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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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January 25, 2006

Bear of a game

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:52 PM

This strikes me as a particularly key part of UW's season as the Huskies how have three straight on the road - the most at any point this season.

All are winnable, but all could just as easily turn into losses, as is basically the case with every game the rest of the season.

If UW can win at least two, the Huskies would likely still be in at least a for first place when the stretch was over and able to then make a serious run at the conference title with an even number of home and road games the rest of the way.

The Cal game Thursday could be the key to it all. Win that one, and the Stanford game becomes a lot easier to play. For psychological and matchup reasons, I also think the Cardinal game is the more difficult of the two in the Bay Area, which in my view, puts that much more meaning on the Cal game.

I wrote a story for Thursday's paper on Cal forward Leon Powe, who is the best player on the Bears.
But some in the Bay Area think junior guard Ayinde Ubaka is more important.

Powe tends to get his same numbers every game. But Ubaka can be a little streakier, and when he's on, the Bears are that much tougher to defeat.

Ubaka may be the most improved player in the Pac-10 this season, as he has increased his scoring average from 6.1 last year to 15.3 this year, and his 3-point shooting percentage from 29.7 to 39.8.

But he's not exactly coming out of nowhere.

He was a big-time recruit three years ago out of Oakland, named to the Parade All-American fourth team and first team all-state.

"He was one of the top point guards in the country coming out of high school," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar
After a fairly predictable freshman season, he broke a bone in his left foot early last year and struggled when he did return, which might have caused some observers to underestimate his game.

Keeping him in check will be a real key for UW, and it's possible the Huskies will again use Brandon Roy to defend him as Ubaka stands 6-4 and would have some matchup edges on Justin Dentmon.

Dentmon could be a better defensive fit on Richard Midgley, who is 6-3.

As for Dentmon, he's had his problems in the last four games, admitting he lost some confidence on the LA trip and has been a little tentative since then - he scored just 12 points in the Oregon weekend and his last four games has scored 6, 2, 8 and 4.

But Romar notes that Dentmon is still second in the Pac-10 in assists overall - and tied for first with UCLA's Jordan Farmar when just considering conference games (at 5.57) and still has a serviceable assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.44 for conference games.

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