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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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July 31, 2006

Interesting Oregon news

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:27 PM

Found a couple of intruiging stories with an Oregon base today.

First is a report from The Oregonian about how Oregon's plans to build an arena to replace Mac Court are indefinitely delayed, if not completely dead, in large part because of the departure of a key athletic department official who was spearheading the project.

I've always thought Oregon has such a huge home court advantage at Mac Court that being forced to stay there wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. I know it's still my favorite road arena in the Pac-10 to visit every year because of its intimate nature and raucous atmosphere.

But certainly, news that the project may be falling apart isn't good for a Duck program that is facing a pivotal season. If Oregon doesn't at least make the NIT, it's hard to see how Ernie Kent returns given all the unrest down there.

And here's a column from the Orange County Register that includes news of rumors that Kyle Singler, the highly touted forward from Medford who is considering Washington, may be more interested in signing with UCLA now that fellow Oregon native Kevin Love has committed to become a Bruin.

I'll repeat what I've said on here a few times -- everything I've heard is that while Singler is considering UW, the Huskies remain something of a longshot to get his services, with Duke still thought to be the favorite. Still, we all know things change quickly in recruiting and you have to be in the game before you can win it so Singler to UW remains a possibility until it isn't.

July 28, 2006

Schedule redux

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:04 PM

Now that the Pitt game is on the docket, expect UW to release a final, official schedule for the 2006-07 season next week. It may include a few more changes from the tentative schedule that was released earlier this month - though only in the dates of a few games, and possibly the order of a few Pac-10 opponents. A couple Pac-10 games could be moved to Sunday and it's possible some other shifting may be done to get some higher profile conference games on TV.

In light of the news that Pitt is now on the schedule, it was interesting to read Mike DeCourcy's column in The Sporting News last week that included an item on Pitt wanting to toughen up its schedule. Apparently, the Panthers have received the same criticism UW heard last year for playing a soft nonconference slate.

July 27, 2006

It's Pitt

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:23 AM

The last piece of the UW's basketball scheduling puzzle is now in place. Though contracts are not yet officially signed, the Huskies have agreed to play at Pitt in February for their final non-conference game. Pitt will then make a return visit to Seattle for the 2007-08 season.

The Pitt game this year will likely be televised on ESPN, giving the Huskies some much-sought-after exposure on that network.

The game will likely be played Saturday, Feb. 17. The Huskies are currently scheduled to host Washington State that day, but that game will likely be moved to Feb. 14.

Pitt will be a very good team this year as it has four starters and nine lettermen returning from last year's squad, which finished 25-8 last season, was ranked No. 16 in the final AP poll, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Bradley.

On top of games already scheduled at Gonzaga and home against LSU, the Huskies will have a much tougher slate this year than last season, when they finished the regular season with a strength or schedule ranking of 92. In 2005, when UW played Oklahoma, Utah and Alabama in Alaska and also played at Gonzaga and hosted NC State, UW had an SOS of 12, which helped the Huskies earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

• Football interlude - We're not officially starting our football blog for a few more days so I'll post this here for now.

Today is Pac-10 football media day and the poll is already out, with USC picked to again win the league - and the Huskies picked to again finish in 10th place.

No real surprise there. Until UW shows more on the field, that last-place perception of the program will persist.

By the way, UW coach Tyrone Willingham confirmed to reporters at the media day press conference that J.R. Hasty will be ineligible this season.

July 26, 2006

Last opponent coming

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:35 PM

Expect an announcement in the next few days about the final opponent on Washington's schedule for the upcoming season.

It'll be a road game against what is being called "a big name,'' but that's all anyone wants to say right now as the Huskies have twice seen attempts to get one more marquee foe on this year's slate fall through --- apparently, final contracts are just now being signed.

UW thought it had a game set at Georgia Tech -- with Tech coming here in the 2007-08 season -- but the Yellow Jackets pulled out of that one.

Then UW was in talks with Missouri about a game -- with Mizzou returning the favor in 07-08 -- but that, too, apparently fell through as word is the team to be announced soon isn't the Tigers.

Whoever it is, it should make UW's schedule demonstrably tougher than it was this year.

UW has already announced that it will host LSU and play at Gonzaga during the non-conference slate.

Assuming one more Top 25-type team and the Huskies should be pretty immune from the criticism they got this year when the marquee name on their schedule -- other than the now annual game with the Zags -- was New Mexico.

Bring the love, hold the mayo

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:38 AM

OK, I promise to be back on the blog fairly regularly from now on after a few weeks spent vacationing -- and a few days spent moving. The latter made me realize I have way too much old sports memorabilia, though this 1987 USC basketball media guide will come in handy should I ever again have an urgent need for information about Ivan Verberckt.

And news in the Pac-10 continues unabated, with the latest story coming Tuesday when Kevin Love committed to UCLA. Author Frank Burleson believes that Love's commitment makes UCLA an immediate Final Four favorite for the 2007-08 season.

That causes me to wonder if the Pac-10 might be able to replicate what the Big East did so memorably in 1985 by sending three teams to the Final Four.

Sound outlandish?

Well, consider if Spencer Hawes stays at UW for two seasons. The Huskies will definitely be a top five-caliber team heading into the season if he does.

And what if O.J. Mayo really does end up at USC and maybe brings a few other top recruits with him to Troy (Bill Walker maybe)? If that happens, the Trojans will also have that kind of potential.

What we can say for sure is that the visit by the LA schools that season could be the most anticipated weekend of regular season basketball in UW history.

The commitment of Love (and the apparent commitment of Mayo) also signifies is that Pac-10 basketball is on the rise like it rarely has been before.

It also appears to signify that despite the hue and cry over the Pac-10's supposedly subpar TV deal and alleged lack of national respect, good coaches, good programs and solid facilities are more than enough to attract top talent.

July 21, 2006

Are you ready for some football?

Posted by Bob Payne at 2:54 PM

Well, so are we, even if the preseason pundits are predicting another subpar finish for the Huskies.

So, having jumped in the water last year with our hoops blog, we are expanding operations here and will be adding a football blog to our menu next month.

Watch for it beginning around Aug. 3 when we will begin previewing Washington's season. The Huskies report to camp Aug. 6 with the first practice coming Aug. 8.

Meantime, here's a nice story on Phil Nelson winning a dunk contest in his native Oregon.

July 18, 2006

Will Sonics move affect Huskies?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:33 PM

Get your season tickets now, because if the Sonics really do take off for Oklahoma City, the Huskies will be the only show in town for high-caliber men's basketball.

And the initial reaction is that if the Sonics are on their way out, it will only help the Huskies.

They will get more media attention during the season, there will be less competition for fan dollars, and their players will have the potential to become even bigger icons in this city, all of which would only aid recruiting.

There are any numerous examples of how being the only show in town has helped a college basketball program reach an elite level — look no further east than Gonzaga or south than Arizona.

But as UW coach Lorenzo Romar said today "it can go both ways" having an NBA team in town.

An NBA team obviously deflects some attention,

But asked if there can be a direct recruiting benefit to having an NBA team, Romar said "Yeah, I think there is. ... When you have a team, it's great to know that you are in an NBA city and that teams will come through here [and practice] at our gyms and sometimes their guys come over and play with our guys. I think that's all good."

Romar also said he thinks there's a connection between the fact that Seattle has had an NBA team for almost 40 years and the rise in the level of basketball being played at the high-school level in this city. That homegrown talent has obviously greatly aided UW's rise to prominence under Romar.

Romar pointed to George Karl starting up the Friends of Hoops AAU program, which has produced the likes off Jon Brockman, Spencer Hawes, Martell Webster and numerous other players. Karl obviously wouldn't have been around to kickstart that program had the Sonics not existed.

"That all definitely sprang from the Sonics," Romar said.

Romar didn't want to get into how it might help the Huskies should the Sonics actually leave, saying that on a personal level "I would hate it. I would love for them to stay. I've always been a Sonics fans."

That dates to his years as a player at UW from 1978 to 1980, which coincided with the Sonics' only NBA title in 1979.

Romar said that he became friendly with many of the Sonics' players.

My personal feeling is that ultimately, it's probably a wash how the departure of the Sonics might impact the Huskies.

The Washington men's basketball program has both thrived and, more often, suffered while playing alongside the Sonics.

And the reasons for both have usually had nothing at all to do with the Sonics.

Once UW had a good coach in Romar, along with a good facility for fans to watch the team — and one that appealed to recruits — the Huskies took off.

The necessity of having those things — both good coaching and good facilities — won't change no matter what the Sonics do.

July 17, 2006

Husky schedule is out

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:56 PM

The Huskies have released a tentative version of their 2006-07 schedule, so here it is.

All times are TBA.

Fri, Nov. 3 — Saint Martin's exhibition
Sun, Nov. 12 — Pepperdine (first round of Basketball Travelers Classic)
Mon, Nov. 13 — Nicholls State (second round of BCT)
Tue, Nov. 14 — Northern Iowa (third round of BCT)
Sun., Nov. 19 — Sacramento State
Fri., Nov. 24 — Eastern Washington
Wed., Nov. 29 — Idaho
Mon. Dec. 4 — Southern Utah
Sat., Dec. 9 .— at Gonzaga
Sat., Dec. 16 — Portland State
Wed., Dec. 20 — LSU
Fri., Dec. 22 — Weber State
Thu., Dec. 28 — at USC
Sat., Dec. 30 .— at UCLA
Thu., Jan. 4 — Arizona
Sat., Jan. 6 — Arizona State
Thu., Jan. 11 — at Stanford
Sat., Jan. 13 — at Cal
Sat., Jan. 20 — at Washington State
Thu., Jan. 25 — Oregon
Sat., Jan. 27 — Oregon State
Thu. Feb. 1 — at Arizona State
Sat. Feb. 3 — at Arizona
Thu. Feb. 8 .— Cal
Sat., Feb. 10 — Stanford
Sat. Feb. 17 — Washington State
Thu., Feb. 22 — at Oregon State
Sat., Feb. 24 — at Oregon
Thu., March 1 — UCLA
Sat., March 3 — USC
March 7-10 — Pac-10 Tournament

Some thoughts:

• The Huskies still need one more game to fill out the schedule and continue to try to find a marquee opponent ...quot; Missouri had been rumored. Finding a suitable TV time and partner has been the main complicating factor to getting something done.

• The schedule will be a little tougher than a year ago with LSU and Gonzaga obvious big names — and probably one more being added — as well as some games that may be tougher than they look against Northern Iowa and maybe Pepperdine and Eastern Washington (which should be better in Rodney Stuckey's second year in Cheney).

• Despite the upgrade, some may question how RPI-worthy this schedule will be. But we saw this year that the non-conference schedule hardly seems to matter for teams in power conferences like the Pac-10. Merely being in the Pac-10 will be enough for the Huskies to annually achieve a decent enough RPI.

• A young Husky squad will be challenged right out of the gate in Pac-10 play, with five of seven on the road, all games that will be tough to win. If the Huskies can make it through that stretch 5-2 or better, the road to the Pac-10 championship will be that much smoother. UW has only one non-conference road game to prepare for that stretch of games. But it didn't seem to hurt UW this year that it didn't play any true non-conference road games as the Huskies swept their first road trip against the LA schools this season.

• The Portland State game will mark the return of former UW assistant Ken Bone, now the head coach at PSU, as well as former Husky player Curtis Allen, who is now an assistant there, and Anthony Washington, who will be a senior this year for the Vikings. PSU will be battle-tested by then, having already played at Oregon, Arizona State and Gonzaga by the time it faces the Huskies.

July 14, 2006

Summer league happenings

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:20 AM

We're still kind of in the summer mode here ourself at the blog, but we just can't resist throwing in a few items here with so much Husky news going on.

For today, here's an update on how former Huskies are doing in summer leagues (We promise soon to provide some updates on the new Huskies working out at Hec Ed daily).

As we all might have expected, Brandon Roy tore it up for the Blazers in the Las Vegas League. Here's a glowing report from the Oregonian.

Here, also, are Brandon's stats, as well as those for Martell Webster.

Jamaal Williams played for Golden State's summer league team and turned in a big game with 27 points against Toronto. The consensus still seems to be that his size means his best bet is going to be playing overseas. But outings like that obviously can't hurt.

Here are the stats for Phoenix's summer league team, which list Tre Simmons on the roster.

But as the those stats indicate, Tre didn't play in any games for the Suns as he was cut before the summer league started. Word is he has tryouts scheduled for the Knicks and Sonics — Seattle also cut him a year ago — and possibly Toronto.

One interesting Pac-10 name on the Phoenix roster is that of former Cougar Jeff Varem.

Bobby Jones will play his first game tonight for Philadelphia in the Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake ...quot; interestingly, against the hometown Sonics.

Here's Philly's roster and schedule.

Finally, Mike Jensen had a workout for some overseas leagues a couple of weeks ago but hasn't yet decided what he will do.

July 12, 2006

TV beckons Huskies

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:54 PM

The University of Washington and FSN announced an extension and some slight changes to their working agreement today. Here's the official release from the UW web site.

I'll try here to answer a few questions you may have about this.

Does this mean more football and basketball games will be on TV?

Probably, but it doesn't guarantee every game will be on TV.

As a Fox spokesman told me, however, this agreement now means Fox has both the "right and the obligation'' to do what it can to get as many games on TV as possible.

Still, Pac-10 TV agreements take precedence and there may be times when there isn't an available time slot for a game to get on TV.

If a game is on the road, for instance, and there is a conflict and the host team doesn't want to move the time so it can be televised, then it won't be televised. This is what happened with the football game last year at Oregon that wasn't on TV because the Ducks declined to change the time to 7 p.m. That cost UW $100,000.

Last year, seven of UW's 12 football games and 22 of the 33 men's basketball games were televised. All but four of the Pac-10 conference basketball games were televised, so UW is already getting some pretty good exposure. Still, this should only help.

One caveat -- there still may be times where there will be conflicts with the Sonics, who are also an FSN property.

How many 2006 football games are slated for TV?

As of today, just two -- the Oklahoma (ABC) and Washington State (FSN) games.

Two others -- Fresno State and Oregon State -- are also likely to be picked up by FSN though each may need a time change.

That leaves eight others unaccounted for.

But it is still early in the process and others are sure to be picked up by ABC or FSN. I'd think USC, Oregon, Cal and UCLA are all prime candidates.

This agreement now means Fox will apparently work harder at getting those games on.

Is UW getting more money for this?

Yes, though it hasn't yet been made public how much.

What happens to the Sunday afternoon football replays?

Those are apparently gone, which won't be popular with those who liked having a chance to watch the game with a different perspective a day later. But part of this agreement is that every game may be televised live, so there is less reason for a replay.

UW was the last team to have its games replayed on Sundays with FSN having dropped those for WSU and Oregon State in recent seasons.

The agreement also calls for half-hour shows featuring Lorenzo Romar and Tyrone Willingham. But neither may be the traditional coaches' show -- the coaches talking while highlights play, etc. -- though details are still being worked out.

The football program has been featured in a half-hour show on FSN the last few years, so this isn't really anything new there. But this is something new for basketball.

What does this mean for other Husky sports?

This agreement does not include women's basketball or the so-called Olympic sports -- baseball, softball, etc. Some of those games may still be on FSN as part of the Pac-10 agreement with the network. But the Huskies now also have the ability to farm out games in those sports to other networks if they can find an interested party. One option may be Comcast.

July 7, 2006

Conroy update

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:35 PM

Will Conroy's surgery Thursday went as well as could have been hoped and he could be able to return to basketball in as little as two months, said his mother, Renee Conroy, today.

The former Huskies point guard had a rod inserted in his lower left leg to repair a stress fracture he suffered last season while playing for the Tulsa 66ers in the NBA Developmental League. Conroy played with the injury throughout last season.

Renee Conroy said Will was given the option of resting for six to 12 months or having the surgery.

Conroy hopes to be playing again by October, at which time he also hopes to be back in a camp for an NBA team, possibly San Antonio. He had been ticketed to play for the Spurs' summer league team before having surgery.
Renee Conroy said her son was already feeling "on top and stronger and ready to go'' by Thursday night.

July 6, 2006

Conroy surgery today

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:59 PM

Looks like Will Conroy's pro career is on hold for a little while.

The former UW point guard is having surgery today to repair a stress fracture in his lower leg that bothered him all season.

"It's not career-ending but it's enough to keep him out a while,'' said UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar.

Conroy could be sidelined for a few months though more will be known after he has the surgery.

Conroy had been set to play with San Antonio's summer league team but those plans are obviously now on the backburner to getting healthy.

Conroy, who has the most assists in UW history, played last year in the NBA Developmental League.

Here's a story we wrote during the season and here are his stats from the NBADL this season showing he finished 21st in scoring at 12.8 per game.

You can access more of Conroy's stats from that link.

July 5, 2006

Trojans poised to nab top recruit

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:41 PM

Yeah, I said I'd be off for a while enjoying the sun.

But there's no sun today, and potentially big-time news breaking in the Pac-10, so I had to pass it along.

As Andy Katz reports, USC could be getting the No. 1 player in the country for its class of 2007 -- O.J. Mayo.

And if Mayo comes, the player regarded as the No. 2 recruit in the country, his teammate Bill Walker, may also be coming.

Holy cow.

If that happens, that makes the Trojans immediate favorites in the Pac-10, and maybe to win it all, in a year when UW also looks to be among the top teams in the country.

What would be Mayo's freshman year at USC would be the second year for Spencer Hawes -- if he stays that long -- as well as Quincy Pondexter and the rest of this year's incoming class, and the junior year for Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon.

Talk about a loaded conference, if you assume UCLA and Arizona are still top 15-20 caliber and maybe Stanford is back up there again with the Lopez twins in their second year.

As Katz indicates, nothing is official and there's a chance this never happens.

But if it does, there may be no more interesting conference in the country than the Pac-10 two years from now.

This also speaks to what many around the conference have been saying -- that with a new coach (Tim Floyd), and a new arena opening this year, USC seems poised to become a basketball power for good.