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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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May 22, 2006

Tracking the big guys

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:55 PM

One blog reader asked for an update on how Washington's big guys have been progressing in offseason workouts, specifically Artem Wallace and Joe Wolfinger.

So we went to the best source to find out, UW assistant coach Paul Fortier, who has the primary responsibility for working with the big men.

Coaches can work with the players for limited periods in small groups while school is still in session, and Fortier said the obvious, that the main emphasis is to "work on weak areas."

Of Wolfinger, the 7-foot freshman who redshirted this year, Fortier said, "Everybody knows he shoots the ball pretty well for a big guy."

So the Huskies are instead working with him primarily on inside moves, specifically "back to the basket type of things."

Along with that is a continual effort to get stronger to handle the rigors of playing in the Pac-10.

As for Wallace, the 6-8 forward who saw limited time this year as a true freshman, Fortier said the emphasis is on "rebounding and just going at it and raising that intensity level rebounding-wise, offensively and defensively, as well as working on back-to-the-basket things as well as a lot of shooting from 15 to 17 feet."

The coaches drill the players on various moves and then encourage them to try them out when the team gets together on its own for informal full-court games. Those typically happen in the afternoons after the workouts with the coaches.

"It's easy to just go to your strong points all the time, so we want them to concentrate on doing the things that are a little bit uncomfortable right now," Fortier said. "Even if you did a weak move here or there, continue to try to work on it to get stronger next time."

That might be something to keep in mind if you stumble into one of these pick-up games someday and see that "so-and-so" got his shot blocked or looked bad. Maybe he's working on something, kind of like major-league pitchers in spring training.

Fortier said the coaches also emphasize working on counter moves. Most players have go-to moves that can work for a while. But in the Pac-10, where every team plays the other twice during the regular season, moves may not work the second time around once opponents have developed scouting reports.

"It's just making them aware of [developing] a counter move and working on those more so it's not just that an opponent knows that 'OK, I know he's going to do this every time,"' Fortier said.

Fortier also spends some of his time working with Jon Brockman and said Brockman's main areas of emphasis this offseason are shooting and refining his inside moves.

"He's got a very quick first step so there's a lot of working on stuff with that," he said.

The workouts can continue until school ends, then can pick up again on Sept. 15.

All of the players are expected to stay on campus for summer school, however, and will continue working on their own.

Here and there

• We mentioned Phil Nelson's track exploits here last week. Here's a link to the results from his district meet over the weekend.

As you can see, he won the high jump at 6-8, which would have placed him fourth in the Pac-10. Not bad for someone who had never tried the event competitively before this year.

• Some of you have asked whether the team is done recruiting for the 2006-07 season. Everything I hear is that they are and that there are no plans at the moment to add to the roster for next season.

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