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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 30, 2006

An update on rankings

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:52 PM

After two straight road losses, the Huskies, as expected, dropped signicantly in the rankings.

In the AP Top 25, the Huskies have fallen from 10th to 16th. They dropped from 9th to 15th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.

If you believe in the mathematical forumulas behind the RPI ratings, a good site to check is www.kenpom.com. In Ken Pomeroy's RPI calculations, the Huskies are currently 56th in the nation.

A real tough one

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:10 AM

There were a lot of headlines in the Bay Area this weekend were about the Oakland A's signing Frank Thomas.

But this was the true Big Hurt for Husky fans.

I'm not sure I've covered a UW basketball game in which the Huskies seemed to feel as bad afterward - unless it was the Arizona game a few weeks ago (I wasn't at the UConn Sweet 16 game in 1998).

I've already gotten a few e-mails from people about to jump ship.

And Brandon Roy talked afterward of "how dark things seem right now."

Which brings to mind the fact that the Huskies are, in fact, 16-4.

And of their four losses, two have come in overtime, another by two points.

A long-winded way of saying that this team still has a lot more good going for it than bad, and that maybe it's the perfect time for having a one-game week - WSU is on tap Saturday.

As for the game itself, we have all the obvious angles covered - hopefully - in the stories in-print and on-line, so look there for that.

Lorenzo Romar said he didn't want to foul on the last play, though he didn't really elaborate. Maybe he was concerned about Matt Haryasz getting an offensive rebound.

Or maybe he simply figured the best way to play it was straight up. It admittedly seemed like a long shot that Stanford could pull that one out at that point, with 2.1 seconds left and in-bounding the ball under its own basket.

I actually heard the Stanford radio broadcast during the timeout and one of the announcers said he thought it would be real difficult for the Cardinal to even get a shot up in that situation.

That said, the Huskies lost this game in a number of other areas as well.

  • They shot 2-of-17 from the three-point line, and Bobby Jones was 1-of-11. Hard to win too many road games with that kind of shooting.

  • Stanford played without Chris Hernandez for the last 12 minutes of the first half after he picked up two fouls. But UW made up seven points during that time - from down two to up five at halftime. The Huskies should have gotten a bigger cushion then.

  • The Huskies are getting very little from their bench these days unless Ryan Appleby is hot from outside. UW got just eight points from reserves against Stanford. A far cry from last year, when Brandon Roy was coming off the bench. This simply isn't as deep or as talented a team as a year ago.

  • Still, UW has lost four games by a combined 19 points. If the Huskies go 5-4 in the second half of the Pac-10 season, that's 21-8 entering the conference tournament. Win at least one game there, and UW is 22-9. I don't know how the Huskies could be kept out of the NCAA tournament with that record.

  • And there were some positives - UW actually outrebounded Stanford 43-42 which I never remember happening down here; Jon Brockman played another good game with 11 points and eight rebounds; and UW played salty defense until the very end.

    But it ended in another loss, making the Cougar game suddenly a virtual must-win.

    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.

    January 27, 2006

    Big Dawgs

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:53 PM

    It was interesting seeing the reaction to Washington getting beat last night.

    The crowd when crazy when it was over, with the students rushing the floor. And one newspaper headline today trumpeted that the Bears had greatly enhanced their NCAA tournament chances by beating a team with the stature of the Huskies.

    Even though it's not news that the Huskies are good, it's still sometimes hard to believe just how good this program has been since that memorable comeback win at Oregon State, which was just a little over two years ago.

    UW is 59-13 since that win in Corvallis and 31-8 in Pac-10 games.
    Obviously, those loss numbers were 12 and 7 before last night.

    I bring it up because it seemed again like the Huskies came out a bit passive, not quite ready for the intensity that the opponent would bring. That's definitely what happened against Washington State, and in a few of those sluggish non-conference wins as well.

    UW Lorenzo Romar said that he thought his team waited a half before deciding to really compete.

    That's something this team has to solve, especially with so many road games left.

    Other worries?

  • PG Justin Dentmon's struggles continued as he played just 15 minutes and had two points with a team-high four turnovers. Dentmon has scored just 22 points in UW's last five games and has a combined 15 turnovers in the three road games in that span.

  • UW may be better inside than it's been in years, but the reality is that the Huskies also don't start anyone taller than 6-7 and that seemed a real problem last night. Jamaal Williams never got going and while Jon Brockman played hard all night - he had a team-high 10 rebounds - he doesn't yet have the polished offensive game the team can really count on for big numbers in such a game.

  • Turnovers were again a problem in a road game. UW had 28 at USC and 18 last night, the two highest totals in the last seven games.

    Positives?

  • The team again came back when it seemed dead in the water.

  • The 10 3-pointers were the most since a season-high 12 against Loyola-Marymount.

  • Ryan Appleby again showed he can come through in the clutch, hitting 5 of 6 3-pointers.

  • And Joel Smith showed some spark off the bench before committing a bad foul at the end of the game.

    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.

    January 24, 2006

    Romar's weekly press conference

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:30 PM

    Lorenzo Romar's weekly press conference didn't elicit a lot of news this week.

    And really, that's a good thing, as the Huskies don't have a lot of questions at the moment, having won four a row, including one of their best games of the year in Saturday's win over Oregon.

    The big question of the day may have emanated from Lawrence, Kan., where it was announced that Micah Downs is leaving Kansas.

    It's only obvious to wonder whether Downs (who went to Bothell and Juanita) -- said to be coming home to resolve some personal issues -- would want to transfer to UW.

    He might - he hasn't said anything and refused comment to the one newspaper that got a hold of him today so it's impossible to know what his future plans are.

    But from talking to a few people, I don't think there's a real chance he'll end up at UW.

    The Huskies did offer Downs a scholarship back in the spring of 2004 before he committed to Kansas, which was before he began his senior season of high school.

    But that was when the Huskies were just coming off their first NCAA appearance under Romar and the program was still in its infancy.

    Washington's -- and Romar's -- stature has each grown since then and the UW coaches can be a little more selective in their recruiting now. Not that Downs isn't really talented, but that just might not be the way they would want to go right now.

    Plus, there is the simple numbers game -- at the moment, UW is full up on scholarships for the 2006-07 season. That could change, and obviously UW signed players last year when it didn't have spots available at that very moment.

    But it's also another factor to consider. I would imagine that if a spot does open at some point, UW will want some flexibility and won't want to have committed that scholarship already.

    January 23, 2006

    Movin' on up

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:50 PM

    With Duke losing, poll voters have finally seen the light and made the Huskies the No. 1 team in the country.

    What's that? That's UConn at the top? Oh well, I knew it was one of those Huskies teams that Doug Wrenn used to play for that was ranked No. 1.

    The closer-to-home Huskies also made some slight headway in the polls, as well, after the sweep of the Oregon schools, moving up to No. 9 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll while remaining No. 10 in the AP poll.

    Here are the links to those ratings via ESPN's page.

    Also, the Huskies have unofficially moved up to No. 35 in this week's RPI.

    And as always, there's Joe Lunardi's ESPN Bracketology, which has a Washington tint all the way around. Lunardi has UW No. 4 in the Washington D.C. region with a possible second-round matchup against George Washington. I'd like UW's chances of getting to the Sweet 16 in that scenario.

    Once there? Lunardi has UW facing Duke, which would at least put the Huskies on the forefront of the college basketball world for a night. Here's the link to Lunardi's latest piece.

    The Huskies will travel to the Bay Area this week for games at Cal Thursday and Stanford Sunday.

    Here's a story on Cal's loss at Arizona Saturday that serves as a good primer for where the Bears are now.

    We'll have more here Tuesday on UW's preparations for the Bay Area trip.

    January 21, 2006

    A victory to quack about

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:06 PM

    OK, so that's a really bad pun.

    But this was definitely a night for good feeling at Edmundson Pavilion as the Huskies recorded what I think was as impressive a win as they have had all season.

    Obviously, they've beaten better teams (Gonzaga, UCLA at UCLA), so maybe this isn't the best win. But the way the Huskies dismantled what is a pretty talented Oregon team says a lot about how good Washington can be.

    The Huskies are 16-2, the same record they had at the 18-game mark last year.

    And suddenly, comparisons to last year don't seem too outlandish.

    Jamaal Williams said "I think so" when asked if this team could be as good as last year's, which advanced to the Sweet 16. "If we play defense like we did tonight, we can do a lot of things like that team did," Williams said.

    What this game showed is that the Huskies are learning to win in ways other than just outscoring their opponent.

    Washington shot the ball well - 51.6 percent after the 33-percent debacle Thursday night - but they won this one primarily by outrebounding Oregon 42-26, holding Oregon to 39 percent shooting, and generally being the tougher and more aggressive team.

    The Huskies also got good games from all three senior starters - Williams, Bobby Jones and Brandon Roy - not something that has happened every game this season.

    That's a real positive, however, as it shows that this team may be finding the same kind of chemistry that last year's did, when Nate Robinson, Tre Simmons and Will Conroy would often trade off playing the leading role.

    Still, there's no question Roy is the go-to guy on this team, as he showed when he scored 15 points in the first half when the Huskies essentially won the game.

    "Roy is a pro guy who can take over a game," said Oregon coach Ernie Kent. "Boy, he stepped and made some big buckets for them when we had great stops and he would spin and get to the hole. He's a guy you can throw the ball to and count on him getting you 20. He's becoming an Ike Diogu-type player or a David Lucas-type player."

    Tough road ahead: Obviously, it all gets a lot tougher for the Huskies now as they have to play three in a row on the road and seven of their final 11 before postseason.

    In fact, it seems hard to believe there are just four home games left after they have played 15 at home so far.

    Roy said the obvious, that the Huskies have to just try to win each one as it comes instead of trying to win all seven at once.

    None will be easy. California is the first test Thursday and the Bears are a big team that will pose some matchup problems for the Huskies. But the sweep in Los Angeles last weekend showed that simply being on the road won't intimidate these guys. It's now simply a matter of playing well enough.

    Hitting the boards: UW's rebounding total on Oregon is especially impressive when you consider that Oregon was second in the Pac-10 in rebounding margin to the Huskies at plus-6.2 in the Ducks' previous six Pac-10 games.

    Here are some other random thoughts:

  • Joel Smith played just nine minutes this weekend after playing so well on the L.A. trip. He's losing time with the re-emergence of Brandon Burmeister. But Romar does a good job of keeping everybody involved and it wouldn't be a surprise if Smith is called on in key times this week.

  • Washington's margin of victory against Oregon is that much more impressive considering that Ryan Appleby was 1 for 5 on three-pointers, appearing to have good looks on every miss. He won't shoot that poorly often.

  • Mike Jensen had a nice game with eight points and four rebounds in 15 minutes, but I think his chances of supplanting Jon Brockman in the starting lineup this season are just about over.

    Brockman looks more comfortable offensively all the time. He scored just six against Oregon - taking only six shots - but had 10 rebounds and played some tough defense inside.

    January 20, 2006

    Class act

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:42 PM

    It was nice to see that the crowd was in control all night. Maybe the blowout had something to do with it, but this was a little tamer than a lot of other UW-Oregon games.

    Last year, Ernie Kent said that the Dawg Pack, UW's student section, was an "embarrassment waiting to happen" a few weeks after playing at Washington. He didn't want to touch the topic when I asked him about it Friday, surely hoping not to inflame any fire, but also saying he thought it was overplayed last year and he considered it a dead issue.

    The Dawg Pack seemed ready to get into Kent regarding the rumors concerning his personal life - that's what the sombreros were for.

    But other than that, not much happened. Romar has talked with the Dawg Pack on several occasions about his desire that they stay as classy as possible. I was there in October when the Dawg Pack attended a practice and Romar and Todd Turner each spoke to the Pack, telling the students that they needed to not cross any boundaries.

    Sounds like Romar may have talked with the Dawg Pack briefly before this game as well. It's obviously part of college basketball for student sections to get into the game, but it's nice when that involvement doesn't take away from the game.

    So far this year, there's been nothing to write about the Dawg Pack, which is a good thing.

    Bring on the parity

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:59 PM

    I guess we should come to expect nothing other than weirdness in the Pac-10 this season.

    But Thursday seemed to take it to another level with Lute Olson saying that Chris Rodgers may be coming back to Arizona after all, Oregon winning with just 52 points in Pullman, and California beating Arizona State on the road by 30.

    It was a strange day all around in Tucson as the Wildcats lost Jawann McClellan for the season with a wrist injury he suffered at Oregon last weekend, and decided to take the redshirt status off guard Fendi Onobun to take his place.

    But it might have been strangest at Edmundson Pavilion, where the Huskies won despite shooting just 33 percent, their worst since a 31.1 percent outing against Gonzaga in 2003. In that infamous game, UW missed 22 straight shots.

    The Huskies were eager to put that game behind them when they met with some of us before practice today, though they were also in good humor about it because they got the win.

    Bobby Jones said that despite how it might have appeared "we were not point shaving or anything like that" a remark that made a nearby UW official cringe. Don't worry, clearly Jones was smiling when he said it.

    Lorenzo Romar said that in reviewing the film, he still liked the way his team played. He said many of the misses were shots his team normally makes. Washington didn't even shoot free throws well, making just 16 of 28.

    Romar said he considers the game an aberration and will focus instead on the Huskies still being able to win.

    Added Jones: "I wouldn't say I'm embarrassed, but it's one of those things you don't want to think about. But you know it's not going to be like that in consecutive games. It's a blessing that our defense was there to help us out."

    Jones agreed with Romar that the Huskies were taking good shots. He said he remembered the Gonzaga game with the 22 missed shots, and some other similarly bad nights from earlier in his career, and said that in a lot of those games "there were people being selfish," leading to a lot of poor shots being taken.

    But against Oregon State he said the Huskies "shot the same shots we normally do, we just didn't make them. Nobody shot out of character."

    Here are a few other news and notes

  • No lineup changes are planned, but Romar continues to fiddle with his rotation off the bench. Against Oregon State, Brandon Burmeister and Hans Gasser got playing time in place of Joel Smith and Mike Jensen. Saturday against Oregon, it could be somebody else. Romar said a lot depends simply on matchups. Oregon is essentially a four-guard team with one big man, which favors someone like Smith seeing more time - though against Oregon State, he was also looking for players who would bring energy.

  • Brandon Roy revealed one reason for his subpar game against Oregon State - he injured his right wrist in practice Monday while boxing out Jamaal Williams. Roy said he wasn't able to do as much shooting during the week as usual, which might have contributed to his 3-of-9 shooting with eight points against the Beavers. Roy said Friday the wrist was improving, but that he planned to do some extra shooting Friday night to attempt to rediscover his shot.

  • I talked with Oregon guard Aaron Brooks for a while before practice today. It's been a somewhat rocky season for the Ducks, with rumors about Ernie Kent's job status after losses to Portland and Portland State. That has led to Oregon slowing its offense down a bit, which I focus on in the story for Saturday's paper. But Brooks also said the Ducks held a players' retreat before the season to resolve to stick together no matter what happens. He credits that with keeping Oregon together so far.

  • Brooks, a Franklin High School graduate, was heavily recruited by UW but chose to go to Oregon at a time when Romar was in his first year attempting to turn Washington around and the Ducks were riding high. "It's almost flipped now to where they stopped going to the tournament and we started going to the tournament," Roy said. "He may never admit it, but he may be thinking in the back of his mind, he could be a part of that right now."

  • Ernie Kent started a mini-furor a year ago when he called UW's student section, the Dawg Pack "an embarrassment waiting to happen." He later backtracked a bit, however, saying media blew it out of proportion. He wanted no part of that topic Friday when I asked him about it, saying he didn't even want to discuss it.

  • Oregon forward Maarty Leunen, who has started 15 games, has been limited since spraining an ankle two weeks ago, but played one minute against Washington State and could see more time on Saturday.

    A win's a win

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:14 AM

    That was the mantra from the coaches and players after this one, anyway, and there's something to be said for a team that can shoot 33 percent yet still win a conference game.

    Even so, UW's 69-65 win over Oregon State was hard to watch, and not something the Huskies should risk repeating anytime soon.

    But there was no questioning the effort or focus, despite all the missed shots, many of which were point-blank lay-ins and put-backs.

    UW coach Lorenzo Romar, in fact, praised the effort of the entire week, saying, "They were really focused in practice this week. Probably as focused as we've been, and I think that focus carried over into the game tonight."

    The Huskies' plan was to pressure OSU's ballhandlers, because the Beavers were without starting point guard Lamar Hurd. And the strategy worked as the Huskies forced 28 turnovers.

    As Bobby Jones said, if UW hadn't done that "we might have lost by 20."

    But the Huskies never let down on defense, despite all the erratic offensive play.

    "Psychologically, when you're not making shots, when you're missing layups and open shots, it wears on you to where you don't give the right effort defensively," Romar said. "But that wasn't the case tonight. Our guys forced 28 turnovers and fought through to the end, so I'm glad we got the victory."

    The win was critical as it allowed UW to finally begin to get some separation from the bottom of the pack in the Pac-10.

    UW is 4-2, tied with Cal and Oregon for second behind UCLA at 5-2.

    Stanford fell to 3-3 with its loss while Oregon State and WSU each dropped to 2-4.

    A win against the Ducks on Saturday and the Huskies could have a tie for first place with UCLA if Arizona beats Cal. And that would be a pretty quick rise back to the top after the two earlier home losses.

    Here are a couple of other notes:

  • Jamaal Williams played just 17 minutes, his fewest since getting 16 in a blowout win over Idaho, and he shot just 2 for 12, having trouble scoring inside against OSU's taller interior players. But Williams said afterward that he won't complain. "I have to deal with it," he said. "It's my last year so I can't complain about it."

    Joel Smith played just four minutes, all in the first half, and Romar said it was simply because other players were playing better, mainly Brandon Burmeister, who gave the Huskies a big lift in the second half. Romar said Burmeister, who scored five points and had three big offensive rebounds, "did a phenomenal job."

    January 19, 2006

    Game-day update

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:33 PM

    Woke up today to the news that Chris Rodgers had been dismissed from the Arizona basketball team. Apparently, UA released it last night at 9:32 p.m. Rodgers has always been an enigma, a player of undoubtedly vast talent who at times didn't seem to do a lot with it. But he was also an important player - coach Lute Olson recently called him the best "on-ball" defender the team has had.

    This incident, however, shows that Arizona may still be having some of the chemistry problems that also dogged them two years ago, when the Huskies beat the Wildcats three times. As one of the stories linked below points out, Olson hinted at chemistry problems this week before booting Rodgers, indicating they may have played a role in the team's losses at Oregon last week.

    In today's day, every team is susceptible to such problems, especially in a sport like basketball that tends to attract a lot of strong personalities.

    But it's been one of the foundations of Lorenzo Romar's program at UW to get players to buy into the program before they even set foot. And you've seen little real dissension since his first year as a result.

    Here's a link to a couple of stories about the Rodgers departure, one an analysis piece from the Tucson Citizen, and the other from the school paper indicating that Rodgers and Olson got in a shouting match during a practice.

    Here's a couple of other quick thoughts on Thursday's game, and a couple of quick links around the Pac-10:

  • Here's a link to a preview of the game in the Corvallis Gazette-Times - it's essentially a feature on Nick DeWitz, who I think is OSU's best player.

  • Here's a link to the preview in Thursday's Oregonian that is essentially a feature on forward Marcel Jones.

  • Also, a reader asked if Thursday's game is on TV. It's not, as is somewhat common of Thursday games. Only one or two of the Thursday games around the conference are usually televised, meaning two or three usually aren't. UW will not be on TV on Thursday this week or next week. The game at WSU on Feb. 4 also will not be televised, meaning three of the next five games will not be on TV.

  • One key to tonight's game? Getting OSU down early. The numbers show that OSU is a much better first-half team - they have outscored foes 531-487 in the first half but been outscored 591-564 in the second.

  • Also worth noting that when considering only Pac-10 games, OSU is first in the conference in field goal percentage defense (41.4 percent) and three-point field goal percentage defense (a shockingly low 26.6).

    But the Huskies will want to put as much pressure on OSU as they can. The Beavers are last by a wide margin in turnovers - losing 5.4 more per game than their opponent - and will play tonight without starting point guard Lamar Hurd.

    See you here after the game.

    January 18, 2006

    Pulling away?

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:57 PM

    The theme of the week around the Pac-10 has been the topsy-turvy nature of the conference to date.

    One week, Arizona appears in the driver's seat. Then Arizona loses and it's UCLA. Then Cal looks strong, only to lose a couple of games.

    Washington, obviously, was a favorite heading into the season, lost that role after losing two of its first three home Pac-10 games, then moved back into that spot after sweeping in L.A.

    And the view here is that UW can really make a move in the conference race by winning both games this weekend.

    If UW can do that, it will be 5-2 by Saturday night. Considering that Cal and Stanford are traveling to the Arizona schools this weekend, and Oregon also has to go to Washington State, the Huskies could begin to get some separation on the rest of the pack.

    The Huskies, however, will have five of their following seven games on the road, beginning with next week's trip to the Bay Area.

    We'll break down the UW-OSU game a little more in this space tomorrow.

    Until then, here are some additional notes and quotes:

  • I talked with Justin Dentmon for a few minutes this week about his struggles of last weekend. He had 11 turnovers in his first two Pac-10 road games.

    "I've just kind of never been in an environment like that before, so it was just hard for me," he said. "I just felt like things weren't going my way no matter how hard I tried."

    He admitted he let it affect his confidence and that he "passed up a couple of shots I normally take."

    But he said Lorenzo Romar told him afterward that he can't put his head down and look defeated.

    Romar said he thinks Dentmon simply had some typical freshman struggles in the game and doesn't expect it to linger. "He's been pretty good for us," Romar said.

  • Last time OSU was here, coach Jay John had to be carted away by ambulance after feeling ill during the game. Here is a link to a story detailing that in the Corvallis newspaper.

  • I noticed Dickie V named Hassan Adams as one of the five members of his All-Velcro Team for "defensive kings." Last I saw Hassan, Brandon Roy was scoring 35 points.

  • In this year's Oregon State media guide, the Beavers' win over UW last February is listed among the "Ten Great Moments in Beaver Basketball."

  • Here's a purely personal aside I thought you might be interested in regarding the movie "Glory Road." I haven't seen it and not sure I want to. I've found that almost every movie about a real-life sports event is so distorted from what actually happened, that I just spend all my time wondering if what they are showing really happened. "Glory Road," in case you haven't heard, is about Texas-El Paso's 1966 NCAA championship win over Kentucky, monumental because UTEP had an all-black starting lineup while Kentucky's was all white - the first all-black lineup to win the title.

    The movie, from everything I've heard and read, revolves almost solely around the race factor.

    But interestingly, some media reports at the time didn't even mention it. I have an old copy of Sports Illustrated from that week, with UTEP's Harry Flournoy stealing a rebound away from Pat Riley. And not once in the story, written by Frank Deford, is the race of either team mentioned.

    January 17, 2006

    Staying Sharp

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:53 PM

    As we wrote here Monday, the Huskies are again receiving accolades galore after their sweep of the Los Angeles trip - the first for UW since 1987.

    When UW coach Lorenzo Romar and players met the press today (Tuesday), the theme was not getting caught up in that success.

    Romar and several players said the loss to Washington State may have served as something of a wake-up call. Now they need to not fall asleep again.

    Brandon Roy said he thought the Huskies "played a little selfish" in the Cornell game - a sluggish 87-71 win - that preceded the WSU loss and again against the Cougars.

    "All that went out the window once we lost to WSU," Roy said.

    But Roy said it "will be interesting to see how we react" now that everyone is again patting Washington's collective back.

    What helps UW stay focused this week are the opponents - Oregon State on Thursday and Oregon on Saturday. The rivalry with each school is obvious, and the current players can readily recall playing some of their most memorable games against the Ducks and Beavers.

    Everyone, obviously, remembers the win at OSU two years ago that's regarded as the turning point of the program. The current players also recall that OSU dealt UW its largest loss of last season, a 90-73 defeat in Corvallis.

    And every game recently with Oregon has been intense without even mentioning the "Gary Coleman" chants that so fired up Nate Robinson the past two years. That Seattleite Aaron Brooks is Oregon's point guard further adds to the fire.

    I don't think coming out flat will be UW's problem in these two games.

    Here are some more news and notes:

  • Freshman guard Harvey Perry, out all season with a back injury, is on schedule with a rehab program that could have him return to the court in a few weeks. Romar, however, left open the possibility that Perry will redshirt this season, saying it's "50-50. ... I think he'd like to play if he could."

  • Romar praised the efforts of redshirting center Joe Wolfinger, saying he is progressing "quite nicely. Man he's just a tremendous worker." Part of the plan in redshirting Wolfinger was for him to get bigger and stronger - he's listed at 7-foot, 245 pounds. Noting that Wolfinger practices several hours a day - he usually has an individual session before or after practice in addition to taking part in regular drills - Romar said "he'll gain more weight in the offseason."

    But Romar sounds excited about Wolfinger's future, stating again that always displays a nice shooting touch and is increasingly comfortable working down low.

  • Though reserves Mike Jensen and Ryan Appleby came off the bench to help lead the win over UCLA, Romar said that won't necessarily lead to any changing of roles. Instead, he said minutes and roles can change each game based on the opponent.

    "Each game presents its own different set of challenges," he said. OSU, for instance, is a little bigger and slower team than some others - three starters are 6-8 or 6-9 - which could mean UW will go more with a bigger lineup. And as such, more time for Hans Gasser, who played only four minutes on the L.A. trip - all against UCLA.

  • Jensen will have an increasingly larger role as he continues to get back in playing shape. But he said he's not concerned about whether he starts any time soon. Or whether he does ever again. "I'd be happy being the last guy on the bench as long as we're winning," he said.

    January 16, 2006

    A new week

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:37 PM

    It's one of the biggest cliches in sports to say "what a difference a week (year, month, etc.) makes."

    But failing on this holiday to find any better way to describe it, let me just say "what a difference a week makes."

    A week ago, we were all speculating whether UW had been vastly overrated as a result of a soft non-conference schedule and questioning where this team was headed after an unexpected home loss to Washington State.

    Now, after going on the road and getting their first sweep of the LA trip since 1987 - and just their second Pac-10 road sweep of the Lorenzo Romar era - the accolades are again coming Washington's way.

  • Bobby Jones has been named as the conference player of the week for scoring 33 points and grabbing 21 rebounds in the two games. It is the first time he has gotten that honor in his career and the first for UW this year. Here's the Pac-10 release on Jones.

  • The Huskies are back in the top 10 in both polls today, standing at exactly No. 10 in each.

  • UW is again given a top four seed in ESPN's bracketolog. Here's the link.

  • And UW moved up markedly in the RPI from No. 49 last week to No. 38 this week.

    The theme among coaches and players was that some added toughness was the difference to the turnaround.

    For instance, UW outrebounded UCLA and USC by a combined 78-50. The Huskies took at least a half-dozen charges in the two games. And the comeback from a 14-point second-half deficit was their largest since - you guessed it - the memorable win at Oregon State in 2004 that is regarded as the turnaround game for the program.

    "We felt that if we concentrated on playing tough basketball, we had a chance to get out of this hole no matter who we were playing, or where," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar.

    Following the recruits

    Here's a quick look at what UW's incoming recruits are doing.

  • Phil Nelson - He sat out two games for family reasons, but was back in the lineup on Friday and scored 16 points as McNary (Ore.) beat North Salem, 67-39.

  • Quincy Pondexter - Pondexter's San Joaquin Memorial team is 17-3 after losing at Clovis West of Fresno 52-40 on Friday. Pondexter is averaging 21.1 points per game, and has made 27 of 37 three-pointers - a good sign considering UW will need some three-point shooting next year with Brandon Roy and Jones leaving - and is shooting 71 percent from the field overall. He's also averaging 5.4 rebounds per game.

  • Adrian Oliver - Oliver scored 26 points in a 78-58 win for Modesto Christian over Amador last week. Modesto Christian is 15-3 on the season.

  • Spencer Hawes - Here's a link to a story in The Times about Hawes' most recent game.

    January 14, 2006

    Bruin up a big win

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:19 PM

    LOS ANGELES - I think any doubt as to whether this team has what it takes to have a really solid season should be laid to rest by now.

    Sure, UCLA has some players out. But the Bruins still have a lot of good players left, and this is never an easy place to get a win in any circumstance. Nor is sweeping this trip ever easy in any circumstance.

    UW has some issues - suddenly, Justin Dentmon's turnovers seem worrisome, to name just one.

    But many were questioning how together this team was after the loss last week to WSU and going on the road and winning two should answer that.

    UW coach Lorenzo Romar said he knew there were some doubters, but said he felt that "if we played tough basketball, we had a chance to get out of this hole no matter who we were playing, or where."

    The Huskies did just that on this trip.

    I'll have complete coverage on-line and in the pages of the Times on Sunday.

    Here are some other notes and observations on UW's first win here since 1987

  • Brandon Roy scored just 10 points and said UCLA defended him as hard and as well as any team has all year. "Every time I came off a screen, there was a 6-8 dude there defending me," he said. But as they did against Gonzaga when Roy was shackled due to foul trouble, his teammates stepped up, leading a balanced attack.

    "I think that says a lot about us," Roy said.

    Roy also said he was concentrating more on defense - he and Bobby Jones essentially shared responsibility for defending UCLA's backcourt of Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo.

  • Romar acknowledged that Dentmon was struggling a little bit - he scored the first two points of the game then never scored again. The two points is a season low. But he said the fine play by Ryan Appleby had as much to do with why Dentmon played just 21 minutes as anything else.

  • Even when UW was down by 15 in the first half, it seemed like a comeback was possible. The Huskies just weren't hitting shots early, going 12-of-33 in the first half and 1-of-11 from three. Many were contested, but a number were simply missed. As Jones said "you know that's going to change" if you keep rebounding and playing defense, which is exactly what happened. UW hit 16-of-25 shots - 64 percent - in the second half.

  • Mike Jensen is beginning to really help this team. He had just five points, but he hit a three-pointer in the first half to keep hope alive and provided some really solid defense - always the most underrated of his contributions. His 26 minutes tied a season-high and is probably about what to expect from him for now.

  • Jamaal Williams led UW with 14 points and hit 7-of-11 shots. But he also had just one rebound, the main reason he played just 24 minutes.

  • We all felt at home since it rained here today. Maybe that made a few people decide to spend the day indoors watching basketball. When I arrived and was going through security, one of the guards pointed at the line of students waiting to get in and said it was the largest he had seen all season.

  • Driving in, I heard that Miami had beaten North Carolina, and the first thing that came to my mind was - how nice would it be for UW right now if the Huskies had been able to play, and beat, the Hurricanes? The value of such victories is that every time that team then wins a game the rest of the year, it helps your team's RPI - as well as just your overall image.

    Alas, Miami foiled UW's plans by losing to Air Force in the second round of the BCA Classic, in part because the Hurricanes' point guard was injured and didn't play.

    January 13, 2006

    Along came Pauley

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:18 PM

    The mood of the Washington contingent seemed noticeably brighter here today as they practiced at Pauley Pavilion in preparation for tomorrow's game against the Bruins.

    Maybe it's because, with sunny skies and 75 degree temperatures, it IS noticeably brighter here than in rain-drenched Seattle.

    More likely, it was beating USC on Thursday and knowing they now have a chance to get a sweep of the L.A. schools, something UW hasn't done since 1987.

    "We obviously didn't want to go back to Seattle being 1-4 (in Pac-10) and having to win two straight at home and still being under .500," said UW guard Bobby Jones.

    It won't be easy - UW has won just twice at Pauley since it opened in 1965, the worst record of any Pac-10 team other than WSU, which has won here just once.

    "I think it's pretty simple," Jones said. "The team that plays harder will win."

    Here are a few other notes and quotes from practice:

  • Health will also play a role, and UW has a big edge there. The Huskies have everyone ready, including Ryan Appleby, who had a fever Thursday night.

    UCLA will be without center Lorenzo Mata, who hurt a knee Thursday against WSU and is out 6-8 weeks; and forwards Josh Shipp (hip) and Cedric Bozeman (shoulder). The status of centers Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey is uncertain.

    Hollins has missed five games with a groin injury but said he will try to play. Hollins signed with Lorenzo Romar at Saint Louis and then almost came to UW when Romar became coach of the Huskies.

    The two embraced warmly today while Romar was talking with reporters, and Hollins said there was "no way" he was missing a chance to play against the man who recruited him.

    Fey, the former star from Capital High School of Olympia, has missed five games with a bad ankle, and had other injuries earlier in the year. UCLA coach Ben Howland said today that Fey won't play.

    But a couple of us ran into Fey on campus and he said he was going to try to play and that he was on his way to talk with Howland about playing tomorrow.

  • A big key will be how guard Justin Dentmon holds up against UCLA's Jordan Farmar, who may be the best point guard in the conference. Dentmon had seven turnovers at USC and admitted today that playing his first game on the road made a difference.

    But Dentmon also pointed out that he always seems to play well in big games. He knows all about UCLA. "I like big games," he said.

    As for guarding Farmar and Arron Afflalo, Dentmon said, "They are very fast guards. You've got to keep them in front of you."

  • A reader asked today about Joel Smith, who some might have expected to play more this season than he has. He is averaging 16.5 minutes a game, scoring 5.6 per outing.

    I've talked with Smith several times recently and he readily acknowledges his defense wasn't where it needed to be earlier. He didn't help his cause when he took what he said was "the worst shot of my life" in a key time against Arizona - a hurried three-pointer early in the shot clock when the Huskies held a slim lead.

    Smith had five points in 12 minutes Thursday against USC.

    "He did a decent job," Romar said. "He played with energy and guarded well. He helped us defensively."

  • Hans Gasser didn't play for the first time this season against USC. Part of that is the emergence of Mike Jensen, now seeming to find his place again after missing the first six weeks of the season with a shoulder injury.

    Part of it is that Bobby Jones played a few minutes at power forward - his old position - instead of on the perimeter, where he has been most of this year.

    But USC also is one of the smallest teams in the conference and it made sense for UW to counter with a smaller lineup. Gasser could be needed against a UCLA team that rivals the Huskies as the best rebounding team in the conference.

    Washington leads the Pac-10 in rebounding margin at plus-8.6 while UCLA is next at plus-5.1.

  • Romar spent part of his session with reporters by talking about how legendary John Wooden essentially designed Pauley Pavilion. Some first-time visitors are caught off-guard by the fact that Pauley has wide end zones, which tend to make it less intimidating than a lot of other arenas, because crowds behind the basket are so far away.

    But Wooden apparently designed the arena with practice foremost on his mind - the extra room allows the volleyball team to practice at the same time, four full courts can fit into the arena.

  • Brandon Roy said one reason he likes playing at Pauley is that there is always the chance of seeing someone famous.

    He said one year he looked over and noticed Jaleel White, the actor who played Steve Urkel in the TV series "Family Matters" sitting in the stands. "I thought that was pretty funny," Roy said.

  • Dawgs get big win in Troy

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:09 AM

    LOS ANGELES - Trojan Warriors.

    That's what the Huskies were tonight, anyway, in beating USC.

    Sure, UW committed 28 turnovers, and let most of a 19-point lead slip away.

    But this was a must-win game on the road, and the Huskies got it, proof that there is still a lot of life left in this season.

    The biggest turnaround was by Bobby Jones, whose ankle has been troublesome but who finally looked like his old self.

    Jones said the ankle isn't healed, and it will be interesting to see how he responds for a game against UCLA on Saturday, but he said that "with so much adrenaline, I wasn't paying any attention to it during the game."

    You can read my full account of the game online and in the pages of the Times Friday.

    But here's a few other observations:

    Not that the Huskies were out of the Pac-10 race, but they got a lot of help tonight with a win here and Arizona's loss. I think the Pac-10 winner is going to have five or six losses, meaning I think UW has plenty of time left to get back into it. Still, Saturday is crucial in terms of the race.

    If there's a concern about tonight's game, it's the turnovers committed by Justin Dentmon, who had a season-high seven, two coming when he twice simply threw the ball away in a span of 22 seconds. It's easy to assume he was rattled, but Romar gave most of the credit to USC's defense. “They really got right into him," Romar said.

    And don't sell USC short in this one. The Trojans played hard from start to finish, and the crowd was a much bigger factor than I thought it would be. It filed in late and though it only totaled 4,561, they made some noise at key times. "They were scrappy," Romar said of the Trojans.

    Jones said it was the most physical game of the year, along with the Arizona State game two weeks ago.

    If Jon Brockman keeps playing like that, he'll put up some big numbers before the year is through. He missed several close shots, and hit just 1 of 4 free throws. But at least he was being aggressive again on offense.

    Brockman said the physical nature was right up his ally.


    "I loved it," he said. "The refs did a good job - if you let one team play like that, let everyone play like that."

    Brockman said he had no issue with the hard foul by USC's Abdoulaye Ndiaye that almost led to a fight early in the second half. Brockman was hit hard while going up for a lay-in.

    "It was a hard foul, but I don't think it was intentional," he said.

    Now on to UCLA, where UW hasn't won since 1987.

    January 12, 2006

    Empty house at USC

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:30 PM

    LOS ANGELES - A half-hour before tip off and there can't be 500 people here. This, at least, won't be an intimidating environment for the Huskies. Now it's just a matter of if they will show up or not.

    If I were a betting man - and judging by my entry in a bowl-game pool, thank goodness I'm not - I'd say they will.

    I don't think there were any Huskies fans on my flight down - which went through San Francisco - but if there were, they might have taken it as a good omen that sitting in the waiting area were Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain of Journey, whose "Don't Stop Believin'" has become an anthem for all kinds of sports teams.

    Maybe that's all the Huskies need right now, a little continued belief.

    As you're surely aware, this is the first road game for the Huskies, which finally sunk in to the players last night.

    A school official said when the team arrived, they found their road purple uniforms neatly laid out for them in their rooms. Several are said to have done a double take, having not seen those unis all season.

    Check back for more coverage here after the game, and tomorrow in the Times and online.

    Game Day

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:32 AM

    If you're like me, this Pac-10 season has had a weird rhythm to it so far. The Arizona games were played over a holiday, then there was a nonconference game on a Monday, then a four-day wait until the Cougars game.
    But now the season is officially hitting its stride with the Huskies in the regular Thursday-Saturday (or Sunday in a couple of cases) mode for most of the rest of the season.

    Something we will try to do here with more regularity, especially on game day, is offer the view from the other side. So here are two articles on USC from the Los Angeles Daily News and the Los Angeles Times, and two more on UCLA — to keep you abreast of UW's Satuday opponent — from each of those papers.

    The USC story in the Daily News is particularly interesting as it talks about Lodrick Stewart apologizing to his teammates about being thrown out of practice Tuesday. The L.A. Times story on the Huskies seems to try to make a case for why coach Tim Floyd still has to be worried about UW. Have the Huskies fallen that far that fast?

    Here they are:

    LA Times on USC-UW

    LA Daily News on USC-UW and Lodrick Stewart

    LA Times on UCLA-WSU

    Daily News on UCLA-WSU

    Also, look back here later in the day for a dispatch from L.A. shortly before the game, and then again afterward.

    January 11, 2006

    What can you do?

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:21 PM

    Boy, nothing like writing a story about how a guy is finally maturing and fitting in and then finding out he got kicked out of practice that same day.

    I'm referring to today's story in the LA Daily News about Lodrick Stewart being booted from practice on Tuesday for throwing an elbow at a teammate. Here's the link.

    I talked with Stewart on Monday for the story that ran in Tuesday's paper and he couldn't have sounded happier about his situation, and my story reflected as much. USC coach Tim Floyd also has said on numerous occasions that Stewart - and the way he has handled matters on and off court - has been one of the pleasant surprises of the year for USC.

    And the reality is that this isn't that big of a deal. I talked with a USC spokesman today who said he didn't think this would affect Stewart's playing time Thursday against UW.

    And hey, I'm not the only one. Several other media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, have published similar stories about Stewart, with glowing comments from Floyd.

    Still, there's some irony there that can make you do nothing but laugh.

    Adding to it, Brandon Roy - who has known Stewart forever - was asked about him on Tuesday and said he thought that the difference in Stewart this year is that "he's a good teammate now."

    Despite this little incident, I know everyone around UW thinks Stewart is playing better than he ever has. One coach told me he's playing much better defense than before and is much better at creating shots than in the past. And they know that beating UW - which he has done just once in four games as a Trojan - is a big deal to him.

    News and notes

  • Speaking of Roy, I stopped by practice briefly Wednesday and he was practicing with the team after sitting out earlier in the week with a lower back strain. That means he should be fine for the USC game, although backs are always worrisome and this may bear watching for a while as he's obviously the last guy this team could lose. Roy said he didn't know how the injury originated and that it began bothering him last Friday and that he noticed it a little in the second half of Saturday's WSU game, saying he felt stiff when he came back in the game late in the second half after sitting out for a while with foul trouble.

  • Romar made an interesting statement about Ryan Appleby this week, saying that: "We think that it's good when Ryan plays with another ball handler so that he can be free to roam and shoot. So we try to always have another ball handler with him." That obviously means that Appleby - who has had some trouble handling the ball at some key moments in recent games - will rarely, if ever, be used as the team's main point guard.

  • You might have seen in other outlets that Phil Nelson, a senior at McNary High in Keizer, Ore., and one of UW's four signees for next season, missed a couple of games recently for what was termed by one newspaper as a "suspension." But Romar said Nelson "had a family issue that had to be dealt with and it's over with now."

  • Romar said Harvey Perry is still in the mix to play this year. He said there have been "no setbacks" in his rehab from a stress fracture in his back and that he's still on track to return in February.

  • Pressing matters

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:29 AM

    During the conference season, UW coach Lorenzo Romar meets with the press every Tuesday for what is often our first chance to talk with him since gameday.

    When he met us yesterday, the focus was obviously on what happened against WSU and what it means for the future.

    But anyone expecting Romar to be pushing panic buttons and promising big changes hasn't really followed him all that much.

    He never panicked in the 2003-04 season when the Huskies started out 0-5 in Pac-10 play and he's not about to now.

    "You can't get caught up in two or three games," he said. "You've got to look at the big picture."

    That in mind, he said the starting lineup will almost certainly stay the same and that there aren't likely to be big personnel changes. Just, he hopes, more of a commitment to playing defense and rebounding and doing the little things that win games.

    The main thing that could alter the lineup would be injuries.

    When the team practiced Monday, Brandon Roy and Mike Jensen each sat out. Roy has been battling what he called "lower back pain" since last Friday - he said it made him stiff late in the WSU game when he returned after sitting out for a while.

    But all the players should be available for the game.

    All of the obvious topics were up for discussion, as well, such as:

  • Jon Brockman, who has taken just 13 shots and scored just 11 points in three Pac-10 games.

    Romar pointed out that Brockman is also averaging 6.7 rebounds per game in Pac-10 play, tied with Roy for sixth. "And I would be surprised if that total doesn't go up," Romar said. "Right now, he's kind of going through a freshman fog in terms of just trying to find his way. But I would imagine that any minute now he's going to really begin to elevate his game."

  • The fact that Roy is averaging 32.3 points in Pac-10 play as opposed to the more balanced scoring that was evident during the non-conference season. Romar said "you are better when you are balanced, I think that for sure," but also said he doesn't have any problem with Roy scoring as much as he has. "If he doesn't get in foul trouble (against WSU) maybe he scores 38 or 40 points and we win the game." Roy scored 27 against WSU before fouling out.

  • The soft early schedule and whether that gave UW a false sense of confidence. Romar pointed out again that "we didn't set out to play every game at home and only want to play a couple of teams with a high RPI. We fell into that. In terms of if we had to do it again, I like what happened in terms of getting our guys experience. But I won't be able to tell you how I really feel until after this road trip. We'll see what happens on the road."

  • How the team responded in practice so far to losing to WSU. Romar said practice was good Monday but that "last week I thought we did a good job in practice and for whatever reason, we didn't put it together for 40 minutes in the game."

    January 9, 2006

    Upsetting weekend

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:16 AM

    Now we know why Lorenzo Romar said a couple of weeks ago that he wanted to wait until after Washington's trip to Los Angeles to offer a real assessment of how good he thinks this team is.

    Not that he saw two losses in the first three Pac-10 home games coming - I'm pretty sure he was referring mostly to wanting to see how the team would handle playing on the road.

    But I think he also knew that this team had some question marks, which has become apparent in the losses to Arizona and Washington State.

    Looking at a breakdown of UW's stats in all 14 games, vs. its stats in just the three Pac-10 games, reveals some of the issues.

  • Lack of balanced scoring. While UW has six players averaging from 19 to eight points for the season, in Pac-10 games, the breakdown does like this - Brandon Roy 32.3, Jamaal Williams 14.0, Justin Dentmon 10.0, Bobby Jones 8.7, Ryan Appleby 5.7. The biggest decliner is Jon Brockman - 10.1 overall, 3.7 in Pac-10 games. The biggest gainer is Roy, who is at 19.1 for the season.

  • Poor free-throw shooting. UW is averaging 73.4 percent for the season, 69.4 percent in Pac-10 play, with misses proving critical in both losses.

  • Fewer turnovers forced. For all games, UW has a plus-60 margin in turnovers forced - 273 for foes, 213 for the Huskies. But in just Pac-10 games, the margin is just minus-two - 39 for foes, 37 for UW.

    You get the picture.

    Obviously, many of the overall stats were enhanced greatly by playing a lot of overmatched opponents, which is just the point. Now that the Huskies are consistently facing teams on their level, their numbers, and their overall play, are leveling off a bit.

    Anyone wondering why the Huskies would run into some struggles this year, however, needed only watch the Sonic game Sunday.

    Watching Nate Robinson help lift the Knicks to a comeback win was a reminder of how much this team lost from a year ago. Nate, Will Conroy, Tre Simmons and Hakeem Rollins added not only experience but a competitiveness that kept the Huskies from ever really dropping off much in the intensity of their play.

    That this team would struggle at times to replace those guys was inevitable. Now we'll see how they react.

    R-E-S-P-E-C-T

    Okay, the Washington Huskies and their fans can officially no longer complain about not getting enough respect.

    Despite losing at home for the second time in eight days, the Huskies are still ranked No. 13 in both polls this week.

    Frankly, I'm a little surprised. I figured they'd go down to the 17-18 range. Two reasons why they might not have - they lost Saturday night, early Sunday morning to back East voters, many of whom probably saw nothing about the game other than the score; and everyone still remembers the Gonzaga win.

    Also, it's simply the way the voters work.

    Consider another team in this week's poll, North Carolina, which is 9-2 and No. 20 in the coaches poll this week.

    UNC just beat an NC State team that was ranked No. 12 and also has a win at Kentucky. Its only losses are to Illinois by four points and by 15 at USC, where the Huskies now have to go.

    Compare them to UW and it looks like a dead heat to me, with a possible edge to UNC based on the fact that the Heels won a big game this weekend. But since they were No. 25 last week, voters simply move them up a few spots. Since UW was No. 10, they just move the Huskies down a few spots.

    Thankfully in college basketball, it doesn't really matter, as it will all be settled on the court in due time.

    January 6, 2006

    Rivalry Time?

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:49 PM

    Closing in now on the UW-WSU game Saturday night at Hec Ed.

    In my preview story for Saturday's paper, I touch a little on whether this is a true rivalry.

    General feeling seem to be that it's nowhere near the rivalry as football. Certainly, part of that is that football is simply a much bigger deal at both schools.

    The general lack of success of both programs the last 25 years or so I'm sure also plays a factor. When have the basketball teams ever met with the kinds of stakes on the line that the football teams have in recent seasons?

    There's also just not a lot of familiarity between the two programs. UW has had lots of Seattle players lately while WSU's roster contains twice as many Texans (two) as Washingtonians (one) among its scholarship players.

    But I'd be curious to know what you think - is this really a rivalry?

    Give me your comments below.

    NOTES AND QUOTES

    Here's a few additional notes and quotes.

  • Lorenzo Romar said the Huskies have had a good week of practice and there are no personnel changes in the offing for health reasons or otherwise.

  • As I noted here a couple of days ago, Romar spent Wednesday night watching two of his four recruits for next season play - guard Adrian Oliver of Modesto Christian and swingman Quincy Pondexter of San Joaquin Memorial.

    Pondexter had the better game with 20 points but Oliver's team got the win, 66-62. Oliver had nine points and 11 rebounds.

    "Adrian had an off shooting night but he scored nine points and pulled down 11 rebounds and he does a lot of things to help your team win," Romar said. "They are both good defenders, they both can score points and they are both good players."

  • WSU's only area player is senior guard Randy Green, a graduate of Rainier Beach. As I wrote in a story in today's paper, Green and Brandon Roy have been buddies since kindergarten. Interestingly, Green said he spent much of the summer working out with another UW player as well - Ryan Appleby.

    He said the two often got together at a gym in Mercer Island.

    "We'd get together and do guard drills and still like that," Green said. "Luke Ridnour was there a couple of times also so I was able to work out with quality guards."

  • Interesting, and frustrating for UW fans, night in the Pac-10 on Thursday. Arizona's loss to UCLA means the Huskies were just a point away from being two games up in the loss column on the Wildcats.

    But the wins by Cal and UCLA seem to indicate this could be a four-team race to the finish now.

    January 4, 2006

    Pet Peeve Time

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:29 PM

    There isn't much news from Montlake right now with the WSU game still three days away - the team had Wednesday off.

    So it's time for me to unleash some Lute Olson-style venom - you know, the coat-throwing, hand-waving, nuts-going-type - regarding one of my pet peeves about basketball, a misconception I heard reinforced today on KJR's Husky Honks Show.

    A caveat - I know Dave Mahler and think he does a good job.

    But since he said it today, I'll use him as an example of something I hear way too often.

    Reciting the Pac-10 stats, Mahler asked "Who has the best defense?" and answered WSU since the Cougars lead the conference in fewest points allowed (54.1). Then he asked "Who has the worst defense?" and answered Washington since the Huskies allow the most points (69.4).

    But points allowed is a misleading at best - outright terrible at worst - indicator of a team's defensive prowess.

    Points scored and allowed, instead, is almost solely dependant on a team's style of play, and in UW and WSU we have the two most extreme styles in the conference, which lends to a lot of misguided statements about how each team plays defense.

    A much more valid indicator of how well a team plays defense is defensive field goal percentage, and in reviewing that stat, we see that while the Cougars truly deserve their ranking as one of the best defensive teams in the conference, so do the Huskies.

    For the season, the Cougars lead the Pac-10 in field goal percentage defense, allowing foes to hit only 36.5 percent of shots. And despite all the points UW allows, the Huskies are third in the conference in field goal percentage defense at 41.4 percent. UW allows a lot of points simply because it plays fast. WSU, whether it plays good defense or not - and usually it does - will seldom allow a lot of points because it plays slow and the opponent gets substantially fewer possessions, and subsequently, fewer shots.


    The numbers are similar even when considering just the two conference games each team has played. UW allowed ASU and Arizona to hit just 39.2 percent of their shots, which is second behind Cal (37) while the Cougars are third at 39.5 percent against the same two opponents as UW.


    Another somewhat misleading stat you are likely to hear this week involves offensive rebounding -- the Huskies are second in the Pac-10 at 15.8 per game while WSU is last at 7.5.

    But pay close attention and you'll see that the Cougars barely even try to hit the boards.

    Instead, in their effort to slow the pace of the game, almost all of their players usually turn and head back to play defense once a shot is taken on offense.

    WSU is willing to give up a few offensive rebounds in an effort to limit, if not eliminate, fast-break chances for the opponent.

    The Huskies, meanwhile, often send everybody crashing to the offensive boards.

    To be sure, the Cougars wouldn't rebound as well as UW if they tried to do what the Huskies do since they don't have the personnel. The Huskies know they have the players who can get back and play transition defense even if they hit the boards, while the Cougars know they don't. So they play accordingly.


    Still, the numbers are skewed greatly by the approach each team takes to rebounding.

    OK, enough ranting.

    COUGS ADD ONE

    Speaking of WSU, here's an interesting story from today's Spokesman-Review about a transfer who will be eligible to play for the Cougars sometime next season. It's more evidence that Dick Bennett and staff have the Cougs on the right track. Here's the link

    ROMAR'S RECRUITING

    With the team off Wednesday, Romar flew to Fresno to see two of his prized 2006 recruits - Adrian Oliver of Modesto Christian and Quincy Pondexter of San Joaquin Memorial - face off. The two teams were to play at San Joaquin Memorial.

    Pondexter is averaging 17.2 points for Memorial, which is 16-1, rated No. 17 in the state by MaxPreps.com, and also features Brook and Robin Lopez, twin 7-footers who have signed with Stanford. Oliver's team is 10-3 and rated No. 10 in the state by MaxPreps.com.

    January 2, 2006

    Discoloring the big red

    Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:49 PM

    The blog's been a little empty of late due to the holidays, but we'll try to pick it back up regularly now that Pac-10 conference action is upon us.

    And thank goodness there are no more games on UW's schedule like Monday night's 87-71 win over
    Cornell.

    As UW coach Lorenzo Romar put it - "we won the game and it is time to move on." That's about the best that can be said about this one other than the fact that it allowed Jon Brockman to regain some confidence.

    The freshman had 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in his best all-around game since he was named MVP of the Black Coaches Association Classic in mid-November.

    Brockman is the focus of my story in Tuesday's Times so I won't go into that much here. But here are some other notes:

  • Romar was asked afterward if having a couple of days to think about the Arizona loss had changed his perception of his team in any way.

    Here's what he said: "I think we are a pretty good team. I think we have the capabilities to have a very successful season if internally we can understand that you have got to play the game for 40 minutes. That is probably what we took away from it the most."

    That's an obvious reference to the fact that Romar felt the team let up in the opening minutes of the second half and allowed Arizona to crawl back in after being down 13 at halftime.

    It's not the first time UW has let that happen this season - New Mexico comes to mind as well - so expect Romar to harp on that until the Huskies show they have learned their lesson.

    Asked, however, if he anticipates making any changes in the wake of the Arizona loss, Romar said no.

    That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. I think UW coaches are more than pleased overall that their team is 12-1 right now and ranked in the top 10. I think they feared in October that they could have suffered two or three losses by now so one defeat - in double-overtime at that - isn't going to cause any panic.

  • I think Ryan Appleby's days of sneaking up on anyone are over.

    Not after what the Washington sophomore guard did in the first half against Arizona Saturday, when he made 4-of-5 3-pointers, including two in the last two minutes that helped the Huskies build a 13-point halftime lead.

    With the Wildcats finally alerted to his shooting ability, Appleby could barely move in the second half without an Arizona defender attached to his hip, no matter how far away he was from the hoop.

    And he was able to get off just two shots in the final 22 minutes he played after halftime of the double-overtime loss to the Wildcats, one coming on a desperation heave as time ran out.

    "They did a good job switching downscreens on me so every time I came up to pop open they had a guy standing there waiting, so it was hard for me to get the ball on the wing," Appleby said.

    It's nothing that he wasn't expecting, just something he knows he now has to prepare for happening again. One adjustment he said he has to make is to "pay more attention to the guy that is guarding the screener. ... I've got to make it harder on them, make it a longer time to switch so the guy who set the screen can get an easier shot. It may not be me getting a shot, but maybe he can get more open."

    Appleby didn't get a ton of looks against Cornell, either, going 2-of-5 overall and 2-of-4 from the three-point line, but considering the blase nature of the game, it's hard to know what to make of it.

  • If Spencer Hawes turns out to be as good as everyone hopes, I'd still bet he turns pro after just one season as a Husky. But one person close to the program pointed out to me recently how much more attached to the Huskies Hawes is than Martell Webster was a year ago.

    If you've gone to the games, you've seen Hawes sitting behind the bench for almost every game. He was there again Monday night. And the other day on a non-gameday, I saw Hawes walking around Hec Ed like he was just one of the players.

    Webster, on the other hand, was never around last year and attended only one game - the season finale against Arizona. And that, apparently, only after the coaching staff really encouraged him to come. That lack of real connection to the team made it that much easier for Webster to turn pro when the time came.

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