier Beach, Garfield, Franklin and others have produced NBA quality players. The success of the Huskies, along with prep studs like Martell Webster and Micah Downs, have drawn NBA and College coaches from around the country to the Pacific Northwest.
8. The city is buzzing. The anticipation before tip off on game day hasnít been seen in Seattle since either the 2001 Mariners or the 1996 Sonics. Everybody loves a winner, especially one that is so much fun to watch and easy to root for.
7. Zane Potter. Here is a guy who came from absolutely nowhere (Boring, Oregon) to become the consummate fan favorite 12th man. He gets standing ovations during warm ups. If the Huskies are up by anymore than 10 with 2 minutes to go, you can hear the students start to chantÖ POTTERÖ.POTTERÖ.POTTER. Incredible.
6. Seattle Fans. Notoriously fair weather, they have packed Bank of Arena to the gills every night. Itís not like at Safeco Field, where they will politely clap in unison after a great play. The place is rocking for 40 minutes. It gets so loud, players canít hear a referee blow his whistle. And visitors are supposed to come in and win?
5. Jacque Robinson. The guy loves his son. He himself is a Husky legend. Think about this. 20 years ago, Jacque was writing his name into Husky lore. Today, his son is doing the same thing. At the Oregon game last week, Jacque was holding his brand new grandson in his arms while watching Nate tear up the Ducks. So, if my math is correct, in 2025, we will have yet another Robinson to entertain and amaze us.
4. Bank of America Arena has become the new ďPlace to BeĒ in Seattle. In the 90ís it was Key Arena, and the past few years itís been Safeco Field. If youíre not at Hec Ed on game night, youíre not anywhere. Tyrone Willingham has been seen courtside. Nate McMillan came to watch NC State play the Huskies. Howard Shultz has been spotted. National writers like ESPN.comís Andy Katz have been in attendance. Hec Ed is legit.
3. The way Lorenzo Romar coaches his team during games. He doesnít just sit and scream on the sidelines. He constantly is teaching. During a freethrow, he shows his team how he wants them to play defense. He does defensive slides so they see how he wants it done. He instructs during timeouts, dead balls and even during live action. His players respond and make adjustments. Thatís how you coach a basketball team. Is the NBA listening?
2. Will Conroy. This is a guy that has gotten lost in the shuffle of Nate, Tre and Brandon. He isnít the flashiest guy on the court, or the most gifted. He wasnít even offered a scholarship as a freshman. He made himself a ball player. He turned himself into a team leader. He makes the team run. It doesnít show up in the stats, but if Will Conroy isnít in the game, then the Huskies will struggle. I donít know if he will make an NBA roster, but for an NBA team not to take a chance on Will Conroy would be criminal.
1. The students. Those guys are nuts. Lining up three hours before a game is pretty standard for a big time program, but the way they respond to their team is unreal. They stand from the minute they get into the building. They are educated about the opponents. They cheer for fundamental plays, like solid team defense and good ball movement. They love their players. They are ROWDY. The way the stadium is situated, the students are right on top of the players. The players here every single word the students say. Donít think that it doesnít fire up the Dawgs and scare the hell out of everybody else. It certainly does.
Weíre going to do something different here. I want to change things up a little bit. After watching the Huskies pound, and I do mean POUND, Oregon last night, I got to thinking. Brandon Roy didnít play a minute. He didnít even take his jacket off. Nate Robinson, although he had 14 points, wasnít really dominant, and he hasnít taken over a game since the Great Alaska Shoot Out. At this point, these two guys donít look quite ready to make a jump to the NBA.
Just think about this for a second: Brandon Roy has played in less than half of the Huskies games this year. Nate Robinson has been wildly inconsistent. What if, just what if they didnít leave for the NBA? What if they stuck around for their senior seasons? What if they came back to play alongside the greatest recruiting class in UW history? Our starting five would look something like this:
F: Mike Jensen (Yes, I know he has no clue on the floor, but the guy will be a senior)
The bench would then go:
Although this means we would have to say goodbye to our beloved reserves like Zane Potter, we would have one of the most talented starting five in the country to go along with the deepest bench I may have ever heard of. When was the last time the Huskies (hypothetically) had one five-star recruit and two four-star recruits buried on the bench? This team could shape up very similar to the Carmello Anthony-led Syracuse club that won the national title thing two years ago. Martell Webster in the starting five, along with a deep bench and four veteran starters would be the talk of college basketball. That could be a team for the ages.
Of course at this point itís all a pipe dream. If Brandon Roy comes back next week and puts up an 18-point average for the rest of the season, heís gone. Nate could very easily find his stroke and start to take over games the way he did earlier in the year, and he would go as well. Martell Webster might forgo college ball altogether. Regardless, the Huskies are in good shape for next year.
Itís officially gut check time for the Huskies. If this team is to go deep into March, this loss to UCLA is going to be the wake up call they need. Blowing a 21 point lead on the road and ending up losing by 9 (yup, thatís a 30 point swing) is the type of thing that will derail a team heading in the right direction. It can sabotage a season that had all the makings of a great one.
If the Huskies donít recover from this game, they still can win 19-20 games during the regular season, win once or twice in the Pac-10 tournament and get into the NCAA tournament. However, they wonít have the toughness to win tough games on the road, and win at a neutral site in March. You know what, I donít think that is whatís going to happen.
UCLA is not an easy place to play, even during a down year for the Bruins. There is not a gimme road win the Pac-10 this year (save USC, which doesnít really count. WSU, yes THE COUGERS, went into LA and gave the Trojans a woodshed beating.). In the history of the Pac-10, not one team has ever gone undefeated throughout the conference season. Thatís a list that includes the National Championship UCLA team from 1995, the National Championship Arizona team from 1997 and all of the great Stanford teams from the 1990ís.
This team is too talented to let a loss like this cripple their season. This team wants to win too much and believes in their abilities so much, that they will use this loss as motivation. This team has a coach that will not lose sight of the overall goal of the season, and in turn will not let his players lose focus either. If you were watching the game on TV, you saw the look of utter disgust on Nate Robinsonís face after he fouled out. Losing drives this team crazy.
With three home games in the next two weeks, the Huskies should race out to a 16-2 record before their January 27th heavyweight fight with Arizona in Tucson. If anybody watched Arizona play Stanford this weekend, then you know that the Wildcats still donít look like a team that can win big games, despite all the talent.
A year ago, this Husky team might have accepted this loss, saying that they played tough on the road against a good team. This year, they said no such thing. There was no excuse for this loss. Every person in that locker room knows that this could be the last run for this fantastic group. There isnít time to have character building losses, and all of the players know that. Now the question is, how does this veteran team respond to its first real adversity of the season?
Hopefully with a thumping of Oregon come Thursday night.
I am a Husky basketball fan, and I just wanted to thank you both very much. I really appreciate the fact that you both decided not to come to the University of Washington to play basketball. I really feel like you had the best interest of the Huskies at heart. With Rodrick gone from USC now, brother Lodrick showed his mettle last night against the Huskies, pretty much quitting after Washington got up big in the first half. While the Huskies extended their win streak to 9 and got off to their best start in almost 30 years, you and your team looked like you wanted to be anywhere but in the LA Sports Arena.
You are exactly what this team never needed. You are nothing more than distractions. If you two had been at the UW during last yearís 0-5 stretch to open the season, what would you have done? Quit? Complained to the press? Created a rift on the team? Now that the Huskies are winning and all of the sudden a premier team in the country, they look a lot better to you, donít they?
Rodrick didnít like Henry Bibby, so he simply left school. Heís going to sit on the bench in Kansas because there are people there who are better and older than him. Iím willing to bet that in a few months we hear him complaining about Bill Self, even though the Jayhawks are ranked in the top 5. Lodrick, god bless him, stayed at USC to tough it out. Yes, he is leading the men of Troy in scoring, but heís also leading them in threats to jump to the NBA, public criticisms of the program and overall bad attitude.
Those are things that have not happened in the last two years with this Husky team, and I canít begin to tell you how much I appreciate you bringing your drama to USC instead of Washington. Instead of drama, the Dawgs are long on camaraderie and teamwork. Those are the things that contribute to winning, not openly complaining about your coach. Who does that benefit? You? Probably not. It hasnít worked so far.
So, while you toil in the doldrums at USC and Kansas, I am going to continue to enjoy this wonderful run that the Huskies are on. I will enjoy listening to how much all of the players respect each other, and how much they love playing for their coach and their fans. And, through all of this, I will thank you again for doing what was best for the University of Washington basketball team.
The Washington Husky faithful.
Posted by Bob Payne at 12:23 PM
RPI rating: UW stays at No. 5 this week in these computer ratings. collegerpi.com
Sportsline's RPI: The Huskies rise one place to No. 5. Sportsline RPI
Sagarin ratings: UW has dropped three spots to No. 7 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. Sagarin men's basketball
AP Top 25: UW today moved up one spot to No. 12 in voting by the media. Just below them at No. 13 is Pac-10 rival Arizona. 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. But the gap between him and the No. 2 player has shrunk considerably. And Tre Simmons comes in at No. 10. Player rankings
After this weekendís sweep of the Bay Area schools, these three things I know are true:
1. The Pac-10 is a tough conference. From top to bottom, anybody can beat anybody else on a given night. Cal is a depleted team, and they hung with the Huskies for 35 minutes. Stanford is a shadow of their former selves, and nearly pulled off an upset. This league is tough.
2. Hec Ed has to be one of the top five toughest places to play in the country right now. As hard as the Huskies tried to blow the game against Cal, the fans REFUSED to allow it to happen. The arena was deafening. The student section forced the rest of the crowd to stand on critical possessions. If the Dawgs were on the road for those two games, I think we lose to Stanford. But the fans in Seattle would not let that happen.
3. The Huskies continue to show us why they have increasingly high expectations. Their two superstar players have played appeared human during the first to Pac-10 games. But it doesnít matter, because the rest of the team has found ways to win. Despite Nate Robinsonís poor shooting and Brandon Royís lingering knee troubles, the wins keep coming. Even everybodyís favorite Lost Boy, Mike Jensen, came to play against Stanford.
Good teams donít lose because one guy plays badly. They win because someone else plays well. That keeps happening with this team. One night itís Jamal, the next itís Bobby, the night after that itís Tre or Will. They just donít want to lose. On a night when the entire 2005-2006 UW recruiting class was in attendance, they saw exactly what they are getting themselves into next season. They saw a crowd that loves their team, they saw a coach that loves his players, and they saw a team that loves to win.