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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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February 28, 2007

Dentmon vows to come strong

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:22 AM

I wrote today about Justin Dentmon and his season. A lot of this has been touched on before but I felt it would be good to put it all together in one story, especially the stuff about his weight gain prior to the season, which he now says was a big factor in throwing off his play.

As one reader pointed out, however, how does that explain the fact that he seemed to start off the season so well, winning MVP honors of the Basketball Travelers Classic? Good point, though I think the level of competition in that also says a lot --- the only decent team UW beat was Northern Iowa, which is having a disappointing season.

Another way to look at that, however, is that those games came before Spencer Hawes was fully integrated into the offense and the team's style of play started to change --- he missed the first game and didn't play much the second before playing 30 minutes against UNI.

But signs of trouble for Dentmon started with the fourth game, against Sacramento State, when he had four turnovers and was 3-7 from the floor in 28 minutes, and the real beginning of his struggle was the game at Gonzaga when he was 2-14 with four turnovers.

One thing that surprised me a little are his overall turnover numbers --- I actually thought they might be higher. He has 90, second-most in the Pac-10 behind only Mustafa Shakur (92). Shakur has played one fewer game than Dentmon, as well. But his average turnover rate isn't that much higher than, say, Darren Collison's --- Dentmon averages 3.2 per game to Collison's 2.8 --- or Aaron Brooks, who is at 2.7. The big thing is that Dentmon's assists are way down in comparison --- he's at 3.7 now compared to 7.2 for Shakur and 5.9 for Collison.

And as plentiful as Dentmon's turnovers seem, it's nowhere near being historically bad --- UW's single season turnover record is 127 set by Senque Carey in 2000. That was Carey's sophomore season and the first of three bad years in a row for Bob Bender that cost him his job. Carey probably had more responsibility for initiating offense that year than does Dentmon, but Dentmon doesn't figure to get close to that number.

Reader Greg Garbe sent along an interesting comparison of Dentmon's season with those of the sophomore years of Curtis Allen and Will Conroy. In a nutshell, all three had almost indentical assist-to-turnover ratios --- Conroy's was 1.3-1 (108 assists, 85 turnovers), Allen's was 1.2-1 (126 assists, 109 turnovers) and Dentmon's is 1.2-1 (technically 1.16-1, with 104 assists and 90 turnovers to date).

Garbe wonders if it's maybe just the high expectations that have everyone pointing at Dentmon. Dentmon, though, was also simply a lot better as a freshman than those other guys, and it was expected he would improve on that, not level off, or even regress. Remember, Dentmon had 124 assists and 88 turnovers last season.

Stats, obviously, don't tell everything, and one of Dentmon's other problem areas this season is defense, which is harder to quantify statistically other than through team numbers.

What's interesting is that UW's overall field goal percentage defense doesn't compare too poorly to past years. UW is allowing teams to shoot 45.3 percent this year compared to 43.6 a year ago, 45.4 two years ago and 46.5 three seasons ago --- all years the Huskies made the NCAA Tournament.

But that may be largely a function of the early schedule.

A more telling number is UW's field goal percentage defense in Pac-10 games only --- UW is allowing teams to shoot 49 percent this year compared to 43.9 last season.

As for Dentmon, as he says in the story, this isn't anything he doesn't think he can't overcome. UW coach Lorenzo Romar also predicts a big comeback by Dentmon next season.

But the addition of Venoy Overton will make things that much more competitive next season.

And no matter who is back there, improving the backcourt play will be one of the big keys to next season.

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