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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.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:34 PM
Here are a few thoughts as Washington prepares for its first big conference game of the year Saturday against Arizona:
It's just the second game of the year and much can change between now and March, as the Huskies - who went from an 0-5 start to a 12-6 finish two years ago - know very well.
And the winner of Saturday's game will obviously have a huge early leg up on the other.
In that context, however, it's a bigger game for UW since it's a home game.
The two schools essentially shared power in the conference a year ago, with Arizona winning the regular season title and Washington then beating UA in the conference tournament championship game.
UW senior Brandon Roy said UW's biggest goal this season is to win the regular season title.
"That's at the top of my list," he said. "That's like one of the last little things that's still lurking. We want it bad and we think we have the team to do it."
A win in this one is a good way to start.
The game will also feature two of the top contenders for conference player of the year in Roy and Arizona guard Hassan Adams.
Adams leads the Pac-10 in scoring at 19.8 per game and Roy is third at 17.7 after his 35-point outburst against ASU Thursday.
Also in the mix for that award are UCLA point guard Jordan Farmar and Cal forward Leon Powe, who would be the leading scorer in the Pac-10 at better than 20 per game if he had played in enough games to qualify. He has played in six of 10 and players must appear in 75 percent of a team's games to qualify.
Bobby Jones is likely to start off guarding Adams, but Roy said he figures he'll get some changes to defend Adams as well.
"I read something where they were picking Farmer to be Pac-10 Player of the Year, and Hassan," Roy said.
"They both played really good non-league schedules. But that upset me a little bit. I was like ‘Hold on, I think I'm still in the running for that.' And I think that coming to play Hassan, and Farmer in a couple of weeks, I'm just going to go out there and give them my best shot and I'm sure they will be doing the same."
Olson said Chris Rodgers would probably have the primary responsibility for guarding Roy.
Olson noted that Arizona is forcing roughly 23 turnovers a game while the Huskies have shown a great ability to hold on to the ball as evidenced by losing just three turnovers - a school record - against ASU Thursday.
Want to see some real die-hard Husky fans?
Check out the students who began camping out at 9:30 a.m. Friday for the best seats to Saturday's game. Considering the way it's raining, and that the students basically are waiting just to move up a few feet or make sure they are in the middle - they all already have their tickets - those are some real devoted fans.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:16 AM
What an interesting beginning to the Pac-10 season for the Huskies.
They beat Arizona State by 24 points yet it felt like a nail-biter the way the teams were pushing and shoving each other all night long. But these two teams have a history of doing that and UW coaches and players said they expected that coming in.
"That was a typical Washington-Arizona State basketball game,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar.
What wasn't typical was this - 35 points from Brandon Roy and just three turnovers from the Huskies.
That turnover number is completely unbelievable, especially from those of us who remember when Bob Bender's teams would lose that many in half-a-minute.
That just adds more evidence to the growing theory that Justin Dentmon will be one of the top point guards in the conference real soon, if he isn't already.
Roy's scoring was surprising only in that he did it in large part by hitting five three-pointers in five attempts.
But everyone out here has insisted that he can shoot a lot better than the numbers and the ASU game he showed it. Roy said he knew ASU would likely play a defense that would leave the three-pointer available, and he decided to take advantage.
He laughed that he heard ASU coach Rob Evans yell "shooter, shooter'' at him a few times.
"I thought that was kind of cool,'' he said.
Certainly, we'll really know a lot more about where this team is headed after Saturday's Arizona game.
But I don't think anybody could have taken anything but good omens away from this one.
Jon Brockman took an elbow to the cheek bone in the second half and was briefly knocked out and suffered a concussion and didn't return. He said afterward he didn't remember the play.
He will be reexamined Friday to determine if he can play but Romar said he "anticipates'' that Brockman will be able to go.
On another front, Bobby Jones said he continues to struggle a bit with the ankle injury he suffered in the New Mexico game and that he likely won't be 100 percent healthy the rest of the season since what he really needs is some rest.
Jones said he wore a brace on the ankle against ASU, the first time he has tried that all season, but that he still felt some pain at times.
"I've just got to play through it,'' he said.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:45 PM
Look for our preview of the beginning of Pac-10 conference play in Thursday's editions of the Times, and online. In that preview, I break down the teams in order of predicted finish based on their play to date. What I'll do here is give you that list and compare it to the way I had the teams ranked in October, before Pac-10 media day.
Here's how I have them ranked now:
"Certainly, we would like to shoot the ball better," he said. "The ball's got to go in. But it's not really a concern. We've just got to shoot the ball better."
Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:23 PM
Finally, we'll soon have some stuff to really discuss here, to really debate and ponder, as the Huskies begin Pac-10 play this season after what has seemed at times like an interminable preseason given its length - UW's first game was Nov. 13 - and relative lack of competition.
UW players and coaches seemed to have the same reaction Tuesday as they met the media before practice.
"This is the meat of the season and we just can't wait to get at it," said Brandon Roy talking about Thursday's conference opener against Arizona State and then the game Saturday against Arizona.
He said he thought it was evident in UW's 54-37 win over Lehigh Friday that the Huskies were anxious to begin conference play.
"I think we were a little negligent because we were almost looking ahead to Pac-10 play and Lehigh really exploited that," he said.
I'll have a story in Wednesday's paper and online about the fact that the Huskies are regarded as a favorite to win the conference, but are also still viewed with a lot of suspicion because of their soft non-conference schedule.
UW's veteran players understand why there are still some naysayers out there.
"We have these next two games to help prove we are a very good basketball team," said Jamaal Williams.
Coach Lorenzo Romar ran a little late to practice after getting caught in traffic on his way back from a recruiting trip in the morning to the Les Schwab Invitational tournament in Hillsboro, Ore. Here's a link from The Oregonian about that tournament.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:55 AM
If you're like me, you're ready to see the Huskies take on some real opposition.
Judging by the way the Huskies played Friday night in beating Lehigh 54-37, they're ready for some as well.
The Huskies looked like they were sleepwalking at times and it's kind of hard to blame them. They've had a lot of games against teams like this and have generally come out and played as if they were facing Arizona.
UW coach Lorenzo Romar said he didn't think his team intentionally overlooked Lehigh but acknowledged it might have been hard to get up for this one.
"I think our guys have looked forward to playing in the Pac-10 season for a couple of weeks now," Romar said. "I don't think our guys overlooked Lehigh but our guys are excited to play in the Pac-10 season and I think they are waiting for that."
Jamaal Williams said it was a little tough getting up for Lehigh.
"It's been a long preseason and I think guys are ready for a little break," he said. "It's not much of a break, we get two days and then we're back at it again. But that will be good for us to get rested and then start up fresh next week."
The Huskies will finally open Pac-10 play Thursday against Arizona State.
That said, this game showed UW still has some work to do.
Lehigh packed it in defensively and forced the Huskies to take a lot of jumpers and UW didn't convert too well, making just 4 of 16 three-pointers.
It showed again that the Huskies might end up missing Tre Simmons an awful lot come conference time. The Huskies are shooting just 34.9 percent on three-pointers for the season. That ranks fifth in the Pac-10, which isn't bad, but is off last season's average of 38.4 percent and has been padded by a lot of blowouts.
Ryan Appleby is shooting 43 percent on threes but no one else is better than Bobby Jones' 31.6 percent.
Ken Bone, a former Seattle Pacific head coach and a UW assistant the past three years before becoming the head coach at Portland State, watched the game from behind the Huskies bench. It was the first time he had seen the Huskies in person this season.
Bone said the Huskies look deeper, especially up front, than they did when he was an assistant.
"They've really got a lot of weapons there," Bone said.
Portland State is 5-6 and plays at Oregon on Tuesday.
"I think we're doing about as well as could be expected," he said, noting that three of the team's losses are to Iowa State, Arkansas and Gonzaga.
The team will have the next two days off for Christmas before returning for practice Monday night. Redshirts Joe Wolfinger and Harvey Perry were allowed to miss the Lehigh game for some extra time at home.
Jones said his ankle is about 85 percent and should be close to 100 percent by the time the ASU game tips off.
We're taking the holiday break off as well so there probably won't be anything new on here until Tuesday. But then we'll get serious again with Pac-10 play finally kicking off.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:23 PM
Here are a few notes and quotes as the Huskies prepare to take on Lehigh Friday night in their final non-conference game before beginning Pac-10 play.
Jensen said his shoulder - he had surgery on his left shoulder after it was dislocated before practice began and hasn't played all season - feels fine.
But I also asked Harshman what he thinks of this year's team and here's what he said:
"I've been pleased with the young guys," he said. "They show their youth at times, but they've got some competitors. (Dentmon) has played a little better than I thought he might. I watched practice a couple of times earlier in the year and I felt he had been more of a ‘me' player in high school. He does create a lot, but he sees the court pretty well, and I think overall, he maybe does a better job than they did last year in reading situations.
"And then Brockman, he's just gold and he's going to get better all the time. I like (Artem) Wallace in practice, he just has less experience. He just needs to play more and he's going to be a good player.
"I have high hops for (Joe Wolfinger, who is sitting out this year). I think we might finally have a real center there.
"Overall, I'm not sure I've seen anybody do a better job in three or four years than Lorenzo has because boy, when you're down, it usually takes 3-4 years to get up where you want to be."
Roy said he agreed with the comment of analyst Marques Johnson that Stewart finally looked like the same player who generated so much excitement while at Rainier Beach High.
"He was playing so hard and so nasty, like he had a chip on his shoulder," Roy said.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:08 PM
The big news of the week - heck, maybe the only real news, considering the opponent is Lehigh - is that Mike Jensen is coming back.
Lorenzo Romar and Jensen each met the media today and discussed his return, and I'll have a full report on that in Wednesday's edition of the Times.
The short version is that Jensen will initially come off the bench with his long-term role still to be determined.
"We'll get him in there for a few minutes [Friday] and see how it goes," Romar said of Jensen, who hasn't played all season after dislocating his left shoulder in October.
Jensen said the obvious - that he'd like to start but is OK with whatever role the team has for him right now.
As I'll detail in Wednesday's paper, one of Jensen's big roles could be three-point shooting - he is a career 37.2-percent shooter from the line, which right now would rank him second on the team. Only Ryan Appleby is shooting better than that.
Jensen also said that during the offseason he improved on catching, dribbling for a step or two and then shooting.
Jensen is also an experienced defender, an asset Romar said can't be ignored.
Romar now has the somewhat happy task that comes from having a good team - trying to find minutes for so many deserving players. Romar said he thinks his inside group "collectively'' is the best he has had as a head coach, and said he still hopes to find time for Hans Gasser and Artem Wallace, the two reserves whose minutes would seem to be the most impacted by Jensen's return.
There should be more than enough to go around against Lehigh, but it will begin to get interesting when UW hosts Arizona State on Dec. 29.
Odds and ends
• Romar said injured guard Harvey Perry (back) would begin the rehabilitation phase of his recovery Dec. 28. How well that progresses will determine if he will play this season or redshirt.
• Bobby Jones, nursing a sore ankle, was scheduled to return to practice today - the media meeting was before practice began. If there are no hiccups, he should be fine for Friday, Romar said.
• Here's a link to an interesting story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Missouri guard Thomas Gardner and his apparent interest in transferring to UW last offseason.
He would have been quite a get for the Huskies. He is leading the Big 12 in scoring at 22.3 points per game, as the story details.
I'm not sure the story isn't overselling how close he came to becoming a Husky, however. I asked UW assistant Cameron Dollar about this and he said it never really got that close because they never really thought Gardner was going to leave Missouri.
If you recall, UW had quite a scholarship logjam last offseason, getting a commitment at one point from Louisville transfer Lorrenzo Wade, who ended up attending San Diego State instead.
As for the coaching connection mentioned in the story, UW assistant Jim Shaw coached one of Gardner's AAU coaches.
Here's a few stories from around the conference I found interesting.
First, here's the release on a new addition to Cal's team, a guard who will be immediately eligible. He could really help them, with one story indicating that some scouts have compared him favorably to Luke Ridnour.
And here's two columns from Arizona's win Monday night over Sam Houston State.
The first talks about Arizona's surprising attendance problems relating to some moves it made to accommodate students.
The second is about Arizona's reaction to being left out of this week's polls.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:00 PM
The polls are out and Washington has moved up to No. 7 in the coaches poll and No. 9 in the AP poll. It is UW's first time in the top 10 since the end of last season, when the Huskies were No. 8 the week after winning the Pac-10 tournament.
The Huskies, however, are only No. 21 in the approximations of the RPI that are out there on the 'Net, indicative of the questioning of Washington's schedule to date.
I'll have more on the polls in a story in Tuesday's paper.
Next for UW is Lehigh on Friday night. Here's a story on their most recent game, a win over Monmouth, the team that gained fame last week for beating Princeton 41-21 a couple days later.
I woke up to UCLA-Michigan Saturday and fell asleep just as Stanford and Virginia Tech ended - OK, I did watch a little "Saturday Night Live," a show that's fallen about as fast as the Pac-10, if what I saw is any indication.
A few thoughts, then, on a day spent in front of the TV.
• This might have been the best day for the year for the Pac-10 with UCLA winning at Michigan, Arizona clobbering Utah on the road, Oregon State beating Georgia on a neutral court, and even the Cougars getting to 6-2 by routing Portland at home. But Stanford and Oregon still appear to have a lot of problems, the Cardinal much more than anyone else.
Virginia Tech just out-toughed the Cardinal at the end of the game - and since when has that been Stanford's weakness? Stanford is 2-4 and almost out of the NCAA picture already, barring doing something that seems inexplicable, like going 14-4 in Pac-10 play or winning the conference tournament. Remember, one of Stanford's remaining non-conference games is a Feb. 11 trip to Gonzaga.
• Is any team having a stranger season so far than Oregon State? The Beavers have now beaten UNLV and Georgia and lost to Tennessee Tech and Portland.
The game, however, wasn't a big draw and John Caznano explained why in an interesting column in the Oregonian on Sunday.
• I wasn't surprised to see Oregon lose at New Mexico. That's a tough place to play and I can guarantee the Huskies coaches would want no part of going there to play right now despite how they handled the Lobos in Anaheim last week. That said, sounds like the Ducks have got a lot of problems.
"We've got to play with more heart," Malik Hairston was quoted in the Oregonian. This is a team that was talking deep NCAA run before the season and now is 5-4, its worst start since the 1997-98 season, Ernie Kent's first in Eugene.
Here's a story on the Ducks game from the Register-Guard.
• As I predicted after UW beat them, the Air Force Falcons haven't lost since and are 9-1 and drew some notice on ESPN.com this week in Andy Katz's column. Their record is due largely to a schedule that since UW hasn't featured anybody of note. We'll find out for sure how good Air Force is Dec. 28 when it hosts Georgia Tech.
• I love hearing the analysts try to excuse or mitigate just about any negative. Brent Musburger, for instance, tried to give Stanford somewhat of an out for its 19-point loss at Montana by talking about how tough the Grizzlies are. No real problem with that - Missoula's not an easy place to play. Then Musburger talked about what Trent Johnson had told him, that this same Montana team had played Washington in the NCAA tournament last March and came back to make a run at the Huskies.
What happened was Montana trailed by 19 early in the second half, cut the lead to nine with just over six minutes to play, then watched as UW went on a 9-2 run to put it away before cruising to an 88-77 win.
I'll leave it to you to decide if that really qualifies as a huge comeback.
It is worth pointing out that Montana is now 8-1.
• UCLA looks like the real deal to me. The Bruins are buying into coach Ben Howland's system and Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo may be the best backcourt in the Pac-10 outside UW. Washington's games with them Jan. 14 in L.A. and Feb. 11 up here shape up as two of the best in the conference.
• Anyone else catch Dick Vitale say during the UCLA game that he expected the Pac-10 title to come down to the Bruins and Arizona? Maybe he just momentarily forgot about UW considering he did give the Huskies props in a column in USA Today this week.
• And I didn't get to see the Cougars play, but I wouldn't completely discount what they are doing. They played 10 players 10 or more minutes in beating Portland 61-46, a game they led by as much as 22. Having that much depth is critical to the way they play defense. They can get to 7-2 by beating Utah at KeyArena on Thursday.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:28 AM
Some leftover notes, quotes and observations after Washington's 91-74 win over Eastern Friday night...
I focused much of my game story on the fact that Brandon Roy made a concerted effort to be more aggressive offensively and take more shots.
It was interesting to see because I've heard some conjecture this week on radio talk shows, chat rooms and elsewhere about whether Brandon can really be the go-to guy this team needs. I've never doubted it and have never heard any concern about that from anyone at UW, either.
Sure, it was Eastern Washington, but Brandon showed again tonight why everyone at Washington has so much confidence in him. He scored 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting in 29 minutes and seemed to do much of it effortlessly.
That he does seem to get his points so fluidly - a contrast to some of the players off last year's team - may be what leads some to wonder if he's really capable of being the go-to-guy when needed.
"Nate (Robinson) did it with so much excitement," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar.
"Brandon, at times he is exciting, but he just sticks with it and puts the pressure on you and after it's all said and done, he's got the same amount of points."
Also worth remembering is that Brandon was UW's leading scorer in the NCAA tournament last year, averaging 15.3 points and shooting 63.3 percent in the three tournament games.
EWU coach Mike Burns, whose team also played UW last year, was the latest opposing coach to say the obvious - while the Huskies may not be as dynamic in the back court, they are a lot better up front.
"They are different than they were last year. They are bigger and more physical in the interior," he said. Burns also said he was impressed with how Huskies players "have a high self-esteem" on the court.
The Huskies had an easy time of it despite getting only six minutes from Bobby Jones, who tweaked an ankle he had injured against New Mexico. Roy said he definitely noticed a difference.
"He just gives us that extra little bit of energy," Roy said.
I talked with Jones briefly after the game and he said he should be fine by next week. Washington will take the weekend off, giving him a while to rest the ankle.
One thing I continue to be impressed by is how the Huskies don't seem to overlook anybody. This would have been an easy game to have a letdown after the last two big wins in high-profile settings. But Burns said he thought the Huskies "just gave a greater effort than we did." That speaks a lot to the leadership of Romar and of the team's seniors.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:03 PM
All right, this is what I should have done in the first place when I mentioned that Bobby Jones is 12 points away from reaching 1,000-career points.
With some help from the UW sports information department, here's the complete list of 1,000-point scorers at UW with Jones and Brandon Roy at the bottom.
No Player Years Games Avg Pts 1. Chris Welp 1984-87 129 16.1 2073 2. Bob Houbregs 1951-53 91 19.5 1774 3. Todd MacCulloch 1996-99 115 15.2 1743 4. Eldridge Recasner 1987-90 117 14.5 1700 5. James Edwards 1974-77 105 14.7 1548 6. Steve Hawes 1970-72 73 20.8 1516 7. Louie Nelson 1971-73 83 18.1 1504 8. Deon Luton 1997-00 117 12.7 1488 9. Doug Smart 1957-59 78 18.9 1478 10. Detlef Schrempf 1982-85 122 11.9 1449 11. Bill Hanson 1960-62 80 17 8 1425 12. Bruno Boin 1956-57,59 79 17.1 1330 13. Paul Fortier 1983-86 120 11.1 1326 14. Clarence Ramsey 1974-76 80 16.5 1323 15. Mark Sanford 1995-97 82 16.1 1318 16. George Irvine 1968-70 78 16.8 1314 17. Andra Griffin 1978-81 107 12.1 1294 18. Nate Robinson 2003-05 89 14.4 1283 19. Stan Walker 1977-80 109 10.8 1175 20. Donald Watts 1996-99 110 10.5 1158 21. Will Conroy 2001-05 121 9.2 1113 22. Dean Parsons 1952-55 105 10.5 1101 23. Frank Guisness 1950-52 90 11.9 1070 24. Jack Nichols 1944,47-48 90 11.9 1067 25. Ray Price 1972-74 81 13.1 1064 26. Mike Hayward 1988-91 113 9.4 1058 27. Dion Brown 1989-91 84 12.6 1056 28. Gordy Harris 1965-67 75 14.1 1054 29. Bryant Boston 1992-96 99 10.2 1010 Bobby Jones 2003-present 100 9.9 988 Brandon Roy 2003-present 78 12.1 940
The Pac-10, meanwhile, uses 1,500 career points as its cutoff in its record book. Entering this year, there were 80 players on that list with Louie Nelson being the last name. The UW has seven players on that list. I counted 15 from UCLA including four of the top eight - leader Don MacLean (2,608), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (fourth with 2,319), and Reggie Miller and Jason Kapono tied at seventh (2,095).
And is it just me or does it seem like MacLean - while a nice player - is a little out of place as the all-time leading scorer in Pac-10 history? But obviously, Kareem and some guys from the earlier era could only play three years due to freshman ineligibility. And anybody really good now leaves after just a year or two. So MacLean could stay there a long time. He averaged 20.5 points per game throughout his four years at UCLA.
ODDS AND ENDS
The Huskies began practice at 7 a.m. Thursday to allow players a little extra rest before playing Friday and also because some players had to take finals in the afternoon.
Bobby Jones, bothered by a sprained ankle, didn't practice Tuesday but did a little bit of work Wednesday and Thursday. He is still expected to start but may not play as much as usual. Obviously, the best-case scenario there is another rout which allows him as much rest as he needs.
Asked this week what the Huskies need to work on, Lorenzo Romar mostly mentioned pretty subtle things such as better spacing on offense, rotating more efficiently on defense, boxing out on rebounds, etc.
That he didn't say "we need to find a new point guard" or something I think speaks to the fact that they believe the team may really be as good as it is being ranked right now.
Here's an update on Will Conroy - he scored eight points with seven assists for the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Developmental League in their most recent game against the Roanoke Dazzle. He's averaging 9.4 points and 2.8 assists for Tulsa, which is 4-5.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:24 AM
I wrote a note today about Bobby Jones needing 12 points to become the 30th Husky in school history to hit 1,000 for his career.
The milestone speaks to the massive progression in Jones' game since he came to UW as Lorenzo Romar's first recruit in 2002, billed then as a defense-and-rebounding type of guy.
Asked Tuesday about hitting 1,000, however, Jones said he didn't know he was that close. "I guess that will be pretty big," he said. "I can look back on it and tell my kids and grandkids someday."
But Jones also downplayed it, saying that he thinks anyone who spends four years playing for a college team ought to be able to score 1,000 points.
Told that a lot of guys play four years and don't score 1,000, Jones laughed. "And you see where they are at, just chilling out," he said.
The list of 1,000-point scorers includes many obvious names, beginning with Chris Welp, Bob Houbregs and Todd MacCulloch at the top with Dion Brown, Gordy Harris and Bryant Boston at the bottom.
Brandon Roy will get to 1,000 soon, as well. He needs 60 points.
But there were some pretty good players who didn't do it:
Chester Dorsey, obviously more of an assists guy;
Those are just guys off the top of my head. Let me know if you have someone in mind and I can tell you if they reached that milestone or not.
Pretty much the same as it has been other than Jones, who hurt his ankle against New Mexico but should be fine for Eastern Washington.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:55 PM
One of the fun things of attending an event such as the Wooden Classic is talking with other basketball people - reporters, scouts, assistant coaches, etc.
In those conversations, a consensus on the Pac-10 so far began to emerge - which teams are better or worse than a year ago? So here's a look in alphabetical order:
Arizona - So far, worse than a year ago. Finding it hard to replace Frye and Salim and getting erratic play at point guard. Despite what that ESPN magazine article says this week, Mustafa Shakur is still struggling to be an elite-level point guard. And Arizona is getting little consistent perimeter shooting. Talent alone will get them to the NCAA tourney, but could be a 12-6-type conference team instead of 15-3.
Arizona State - Obviously way worse than a year ago with Ike Diogu gone. And any doubt about the future of Rob Evans seems cemented after the embarrassing home loss to Utah Valley State Saturday. Talk already is of who replaces Evans. Dan Monson anyone?
California - Better than a year ago and likely to keep improving as the season wears on - though the Kansas loss indicates there's still a ways to go. Leon Powe looks healthy, and that alone should put Cal on the bubble for an NCAA tourney bid. But the Bears will need more than Powe long-term.
Oregon - Worse than a year ago and a mess right now, with whispers already building about Ernie Kent. Illinois is good but Oregon was never competitive - and given how they were billing this team before the season started, that's a surprise. There doesn't appear to be any on-court leadership, with Aaron Brooks still seeming to be searching to become a true point guard. Getting erratic play from some of the young kids - Bryce Taylor, Chamberlain Oguchi, Ray Schaefer - billed as having gotten a lot better.
Oregon State - Worse than a year ago as David Lucas is apparently harder to replace than everyone thought. It figured that Nick DeWitz would be able to fill Lucas' shoes. Instead, DeWitz seems to be struggling with the added defensive attention that last season went to Lucas and no one else is picking up the slack. Losing to Portland can happen, given the nature of that game, but losing decisively was a surprise.
Stanford - Way worse than a year ago and the biggest disappointment in the conference, if not the country. There doesn't appear to be much depth and none of the three seniors seems to be playing as well as expected. Hard to know exactly what blame falls on Trent Johnson, but he's only in his second year and has a stellar recruiting class coming in next season.
UCLA - Better than a year ago and suddenly looming as the chic pick - along with Washington - to win the conference. The Bruins have been somewhat erratic but a lot of that is due to injuries. People who watched them beat Nevada on Saturday were impressed with their athleticism and the fact that they seem to be buying in more to coach Ben Howland's grind-it-out style. Jordan Farmar is finally getting healthy and playing so well that there is already talk he will leave after this season. As one person said watching Saturday's game, "He could play as well as Luke Ridnour right now."
USC - Better than a year ago if only because of the coaching stability. And their perimeter guys are good enough to carry them to a few upset wins, particularly at home.
Washington - Good, maybe better than people thought they'd be right now, but not better than a year ago. As one person said, "They're not as dynamic as a year ago," when Nate Robinson or Tre Simmons could just go off. But that could change as the new players continue to develop. And with their schedule, could easily be 14-0 before they next hit the road.
Washington State - About the same as a year ago, which in its own way is a victory since Dick Bennett has been telling everyone that the third year of a rebuilding process is the toughest and that he expected a dropoff this season. Instead, some of the new guys appear to be players and the returnees are another year better at running Bennett's system. Anytime they can keep the game in the low 60s they are a threat to win, particularly at home. If they get to the Pac-10 season at 7-2, a postseason bid of some sort is a real possibility.
Moving on up
The Huskies moved up to 10th in coaches' poll and 11th in the AP poll.
The Huskies are off today and will have as light a schedule as possible this week with players taking finals.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:21 PM
Here are a few notes, quotes and observations from Washington's 81-71 win over New Mexico here today at the Wooden Classic.
• Sure, it wasn't a thing of beauty. But the Huskies dominated early, then dominated late, which is what good teams usually do when they win games without playing their best. I think the coaches would have taken a win in this game any way they could have gotten it. That everyone seemed mildly disappointed afterward only shows how much expectations have risen with the quick start to the season and the win last week over Gonzaga.
• As Romar said, the biggest thing about this game was that it presented some of the obstacles UW will face once conference play rolls around.
Romar noted that New Mexico wanted to slow the game down.
• The biggest weakness on this day might have been youth as all of UW's younger players struggled to a degree. Justin Dentmon forced a few things in a way he hasn't done much of the season, Jon Brockman played his worst game so far, and Ryan Appleby was able to get open for just four shots in 23 minutes.
Dentmon's worst error came about a minute-and-a-half left when he came out of a timeout and immediately drove the lane for a wild shot that missed when the Huskies wanted to use some clock. In what was an unusually quiet arena, Romar could be easily heard calling him over for what surely was a lesson in clock management.
• With the youngsters muted, UW's three seniors - Brandon Roy, Bobby Jones and Jamaal Williams - combined for 51 of UW's 81 points. Roy, bouncing back after fouling out against Gonzaga, scored 18 points and handled the ball during a key stretch in the second half when the Huskies regained command.
Jones had a somewhat rocky day, however, playing just 24 minutes after getting four fouls and losing five turnovers - giving him 11 turnovers in the last two games.
Roy said Jones "was teasing me all week about the Gonzaga game and then he goes and gets in foul trouble."
• I'd never been here before and if I have anything to say about it, I'll never come here again. This place is a dump. Literally in some cases. Walked in and there's just a pile of trash in a hallway that led to the press room and the locker rooms.
• Former Washington football player D'Marco Farr was with the Huskies' contingent. During halftime, he walked into the press room and I heard someone ask him where he was sitting. "Anywhere," he said.
• Saturday was a much-needed good day for the Pac-10, with both the Huskies and UCLA Bruins winning. UCLA looks more and more as if it will be a serious contender for the Pac-10 title.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:41 PM
Actually, the Huskies aren't, as far as I know.
But they darn sure could as the Arrowhead Pond, for anyone who doesn't know, is about a Mickey Mouse ear away from Disneyland.
UW is staying at a hotel nearby but this jaunt to play New Mexico in the Wooden Classic here is a business trip and there were no plans for the team to get to the Magic Kingdom. Maybe next time.
The Huskies held a 9 a.m. practice at the Pond today, then had about a 15-minute meeting with the man who this event is named after, former UCLA coach John Wooden. He spoke to the team for a while and then players asked questions.
UW coach Lorenzo Romar, who got to know Wooden well during his years as an assistant at UCLA, then took part in a press conference. I wasn't able to get there but I'm told he didn't say much that was ultra newsworthy regarding personnel matters.
But obviously, there's no real need for change with the Huskies off to the start that they are.
It will be interesting to observe the defensive matchups, however.
New Mexico's most dangerous players are guard Mark Walters and forward David Chiotti. They seem like possible matchups for Bobby Jones and Brandon Roy, respectively. But given Roy's foul trouble against Gonzaga, maybe Romar will give him a different assignment in this one and put Jon Brockman on Chiotti, who is UNM's leading rebounder at 7.3 per game.
A Walters-Jones matchup would be fun to watch. Walters is a 6-2 swingman who averages 16.8 points per game and also leads the team in assists (14, tied with Chiotti), and steals (13) and is second in rebounds. He's such a good athlete he was also recruited by New Mexico to play football - he grew up in Albuquerque. Walters is coming off a bad shooting game, however, going 3-13 from the 3-point line and 5-19 overall in a 67-61 loss at New Mexico State Saturday.
And Chiotti looks a lot like a lesser-heralded Brockman - he's 6-9, 245 and averaged 10.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and shot 54 percent from the floor this year. New Mexico State beat New Mexico last weekend by essentially taking Chiotti out of the game - he took just 5 shots in 32 minutes and finished with seven points and nine rebounds - and putting the pressure on UNM's other big guys to come through. UW could use a similar strategy.
Much of the media attention this week was on Jamaal Williams again playing against the team he left three years ago.
Williams said he hasn't kept in much contact with the three remaining players from his time, including Walters and Chiotti. Instead, he said he keeps in closer contact with several other UNM players who also transferred.
"We developed a close bond because we had something in common," Williams said.
Romar talked to the team this week about not getting caught up in the hype of the Gonzaga win. In my opinion, that's not something the veterans on this team have ever really done. I thought last year they always did a good job of coming to play no matter who the opponent, and the big scores against bad teams this year seems to prove that is still the case.
Still, Justin Dentmon said Romar let the team know this week "to just realize we've got a bulls-eye on our back now. Coach said don't get bored with success - just keep things in stride and keep doing what we're doing."
MORE ON TRE
I wrote about Tre Simmons the other day and then noticed a story in an Oregon paper that he has apparently signed to play with the Portland entry in the new International Basketball League. The story indicated that the team will begin play in March and that Simmons will join the team when he returns from playing overseas. I'll look into this and try to get more info.
PHIL NELSON UPDATE
And finally, here's a link to a story about the McNary High hoops team in Oregon that includes Husky signee Phil Nelson.
We'll try to update this space over the weekend as well with other news and notes from the Wooden Classic.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:07 PM
The Huskies had Wednesday off so there is no new news from practice. They will practice here Thursday and then leave for Anaheim, where they will workout Friday and then play New Mexico on Saturday.
Had a few people ask about some health-related issues so I'll update what there is.
Mike Jensen - Still on track to return for the original target date of Dec. 23 against Lehigh. But Jensen says he wants to return in time for a Dec. 16 game against Eastern Washington. Either way, he should have a game or two and a full two weeks of practice under his belt before the beginning of Pac-10 play, which is what's most important.
Harvey Perry - Nothing new from last time. Nearing the end of a four-week rest period and then he will begin a 6-8-week rehab. Sometime during that rehab period it will probably be decided if he will play this season.
And that led to the inevitable question of what the other departees from last year's team are doing.
Will Conroy is with Tulsa in the NBA Developmental League. He's averaging 10.1 points a game and 2.3 assists per game and had one of his best games Sunday night with 14 points, seven assists in 27 minutes as Tulsa beat Fayetteville 91-85. But only 1,140 showed up, which may be why Will told Brandon Roy the other day he misses the UW crowd.
Tre Simmons is still recovering from tendinitis in his knee and will probably head overseas to play next month.
Here's a link found interesting. It's a story Wednesday from the Corvallis Gazette-Times about Jack McGillis, the player who was going to walk-on at Washington until Oregon State offered a scholarship. Sounds like UW knew what it was going in trying to get him on board.
The Fresno Bee also had an item about Husky signee Quincy Pondexter being named MVP of a recent tournament. The upshot is that he scored 18 points to lead San Joaquin Memorial High to a win over Clovis in the BCW Tournament on Saturday.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:39 PM
The Huskies returned to practice today and coach Lorenzo Romar held his weekly news conference.
Not a lot of big news. All of the injured players are status quo and Romar said what looked like a knee injury to Jon Brockman - he appeared to knock knees with another player in the second half of the game was actually cramps and that Brockman is fine.
I'll have a story touching on some of the issues brought up at the news conference in Wednesday's paper.
• Romar said the GU game showed that the Huskies have to get better at rebounding. The Huskies are outrebounding teams 39.7 to 31.4, but Gonzaga was the first really strong inside team the Huskies have faced and the Bulldogs outboarded UW, 39-33.
"We're not nearly as good as we need to be," Romar said.
• Overall, though, Romar said the Gonzaga win was further proof that this should be a good team this season. A win like that, he said, "gives us a little more confidence that we can go out there and do well this year."
• Romar said after looking at the tape, he stands by his post-game assertion that the Huskies played pretty good defense on Adam Morrison, even though Morrison scored 43 points, two off the all-time UW opponent record.
"I've never, ever said that about someone who scored 43 points that we did a good job on him," Romar said. Romar said Morrison got "a few run-outs, a couple in transition, an offensive putback, one or two backdoors. After that, we had one or two guys on him every time."
• The Huskies made 30 of 35 free throws, compared to GU's 18 of 22, an obvious factor in the win.
Romar said he thinks the Huskies will continue to be a good free-throw shooting team. He said the guys who made the majority of the shots - Justin Dentmon was 9 for 9, Bobby Jones was 7 for 7 - usually make them in practice, as well.
"Hopefully it will be more of the same as we go on because these guys are good foul shooters," Romar said.
• Romar and several other Huskies, notably Brandon Roy, were headed to KeyArena after practice to watch Nate Robinson make his Seattle pro debut with the New York Knicks against the Sonics.
"He's living out his dream," Romar said.
• Asked about the Pac-10's seemingly shaky start, Romar agreed that he was "surprised a little with Stanford having lost a couple of games."
Otherwise, he said the conference still looks good to him.
"Arizona's lost a couple but I'm not concerned that they've lost a couple of games," he said. "They've got some new players playing for them. If we had the same schedule, we may be playing the same way."
Romar said he pulls for all the conference schools to win in the non-conference season and assumes all the other coaches do, as well.
"Every Pac-10 school watches the others and pulls for them," he said.
• And here's a couple of interesting links - one to a story about Stanford coach Trent Johnson watching the UW-Zags game and wondering how he could beat either team. The other is the NCAA stats, showing the Huskies lead the nation in points per game.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:50 PM
A day later, the Gonzaga win continues to look that much better for the Washington Huskies.
First, it moved them up to No. 13 in this week's AP poll, which doesn't mean anything tangibly but at least shows that the nation was paying attention.
Second, it might have established them as the new favorites in the Pac-10, something I'm mentioning in a story that will run Tuesday in the Times.
What do you think - should the Huskies now be considered the favorites to win the conference?
I mean, who else is there? Arizona, 2-3 and losers at Houston over the weekend? Stanford, also 2-3 after a stunning defeat at UC-Davis on Sunday? UCLA? The Bruins, at least, have the record you would expect at this point at 5-1. Still, they don't have a win as good as UW's over Gonzaga.
More than anything, it's shaping up as a completely wide open race - I wouldn't discount Cal right now, either, though the Bears have played a schedule that is softer than UW's.
And that would certainly favor the Huskies, given the senior leadership of Brandon Roy, Bobby Jones and Jamaal Williams. For all the excitement over UW's young players - and there's nothing not to like about what they've done - this was still a win that wouldn't have happened without those three.
They combined for 47 points, handled the tough defensive assignments, and opened things up for Justin Dentmon and Ryan Appleby outside.
Hard to believe
I mentioned Stanford above, in what has to be one of the most shocking scores I've seen in the Pac-10 in years.
Here are two stories on that game:
After reading each, I was only more stunned. As one of them details, UC-Davis had just lost to Northern Arizona by 28 points. Unbelievable.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:32 AM
What might have been the most impressive aspect of the win to me is that the Huskies did it with relatively minimal contribution from Brandon Roy.
A lot of us have written stories saying that Roy would have to carry this team this year, especially early as the younger and newer players adjust.
But due to foul trouble, Roy played just 21 minutes and scored a season-low 10 points.
As Brandon himself said afterward "we showed we're not a one-man team."
Aside from the foul trouble, I thought Roy seemed like he was pressing a little bit - he also had five turnovers. Still, he also had six assists and I wouldn't think UW would want to try to win too many big games with Roy sitting on the bench that long.
• You really saw the rotation shortened tonight. Other than the five starters, only Ryan Appleby played more than nine minutes. And the Huskies played only eight players in the second half with Joel Smith and Hans Gasser also getting on the floor.
UW can't go forever with that little depth, however, and the good news is that Mike Jensen could be back by the Dec. 16 game against Eastern Washington. Those who showed up early saw him finishing an hour-long workout with assistant Jim Shaw and redshirting freshman Joe Wolfinger, and Jensen said he is ahead of schedule to return.
• Speaking of Smith, he only played nine minutes but I thought his 3-pointer with 7:55 left to put UW ahead 82-79 was a huge shot. That was the third of three straight three-pointers by UW - the other two by Appleby - that rallied the Huskies after Gonzaga had taken its first lead.
• And can you believe Gonzaga hit only one of 15 three-pointers? This isn't the gutty little team filled with guys who can fill it up that first put the school on the map in the late '90s. Gonzaga hasn't been a good three-point shooting team all year and really suffered in this game once Raivio went out.
Morrison, for everything else he did, didn't help in that regard. He hit just one of eight three-pointers, meaning he was 17-21 on shots inside the arc.
• It would have been nice to know what Morrison thought of the game, but none of Gonzaga's players were made available to the media as the team had a tight schedule to catch a flight back home.
• Weird stat of the night? There was only one blocked shot even though the two teams combined for 137 field goal attempts.
• And can you believe Stanford lost to UC-Davis today? I think UW's Pac-10 hopes look better and better.
Posted by Bob Payne at 11:17 PM
Bob Payne here, stepping in for a bit until Bob Condotta has some time to send us some notes.
I guess you could say the game lived up to the hype, huh? Here are some quick hits and observations. You can share your views by clicking on the comments link at the bottom of this post.
• As Romar noted in his postgame comments, Adam Morrison is a gamer extraordinaire. As much as Husky fans might despise the Bulldogs' junior forward, they should just as easily be in awe. No matter what the Huskies threw at him, he found a way to score, racking up 43 points. At this rate he'll end up averaging around 40 per game for the season. Even the Dawg Pack has to respect that.
• If I had to pick an MVP, it would be freshman Justin Dentmon. In the last five minutes of the game, he seemed like a man deep in The Zone. In addition to making some key baskets - a season-high 17 points - he played some truly smothering defense. As UW coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game, Dentmon "stepped up big time." And as I said, he's a true FRESHMAN.
• Brandon Roy was hampered by foul trouble, which he said is something he's not accustomed to. "I don't think I've fouled out of a game since I was a freshman," he said. It made it hard for him to find a rhythm in the game.
• In the early going, the defense of Bobby Jones on Derek Raivio, and Ryan Appleby on Jeremy Pargo, really seemed to stump Gonzaga when they were on offense. It just seemed like the Huskies revved up the intensity to a higher level than the Zags in those first few minutes when UW jumped out to a 16-6 lead.
• When the Zags made a run and eventually took the lead around the middle of the second half, it seemed like Gonzaga's David Pendergraft seemed to have his way on the inside, snagging offensive rebounds and putting them in the cylinder. Why? Because UW freshman forward Jon Brockman was on the bench. When Brockman returned, those easy rebounds and shots disappeared.
• Free-throw shooting: For a team that is supposedly young and inexperienced, the Huskies shot free throws like seasoned veterans, hitting 31 of 35. That's 85.7 percent, which is about 20 percent better than the current season average of the North Carolina Tar Heels, another team loaded with underclassmen. If the Huskies only shoot 71 percent, they lose the game.
More color commentary from Bank of America Arena coming next ...
Posted by Bob Payne at 11:00 PM
Among the first 200 or so students allowed into the arena were Brett Simpson of Kirkland, Kyle Huctnik of Seattle and Jake Hoekstra of Seattle. They said they got in line around 9 a.m. Sunday morning so they could be among the first to have a shot at the prime Dawg Pack section on the north side of the court behind the team benches.
Once inside the building they had to race to secure their places in the back row of that prime section, which holds about 600 rabid Husky fans. Those that came later ended up having to head for the rafters at the east end of the arena, the auxillary Dawg Pack zone.
Huctnik said a few Dawg Pack seniors usually call the shots for the group, and word of mouth gets everybody keyed into the plan for the cheer. Or in many cases, the jeers, especially when officials' calls went the way of the Zags in the second half ...
• A few of the students had tasteful signs, but I noticed that one sign making a slightly off-color reference to Adam Morrison's moustache went up in the air once and then was never seen again ... .
• At about an hour before game time, the long line of students waiting to get into the arena was a weird combination of restless, wired and giddy. Every once in a while a cheer of "Let's go, pur-ple" erupted and surged up and down the line.
• It was big-time game, which meant big-time prices for last-minute tickets. I overheard one scalper tell another that he sold a single ticket for $130.
• The UW women's volleyball team, now in the midst of the NCAA tournament, was introduced to the crowd at a break late in the first half. They got a strong round of applause from the crowd.
• The usual array of Husky luminaries was in attendance: former coach Marv Harshman, now 88 years old; and former UW players Detlef Schrempf and Eldridge Recasner.
• If it looked like the crowd was more purple than usual, it might be because Fox Sports passed out 5,000 "Go Dawgs" T-shirts to fans as they came in the building.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:28 AM
This has to be the most-hyped basketball game the Huskies have ever played in December and thankfully, it is finally here.
We'll have complete coverage all day long here and in the pages of The Times.
Look in The Times on Sunday for a preview story as well as a breakdown of the matchup. We'll also have more coverage than ever on the blog after the game, with contributions by myself as well as another Times staffer, Bob Payne.
And now for some pre-game thoughts.
UPHOLDING THE PAC: The folks at the Pac-10 office in Walnut Creek, Calif., would be rooting for a Washington win in any circumstance. But the conference could use a big non-conference victory right now as Saturday was another shaky afternoon for the Pac-10.
Oregon was handled easily at home by Georgetown, and Arizona lost at Houston to fall to 2-3, its worst start since the 1989-90 season when they started out 1-2. That included losses at Oregon and Oregon State in a year of a weird conference schedule due to the Pac-10 tournament.
Those losses continued a rough weekend for supposed Pac-10 contenders that began when Stanford was blown out at Montana. It could have been a lot worse had not Oregon State rallied from 22 down to beat Nevada-Las Vegas at home and Washington State held on to beat Kansas State, also at home.
It may not matter to UW, but a weak conference could mean that it's will be just a little dicier come March to get an extra team into the NCAA Tournament. And as good as we think UW will be, I'm sure the coaches themselves would like the breathing room. I've rarely known a coach who really revels in the struggles of other teams in the conference. It's usually good for everyone if everyone fares well in non-conference games.
BUSTING THE ZONE: Something to watch for early is whether Gonzaga rolls out a zone defense on Washington. Settling into a zone and making UW beat them from the outside has been the usual defensive tactic for the Bulldogs against the Huskies. It didn't really work all that well last year, as UW hit 12 of 24 three-point attempts. But two years ago in Seattle, the Huskies hit just 6 of 26 three-pointers. Many of the misses came when UW misfired on 22 straight attempts from the field.
Obviously, times have changed, and Washington is better prepared to handle such tactics now.
But Husky coaches showed the film of that game to their players again this week to make sure they don't fall into the same trap again of settling for three-pointers against a zone.
Brandon Roy said he remembered the Huskies "coming up and penetrating" early in that 2003 game, which UW led 28-20. But then Gonzaga went into a zone.
"We didn't make good adjustments to how we approached it," Roy said. "We kept shooting threes and outside shots. We didn't do a good job penetrating the zone."
Roy could have much of the responsibility for making sure that doesn't happen again as he figures to have the ball in his hands a lot Sunday night.
Of course, the Huskies are also a much better shooting team now than they were then, hitting 40 percent so far this season.
And don't be surprised if Roy doesn't take a few threes himself. He knows that his supposed weakness is shooting from the outside, and he's been waiting for a chance in a spotlight game to show he can shoot. Asked about Roy's shooting the other day, Romar pointed to the stat sheet, which shows that Roy has hit 5 of 9 three-pointers so far this season.
STAYING IN CONTROL
Still, UW's vets remember that they lost some games against the Bulldogs in the past by letting Gonzaga get under their skin.
"Every time we play them they come in strictly business," said Bobby Jones. "They come in and do the job, whether it's home or away. They like to establish physical play early and sometimes you might get caught off-guard and sometimes you might not. But I think at certain points during the game they are just overly aggressive and sometimes that changes the momentum and they were able to run off a good amount of points."
Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:42 PM
Just two days now until we finally find out just where the Huskies stand.
Here are a few odds and ends from Friday's practice.
• Nothing new on the personnel front as Lorenzo Romar said the team is healthy and ready physically. He said it has been a good week of practice, though not much different than any other week except the team has had so much time to prepare. Including the exhibition game, Washington played seven games in 20 days to start the season. Now it has had eight days off to prep for Gonzaga.
• We'll have a feature story in Saturday's paper on Washington point guard Justin Dentmon, who I think is one of the real keys to this game. I think he has been better than anyone could have really hoped so far, seeming to play beyond his years in terms of not forcing shots or wild passes and playing in control on both ends of the court. He also shows a toughness that is reminiscent of Nate Robinson and Will Conroy.
I found out he's a real softy when it comes to his mother, however.
Dentmon was raised in a single-parent household by his mom, Stephine. He hasn't seen her since June 10, but will see her this weekend after she travels from Illinois for the game.
In fact, it will be her first flight ever.
"She gets nervous to fly," Dentmon said. "After 9-11, she was like 'I'm never getting on a plane.' But she's coming for this one. It'll be a real confidence booster to be able to look over there and see her."
• This is one game where the Huskies could really miss Mike Jensen. He had 13 points against Gonzaga last year despite being razzed by the Kennel Club the whole game. He explained later that he has a few friends from his Kentwood High School days who now attend Gonzaga.
The good news is Romar says Jensen continues to remain on schedule to return in a few weeks. The hope is that he can play against Lehigh Dec. 23 so he will have a game under his belt before Pac-10 play starts Dec. 29 against Arizona State.
• Anyone else see this score tonight - Montana 88, Stanford 69?
That may be the most shocking score of the young season to me.
That's the same Montana team that the Huskies blew out in the first round of the NCAA tournament in March. Montana is still a good team - it lost just one starter off the team that lost to the Huskies. But the Grizzlies got blown out at Boise State a few weeks ago and hadn't beaten anybody of note.
A glance at the box score shows that each of Stanford's main guys - Hernandez, Haryasz, Grunfeld - played more than 30 minutes. But those three scored 50 of Stanford's 69 points, showing that the Cardinal may not have a lot of depth.
It's also showing that all of us who thought that the Cardinal could contend for the Pac-10 title this season may have been wrong.
That's a tough trip to make, but I don't think it should have been that tough.
Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:01 PM
We'll have lots on the Huskies and previewing the Gonzaga game here and in the Seattle Times in the next few days. Among our coverage will be a feature story on Adam Morrison, the player the Huskies can only hope to contain in Sunday's game.
For now, here's a few links to stories from what was an interesting night in Northwest basketball on Wednesday.
Here's the expanded Associated Press recap on Gonzaga's closer-than-expected win over Portland State in Spokane last night. Most interesting is the quote from Morrison that "if we try to play like that against UW, we'll get beat by 30."
Interesting how the two teams seem to be going into this game. UW's players are sounding as confident as ever while Gonzaga seems to be questioning itself a bit.
Also worth noting is that PSU had a 39-32 rebounding edge on Gonzaga. GU has usually owned the boards against the Huskies and UW is sure to mine the tape of this game to figure out how a smaller PSU team was able to get the edge on the Bulldogs on this night. PSU coach Ken Bone will undoubtedly get a few calls from his friends at UW the next few days. Here's the story.
WSU had a nice win over Wyoming last night and it looks like the Cougars may be as dangerous as everyone in the Pac-10 fears.
But it wasn't all good news for WSU as senior guard Randy Green stormed off the bench late in the game, apparently unhappy about being removed after taking a shot that head coach Dick Bennett didn't like.
Green was the last player left from the Paul Graham days and I wrote a note on him after talking with Bennett about him at Pac-10 media day. Bennett acknowledged that Green had had a tough transition -- his shots and playing time have decreased markedly from his freshman year under Graham -- but that he was proud of Green for sticking it out.
Strange, too, that Green seemed to play well last night just looking at the numbers -- he had eight points and four steals in 12 minutes and was 3 of 4 from the floor. Bennett talked at media day of how Green had become one of WSU's best defensive players.
Local fans may remember that he was the captain at Rainier Beach High as a senior and played there four years, part of the Nate Robinson, Stewart twins teams that dominated for so long. Story on the game.
Oregon, meanwhile, looked like it was in line for a pretty big early road win against an undefeated Vanderbilt team before losing in about as tough a fashion as possible -- a 30-foot shot at the buzzer.
Vandy is a tough place to play and any win on the road against an SEC team is a good win. Despite the loss, it looks like Oregon's young players are starting to mature. We'll see how this affects them Saturday when they host Georgetown. Story on the game.