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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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December 15, 2007

Portland aftermath

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:30 PM

UW players and coaches were surprisingly upbeat after this one despite a closer-than-expected victory over Portland.

"We just wanted to win,'' said guard Tim Morris. "People might think that 'well, they are in the WCC.' But we don't think like that. It was a good grind-it-out win for us.''

It was definitely a grinder, no question about that.

I wrote for my story tomorrow a little about how UW coach Lorenzo Romar thought the sluggish offense was in part due to the defensive emphasis. He said the team spent 5-6 hours of practice this week on defense compared to about 90 minutes of offense.

That seemed apparent as UW began the game 8-26 from the field and 10-30 in the first half. UW had just one assist in the first half.

Asked why, Ryan Appleby said "Partly we weren't running good offense, partly we shot terrible. We weren't making outside shots when guys were penetrating, we were taking a lot of quick shots.''

Morris said the team simply started attacking more in the second half, which led to some better shots --- UW was 14-19 in the second half, just enough to get the win.

And Romar pointed to the fact that Portland shot 40.4 percent for the game and 32.1 percent (9-28) in the second half as positives.

"The test of your team is that if you aren't getting things flowing offensively, you can rely on your defense,'' Romar said.

Still, a four-point win over what is now a 3-7 Portland team has to set off at least some alarms.

The close loss to what looks like a real good Pittsburgh team last week was encouraging, and maybe there was some hangover from that game. Romar also thought his team appeared to have "dead legs,'' which maybe were a result of the heavy defensive emphasis in practice this week.

But the fact is UW has looked sluggish for major stretches of its last three games against heavy underdogs at Hec Ed --- Eastern Washington (82-68 win), Long Beach State (84-69 win) and Portland.

One caveat today is that Portland is probably better than its 3-7 record. It lost three of four games without point guard Taishi Ito when he returned to Japan following the death of his father, and Ito looks like a real solid player --- you can see why Portland players and coaches said they had trouble operating without him. Nik Raivio, in his first year with the team, also had a great game as he appears to be rapidly improving.

Portland also had a nice plan, packing it in inside and getting back quickly on defense --- UW had just seven fast-break points for the game.

Romar says he thinks the offense can be fixed in a day or two, and that once he settles on a rotation --- which he says will happen by the LSU game --- that that should also smooth a few things out.

It had better as the Huskies have just three weeks to prepare for Pac-10 play. And while the conference maybe isn't living up to every last inch of the pre-season hype, it looks pretty good --- witness ASU's 22-point evisceration of Xavier today. UW isn't doing much right now to make anyone rethink that eighth place pick in the Pac-10 media poll.

A FEW NOTES:

--- Romar said the starting lineup was again selected for defensive effort in practice.

--- Joe Wolfinger and Justin Holiday didn't play strictly due to coach's decision --- they are each healthy.

--- I have some stuff on Jon Brockman for tomorrow's paper, but he said the jaw injury wasn't a huge problem today and that he simply just didn't play well. "Seemed like there was a lid on the hoop,'' he said after going 3-6 and scoring just 11 points in 31 minutes.

--- Portland coach Eric Reveno said if he had it to do over again, he probably would have fouled UW on that last possession. He said he didn't wanting not to foul the wrong person (mainly Appleby) and giving UW two easy points and because he had confidence in his defense.


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