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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.

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February 28, 2005

They like us, they really like us!

Posted by Bob Payne at 1:33 PM

RPI rating: UW rises to No. 5 this week in these computer ratings.

Sportsline's RPI: The Huskies jump a spot to No. 8. Sportsline RPI

Sagarin ratings: UW rise two spots to No. 6 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. Sagarin men's basketball

AP Top 25: UW today moves up four spots to No. 10 in voting by the media. AP rankings

Emotional farewell for seniors

Posted by at 10:36 AM

If you were anywhere but Bank of America Arena on Saturday afternoon, shame on you. What you missed was a perfect example of all that is wonderful in college basketball. You missed two of Americaís top teams playing an extremely entertaining basketball game that wasnít decided until late in the second half. You missed a handful of the best players on in college basketball leaving everything they had on the court in a critical late-season conference game. Most importantly, you missed one of the greatest crowds giving its greatest performance of the season.

There were so many reasons that Saturday was an incredible day at Hec Ed for the Huskies, I canít even get into all of them. Besides the fact that UW handled its business against Arizona and proved that it belongs in the top 10, a few other things happened.

Seniors Tre Simmons, Hakeem Rollins and Will Conroy played their last game in front of the home crowd, and none of them disappointed. Tre Simmons hit his first three 3-point shots en route to a 24-point game. Rollins made arguably the two biggest hustle plays of the game, beating Channing Frye to a rebound and kicking out to Nate Robinson for a back-breaking three and then tipping in a missed three on the next trip down. Conroy had nine points and four assists, making him the all time UW single-season record holder for assists.

One of the great moments in Husky basketball history came with four seconds to go in the game, when Lorenzo Romar took Conroy out of the game so he could get his love from the crowd. Before he came out, Conroy went right to midcourt, pounded on the W, and then pointed to the sky to show his appreciation for his school. If anybody who watched that happen live said they didnít get chills, they are a LIAR. In as long as I remember, the Huskies have not had a senior who the crowd loved so much and who gave so much back to his program. Iíve been at the last five senior days, and there has never been a greater ovation or appreciation for a single player.

In four years at Washington, Will Conroy went from being a walk-on who could score to being the most prolific true point guard this school has ever had. Not a bad transformation for a guy who couldnít even get a scholarship to start out.

Before I get too excited, we have to realize that there are still two more games to go, and they are must-win for the Huskies. Arizona only has one more game left, and it is against Arizona State. The Huskies have to go down to the Bay Area and play two tough teams in Cal and Stanford. Both of them have had down years, but that doesnít make the trip any easier. One loss and the Huskies are stuck with a two seed in the Pac-10 tournament.

But hey, like Iíve said all year long. Iím still not worried.

P.S. Big thanks for an amazing four years to Will Conroy, and to Hakeem Rollins and Tre Simmons whose careers were entirely too brief. The three of you have helped lay the foundation of Husky basketball for years to come.

February 27, 2005

Sweet victory

Posted by at 10:31 PM

Saturday's victory over Arizona was such a huge win for UW that I must, for at least a couple of minutes, bask in the glow of it.

First of all, Tre Simmons has become a legit NBA prospect. He has become one of the best shooters in the Pac-10 in recent years. I think he'll be a late first round or early second round pick. Shooting has got to be a priority right now for teams in the league.

Nate Robinson is also looking like he's ready to take the next step. He works so hard and has so much fun. UW will likely lose Nate after this year, but what a great time it's been. I'm just glad that the dawn of Nate's era coincides with the birth of the Brockman/Martell era, which could be equally energized and inspired.

It was also gigantic to see Hakeem Rollins get a key tip-in. It was as if senior day was all tightly scripted.

And finally there's Will Conroy, who will replace Chet Dorsey as the all-time UW assists leader next weekend. Will consistently steps up when the chips are down. Because of that, Will has got to be the player who will be hardest to replace of all of these guys. I guess that makes him the most valuable player on this team ultimately, whoever leads the team in scoring.

These guys found a way to beat a very good Arizona team. The game will easily stand as one of the five best games in Hec-Ed since I started going in 1969.

But if we go down to Cal and Stanford and don't sweep (which we've yet to do on the road in the conference this year), this great win will seem less special. That's the way it's going to be every week from here on to the end of this already storied season.

February 25, 2005

Bulletin to Brandon Roy

Posted by at 4:41 PM

Iím sure you could start a professional career after this season, but to get your best shot at the NBA (spelled big $$$), you should stay for one more year. Hereís why:

1. You need to work on your outside shot. If you were shooting like Tre Simmons, then Iíd know youíre definitely ready for the NBA with your size and your ability to do all of the other things that you do well.

2. You need to prove you are more durable. A good solid season without injuries would be worth a lot of money. If you have trouble getting through a college season without injury, the NBA could be much harder. At least thatís what some might say.

Bulletin to Mike Jensen

Posted by at 4:40 PM

I really think that you should spend the time you have working on your offensive skills. Shoot lay-ups, hooks, reverse lay-ins, bank shots and tip drills about 50 percent of your time in the gym. Then spend another 40 percent of you time on foul shots and the last 10 percent on threes.

I like your overall effort, but you are very inconsistent as an offensive threat. I think you would really benefit from a whole offseason of shooting around the cup, with somebody big guarding you if possible. Thatís what I would do if I were you. Your long-range game, mid-range game and (surprise) defense are fine. Iíd just like to know for once that if we get the ball inside to you that youíre going to look good taking it to the hoop.

With your body type and skill set, you could have a decent pro career (Europe, overseas, possibly an eventual shot at the NBA) if you could add a down-low offense to your repertoire.

Letís get ready to rumbleÖÖ

Posted by at 9:42 AM

Well, now that the undercard is finished, we can get to the main event.

It was very clear last night that both Arizona and UW were looking ahead to Saturday, because both struggled to beat teams they should have dominated. Eventually, both teams handled their business, so now we can get down to business for Saturday.

My biggest concern at the moment is Brandon Roy. He didnít play at all in the second half last night because his knee stiffened up. I am hoping they kept him on the bench so he would be ready for this weekend. If Roy is healthy, I canít imagine the Wildcats walking away from Hec Ed with a win. Never mind the fact that the crowd will be as amped up, if not more so, as the season finale last year against Stanford. Lorenzo Romar even said that this game is bigger because the Huskies are playing for a No. 1 seed in the Pac 10 tourney. Last year, they knew they would be a second seed, and just wanted to beat the No. 1 team. This year, there is a championship on the line. Throw in the fact that itís senior day, and you have borderline pandemonium.

I wrote a week ago that if the Huskies were going to get going again, they needed Tre Simmons to show up. I am pretty sure he reads my entries, because he hit his last four shots against Wazzu, and then hit six of seven threes and scored 29 points against ASU. As Simmons gets ready for his final Hec Ed appearance, you better believe he is a guy who wants to go out a conquering hero.

This could be the last hurrah in Seattle for Brandon Roy and Nate Robinson as well, and donít think that that gets lost with them. They know they may never play in front of these fans again, so I am positive they want to go out with something special. They know this is a game that will serve as a measuring stick for the rest of the nation, who want to see if the Dawgs can hold court at home and prove that they belong in the upper echelon of NCAA tournament seeds. The winner of this game has a legitimate shot at a two seed come tournament time, and if (itís a big if) the Huskies win Saturday and then run the table the rest of the way, they could make a serious bid for a one seed. A ONE SEED. THATíS RIGHT, I SAID IT.

So as we count down to tip-off on Saturday, there is nothing left to do but look back at a fantastic season. Twenty-two wins in 26 games? As high as our expectations were coming into this season, we could never have imagined this kind of run.

Seriously, canít you sort of picture this season as a movie montage, like in Rocky or in Bloodsport where Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme are just mowing down opponents as they move closer and closer to the showdown with the traditional powerhouse bad guy? I certainly can, and finally there are no more roadblocks or distractions.

It is time for this Husky team to take care of business.

February 22, 2005

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts

Posted by at 9:24 AM

I guess I was right last week.

The Huskies came out and put an early run on the Cougars and never let them get into the game. Jamaal Williams played solid minutes, and Tre Simmons busted out of his slump with a barrage of threes midway through the second half. Everything seemed right with the Husky world, even when our beloved walk-ons played the last three minutes of the game and got outscored 12-0.

Now, letís all take a deep breath because this week is going to be wild.

Arizona State swept the Oregon schools last week, they have 18 wins and boast one of the best players in college basketball. Granted, the Huskies beat them pretty soundly in Tempe, and everybody knows how tough Bank of America Arena is. I am a little worried about the Dawgs looking ahead to Saturday against Arizona, but Lorenzo Romar usually has avoided that in his tenure here. Remember last year, with Stanford looming after a game against Cal? The Huskies blew out Cal and we all know what they did to Stanford.
I think the Huskies will take care of business against the Sun Devils, and I think they are ready to play Arizona.

That being saidÖ.

Arizona is playing better basketball than almost everybody in the country. Since the Cougars shocked them in Tucson last month, Lute Olsen and his boys havenít lost. They havenít even been tested. They are 8th in the country right now, and Salim Stoudamire is on fire. The guy hit 9 threes over the weekend. NINE! Thatís frightening. This is the opportunity the Huskies have been waiting for. They are going to be ranked 13th, playing the 8th ranked team in the country on national television. This is a statement game for them.

Last yearís Stanford game was truly an upset. This is a game where the Huskies have to show they can take care of business when it matters most. The No. 1 seed for the Pac-10 Tournament will be on the line, and the Huskies have a chance to win on their floor. With the exception of the Oregon State debacle a week and a half ago, the Huskies have been in every game they have played this year, and if they can stay with Arizona at home, they will have a chance to win.

I donít know what is going to happen this weekend, I am just simply looking forward to a fantastic weekend of college hoops.

February 21, 2005

Rankings update

Posted by Bob Payne at 1:00 PM

RPI rating: UW drops stays at No. 7 this week in these computer ratings.

Sportsline's RPI: The Huskies stay at No. 9. Sportsline RPI

Sagarin ratings: UW again stays at No. 8 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. Sagarin men's basketball

AP Top 25: UW today moves up one spot to No. 14 in voting by the media. AP rankings

February 18, 2005

Pullman is litmus test

Posted by at 5:37 PM

This game is turning out to be the biggest game of the year for the Dawgs.

It would be so easy for them to overlook WSU while anticipating the big Arizona game at Hec Ed. Losing to OSU changes all that and should give the Huskies some real motivation to get their house in order. If they don't come out a changed group then we start to assume that either something is evident in their game that other coaching staffs are able to adjust to now or (worse) that they have lost something huge in their overall strength and chemistry.

Last weekend at the Oregon schools, something was missing from their level of effort to the point that even when I thought they were trying, they couldn't play like they have been for the better part of the last year. If that's the case Saturday, this season will turn out to be a huge disappointment.

If not, then we should expect a return to form to some of the dominant play that we've seen this year and some of the tremendous will that UW showed down the homestretch last season, which will be hugely exciting and send the team into next year with solid momentum.

Last year's game in Pullman was right after the big season turnaround game at OSU (where Nate hit the shot that capped a 16-point comeback, starting UW's big run). In that game UW dominated the Cougs and won convincingly.

What the Huskies need is a strong dose of the do-or-die that got them into the tournament after the horrendous start. They need to face each game with what it takes to achieve their lofty goals this season.

In order to win the conference, win the conference tournament and blow everyone's mind in the NCAA tourney, they must play with a ferocious sense of urgency, much like they showed at the end of last year, combined with the overall improvement, depth and maturity that they have shown this year.

All the pieces are in place, but it won't happen for this team just by showing up. The game in Pullman Saturday will probably set the tone for the rest of this year and possibly more.

Which Dawgs will step up?

Posted by at 10:00 AM

There are two things that can happen Saturday when the Huskies and Cooooogs tip off in Pullman.

No. 1: The Huskies can go open up with a furious run and bury the Cougars early, reestablish themselves as an elite team and gear up for a return match with Arizona next week.

No. 2: The Huskies can come out and immediately get forced into playing WSUís style of ball, letting WSU stay in the game and giving the Cougs a chance to win at the end of the game.

To be honest, I donít know which team will show up. I know Lorenzo Romar has had a week to get the bad taste from Corvallis out of his teamís mouth, but is it really gone? Have the Huskies really eliminated the doubt in their minds that they created last week? Winning in Pullman this week isnít going to be easy, because the Cougars have been solid all year, and their fans already hate the Huskies. If my memory serves me correctly, the only way we got out of there last year with a win was because Mike Jensen (SERIOUSLY?) hit a three at the end of the game to seal the deal. I really, really doubt that will happen this year.

So what can we expect? I know that Brandon Roy will come to play. I know Nate will at least show up and create some havoc on the defensive end. My two big worries are Tre Simmons and Jamaal Williams. These are two guys who could be counted on for big shots and defensive plays for weeks and weeks. However, in the last two weeks or so, where have they gone? This team canít win without their best shooter and best post player. These guys are both veteran players, and they should be able to play themselves out of a funk.

But, they need to do it now.

February 14, 2005

Quick check on the ratings

Posted by Bob Payne at 2:58 PM

RPI rating: UW drops a notch to No. 7 this week in these computer ratings.

Sportsline's RPI: The Huskies dropped one spot to No. 9. Sportsline RPI

Sagarin ratings: UW again drops one spot to No. 8 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. Sagarin men's basketball

AP Top 25: UW today dropped four spots to No. 15 in voting by the media. AP rankings

Earth to Huskies: Are you there?

Posted by at 9:58 AM

I guess every team has to go through it. North Carolina went through it in their first game of the year. Duke got beat by 20 on its home floor. Even Kansas got waxed by Villanova. That doesnít change the fact it was hard to watch, and even harder to stomach.

For the first time in 13 months, the Huskies didnít look like they belonged on the same court as their opponent. They looked like the same team that lost its first five conference games last year. They didnít make open shots, they turned the ball over, they got beat on the defensive end and they played like they didnít care.

This isnít a death sentence for this team, but it was a serious wake-up call. As well as the Dawgs have played this year, they still have a ways to go to get what they want. They want to win the Pac-10 outright, and have a legitimate claim to a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Playing like they did against OSU isnít going to get it done.

All of the passion that they played with in Eugene seemed to have been left on the bus. There was no urgency in this team yesterday. Great teams always have their intensity and their urgency, and the Huskies just didnít bring it. Maybe it had something to do with the fact they beat OSU by 40 points last month, and they thought they would pound them again. They should have been ready for a game against a team they had previously embarrassed, and known that the Beavers would be out for revenge. Thatís exactly what they got.

Husky seniors need to show up. I donít know where Tre Simmons has gone the last three games, but it would be nice for him to show up again. I wonder if he is angry that Brandon Roy is taking his minutes. Simmons has looked like he did at the beginning of last season when he was unsure about his role and had no confidence in his shot. He isnít making the plays he did earlier in the year, and he needs to find that fire again.

Mike Jensen may as well not even be on the floor. The guy stopped playing defense and offense. He hasnít hit a jumper in 37 weeks. He dropped a pass that would have led to a sure-fire fast break dunk. He tripped over his own feet and let David Lucas dunk and score all over him.

The point is, this team has the talent to do what it wants. They also have the experience that should help them avoid games like this. If the Huskies want to play deep into March, they need to remember how they played in November, December and January. Otherwise, itís going to be a quick drop and sudden stop to what has been a wonderful season to this point.

Where's the fire?

Posted by at 9:27 AM

Sundayís loss is the worst since the teamís miracle run began in Corvallis a year ago.

Why did the Huskies lose to OSU? Because the Beavers, like almost every other team in the Pac-10, are well coached, tough at home and have some key players who are especially talented. And nearly all of these teams are out to either avenge a humiliation at the hands of Dawgs or right their own ship.

In order to play like a top-10 team and a contender for the big show in March, a team must be prepared to bring it every single time out. This team did not do that on Sunday. The Dawgs donít have the same intensity and focus as the team that ran off 12 of its last 13 conference games (home and on the road) last year with an urgency that can only be described as do or die, night in and night out.

There was another component missing at Gill Coliseum. There wasn't a big man who could effectively keep the Beaversí post players honest when they got past the long arms, wide reach and quick feet of UW's outstanding pressing defense. Mike Jensen deserves credit - though he has been maligned by some UW fans - for some great efforts on defense this year. He has been a big key to their success because he fits the overall style of the team, yet is big enough to face down players like ASU's Ike Diogu, Oklahoma's Kevin Bookout and quite a few others.

Hakeem Rollins and Jamaal Williams, meanwhile, havenít turned out to be much help for Jensen on that defensive front line.

The departure last year of Anthony Washington makes me wonder what the result would have been Sunday if he was still here. Well, at least thereís hope that this yearís impressive recruiting class will give the Huskies another body or two that can post up against the likes of Oregon Stateís David Lucas.

Could this team also be another victim of the dreaded "Sports Illustrated
Jinx" after the huge piece titled "Acing Chemistry, Washington Finds Success With Guard Quartet" on Will, Nate, Tre and Roy this last week by Luke Winn at Outside of Conroy's take-charge end game in Eugene and Brandon's 25-point effort at OSU, this group has not been as consistent as they need to be at this point in the season.

Tre Simmons, who is a giant piece of the UW resurgence, has had a rough stretch of games shooting-wise and Nate has still not completely broken out of his mid-season slump. Perhaps a little of this star treatment has messed with the minds of this crew.

Whatever the remedy, I have a lot of faith in coach Romar and staff in the
long run and seriously hope that they can stop the bleeding with a bigger-than-ever win in Pullman. Coach Bennett will have the Cougars fired up at home after being swept in Oregon.

This team, though a more experienced, deeper and stronger team than last yearís miracle squad, has not shown that every time out on the road this year. They have split in Los Angeles, Arizona and now Oregon. If they win at WSU on Saturday, continue on this course and split in the Bay Area and put up a tough fight to the championship of the Pac-10 Tournament, they should easily be a No. 3 seed. And it would not be farfetched to see them in the Sweet 16.

But how far could they go if somehow the coaching staff and leadership on this squad were able to rekindle some of that do-or-die urgency of last year?

February 11, 2005

No doubt

Posted by at 9:25 AM

Anybody questioning the University of Washington menís basketball teamís heart, stop now. Really, shut up about it. This team is tough as nails, and as talented as any team in the country.

Last night, the Huskies went into McArthur Court in Eugene and won. Never mind the fact that Mac Court is one of the toughest places to win in America. Never mind the fact that Bobby Jones didnít start and didnít even participate in the shoot-around due to the flu. (Quick note, Bobby was forced to play because of the foul trouble, and turned in an awe-inspiring 16-point performance with a 100-degree fever. BALLER) Never mind the fact the Huskies were called for 36 fouls and that the Ducks shot 54 free throws. Never mind the fact that four Huskies fouled out of the game. All that matters is the Dawgs got a win.

Before I talk about the win, I am going to ONCE AGAIN point out how terrible Pac-10 officials are. They called more than 60 fouls! 60! Both teams were shooting free throws with more than 13 minutes left in the first half, and Oregon was in the double bonus before the 10-minute mark. I understand that this is a rivalry game, but the referees took both teams out of their rhythms and made this a very boring game to watch for the most part. Memo to Pac-10 officials: NOBODY IS AT THE GAME TO WATCH YOU. CALL A GOOD GAME, AND LET THE KIDS PLAY. Man, they make me angry.

Whew, thatís better. Now, on to better things.

What was so incredible about this win was the guts the Huskies showed. They didnít play very well. They were so handicapped by the non-stop fouls being called that they couldnít play their style of game. They were timid underneath going for rebounds, and they had to scale back their perimeter defense. At the end of the day though, they did what all elite teams must do on the road. They found a way to win. Actually, Will Conroy found a way to win.

While everybody else was so concerned with the abysmal officiating, Will decided at the end of the game that he wasnít going to finish his career 0-4 in Eugene. Oregon guard Brandon Lincoln had been guarding Conroy all night, and Will knew Lincoln couldnít stick with him. Conroy knows his role on this team is to run the offense and make his team better. So thatís exactly what he did. He scored the last 7 points in regulation, including an in-your-eye three to tie the game at 79 with 26 seconds left in regulation. At that moment, you could feel all the energy seep out of Mac Court.

Conroy did everything that a senior leader is supposed to do for his team. He put the Dawgs on his back, and took them the rest of the way. This is the type of win that the Huskies had to have. All three of their losses have been on the road, and they have been games the Huskies could have won. Instead, in those three losses, they let teams hit knockout blows down the stretch. Not last night. Instead, Conroy threw his own haymakers and left the young Ducks down for the count.

As we blow through February towards March, true character of elite teams will begin to show through. Illinois proved on Tuesday that they are a legitimate threat to go unbeaten after coming back to beat Michigan in Ann Arbor. On Wednesday night, Duke showed that they are for real after taking out North Carolina. And Thursday night, the University of Washington showed that they are not to be messed with as they came from behind against a bitter rival in a hostile environment.

All of the sudden, I really canít wait for March.

February 7, 2005

Weekly ratings parade

Posted by Bob Payne at 12:38 PM

RPI rating: UW stays at No. 6 this week in these computer ratings.

Sportsline's RPI: The Huskies dropped one spot to No. 8. Sportsline RPI

Sagarin ratings: UW is ranked No. 7 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings on USA Today. Sagarin men's basketball

AP Top 25: UW today rose two spots to No. 11 in voting by the media. AP rankings

Sportsline's player rankings: Sportsline ranks UW's Nate Robinson No. 8 nationally for player productivity. Player rankings

Sad, but true

Posted by at 9:52 AM

After a very fulfilling win against UCLA on Saturday, two things became painfully clear to me. First, there is nothing on earth that will keep Brandon Roy in a Husky uniform after this season. Second, Pac-10 officials are the worst group of referees in the entire country.

We have to be realistic now. Even though Brandon Roy has only played in 12 games this year, he is still more than ready for the NBA. He dominated UCLA in every aspect. He had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and this against a team with two 7-footers. He took over the game down the stretch with a variety of post moves, drives to the basket and passes that set up his teammates. The guy is too good to stick around Montlake for another year and risk injury.

So as we play out the last month and a half of the season, we as fans just have to sit back and enjoy watching him. Actually, we should applaud him every time he touches the ball. Itís thanks to him that the local talent is staying home now and not running away to other premier programs around the country. It was Brandon Roy who spurned Arizonaís scholarship offer in 2002. After local products like Michael Dickerson, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford and Curtis Borchardt got out of Seattle as quickly as they could, Roy stayed home.

He came to a team loaded with talent but unsure what to do with it and provided a stabilizing force on the floor. Roy is a guy who could be asked to do anything needed of him, and do it well. He can run the point, bang down low, cut to the hoop or knock down 18-foot jumpers. We all know the renaissance that has occurred in the last 13 months, and thanks to a top-five recruiting class coming in next year, itís safe to say it wonít end any time soon.

But, look at the guys coming in. The two best players are from Seattle. Would they have stayed home if the Huskies werenít winning? Certainly not. Would the Huskies be winning (as much) if Brandon Roy had gone to Tucson? I doubt it.

As Roy gets ready to take the next step in his budding young career, Husky fans all over should be writing him "thank you" cards for the only thing he didnít do in the last three years. Go to Arizona.

Now that Iíve sung the praises of Brandon Roy, I am going to vilify Pac-10 refs. THEY ARE THE WORST GROUP IN THE COUNTRY. How often do you hear people complain about refs when their team is 19-3? I cannot believe how bad they are, and it isnít just one sided. They are bad for every team!

There was a call on Saturday that may have been the worst Iíve ever seen. Jamaal Williams was CAMPED in front of a UCLA player as he drove to the basket. He was there for a full two seconds before the UCLA player got there. He ran into Jamaal, and they called a block. It was the most gawd-awful thing Iíve ever seen. Hec Ed booed for 10 minutes. The ref who made the call knew he missed it, but instead of admitting his mistake, he refused to speak to Lorenzo Romar during the timeout, and stood by himself away from the other two refs!

I canít understand why the conference hasnít acted. This is not a new situation. Pac-10 refs have always been bad, and there is no excuse for it. Basketball is easier to referee than football, and football refs are the best. They rarely make mistakes like basketball refs. The Pac-10 has a serious problem with their officiating crews, who seem to think fans come to games to see them rather than the two teams actually playing in the games. I hope some high ranking Pac-10 commissioner-type is bored at work and stumbles to this page and sees this. To him, I sayÖ.


February 4, 2005

Good for what ails you

Posted by at 10:45 AM

Nothing like a 30-point pounding of an L.A.-area school to make a team feel good about itself, especially when Saturdayís game against UCLA is going to be a much more emotional bout. The Huskies have lost 7 of 8 to the Bruins, including Jan. 8 when the Huskies blew a 21-point lead at Pauley Pavilion. But this will be different,

First of all, we need to look at the way two certain players performed last night. Tre Simmons showed (again) why he will be the first Husky drafted in June. He can score from all over. He is a pure shooter, something that is becoming more and more scarce at any level of basketball today. Add that to the fact he can put the ball on the floor, create his own shot, rebound, and play solid defense, and youíve got yourself a player. Actually, a player that went for 29 points against USC.

Then, you have Jamaal Williams. Twenty-one points in 16 minutes, on 9-10 shooting? All this from a guy who scores in the post, and is only 6-5? That kind of production is unheard of. What if he had been able to play last year? Would the Dawgs have been able to beat UAB in the first round? I bet they would have. The guy is an instant boost off the bench, and the best part is, everybody knows what his go-to move is. They just canít stop it.

Now, with these two guys rolling, we get to this weekend. UCLA is a team that gives the Huskies match-up problems because they are so long. Throw in the vendetta that Brian Morrison apparently has for his hometown team, and you have yourself a tough ballgame. By the way, if anybody actually believes that Morrison is 23 and not 43, they are sadly mistaken.

This is one of those games that the NCAA tournament committee will look at as a "bad loss," if, God forbid, the Huskies actually lose. There is no reason that an 18-3 team should get beat at home. Even though UCLA is talented, they shouldnít come into Hec Ed and steal a win.

If the Huskies are able to hold court and win tomorrow afternoon, they will be 19-3. Arenít the teams with that type of record the best teams in the country?

Oh, waitÖ.

February 3, 2005

Midway point

Posted by at 10:35 AM

After losing their fifth straight Pac-10 game last year on Jan 16, how many people thought that the Huskies would turn around and go 31-7 over their next 38 games? Of course, we all KNEW that was going to happen, right? Right.

It seems like a million years ago that we were watching the last place team in the Pac-10. We have long since forgotten what itís like to walk into a game feeling like the Dawgs didn't have a chance to win. We have witnessed a miraculous turnaround in the past 13 months, and we all should enjoy what we have seen. Not to say it will end anytime soon, because Coach Romar has set his team up for success for the next few years. But the team we have now is special, and it wonít be the same next year.

OK, letís hand out some midseason awards.

MVP: Itís still Nate Robinson. He wasnít all world during January, he was simply solid, and he made the team run. His scoring went down, but he was rebounding and assisting on plays. The guy has a 2.5/1 assist to turnover ratio. That is incredible, especially seeing how much he has the ball. When Brandon Roy went out, the Huskies were able to turn to Tre Simmons (more on him later). If Nate Robinson got hurt, the damage would have been much more severe.

Defensive Player of the Year: Bobby Jones. If you need more explanation, listen to David ďJunyaĒ Hudsonís song:
ďIf they drafted on defense, heíd probably be lotteryÖ.Ē

Underachiever: Has to be Mike Jensen. He showed a lot of mprovement last year, so much so that I finally stopped yelling, ďNO!Ē every time he shot. Well, Iím back to it this year. He just doesnít look comfortable out on the floor at all, and that baffles me. He has been at the UW for four years, and he seems to have digressed. Granted, his defense is solid, but his shooting is down, and he grabs about two rebounds a game.

Newcomer: As great as Joel Smith has been, his minutes were inflated because Brandon Roy was hurt. Jamaal Williams has provided the inside toughness that Jensen has not. The guy gets is a legitimate back to the basket scorer that we havenít had since Todd MacCulloch. Forget the fact heís only 6-5, heís a banger and heís nasty inside.

Most Improved: Chester Simmons, III. You know him as Tre. He has gone from designated zone buster to legitimate NBA prospect. I keep saying he will be the first Husky drafted in June. He can shoot the lights out, he can get to the hoop to score, he is leading the team in rebounds and his defense is markedly improved. The guy is a baller in every sense of the word, and as his confidence grows, he keeps improving. Having Brandon Roy back might take away some minutes, but it will also get him more open looks.

Team Player: Will Conroy. He came in as a scorer, and has accepted his role of playmaker. He now thrives on getting other players the ball. He is an emotional leader, and all he wants is to win. If he doesnít make it in the NBA, look for Will to be coaching somewhere soon.

Coach of the Year: Coach Ro. Everybody knows what kind of job he has done, I just wanted to say it again. The guy is incredible, and we are lucky to have him.

Now, weíve got 9 down and 9 to go. Letís keep it goingÖÖ