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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 28, 2006

Must win?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:56 PM

Sounds obvious, I know. But I think the poor showing by the Pac-10 in nonconference games means the conference will likely get just three bids to the NCAA tournament. UCLA, Arizona and Washington are all still well-positioned to get in. Realistically, the only other team I think has much of a shot is California, but their nonconference resume is almost non-existent.

But assuming that there are just three bids - and four at the most - it obviously behooves the Huskies to finish in the top four in the conference.

They don't want to make the NCAA tournament committee have to think about passing over a team that finished ahead of UW in the standings to select Washington.

And that puts some pressure on Washington to win tonight at Stanford. Losing two home games means UW has to steal a few on the road. The LA trip was a nice start, but getting swept down here would undo a lot of the good that was accomplished there.

There's also what it does for UW's psyche. The Huskies haven't been swept on the road since the first trip of the 2003-04 - also in the Bay Area - when UW started out 0-5 in conference play and, well, you know the rest.

In fact, Washington has lost just one Thursday road conference game since then - at Arizona last year. They had to win on the weekend to avoid getting swept. Washington avoided the sweep last year by winning at Arizona State, a game also played on a Sunday, which may be a good omen.

A key to the game for Washington I think will be how they defend Matt Haryasz. He had 24 points and 10 rebounds down here a year ago when the Cardinal beat the Huskies to deny Washington a shot of the Pac-10 regular-season title. Another key: How well Justin Dentmon plays.

Dentmon has had five subpar games in a row statistically, and though Washington won four of them, the Huskies probably can't continue to win consistently on the road without him playing a little better.

Dentmon played a season-low 15 minutes at Cal, in part due to picking up three fouls early in the first half, with Ryan Appleby handling the ball more often than he usually does.

As I've written here before, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar is a stay-the-course guy - remember how steady he was during the 5-8 start to that 2003-04 season? - and he isn't about to make a big deal out of Dentmon's recent play.

"He's just got to fight through it," Romar said Friday of Dentmon.

Asked about lineup changes, Romar said no. "You don't change things based on one or two games," he said. "But the nature of the game sometimes allows someone to play more minutes if they are going well."

NOTES

  • Newspaper reports out of Spokane are that Micah Downs is enrolling at Gonzaga, which puts to a rest any talk of him becoming a Husky. Trust me when I say that UW was never an option for Downs.

  • Went to the WSU-Cal game today and the atmosphere was like library compared to what greeted the Huskies on Thursday, lending more credence in my eyes to the idea that other teams - and their fan bases - are making a big deal out of playing the Huskies. The Cougars had a lot of success sending two and three defenders at Leon Powe and making the other Bears score. Of course, the Cougs lost, so obviously it didn't work perfectly, but the strategy was a little bit different than Washington's. Powe got 16 shots against the Huskies, making seven, but went 1 for 8 against the Cougars.

  • To the person who wrote that the Huskies have no chemistry, I'd have to disagree. There are some strong personalities on this team - and there's certainly a different chemistry than a year ago - but overall, this is a good group of guys all trying to do what it takes to win games. In two of UW's losses (WSU, Cal), the Huskies erased 12- and 13-point deficits in the final six minutes only to come up short. The other loss came in double overtime to Arizona. I think that resilience indicates a little bit of chemistry.

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