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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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August 29, 2006

B. Roy in the house

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:46 PM

A few of us were waiting for football interviews to start today when a familiar face strolled through Hec Ed -- Brandon Roy. He had Spencer Hawes and Quincy Pondexter in tow, saying he was going to help show them where the tutors are.

Roy and Hawes played last week for Team Seattle in the Entertainer's Basketball Classic at Rucker Park in New York. Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford, Seattle natives who play for the Knicks, formed the team, which lost in the title game to Team New York. Roy joked that there was a little home cooking from the refs involved. "We'll get them next year,'' he said.

He said the tournament was as much about entertainment as basketball, saying the rules were pretty relaxed. "It's like a Hip Hop tournament,'' he said. "You can carry the ball and stuff like that.''

Roy said he's home for one more week before leaving for Portland next week to officially begin NBA life. "I'm starting to get excited about it,'' he said.

Roy said Tre Simmons would have played for Team Seattle at Rucker but Simmons had just left for his Spain, where he will begin playing soon.

Another member of Team Seattle was former Husky Jamaal Williams, who was called in at the last minute to help out. Roy said Williams will attend training camp with the Clippers with the plan of likely playing for the Clippers' entry in the NBADL this year. That team will play in Southern California.

Let the rumor mill begin

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:05 AM

Big news from the Golden State Warriors today -- and that's not a sentence that gets written too often -- as the team is firing Mike Montgomery to bring back Don Nelson.

That could have big ramifications somewhere in college basketball as Montgomery figures to be on the short list for just about any team that may make a change this year.

And considering his Pac-10 ties and west coast ties, the rumors will ring strongest out here -- Oregon, maybe?

Certainly, Montgomery made out financially with the Warriors, but there's no doubt he's better suited to be a college coach. And here's hoping he finds his way back to a college sideline somewhere.

August 28, 2006

Arizona does B.C.

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:45 PM

Here's an interesting story out of Tucson about a trip Arizona will make this weekend to Vancouver, B.C., to play a set of games against Canadian teams. Oregon also recently concluded a similar trip to the Bahamas.

The obvious question I'm sure you'd have is why can't the Huskies do the same thing?

One, they can, though NCAA rules limit how often.

Teams are allowed to take foreign trips once every four years. UW, however, apparently hasn't taken one since 1997, the summer before the Huskies advanced to the Sweet 16 under Bob Bender. Most thought the foreign trip had a lot to do with that team's subsequent success.

UW was scheduled for another one in Bender's last year but that one was scrapped when Bender was fired.

They haven't gone on one since, though word is they may try to take one next summer.

One other problem for UW, however, is that freshmen can only take such a trip if school is in session. Because UW doesn't start classes until late September, that will always be a problem. And in a year like this, it would make it hardly worth doing since the freshmen will be such a big part of the team.

August 24, 2006

Streetball and local hotshots

Posted by Bob Payne at 1:41 PM

Bob Payne here, stepping in for Bob C. for a moment ...

Found a site with a little more about the Entertainer's Basketball Classic in New York City's famed Rucker Park (though the writing is a little lacking in detail). There's also a mention on this site.

It appears the Seattle team featuring Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes and Brandon Roy beat a squad from Los Angeles in a triple-OT thriller on Wednesday. Then later the same day they fell to a team from New York in the championship game.

This prompted a discussion in the office about a local dream team. If you had to draft a squad of 10 players who went to high school in the Puget Sound area and are currently playing at either the high school, college or pro level, who would make your team?

I'm willing to take a shot:

Center: Hawes (UW), C.J. Giles (Kansas)
Forward: Marvin Williams (Hawks), Jon Brockman (UW)
Point Guard: Roy (Trail Blazers), Robinson (Knicks)
Shooting Guard: Crawford (Knicks), Jason Terry (Mavs)
Guard No. 3: Martell Webster (Trail Blazers), Luke Ridnour (Sonics)

Players not making the cut: Terrence Williams, Louisville; Marcus Williams (Arizona), Rodrick and Lodrick Stewart.

I would have to say this team would be competitive with any other dream team from just about any other metro area in the country. I had to go with a three-guard lineup because this area seems to produce a lot of good guards.

I know I'm probably leaving somebody out. So please use the comments feature to tell us your local dream team.

P.S. Adam Morrison's not here because he went to high school east of the mountains.

August 23, 2006

Nate, Spencer, B-Roy do the Rucker

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:03 PM

So here's what Spencer Hawes is doing this week -- as well as former Huskies Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy. They are all participating in the EBC Americas Tournament at Rucker Park, which concludes tonight.

I'll thank the faithful reader of this blog who passed this link along.

Husky fans will especially like the graf late in the story about Monday's first game that proclaims Roy was handed the "Rookie of the Year trophy'' by the crowd after a standout first half, as well as the line that the "fundamentally sound'' Hawes "has a NBA future, no doubt.''

There are no real details on what, exactly, Hawes did in the game. But simply playing there with all of that other talent can only improve his game.

If I see any other stories on this tournament, I'll post them here, as well.

Mail bag

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:12 AM

My solicitation for questions here the other day resulted in more than a few. So I'll try to answer them over a period of a few days, rather than all at once.

-- The first involved walk-on Brandon Burmeister, since I left him off our depth chart discussion the other day.

The answer is that Burmeister is still very much a part of UW's roster and in the plans for this season. His outside shooting abilities could become even more valuable because the Huskies could have a little void in that area, especially early in the season. The departed Brandon Roy, Bobby Jones and Mike Jensen accounted for roughly 40 percent of the team's made three-pointers a year ago. (Jamaal Williams, as you may recall, accounted for about .05 percent, making the only one of his Huskies career late in the Sweet 16 game against UConn).

On the other hand, all the new guys coming into the program will make for that much more competition for playing time, and realistically, I'm not sure Burmeister will play a whole lot more this year than he did last season.

-- Another asked what I felt were realistic expectations for this season. I think just about anything involving the NCAA tournament is realistic. This is a very young team -- but also a very talented -- and depending on how it all comes together, everything from an early-round flameout to a Final Four appearance seems possible.

Look at UCLA last season. That was a fairly young team, as well, (though obviously with some key seniors in leadership roles) that could have easily lost in the second round of the tournament. Instead, once the Bruins got out of the first weekend -- then pulled off a miracle against Gonzaga -- they gained some momentum and almost won the whole thing. That could have been the Huskies last season, and it could be the Huskies this season.

But UW's youth and the time it figures to take early in the season to put it all together is why I have the Huskies ranked third in the conference in my most recent Pac-10 rankings published here.

I think there will be some inevitable missteps along the way -- though not many as I'm still saying this is a top 15-20 team right off the bat. But enough that it might mean UW doesn't win the Pac-10 title, especially since the conference schedule isn't favorable early.

Still, I see a team that should only get better as the season wears on, and will likely be at its best -- and most dangerous -- come NCAA tournament time.

August 21, 2006

Summer Daze

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:28 PM

I've had a few requests for more updates such as our report here a few weeks ago examining one of the team's pickup games.

Unfortunately for you -- but good for the players who need a bit of a break -- there won't be any such reports coming for a few weeks as this is the one time of the year that the players take a little time off.

In fact, if there is a time of year when college basketball essentially comes to a stop, this is it, as everyone -- coaches and players -- gets a little down time to gear up for the start of a new school year a few weeks from now.

While some of the players are still around -- I saw Justin Dentmon, Tim Morris and Phil Nelson on campus today and obviously all the local guys aren't far away -- others have returned home for a few weeks and aren't scheduled to return until after Labor Day.

But don't think the team is slacking.

Coach Lorenzo Romar said "They've been going consistently since May. I've never had a team go as consistently as this one has.''

When the players return, they will have a week or so of again playing in pickup games before they can start more formal work with coaches. All teams are allowed to work with their coaches for two hours per week beginning Sept. 15 before full practice begins in mid-October.

In the meantime, we'll try to find other ways to keep the blog going.

Questions are always encouraged and now is a good time to get those answered in this space.

August 18, 2006

Depth chart, and more

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:47 PM

I was just getting around to answering the question from a reader about what UW's lineup for next season might look like when another reader all but answered it for me -- you can see that exchange on the post below this one.

I agree with the reader's starting lineup in all but one instance -- I think there's a really good chance that Adrian Oliver starts alongside Justin Dentmon in the backcourt. Oliver is a combo guard as much as he is a true point guard, and the Huskies have no problem starting two guards who can each play the point, such as the Will Conroy-Nate Robinson backcourt a few years ago.

So that would make the starters look like this:
PG: Justin Dentmon
SG: Adrian Oliver
SF: Quincy Pondexter
PF: Jon Brockman
C: Spencer Hawes.

One caveat, however. You will never see it written that way on a UW chalkboard as if you've read this blog long, you know how much Lorenzo Romar dislikes designations for players. Guards are guards and they don't need to be strictly a "shooting'' guard or a "point'' guard.

What may be more accurate when it comes to the reserves is listing the possible rotation rather than simply who lines up behind who.

I figure the first guard off the bench would probably be Ryan Appleby, followed by Harvey Perry and/or Joel Smith.

Obviously, the real wild card is Perry, who is apparently healthy and will definitely contend for a starting job. I think Appleby's role may continue to be more as a sixth man, similar to last year's. Smith will have to show vast improvement to work his way into a larger role this season, something he is capable of doing. But if I had to list them now, I'd say Appleby/Perry/Smith.

The frontcourt starters seem set already, with the first big man off the bench potentially being either Phil Nelson or Joe Wolfinger, likely depending as much on matchup as anything else. Artem Wallace could easily move into a bigger role, as well, with Hans Gasser probably continuing in a role of finding spot playing time when the matchup fits, as was the case a year ago. Again, if forced to list them now, I'd say Wolfinger/Nelson/Wallace/Gasser (though the order of those first three could change by tomorrow).

Overall, I think this year's team will have a lot more lineup and rotation movement than did last year's.

Last year's team found pretty set roles early in the season and didn't deviate much other than the Mike Jensen/Jamaal Williams starting lineup change at mid-year.

But that was a veteran team that wasn't as deep as this one may be.

With more players, and less experience, lineups and rotations could change quite a bit during the year as the coaches attempt to find the right combinations, and players settle into comfortable roles.

Speaking of Gasser, he suffered a dislocated shoulder during an agility drill this week. How long it will keep him out is unknown, but given that it's August and practice is still two months away, he at least has some time to recover before practice begins in October.

There isn't much else going on right now as this is the time of year when players can get away for a little while before things pick up again in earnest. Brockman and Appleby spent the week helping out at a clinic in Bellingham, and most of the freshmen are finishing classes. But with everyone scattered, there haven't been any pickup games this week.

Some of you have asked in the past whether UW will host a Midnight Madness this season. As of now, it's still uncertain. Romar has taken the team away for a weekend retreat to begin every season since he has been here -- last year, it was to The Evergreen State College in Olympia -- and he thinks that is a really valuable way to kick off the season. Having a Midnight Madness would kill that, so Romar only wants to have a Madness night if he's certain that it will be well attended. UW already is somewhat on the short end of early-season practice time by virtue of being a quarter school and starting later than semester schools -- coaches can begin working with their players in small groups once school begins, which allows semester schools (such as Washington State) an earlier start.

August 16, 2006

Perry's back, and other news

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:44 PM

A few of us media types ran into Lorenzo Romar at Hec Ed today while waiting for football practice to end -- since we are not allowed to watch football practice other than the first 25 minutes, we usually hang out in the press room near the basketball locker room.

So we inevitably asked him a few questions and here's some of what he said:

Romar said Harvey Perry's back is just fine right now. But those last two words are key. Back injuries are always tricky for basketball players and it will always bear watching.

Romar joked that fielding questions about Perry's back could take the place of all the questions he got last year about the team's non-conference schedule, or what was wrong with Brandon Roy early in the season.

But as of now, Romar expects no problems for Perry this season. And that will make the Huskies just that much better this season as Perry could turn out to be one of the team's best perimeter defenders as well as a solid all-around player in the backcourt.

Tim Morris had been scheduled to attend a local junior college this fall, then walk-on at UW in December. But Romar said that plan has now been nixed and Morris will enroll at UW this fall, meaning he will spend this entire season with the team as a practicing walk-on.

He will not be eligible to play this year, however, so he will sit out this season as a redshirt and will have one year of eligibility remaining next season. Morris has talked of appealing for a sixth year, but the success rate of those appeals is rare barring major injury.

Romar talked about the improvement of Joe Wolfinger and how much of a defensive help Wolfinger will be this season. At 7-feet tall, Wolfinger has the longest wing span on the team and Romar demonstrated how effective Wolfinger will be defensively simply by standing in the key with his hands held high by replicating that move with a reporter acting as a, uh, dummy.

When a few of us mentioned how impressive Adrian Oliver has looked in summer workouts, he talked of how he thinks Oliver will mimic Justin Dentmon's success as a freshman.

Romar recalled how all the talk in the fall of 2004 was about Martell Webster and Jon Brockman and how he kept pointing out to people not to forget about Dentmon. Dentmon made Romar look like a prophet by turning in a solid freshman season that could parlay into a sophomore year in which he figures to be one of the top point guards on the West Coast.

This year, much of the emphasis has been on Spencer Hawes and Quincy Pondexter, and many people have overlooked Oliver, just as they overlooked Dentmon. That's not to slight Hawes or Pondexter. But Romar was simply making the point that he thinks Oliver could, and should, generate just as much excitement.

Willingham then showed up and the conversation ended, but it was a welcome dose of basketball talk during the late summer.

August 11, 2006

Rating the Pac

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:11 AM

I'll leave you on a late summer weekend with my latest Pac-10 power rankings.

1, Arizona -- Word in Tucson is that this Wildcat team will have the best chemistry of any in three years with guys like Chris Rodgers and Hassan Adams finally out the door. If so, there is great returning talent in Roosevelt high's Marcus Williams, Mustafa Shakur, Jawann McClellan, Marcus Williams, Ivan Radenovic, etc. And don't forget that they have a freshman in Chase Budinger who may make as much of an impact as Spencer Hawes.

2, UCLA -- They lost a lot, but they still have a lot coming back with Arron Afflalo delaying his NBA entry for another year, Josh Shipp returning and all those big guys up front. Plus, the Bruins welcome some great freshmen, notably 6-8 James Keefe.

3, Washington -- That early Pac-10 schedule -- five of the first seven on the road -- is daunting, especially for a young team, and could have the Huskies looking uphill in the conference race from the start. Still, in my eyes, this would put the Huskies among the top 15 teams in the country as I wouldn't be surprised if three Pac-10 teams make it to the Sweet 16 next year.

4, Cal -- Sure, they lost Leon Powe, but I like a lot of what they have coming back with Ayinda Ubaka at guard, DeVon Hardin up front, etc. But this could be one team that slips in this poll before the season begins.

5, Oregon -- The most enigmatic team in the conference the past two years, to be sure. But there is undeniable talent here and it is all back save for Ivan Johnson, whose departure may actually be a good thing. Certainly, the Ducks will be among the most interesting teams to watch next year as there is no doubt they have to finish at least this high in the conference or Ernie Kent is probably gone.

6, USC -- The Trojans were destined for a higher pick than this before the Ryan Francis tragedy and the Gabe Pruitt academic news. Still, the Trojans will return four starters and Tim Floyd is bringing in a lot more talent that could fill in the gaps. And USC should only thrive playing in a new arena.

7, Stanford -- This is one I could be changing upward before the season begins. But for now, I think the Cardinal is due for another subpar season unless the Lopez twins are really, really good -- which they may be. But even with their presence it seems like Stanford is missing a few things and that it may be another year before Trent Johnson really gets his program in place.

8, Washington State -- Everyone returns from a team that should have been better a year ago other than Josh Akognon, whose loss may not be as big as it would appear on paper. Akognon really didn't fit into the system and his playing time dwindled at the end of the year. WSU also has some transfer guards coming in who will act as insurance in case Derrick Low has anymore injury problems, which is pretty much what derailed the Cougars last year.

9, Oregon State -- They lost a lot of seniors last year, though some think that may not be as bad as it would appear on first glance as the Beavers seemed to have some chemistry problems a year ago. Still, the Beavers will be pretty young and unproven and Jay John seems to have lost some of the momentum he had going after the 2005 season.

10, Arizona State -- Kevin Kruger is gone and the Sun Devils seem destined for a rebuilding year under Herb Sendek. Sendek's ability to get a commitment from top recruit James Harden this week, however, shows that the long-term future may be bright for the Sun Devils.

August 9, 2006

Jensen to China

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:00 AM

Mike Jensen said a few months ago he'd never really been outside the United States, saying he didn't really consider Canada a foreign country.
That's about to change in a big way.

Jensen will leave Aug. 25 for China where he will play in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Shaanxi Kylins based in the city of Xian.

(Brief personal aside: I've been to Xian, which may be best -known to Americans as the home of the Terra Cota Warriors. Jensen will never have seen so many people, or seen so many people riding bicyles, or, unfortunately, so much smog. Hopefully the latter has cleaned up a bit since we were there three years ago. Also, I hope he likes KFC as there is one on seemingly every street corner).

Jensen got the gig after attending a tryout camp for the Chinese Basketball Association in Oregon recently. Afterward, he signed a contract for the entire 2006-07 season, which will run roughly seven-and-a-half months, meaning he would be home in mid-March.

Other Americans who were signed to contracts out of that camp included another former Husky --; Doug Wrenn -- as well as former UCLA center Michael Fey of Olympia, so Jensen will at least have some company over there.

The teams provide players with apartments as well as a translator.

"He's excited,'' said Jensen's father, Scott. "He said 'I get to live the dream a little further.'''

Jensen also hopes that he will play well enough over there to possibly open up some further basketball opportunities over here.

As the Wikipedia entry points out, Shaanxi needs some help as the team went 11-29 last season.

August 3, 2006

Checking 'em out

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:28 AM

Got a chance yesterday to watch the Huskies play their daily pick-up game after many of them spent much of the day working at Lorenzo Romar's basketball camp, and came away with a notebook full of, well, notes, quotes and observations.

So away we go:

All of the current team was there except for Artem Wallace (who is visiting in his native Russia), Harvey Perry, Joel Smith and Zach Johnson. Perry and Smith are each on different summer school schedules than most of the other players and aren't in class right now and used the time off to return home for a little while. As for Johnson, there is nothing official, but I'd be surprised if he is back with the team in a playing capacity this season.

The returning players who most obviously look different are Justin Dentmon and Joe Wolfinger. As Romar said shortly before the players took the floor (coaches can't watch the pick-up games themselves): "You look at him and you say --'He's improved.' He's just better. More mature.''

He also looks bigger, especially in the upper body. Romar said Dentmon received some great experience this summer working as a counselor at the Nike Camp in Indianapolis.

As for Wolfinger, he's cut his hair and also put on about 25 pounds -- he now weighs about 250 pounds -- and he looks more able to hold his own inside. Still, he ran the floor well and showed off some decent skills. Not sure he's a huge contributor this season (maybe 10-12 minutes, that sort of thing) but definitely a player down the road if he continues to progress.

Jon Brockman seemed the most different in terms of temperament. He understandably took a backseat in terms of leadership last season due to the presence of four seniors. But he's now the leader of this team, having been elected captain in a vote of the other returning players. And he seemed like it Wednesday as he was the one generally organizing matters, getting players back out on the floor after water breaks, etc. On the floor, he seemed a lot more assertive and confident finishing around the basket. The team that included Brockman seemed to win just about every time.

News flash - Spencer Hawes is going to be really good. What impressed me most watching him yesterday was his passing. Twice, he fed Adrian Oliver for backdoor layins with the kinds of passes that would have made Bill Walton envious. Hawes and Oliver, by the way, seemed to have a great chemistry on the floor, Oliver feeding Hawes on several occasions, as well.

Hawes also led one fast break by dribbling behind his back, then through his legs, enticing one knowledgeable observer to say "he could play point guard if he wanted.''

Hawes also flashed his marvelous array of offensive moves, at one point making a 15-foot right-handed hook from the baseline -- reminiscent of the memorable shot Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made in Game 6 of the 1974 NBA Finals for you old-timers -- then came back and hit about an 8-foot hook shot with his left hand. Then he hit a 3-pointer. Then he declared for the draft (just kidding, but if he's really this good, I'd buy season tickets this year if I wanted to make sure to see him in a Husky uniform).

Oliver was the biggest revelation to me as I'd never really seen him play before. He seems very heady on the floor, not trying to force things too much but just make the plays that are there -- the kind of stuff veterans do. One man who was watching who claimed not to know who any of the new players were asked me who Oliver was, saying he found him the most impressive.

Pondexter looked like a fearless penetrator and a tough defender. As one observer said "he looks like Hassan Adams in transition and Bobby Jones at the defensive end.'' He needs to improve his outside shooting, but coaches insist he's better from the perimeter coming in as a freshman than Jones was when he arrived and Jones obviously became a solid outside shooter in time.

Maybe it was just a bad shooting day, but there weren't a whole lot of shots outside of about 12 feet being made by anybody, in part because Ryan Appleby is admittedly working this summer on driving to the hoop and his mid-range game and didn't take a whole lot of three's while I was watching. Also, Joel Smith would help the perimeter a lot.

Phil Nelson is the obvious candidate to fill in whatever outside shooting void the team has, and while I didn't see a lot of that Wednesday, Nelson impressed with his athleticism and his rebounding. He didn't seem afraid to mix it up inside.

They often fill out the teams with high school players and yesterday's group included Jamelle McMillan, the son of Nate McMillan. Still, word is the Huskies aren't really recruiting him, in large part because they already have a commitment from a guard for the class of 2007 in Isaiah Thomas. Thomas, by the way, may play with the current group the next few days.

August 2, 2006

Schedule finally done

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:35 PM

The Huskies have finally released their final schedule for the 2006-07 season , though times of games are still to be announced. And while we've said it often here before, there is no question this is a much tougher slate than a year ago.

As we noted here a few days ago, the only changes on this schedule from the one released earlier are the Pittsburgh game, the moving of the home game against WSU to Feb. 14 to make way for the trip to Pitt, and the move of two other Pac-10 games from Saturday to Sunday.

Most notably, the game at UCLA will now be on New Year's Eve as it will certainly be one of Fox's national TV games that day. Also changed is a home game against Stanford on Feb. 11, which originally had been set for the day before.

That, too, was moved for TV purposes.

To me, the key part of the schedule remains those first seven conference games, with five coming on the road, including the opening trip to USC and UCLA. UW will likely have to win two or three of those, and sweep the home series against Arizona, to have a real shot at the conference title.