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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 31, 2007

Conroy makes NBA debut

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:57 PM

Will Conroy is now in the books forever as an NBA player.

The former Husky played two minutes tonight for the Memphis Grizzlies as they lost to Dallas 95-94. Here's the box score.Conroy didn't record any stats during his two-minute stint.

According to the official play-by-play here, Conroy entered the game with 2:53 to go in the first quarter and then left with 44 seconds. That was his only action.

Memphis plays next on Saturday at home against Indiana. Here's a schedule.

Huskies NIT-bound?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:21 PM

That's what Foxsports.com columnist Jeff Goodman writes here, anyway.

Goodman doesn't say much about UW we don't already know, but he does give an interesting list of other teams that could miss the NCAA Tournament --- including those other Huskies from UConn, as well as Louisville. Interestingly, those are the last two teams to beat UW in the NCAA Tournament, each in the round of 16.

And it could make for a lot of entertaining NIT games if that's where this all ends up.

It's worth pointing out again, however, that UW will have five of nine conference games at home in the second half with the four road games including visits to lowly Arizona State and Oregon State. A 6-3 Pac-10 record the rest of the way isn't out of the realm of possibility, which would then put an awful lot of importance on that Pitt game Feb. 17.

Pac-10 at the break

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:59 AM

It's the midway point of the Pac-10 season, which means it's time for media around the conference to deliver their mid-year awards.

Here, for instance, are a few from our own Bud Withers.

I can't disagree with much of what Bud writes.

I think there's little question right now that Oregon's Aaron Brooks is the conference Player of the Year. He leads the Pac-10 in scoring overall and in conference games only (22.3 in the latter) and is also among the top five in assists, steals, three-point field goals made and percentage. In fact his three-point percentage in conference games only is an astounding 55.6 (25-45). So he's more than earned that seemingly lucky shot he banked in late against the Cougars.

Bud's All-League team --- consisting of Mustafa Shakur and Marcus Williams of Arizona; Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison, UCLA; Nick Young, USC; Aaron Brooks, Oregon; Lawrence Hill, Stanford; Jon Brockman, Washington; Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver, WSU --- is also probably the same I'd pick.

You could make a case for Oregon's Maarty Leunen, maybe, as well.

Bud's All-Freshman teams consists of Chase Budinger, Arizona; Ryan Anderson, Cal; Tajuan Porter, Oregon; Taj Gibson, USC and Robin Lopez, Stanford with the caveat that Spencer Hawes will be back on once he's healthy.

Harder to choose is the best freshman, which seemed like a choice between either Budinger or Hawes heading into the season and now is a mad scramble. Right now, Ryan Anderson (top 10 in scoring, rebounding) would probably get my pick. But this is one that will be decided by the final half of the season.

Bud picks Tony Bennett as coach of the year and that's another one that's almost impossible to argue, considering WSU was picked for 10th in the pre-season poll just three months ago and now is a game out of first.

To add a few of my own awards:

Most unappreciated player --- Lorenzo Mata, UCLA. He does little pretty and doesn't rank in any statistical categories save for blocked shots, but he always seems to make some key plays while turning in solid defensive performances.

Most underachieving player --- Sasa Cuic, Oregon State. Every time I see this guy, I think he should be a superstar based on his apparent physical ability. But then he plays as if he's sleep-walking and he's obviously doing little to help his team win.

Coach on the hot seat --- Jay John, Oregon State. Word is the extension he signed last year will probably be enough to get him on another year. On the other hand, the Beavers appear headed for a 3-15 or 2-16 type record in what is his fifth year.

Team on the rise --- Stanford. With the Lopez Twins progressing quickly, Stanford has a chance to win every game left on its schedule, starting tonight against Gonzaga. Only makes UW's late-game fade in Palo Alto that much tougher to take for the Huskies, knowing they blew a golden chance to get a win that a lot of other teams aren't likely to earn.

Team on the brink --- Washington. The Huskies have no margin for error now. But two wins this weekend would put them right back in the hunt for a tourney bid.

Most surprising player --- Did anybody really think Taj Gibson would be this good, make this sort of impact? He's the biggest reason USC has gone from pretender to contender.

Glad he hung around award --- While his brother, Rodrick, rots on the bench at Kansas, Lodrick Stewart is thriving with the Trojans. He's shooting 52 percent on three-pointers in Pac-10 games, third behind Aaron Brooks and Darren Collison.

Most unbelivable number --- In Pac-10 games only, WSU's Derrick Low has an astonishing assist-to-turnover rate of four as he has 32 assists against only eight turnovers. Next best is ASU's Derek Glasser at 2.67.

Most improved player --- There are a lot of candidates. One who might get overlooked is Stanford's Anthony Goods, who last year as a freshman averaged 2.7 points per game and right now is averaging 15.3 in Pac-10 games.

Feel free to add some of your own awards in the comments section.

Also, here's our story today on UW attempting to overcome its road woes as it heads to Arizona this weekend

Here, also, is an update on the financial situation of UW's athletic department.

January 30, 2007

Lineup same, Smith still sidelined

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:30 PM

Here are some other notes from Lorenzo Romar's press conference today.

Romar said the starting lineup is expected to remain the same, which means Artem Wallace at center and Spencer Hawes coming off the bench.

Hawes said it bothers him "a little bit'' not to be starting. "But I've just got to keep working to get back in the starting lineup. It's worked the last two games, so we'll see.''

Hawes said he really hasn't been told why he's not starting and admits he's been tempted to ask, though he hasn't. "But it's not really that big of a deal,'' he said. "It's not who starts but who finishes.''

Also, junior guard Joel Smith, out all season with a foot stress fracture, had originally been expected back this week but had his return delayed after a meeting with the doctors last week. He will be re-evaluated next week.

Romar had previously been adamant that Smith would play this season, and Smith has also said he'd like to play. But with games running out, Romar said Tuesday a redshirt season is possible. "There comes a point where there's just not enough games to waste a season,'' he said, though he wouldn't say what that point is. "We will have to sit down and talk about it.''

Some of you have already brought up how Smith redshirting could impact the future scholarship situation.

A Smith redshirt would have no real impact on the 2007-08 season since he would be a part of that team anyway.

Smith redshirting would impact the 2008-09 roster, however.

If Smith redshirted everybody else came back, and everybody who is signed or committed as of this very minute showed up, by my count UW would have 14 scholarship players that season. But that's unlikely to happen --- Hawes almost certainly won't be around that long, for instance.

Still, it is something the coaches will have to think about. Conversley, that's a long time into the future and it's hard to predict everything that could happen between now and then. For now, let's wait and see what happens with Smith this season.

Huskies getting healthy

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:41 PM

Sounds as if health may soon stop being a factor for the Huskies.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar playfully raised his arms in triumph today when asked about his team's health, saying that the Huskies finally seem to be getting close to 100 percent.

Everyone was able to practice Monday for the first time in a while, with the Huskies even having an extra player as a sub.

Most notably, Spencer Hawes said he's getting close to where he was before he caught a stomach virus, then sprained his ankle. Reports where his Monday practice was the best he has looked in quite a while.

"I'm just feeling more energy,'' Hawes said. "There's a hop in my step, kind of.''

To reiterate on TV for the ASU game, there isn't any of any kind anywhere, so this won't be a game you will be able to see. However, every other UW game is skedded to be on TV somewhere in some fashion, with almost all likely available in the Seattle area.

More on Tre

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:30 AM

We had a brief note here yesterday that Tre Simmons was in Israel.

Here's a list of Americans playing in Israel right now --- Tre's real name is Chester. Here also is the home page for Tre's team.

There are some interesting names on the list of Americans playing there, including Lee Nailon, Ed Cota and Noel Felix, who had a brief run with the Sonics.

As for how much money these guys make, every league and situation is different. But it can be pretty lucrative --- generally a lot more than playing in the D-League. As a for instance, Doug Wrenn told me he made $75,000 for three months in the Philippines.

Wrenn, by the way, is still playing for this team in China.

January 29, 2007

Conroy ecstatic

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:33 PM

I talked to Will Conroy for a while tonight as he was changing planes in Dallas on his way from Tulsa to Memphis, where tomorrow he will officially become a member of the Grizzlies.

"I'm excited, but you know, I've got to relax a little bit,'' he said.

Conroy is trying to take it in stride. Though this is the culmination of a dream, he also feels as if he belongs in the NBA.


"This is just the beginning for him,'' said UW assistant coach Cameron Dollar tonight. "It was only a matter of time and we are just excited for him. He's going to be there for a long time because he works so hard and he's committed to being a team player and helping guys win.''

Conroy was showing NBA teams all of that in Tulsa of the NBA DL.

As of Monday, he was leading the league in assists at 10.3 while also averaging 15.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He also had three triple-doubles and the front page of the league's web site Monday touted him as the league's career leader in that category.

Conroy agreed with his former UW assistant coach when he said he felt "it wasn't a matter of if, but when'' he would get a call from an NBA team.

It came Monday morning as he lifted weights with the rest of his Tulsa team.

He had told his coach, Joey Meyer, of plans to drive to drive to Oklahoma City later in the day night to see Roy and the Blazers play Monday night.

"He said if he were me, he wouldn't go anywhere,'' Conroy said. The call came a short while later.

Conroy is the fourth Romar-era Husky currently in the NBA, joining Roy (Portland), Robinson (New York Knicks) and Jones (Philadelphia).

Like each of those three has already done, he hopes to someday soon make a homecoming as professional

The Grizzlies play at Seattle on Feb. 20, meaning Conroy will have to earn another 10-day contract --- or maybe even a longer deal --- to play in that game.

"That will be sweet if I make it to then,'' he said.

Here's Conroy's stats page from the NBADL web site.

Conroy called up

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:41 PM

Will Conroy has finally achieved his dream of being a part of an NBA team, having been called up today by the Memphis Grizzlies.

He isn't expected to be in Memphis in time for tonight's game but against Sacramento but is expected to be there for Wednesday's game against the Dallas Mavericks pending passing a physical.

"He gets to wear that trademark number five,'' Renee Conroy said today.

Conroy had been tearing it up in the NBA DL for the Tulsa 66ers where he was averaging 15.8 points and 10.3 assists per game. He is the NBA DL's all-time leader in triple-doubles.

"He's extremely excited,'' Renee Conroy said. "Considering where he came from, this is amazing.''

Conroy overcame surgery this summer that was initially feared to be career-ending. He had a rod inserted in his lower left leg to repair a stress fracture suffered last season while playing for Tulsa.

He becomes the fourth member of the Lorenzo Romar-era Huskies in the NBA, joining Nate Robinson (Knicks), Brandon Roy (Blazers) and Bobby Jones (76ers).

In other UW alumni news, Tre Simmons is playing in Israel.

Newest rankings unveiled

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:06 PM

Monday means another day of new rankings, so here they are.

First, here's the AP Poll, once again including five Pac-10 teams, though if with some changes --- UCLA is at No. 5, after losing to Stanford, Oregon at No, 9, Washington State at 18, Arizona at 20 and Stanford at 23, replacing USC, which was in the poll last week before being beaten soundly by the Cardinal on Thursday night.

Here, also, is the Coaches Poll, which includes just four Pac-10 teams --- UCLA at 5, Oregon at 9, Washington State at 17 and Arizona at 22.

And here is my AP poll for this week.
1, Florida
2, Wisconsin
3, North Carolina
4, Ohio State
5, UCLA
6, Kansas
7, Pittsburgh
8, Oregon
9, Duke
10, Texas A&M
11, Memphis
12, Butler
13, Oklahoma State
14, Marquette
15, Nevada
16, Virginia Tech
17, Washington State
18, Air Force
19, Kentucky
20, Georgetown
21, Alabama
22, Stanford
23, Vanderbilt
24, Clemson
25, USC

To address a few things --- I have five Pac-10 teams in my poll but left USC in, added Stanford, and removed Arizona, which has lost five of seven, including a loss to USC last week. I moved Oregon down three spots feeling the Ducks shouldn't be punished too greatly for losing to UW on the road without Aaron Brooks (that's not to diminish UW's win, but I feel all factors have to be taken into consideration when voting). And I left the Cougars right where I had them last week.

I've seen some disbelief on here already over WSU not moving down much despite losing, but you have to remember there were a lot of losses by teams in the poll this week --- 12 ranked teams suffered defeats this week, Alabama, LSU and Clemson each losing twice.

So one loss, especially to another ranked team in a tightly contested game, wasn't that great of a sin considering some of the losses other teams had this week.

In similar fashion, I left Clemson in the poll, giving them some benefit of the doubt for losing in controversial style at Duke, then suffering another loss Sunday that had to be influenced in part by the letdown of the Duke game.

Here, also, are the latest RPI rankings. The Pac-10 dropped to No. 3, behind the ACC and the SEC, after Arizona's loss to North Carolina. Here is a breakout of the Pac-10 showing the Huskies at No. 72, up from the low 80s last week, but also still eighth among conference teams. That Pitt game, obviously, looms huge.

Ranking the Pac

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:12 PM

The Pac-10 Conference season hit the halfway point Sunday night when Stanford rallied to beat UCLA, a game that only further tightened the race for the title.

And made our weekly rankings that much tougher.

But here goes anyway:

1, UCLA --- Despite the Sunday stumble, still the favorite. But that game revealed some possible fissures --- UCLA was outrebounded 40-28 and also was exploited by Stanford's smaller lineup in the second half.

2, Oregon --- Oregon's showing some amazing resiliency and Aaron Brooks continues to look like the favorite for Player of the Year. Ducks get a chance to state a case for No. 1 with Thursday night showdown at Pauley against the Bruins.

3, Stanford --- The most improved team in the conference from the start of the season (Washington State has been good all along). The Cardinal now looks nothing like the team that lost at home by 34 to Air Force. Has a chance to help the Pac-10 with Wednesday home game against Gonzaga. After that, however, it's five of seven on the road.

4, Washington State --- Cougs lost their first home game and also lost a key player as reserve swingman Nikola Koprivica is out for the year with a knee injury suffered against Oregon. Like Stanford, Cougars have five of next seven conference games on the road.

5, USC --- Trojans got big road win Saturday at Cal to stay in the thick of the conference race. Interestingly, Trojans rank last in the Pac-10 in assists and are losing more turnovers than any other conference team. USC is also last in three-pointers made. But USC makes up for it by ranking first in field goal percentage defense.

6, Arizona --- Giving just five players the bulk of the time seems to have caught up with the Wildcats, who appear to have hit a wall. Goods news is Marcus Williams will apparently be back for this weekend's games against WSU and UW. Wildcats need a sweep to stay in the race, and even just one loss will begin to make their NCAA Tourney hopes a little precarious as Wildcats finish with five of seven on the road.

7, Washington --- Huskies finally showed some signs over the weekend of being the team everyone expected to see all year. If Spencer Hawes returns to full health, UW may still be able to make a tournament run. But first, Huskies have to show they can win a road game.

8, Cal --- Hard to explain the Bears who are 3-2 in conference road games and 1-3 at home, beating only the Huskies. Injuries appear to be taking their toll.

9, Oregon State --- What's the deal with OSU's free throw shooting? Beavers were an astounding 18-51 from the line on the Washington trip.

10, Arizona State --- Starting to be worth wondering whether ASU will be able to win a conference game. No Pac-10 team has ever gone 0-18.

Marcus Williams okay

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:55 AM

The Huskies caught a break last week when they faced Oregon without Aaron Brooks. Doesn't sound as if they will be as fortunate this weekend, as reports out of Tucson indicate that Marcus Williams will be okay to play this week against WSU and UW.

Here's a story.

January 28, 2007

The day after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:26 PM

Sorry for the late post, but had some Sunday family considerations.

First, here's our coverage from today, starting with a game story centering on Jon Brockman's play and Lorenzo Romar's apparently quite spirited halftime talk to the team.

The Huskies led just 43-40 at halftime and let an Oregon State team that was shooting only 42.3 percent coming in make 55.2 percent in the first half, including 6-7 by center Kyle Jeffers.

Next is our notebook, focusing on Spencer Hawes and also with some info on C.J. Giles. Giles acknowledges he wanted to come back to UW once he was let go at Kansas but that the Huskies weren't interested.

As for Hawes, he again came off the bench, and then played just eight minutes in the first half as coaches weren't happy with his performance. He stirred to life in the second half to score 11 of his 13 points. Romar said he didn't know when Hawes will return to the starting lineup, but said it will happen once Hawes is 100 percent and able to practice and play on a consistent basis.

Romar said until Hawes is completely healthy, he wants to avoid a situation where the team plans to start Hawes, then finds out that he can't go. He compares the situation to that the team faced two years ago when Brandon Roy hurt his knee. He said it was easier to have a set starting lineup without Roy and then play Roy whoever much he could go off the bench instead of having a constantly rotating starting lineup.

There is also a quote in the notebook from Romar staunchly defending Hawes from those who have criticized him during his recent illness-related struggles.

There is also this story from the Corvallis Gazette-Times offering the Oregon State point of view.

January 27, 2007

Brockman leads way

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:01 PM

The talk after UW's 91-74 win over Oregon State was of Jon Brockman's zeal and Lorenzo Romar's halftime chat.

Brockman was everywhere in leading the Huskies to the win, diving on the floor and through the tunnel for loose balls and also tying his career-high with 25 points. As Oregon State coach Jay John said: "We had no answer for Jon Brockman. We don't have a guy tough enough to deal with him.''

Romar said he felt Brockman was showing the rest of the team how to play with his own actions. "It was 'I'm just going to show you and you follow my lead,''' romar said. "I think that is what Jon was doing out there tonight.''

Only Brockman and Justin Dentmon really brought it early, however, and UW led just 43-40 at halftime, which apparently elicited a loud halftime talk from Romar.

"He had some words,'' Brockman said. "Some big words. But we realized that we played horrible in the first half and we were ahead and we just had to get after it in the second half and I think we took care of business.''

Indeed, that might have been the most impressive aspect of this win. The recent struggles have made it easy to wonder if maybe all the talent has been overhyped. But the ability to dominate a half in such a fashion demonstrates that a lot of what everyone has thought this team has is there.

The key now is getting the team to perform like that on a consistent basis, and especially on the road.

A good weekend

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:59 PM

This was obviously just what the Huskies needed to at least get back on the fringes of the NCAA Tournament picture.

There's still a long ways to go, but there were a lot of good signs this weekend, and in today's blowout of Oregon State.

The Huskies dominated the boards against both teams (41-21 today), got solid play from point guard Justin Dentmon (41 points for the weekend), and despite what the field goal numbers might indicate, seemed to play better defense. The Huskies forced 18 turnovers against Oregon and had nine steals in today's game.

I'll have more later.

What a strange game

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:54 PM

It seems as if the Huskies are doing a lot of the right things --- hustling all over the place, outrebounding Oregon State 17-9, playing hard on defense.

Yet the Beavers are hanging in, down just 41-38, having made 16-29 shots --- an abnormal occurence for an OSU team shooting just 42.3 percent for the season.

UW is playing somewhat sloppily with 10 turnovers --- Justin Dentmon and Jon Brockman each have three. But those are also the only players providing much offense for UW as Dentmon has 14 points and Brockman 12.

Spencer Hawes played just eight minutes and scored only two points on 1-3 shooting.

Tipoff nearing

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:42 PM

It's about 20 minutes to tipoff and the arena is a third-full, at best.

Whatever buzz there is surrounds the fact that Arizona just suffered the worst loss of the Lute Olson era at the hands of Carolina. Here's a good recap from the Arizona Daily Star with some details on the injury to Marcus Williams. Obviously if he can't play it figures to help UW's cause there a week from now.

And UW fans can only hope Arizona plays as poorly a week from today when the Huskies make their annual visit to McKale. I think UW needed Arizona to beat UNC and make a possible win down there look that much better. Now, the perception of whatever UW does there will be tainted by Arizona's blowout today.

Arizona suddenly has to be worried about its NCAA Tournament chances. But the one thing it has that UW doesn't is a high RPI. Arizona was still No. 3 heading into the game today.
You'll note UW moved up to No. 63 after beating Oregon after having been No. 83 earlier in the week.

Here, by the way, is Pomeroy's latest projection of Washington's season. He's the one who had UW starting out 1-7 a few weeks ago and he wasn't far off. Now he's got UW going 7-11 in Pac-10 play and 17-13 overall, which would have the Huskies securely in the NIT.

Pre-game reading

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:43 AM

Just a few hours until gameday so we'll take a quick look around cyberspace.

First, here's my story today which focuses on the apparent reemergence of Justin Dentmon which is, obviously, absolutely vital for the Huskies to do anything this season.

We'll see if this is a permanenet revival, but Dentmon definitely seems to be a more humble player than he was a few months ago. In the story, he acknowledges that he'll probably be at UW for four years and that while he still has NBA aspirations he has to take "baby steps'' in that direction. He admits that thinking too much about the pros might have been one of the things causing his game to go off course earlier in the season.

One thing that didn't get in the story --- there has been lots of discussion of whether Dentmon is a "true point guard.'' I asked UW coach Lorenzo Romar about that yesterday, whether Dentmon can be successful at the "true point guard'' parts of the game.

"He can do it to where it's good enough,'' Romar said.

He then went on to restate his long-held position on why he is enamored of point guards like Dentmon who can also score. When a team has a "pure point guard'' who maybe can't score too well, "it's sometimes like playing five on four,'' he said.

There isn't much out there on Oregon State today. The Corvallis Gazette-Times has this story on Marcel Jones becoming the team's go-to guy.

No doubt, Jones will be an interesting matchup for the Huskies today. With UW's starting lineup, Jon Brockman would be the logical defender, but I've got to imagine Quincy Pondexter will see plenty of time on Jones today, as well.

I also found this blog entry from GT writer Cliff Kirkpatrick interesting as he talks about how Oregon State is attempting to rework its schedule to play as many games as possible next season after C.J. Giles becomes eligible on Dec. 8. That may be assuming, of course, that Jay John is still the coach. Hard to believe there won't be some talk along those lines should OSU continue on its current course as he is now 26-53 in Pac-10 games.

There are also a slew of big games today around the conference. None may be more critical to UW than the North Carolina-Arizona game as the Huskies need the Pac-10 to remain viewed as the best conference in the country to help justify their poor start. Here's a preview of that game which is tipping off as I write this. And yes, Marcus Williams is back in the lineup.

January 26, 2007

Lineup to stay the same

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:07 PM

The Huskies practiced late today, thanks in part to a number of players taking tests.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar said the lineup will be the same tomorrow as it was against Oregon, with Spencer Hawes again coming off the bench.

"He just hasn't had a lot of time in practice (recently),'' Romar said. "So let's bring him off (the bench) and let him fit in as the game goes. ... Until there is some consistency there and getting some practices in, as opposed to disrupting and keep changing things we'll just go this way for now.''

As Romar pointed out, Hawes still played 29 minutes against Oregon (his season average is 27.7 minutes per game).

That means Artem Wallace will again start at center. Romar said he likes the pairing of Wallace and Jon Brockman, calling them "our two most physical players'' and said Wallace has learned more "how to compete'' at the Pac-10 level this year. Romar said the next step for Wallace is to learn to finish better around the basket when he has chances to score.

By making 6-14 three-pointers against Oregon, the Huskies took over the Pac-10 lead in three-point field goal percentage at 38.7. That could be key tomorrow as Oregon State ranks last in the conference in three-point field goal percentage defense, allowing teams to shoot 36.7 percent.

There was no other personnel news of note.

The morning after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:26 AM

Finally for UW fans, a lot of good reading on the day after a game.

Here's a story from the Oregonian emphasizing how the Ducks' small lineup failed them against UW's bigger lineup. Would Aaron Brooks have made a difference in that? Guess we'll found out in Eugene next month.

The story points out that Ernie Kent did try to match UW's size, giving reserve big men Mitch Platt and Ray Schafer some uncommon playing time --- the two had combined for one minute in Pac-10 play before last night --- and while it worked a little bit, ultimately couldn't stem the tide.

Here's a story from the Eugene Register-Guard making the solid point that Justin Dentmon was able to have such a good night because he exploited his size advantage on Oregon's 5-6 guard, Tajuan Porter. That might be the biggest area where Brooks could have made a difference.

In looking ahead to Saturday's game against Oregon State, here's a story from the Oregonian concentrating on the fact that the Beavers shot an astonishingly bad 6-19 from the free throw line against Washington State. That's almost hard to believe. OSU coach Jay John has often this season said his team simply doesn't shoot well and this is more obvious evidence of that.

Here's a story from the Corvallis Gazette-Times making many of the same points about OSU's offensive problems. UW needs to make those continue for at least another day.

Here, also, is our coverage from today.

Also, to answer a question asked here earlier about the Pac-10's RPI --- it doesn't really impact the overall conference RPI when the teams beat up each other. It just makes the RPI's of those teams go up and down. But the Pac-10 still has a few non-conference games that will impact that RPI, including Saturday when Arizona hosts North Carolina. The Huskies should be rooting for Arizona to win that game and keep the Pac-10 RPI as the best in the country.

January 25, 2007

Is this the breakthrough?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:52 PM

We won't know for a while, obviously, if this really is the game that will turn things around for the Huskies.

And Oregon, just as obviously, wasn't at full strength with Aaron Brooks, and Adam Zahn out of the lineup.

Still, as UW coach Lorenzo Romar said afterward, the Huskies "did a lot of the things that would suggest we are headed in a positive direction'' during their 89-77 win tonight.

Among the most notable --- UW had just 11 turnovers despite playing at a breakneck style all night, while forcing 18. Granted, Oregon's turnovers were likely higher due to the absence of Brooks. Still, it's the most turnovers UW has forced since getting 21 against Weber State on Dec. 22, and evidence that the Huskies showed some renewed eneregy on the defensive end.

The Huskies used a lot of zone, and the coaches may be realizing that that is a good strategy with this particular bunch even if it's something Romar doesn't really like all that much.

Oregon hit 9-25 three-pointers, but was 5-15 in the second half and didn't make any in the final 14:23 of the game. And despite playing a lot of zone, which often isn't conducive to good rebounding, the Huskies had a 33-22 edge on the boards.

The breakout individual was obviously Justin Dentmon, who had one of the best games of his career with 24 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals. He also had six turnovers, and that obviously has to be scaled back. But the rest of it was a huge step in the right direction.

Dentmon said afterward that "I'm being more aggressive'' having been told by coaches that he has to "put pressure on the defense.'' Indeed, UW has been looking for someone to break down a defense, and maybe tonight is the beginning of Dentmon becoming that guy on a consistent basis.


Just what they needed

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:57 PM

This looked like the Huskies of old as they came out fired up and led 12-2 before the game was three minutes old, then after the inevitable Oregon run, responded to take another lead.

It's 51-40 UW at halftime as the Huskies have hit 19-36 shots and have just four turnovers. It's a stark contrast to the first half five days ago in Pullman when UW had just 23 points at halftime.

Justin Dentmon, getting his first start since the UCLA game, leads all scorers with 15 points and has hit all seven of his free throws, with his aggression earning him consistent trips to the line.

UW is also outrebounding Oregon 19-13 and has forced the Ducks into nine turnovers.

The big warning sign for UW is the fact that Oregon is shooting 15-27 from the field.

Oregon center Ray Schafer hadn't played in a conference game before tonight but is getting time as the Ducks seek ways to defend UW's big men. And he has responded with eight points.

Dentmon back in starting lineup

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:28 PM

The Huskies will shake up their lineup one more time tonight, with Justin Dentmon moving back in at point guard in place of Adrian Oliver.

Artem Wallace will also start again with Spencer Hawes coming off the bench. Hawes is good to go, but apparently the thought is to let him come off the bench for this game, then put him back in against OSU Saturday.

So the starting lineup will be Dentmon, Appleby, Wallace, Jon Brockman and Phil Nelson.

Oliver has struggled in recent games and was scoreless in 14 minutes at WSU Saturday.

Defense, defense, defense

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:02 PM

Washington's defensive problems have been well documented this season, but the Huskies are going to have to solve some of them to have any chance tonight.

Specifically, Washington has to cover Oregon's three-point shooters.

The numbers bear out UW's challenge --- Oregon leads the Pac-10, making 9.32 three-pointers per game (Cal is second at 7.79) while the Huskies are seventh in three-point percentage defense, allowing teams to make almost 34 percent.

I asked Ryan Appleby earlier in the week why the Huskies are struggling to play perimeter defense and he mentioned just about everything --- staying in front of players, not rotating quickly enough, and not getting on three-pointer shooters fast enough. Maybe having the energy of the home crowd will help in some of those areas tonight.

Having said that, it will be interesting to see what kind of crowd there is tonight, not so much in numbers but in enthusiasm.

As for the team's health, the word here at the arena is that the Huskies are the healthiest they have been in a few weeks, with some of the nagging injuries to players starting to dissipate just a bit, so maybe that will help tonight, as well.

On Dentmon, and more

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:50 AM

First this morning, I'll alert you to the coverage in our paper of today's game against Oregon.

Here is Steve Kelley's column, where he makes the point that tonight is pretty much make-or-break for the Huskies. Fall to 1-7 and it's hard to see a way out. Even at 1-6, the odds of getting to the tournament are long. But win this one and there is life, particularly with the next two games coming against Oregon State and Arizona State.

The Pac-10 is so strong this year that 9-9, as long as it comes wrapped in a strong finish and at least a top six standing in the conference, might do it.

Here, also, is my preview, where I point out some of the similarities between where Oregon was a year ago and UW is now.

As for the question on Justin Dentmon, I don't think there is just one answer for what has happened to him this season.

It's a little bit of everything --- he's struggling to adjust to playing without Brandon Roy as a security blanket beside him; he put too much pressure on himself to be the new go-to guy in the backcourt; he maybe didn't come to camp in as good a shape as he needed to be in; maybe he was thinking too much about his future and not enough on the present; maybe he got caught up in his success of last season and figured it would come easily this year. I think all of those have some validity.

The coaches definitely thought he had made a breakthrough on the Bay Area trip, especially on the defensive end, which they see as the most important area of need right now. When you've heard Lorenzo Romar talk about Dentmon needing to bring more energy to the game, that's what he's been referring to primarily --- defense.

Everybody took a step back against WSU, Dentmon included, but the fact that was such an overall disaster makes it hard to really judge any one facet.

Romar said this week that "he turned the corner in the Bay Area so he's on his way back to doing the things we'd like to see him do. Everybody had lapses against WSU --- the coaches had lapses in that game. But we're excited to see him on his way back.''

January 24, 2007

Answer time

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:28 PM

Here are some answers to a few questions that have come my way.

Question: Is the UW-Oregon game on TV?
Answer: Yes, it's on FSN-NW live at 8 p.m. Saturday's Oregon State game is also on FSN. Of the next six games, the only one not available on FSN-NW is next Thursday's game at Arizona State. That game won't be shown since the Arizona-Washington State game will be on, instead. Hard to argue with that call right now.

Question: Anything new on Joe Wolfinger?
Answer: Not really. Obviously there are some minor changes in his status as he rehabs, but he's almost certainly not going to play this season, which I'm assuming is what you are asking about. As for applying for extra years of eligibility, that can't be done until later --- he could theoretically still play this year, for instance.

Question: Why did you vote Notre Dame in your poll this week when they don't look like a top 25 team?
Answer: I don't have a good answer for that one anymore as Notre Dame lost to a middling St. John's team last night. So ND will almost certainly fall out of my poll.

Question: What about Georgetown, which you have at No. 23? That seems high considering they don't have any marquee wins?
Answer: Georgetown did win big at Michigan (which is 16-4 as I write this) and beat Notre Dame by a large margin, and among its losses are relatively tight defeats to Duke and Oregon and at Pitt. As I watch them, which I'm doing right now against DePaul, I see what looks like a deep team and still relatively young that should get better. And with their recent play, that's what I felt they were doing --- improving --- which is why I've had them back in the poll recently. I also think the top of the Big East is still a strong league, though I know they are No. 7 in the RPI this week, due in large part to all the weak teams at the bottom. And for what it's worth, Georgetown is No. 12 in the Pomeroy ratings this week.


Smith pushed back again

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:09 PM

UW coach Lorenzo Romar was definitive Tuesday in saying that guard Joel Smith, out all season with a stress fracture in his right foot, will not redshirt this season and will play as soon as he is healthy.

However, the timetable for Smith's return continues to be pushed back.

Romar had said he expected Smith back for next week's games in Arizona. However, a team spokesman said today that Smith "probably'' won't be able to play in those games and that his status will be re-evaluated heading into the home games the following week against Cal (Feb. 8) and Stanford (Feb. 11).

Considering that much about the team's fate could be settled by then, it's hard to know if this latest delay may change the plans for Smith to play this season.

An x-ray taken on Smith's foot today did not reveal anything definitive, the spokesman reported.

Also, the school reported that Spencer Hawes, Quincy Pondexter and Adrian Oliver all practiced today, but that a starting lineup won't be decided on until tomorrow.

A Young solution?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:05 AM

Watching Washington State's offense tear through the Huskies time and again Saturday, I couldn't help wondering how things might have been different had Washington been able to sign Blake Young last spring.

That's a topic I addressed in this story today.

Young, for those who remember, is a 6-foot-2 guard who last spring was one of the top junior-college recruits in the country out of Tampa, Fla. He visited UW in April and was regarded as something of a lock to become a Husky at the time. Then Kansas State and new coach Bob Huggins lured Young to become a Wildcat, in part by hiring his JC coach to be K-State's new director of basketball opernations. To be fair, the coach, Brad Underwood, was a former K-State player.

Here are Young's numbers for this season and they may not look like much on paper. But as noted in the story today, he had knee surgery in mid-December which has limited his play ever since.

And what the Huskies wanted out of Young most was defense.

As UW assistant coach Jim Shaw told me this week, "He would have made a bigger difference for us than where he's at. He would have given us a speed guard and he would have made us older.''

Washington players and coaches maintain their bigger problems are on defense, despite the poor offensive showing against WSU. The numbers bear that out. The Huskies remain in the top five in the Pac-10 in scoring offense (second, 81.4), field-goal percentage (fourth, 47.3) and three-point percentage (third, 38.5). Washington is even second in assists (16.56) despite all the talk that the team is suffering at point guard.

But the Huskies are lagging greatly in most defensive categories, ranking ninth in field-goal percentage allowed (44.6), seventh in three-point percentage allowed (33.9) and seventh in steals (5.56).

I also wrote today about the fact that Aaron Brooks cannot play Thursday for Oregon.

And here's some more on Brooks from the Eugene Register-Guard, including this column by Ron Bellamy Bellamy and others in Eugene have better access to Brooks this week than we did, so he has some more in-depth material on Brooks' thoughts on the matter. Brooks was not allowed to speak to Seattle media this week.

Here's another story from the Register-Guard on how the Ducks plan to fill the void created by Brooks' absence Thursday. The story also includes the information that Oregon's Adam Zahn, the team's main big man off the bench, will miss the game with a concussion suffered in practice this week.


January 23, 2007

Smith won't redshirt

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:58 PM

A few of you have asked whether there is any thought to redshirt Joel Smith, given the way the season is going and the fact that it is already halfway completed.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar said again today that Smith is definitely playing this season. He is getting healthier every from the stress fracture that has held him out so far, and should be ready to return for next week's trip to Arizona State and Arizona.

Romar said he has "never wavered'' in his decision to have Smith play this season instead of redshirt, and said in his conversations with Smith that Smith has "never wavered'' either.

Smith said earlier this year that there was no question he wanted to play this season.

"I can't see myself waiting,'' he said then. "I can see myself helping this team a lot.''

Hawes and the NBA

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:36 PM

Spencer Hawes was asked again today what he's thinking in terms of the NBA and said basically what you would expect --- that he hasn't made any decision and won't until the end of the yeara.

"You think about it, it's definitely hard not to have it cross your mind,'' he said. "But it's not something where I wake up thinking about it or I sit and daydream about or anything like that.''

And Hawes is definitely going to have a decision to make at the end of the year. Despite his recent struggles, which are obviously due in part to some part health and injuries, he is very much on the NBA radar.

In fact, he has moved up to No. 5 for next year on this mock draft by HoopsHype.com.


Hawes better, other notes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:38 PM

As is the case every Tuesday, the Huskies met with the media before practice.

Spencer Hawes was taped up and ready to go and said he expects to be fine for Thursday's game against Oregon. In fact, almost as much of an issue continues to be his stomach virus, which is still lingering. But that, too, is said to be getting better.

Quincy Pondexter was limited in practice Monday with a bad back and also is suffering from ankle and knee injuries, but said he is persevering and expects to play.

Adrian Oliver said his thigh deep, which he described as "deep,'' is getting better, though he is still not 100 percent.

There was also a lot of talk today about the Aaron Brooks-Ryan Appleby incident last year which will keep Brooks out of Thursday's game.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar tried to downplay it, saying he had not heard any discussion among the Huskies about it. Appleby said he hadn't thought about it until being told by a UW publicist that he'd get asked questions about it this week.

Appleby said several times that "that's in the past.'' But in answering a few questions, he also made it clear that he hasn't completely forgotten about it. In answering a question about the fairness of the penalty for Brooks, he again pointed out that he thought the Ducks were saving Brooks from a lot of harsh treatment and thought it would make more sense if he was also suspended for the game at Oregon.

Oregon coach Ernie Kent said the Ducks will likely start Chamberlain Oguchi to replace Brooks. That's not necessarily great news for UW as it was Oguchi who scored 22 points to lead Oregon past UW in the Pac-10 tournament last year.

January 22, 2007

Hawes expected to play

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:20 PM

Spencer Hawes did not practice today, but he is expected to practice tomorrow and play Thursday when the Huskies host Oregon.

His injury was diagnosed as a left ankle sprain and it is not considered severe.


Monday rankings

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:39 PM

It's been a Monday tradition on this blog to link to the rankings as soon as they came out.

But there was no need to even think about it today as the Huskies are as far away from the top 25 right now as they've been in three years.

Still, here is the AP Top 25 and the Coaches Poll .

There are five Pac-10 teams in the AP Top 25 with UCLA at No. 3, Oregon at No. 7, Arizona 17, WSU 20 and USC 25. Stanford also got eight votes, making those the six Pac-10 teams you would think right now would get into the NCAA Tournament.

Here's my ballot, and I had the Pac-10 teams rated a little differently since both WSU and USC have beaten Arizona in the past three weeks, so I figured each of them deserved to be rated ahead of the Wildcats, who have lost three in a row and four of five.

1, Florida
2, Wisconsin
3, UCLA
4, North Carolina
5, Oregon
6, Texas A&M
7, Ohio State
8, Kansas
9, Duke
10, Pittsburgh
11, Memphis
12, Butler
13, Oklahoma State
14, Alabama
15, Marquette
16, Air Force
17, Washington State
18, Notre Dame
19, USC
20, Nevada
21, Clemson
22, Kentucky
23, Georgetown
24, Indiana
25, Arizona

Jamaal back in town

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:54 AM

Former Husky Jamaal Williams, who had been playing in France, is back in the area and playing for the King County Royals of the American Basketball Association.

Here's a link to a story and a box score from a game Williams played in for the Royals last week. You'll notice that among his teammates are another former Husky, Jamie Booker, and former WSU Cougar Randy Green, a Renton native.

Here, also, is some information on the ABA.

Williams had been playing for Poitiers in the France Pro-B League, but as this indicates, he left that team a little while ago.

January 21, 2007

The day after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:00 PM

I was beginning to start linking all the stories on Saturday's Cougar-Husky game when I realized by friend Glenn Kasses had already done so on his blog at the Spokesman-Review while also adding some interesting thoughts from the WSU perspective.

So I'll just link to his blog here and let you pick and choose what you might find interesting.

But I will also make a point to link our coverage here, as well.

Here's our game story, our notebook with details on the injury to Spencer Hawes, and Steve Kelley's column.

I'll also throw in here what I will try to make a weekly feature from now on --- Pac-10 rankings with some comments from the weekend's play.

So here we go:

1, UCLA --- Showed Arizona that there is a new perennial power in the Pac-10 and that Ben Howland is replacing Lute Olson as the preeminent coach in the conference.

2, Oregon --- Aaron Brooks is making a serious run at being the conference play of the year. But the Huskies won't have to face him Thursday due to his suspension for the Ryan Appleby incident last March.

3, Washington State --- The Cougars look like a team that could make a deep March run. The return of Aron Baynes makes them that much tougher.

4, USC --- The Trojans are likely to enter the top 25 for the first time since 2002 this week.

5, Arizona --- Lute Olson's first three-game conference losing streak since 1984 shows this team has some flaws, notably, a surprising lack of depth.

6, Stanford --- The Lopez Twins are making Anthony Goods and Lawrence Hill that much better.

7, Cal --- Bears are showing a lot more life without DeVon Hardin than anyone really expected. Ben Braun is doing a fine job adjusting.

8, Washington --- Now becoming obvious it's more than just a slow start for the Huskies and that this team has some serious issues. Every game is make-or-break from here on out.

9, Oregon State --- Losing two at home this season makes Jay John's seat that much hotter.

10, Arizona State --- But still a tough game for everyone.

January 20, 2007

A few quick notes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:07 PM

Travel concerns mean I don't have much time to do much with the blog for a while.

But here are a few quick notes:

--- Spencer Hawes said he should be able to play Thursday against Oregon. He said he hurt the ankle near the end of Friday's practice when he tried to block a shot in a scrimmage and landed on a teammate's foot (he doesn't know whose foot). He said the injury stiffened over night and he couldn't run well enough to make it worth playing. UW coach Lorenzo Romar said it wasn't worth "trying to pull a Willis Reed'' and send Hawes out for a few plays at the risk of making it worse.

Said Hawes: "I was trying to go out there and get it warm so I could play and it just wouldn't help me out at all. I wouldn't have been helping the team if I tried.''

--- To a man, UW players said afterward they don't consider the season a lost cause. Said Romar: "It's important that we are firm and understand what we have to go to get better. At the same time, we have to remain somewhat positive and try to reverse this direction and get headed in the right direction.''

--- The margin of victory was the largest ever for WSU against UW in the 261 games the two teams have played in a series dating to 1910. It was also the worst loss for UW since Romar's first season, an 89-57 loss at Arizona State.

--- UW's 28.3 percent shooting was the worst of the season for the Huskies. UW was actually 6-18 on three-pointers, meaning the Huskies were 9-35 from inside the arc.

--- No Husky shot better than 50 percent. Brockman was the closest at 6-13.

--- UW has now lost all six road games this season and will have just five chances left to win on the road against the Oregon and Arizona schools and at Pitt.


This one's done

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:33 PM

This game is obviously in the books as I write this with 7:30 left and the Cougars ahead 61-37.

And now at 1-6, the Huskies seem to have incredibly long odds at making the NCAA Tournament, barring winning the Pac-10 Tournament. No Pac-10 team has ever made the NCAA Tournament after being 1-6, and with the conference being as strong as it is this season and yielding few sure wins, hard to see how the Huskies could get to 10 conference wins, which has always been the requirement for getting int.

The question now is how is Hawes and whether he can return in time for the Oregon game Thursday. The Ducks will have to play without Aaron Brooks so there will be hope for that game. As for this season, however, hard to see it right now.

We'll have more after the game.

Dreadful first half

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:51 PM

Save for the last 2:36, this was as dreadful a half as the Huskies have turned in in years as they trail here 34-23.

UW went scoreless from the 11:26 mark to the 2:36 mark, going 0-8 with six turnovers as the Cougars opened up a 20-point lead.

Sure, they missed Spencer Hawes, but they couldn't have missed him that much.

The only saving grace was an 11-2 run to end the half, thanks to two three-pointers by Ryan Appleby and a pass for a lay-in to Quincy Pondexter, that have given the Huskies at least a little hope.

But for 17 minutes, this was just surgical as the Cougars tore the Huskies apart.

UW is shooting 8-26 for the half with seven turnovers while WSU is 13-28 with four turnovers.

By the way, the 23 points is the fewest at the half for UW in at least a year-and-a-half. Their fewest this year was 28 against Northern Iowa, and their fewest last year was also 28.

UPDATE --- I'm told this is the fewest points at the half for UW since Dec. 6, 2003, against Wyoming, when the Huskies scored 19 points.

More personnel updates

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:24 PM

We've just been told of two personnel moves involving the Cougars heading into today's game.

Senior guard Antonio Chavers became academically eligible last night and is in uniform and may play today. Sophomore guard, Chris Matthews, however, is out with a sprained ankle suffered Thursday and will not play.

Chavers started seven games for WSU last year as a JC transfer.

Also, Spencer Hawes went through warmups but looked a little ginger, so we'll see how much he plays. Sounds as if the flu/virus is gone, however.

Adrian Oliver and Quincy Pondexter are said to be good to go, and Oliver will start.

Hawes ailing again

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:03 PM

The Huskies will have one change to their starting lineup today, but it's not one anyone anticipated. Artem Wallace for start for Spencer Hawes at center today as Hawes apparently suffered a sprained ankle in practice Friday.

It's uncertain if Hawes will play.

The rest of the starting lineup will stay the same.


In Pullman

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:01 PM

We've arrived here safely, though it wasn't easy to do as another winter snowstorm blanketed the area last night, making driving anywhere around here trecherous. We'll see if that impacts attendance any, though I think a lot of the crowd here today will be students.

Here's a couple of stories from our paper today. First, our main preview where I try to make the case that the Apple Cup of basketball is finally on its way back to relevance.

Next is our expanded capusle preview, that includes a prediction. Yes, I'm picking the Cougs to win today, 71-67, though I'm obviously expecting a close game, and won't be surprised if the Huskies pull it out. Until UW shows it can win a road game, however, you have to go with the team that's more proven at the moment.

And yes, I realize what the implications of another loss for the Huskies would be. We'll address that later if need be.

A few people pointed out that I missed one of the big statistical differences between the teams in my post Friday, and it's one worth mentioning. It's one I pointed out as one of the five reasons the Huskies are struggling so far in my story earlier this week --- turnover margin. WSU has a plus 4.89 turnover margin for the season while the Huskies are at minus-1.06. That, obviously, equates to a difference of six possessions per game, which is huge in a close game.

Those stats are about the same for Pac-10 play only. In six Pac-10 games, UW has lost 91 turnovers while getting 80, while WSU has lost just 50 while forcing 77.

January 19, 2007

Defense the key Saturday

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:47 PM

I've always found college basketball statistics to be incredibly misleading because of the number of early-season mismatches that result in all kinds of skewed numbers.

The best way to truly gauge how teams are doing, in my opinion, is to compare their numbers in conference games against what are, obviously, like opponents.

UW and WSU have each played six Pac-10 games heading into Saturday's showdown in Pullman. Obviously, that's not a huge sample size, but large enough to reveal a few things, especially considering the schools have played the same six opponents in the same six settings.

And the biggest statistical difference between the teams is field-goal percentage defense -- WSU has allowed teams to shoot just 41.3 percent in Pac-10 play while the Huskies are allowing 49.3. Interestingly, for the Cougars, that number is almost the same as the overall number for the season of 41.0. But for UW, it's a huge decrease from the overall number of 44.1 percent, leading credence to the theory that the Huskies weren't quite ready for facing a steady stream of solid competition once Pac-10 play hit.

Some other differences in the teams' stats are more a function of differences in style of play than anything else -- namely, the fact that UW is scoring 75 points per game and WSU 67.

One number that bodes well for the Huskies is the fact that UW is shooting 44.7 percent on three-pointers in the six Pac-10 games while the Cougars are at 33.3. A similar difference Saturday would obviously help Washington's chances greatly.

The other big difference is rebounding, though that also isn't a surprise given the way the two play -- WSU has been outrebounded 35.2-30.8 while UW is outrebounding teams 34.2 to 32.2.

Here's one other interesting differnece that might speak well to the fate of the teams -- UW has been whistled for 119 fouls in its six Pac-10 games to 101 for its opponents, while WSU has been called for just 94 fouls compared to 98 for its opponents.

That's the reason, obviously, that UW's opponents have attempted 133 free throws while the Huskies have tried 97, while WSU has attempted 101 compared to 91 for its opponents.

January 18, 2007

Injury update

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:28 PM

Quincy Pondexter, Adrian Oliver and Spencer Hawes all practiced today and indications are that all will play Saturday against Washington State.

Pondexter hadn't practiced since spraining his ankle Saturday at Cal.

"I'm feeling much better,'' he said. " I've been doing a lot of therapy and I'm just
ready to get back to playing."

Asked about practice, he said, "Practice went pretty well. There was a little pain, but I'm doing pretty well. It will be alright by game time Saturday."

And asked if it is up to you, what is your status for Saturday, he said "Saturday, I'm playing. Whatever I can do to help my team out, I'm doing it.
That's what I'm looking forward to. If it's only a little time, it's alright
with me just as long as I get to help my team."

Oliver has been suffering from a quad contusion but returned to practice today. Hawes sat out a few days to recover from a flu-virus and says he's getting close to normal.

UW's starting lineup for Saturday is still somewhat in flux, however, as Romar said he had to know the exact status of all of the injured/sick players before putting it together. The most likely change is Justin Dentmon moving back into the starting lineup. With Oliver ailing, Dentmon could start alongside Ryan Appleby.

Players and coaches said today that practices have been a little more spirited than normal in the wake of the 1-5 start and last week's lost weekend in the Bay Area.

"They've really competed in practice,'' Romar said today. "We've been undermanned, but the guys who have been out there have really gotten after it.''

Injury bug hits harder

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:39 PM

It's not so much a matter of which Husky team will show up Saturday in Pullman, but which Huskies.

When Washington finished practice Wednesday, the Huskies had just seven players available, with guard Adrian Oliver the latest player to be bitten by the injury bug.

Coach Lorenzo Romar said today that Oliver is battling a bruised thigh. Oliver apparently first suffered the injury in a game last weekend and then reaggravated the injury in practice Wednesday.

Oliver seems likely to play Saturday though Romar held out the possibility that he wouldn't be able to go.

The Huskies were also without Quincy Pondexter (ankle), Spencer Hawes (flu) and redshirting Tim Morris (calf).

Hawes has sat out a few practices this week in his continuing effort to get past a nasty virus. He said the rest has appeared to do some good as he said he's able to eat regularly again and feels he's getting back to normal.

Pondexter sprained his ankle at Cal. He was expected to try to practice this afternoon. Romar said again that he's "hopeful'' that Pondexter will be able to play against the Cougars on Saturday.

To get through practice, assistants Cameron Dollar and Paul Fortier took the floor, giving the Huskies nine bodies.

January 17, 2007

So how young are the Huskies?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:11 PM

I was considering again just how relevant the youth issue is when considering what's ailing the Huskies when I heard an interview with WSU guard Derrick Low on KJR-AM.

When he was asked why the Cougars are better this season his response, essentially, was that the Cougars were a young team the last two years that now has matured.

No, youth doesn't excuse everything, and as Lorenzo Romar himself has said, at some point, it stops being even a good explanation.

Yet, it's hard to overlook when examaning the Huskies.

I broke down the other Pac-10 lineups to see just where the Huskies stand.

Here are the classes for the expected starting lineups of Pac-10 teams this week:

Arizona --- Two seniors, one junior, one sophomore, one freshman.

Arizona State - One senior, one junior, one sophomore, two freshmen.

Cal --- One senior, one junior, one sophomore, two freshmen.

Oregon --- One senior, three juniors, one freshman.

Oregon State --- One senior, three juniors, one freshmen.

Stanford --- One senior, two sophomores, two freshmen.

UCLA --- Two juniors, three sophomores.

USC --- One senior, two juniors, two freshmen.

Washington State --- One senior, three juniors, one sophomore.

Washington --- One junior, one sophomore, three freshmen.

Consider further that UW's top two reserves are a freshmen and a sophomore. So by any estimation, the Huskies are the youngest team in the Pac-10 this year.

A few people have brought up North Carolina as a team as young as the Huskies having success. That's certainly true. On the other hand, it's also about as big a compliment as Romar could get as no one would have even legitimately compared UW to North Carolina A&T, let alone the Tar Heels, when he took over in 2002.

Pac-10 recruiting strong, Perry move official

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:18 AM

Here's a bit more reading for you today.

First, here's a column from SI.com's Seth Davis continuing to make the point that the Pac-10 is not only good this year, but set up to be good for the next few years thanks to some impressive recruiting.

In the story, Davis quotes Scout.com recruiting analyst as calling UW signee Justin Holiday as "the best sleeper'' in the Pac-10's Class of 2007.

Here, also, is an AP story on Harvey Perry's transfer to Idaho, which has been known about for a while but was finally made official.

Wednesday reading

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:32 AM

Here's some reading material for the middle of the week.

First, here's my story today where I attempted to break down some of what's gone wrong with the Huskies so far. I've already gotten a couple e-mails telling me the youth excuse is exactly the cop out I say it might sound like in the story. But I still think it's valid. Not doing something often is what leads to problems in exection ---- if you practice something for three years, you're going to do it better than if you've only practiced it for a year. And while some other teams in the Pac-10 are playing young players, I don't think any of the Pac-10 teams really having better years than UW is as young as the Huskies.

Next, here's our Pac-10 notebook from Bud Withers leading off with an item on Oregon's plans for Mac Court.

And here's a Pac-10 notebook from the Arizona Daily Star that includes some interesting quotes on the Huskies from Tuesday's coaches conference call.

January 16, 2007

Stacked Pac-10

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:34 PM

There seems little debate that the Pac-10 Conference is about as strong this year as it has ever been, and might be the best conference in the nation.

One indication of how much good talent there is in the conference, or is coming next year, is this mock draft for 2008 from NBADraft.net

Obviously, these things are to really be taken with a grain of salt. Still, this mock draft has 11 Pac-10 players going in the first round in 2008 including UW's Spencer Hawes at No. 8 and Quincy Pondexter at No. 8. Odds are still good that Hawes leaves after this year, and HoopsHype.com still has Hawes going No. 7 in 2007 in this mock draft.

But should Hawes stay, he will only add to a Pac-10 that might be even better next year than it is this year, as this mock draft indicates, as two of the players listed will be freshmen next year --- USC signee O.J. Mayo at No. 3 and Arizona signee Jerryd Bayless at No. 12.

Here also is the NBADraft.net mock draft for 2007 that has three Pac-10 players going in the first round --- including Arizona's Marcus Williams at No. 11 --- as well as Eastern Washington's Rodney Stuckey at No. 29.

Replay boards coming

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:32 PM

We've written here before that the new replay screens at Hec Ed were expected to be in place by the Oregon game, Jan. 25.

It's on schedule to happen as the new boards are being installed as this is written.

Here's the official word from UW on what, exactly, is being installed.

"This is the second of two renovations to the scoreboard in the Bank of America Arena. The previous installation included the addition of the ProAd Ring Display [the ring below the main scoreboard]. This installation is scheduled to be completed in time for the University of Washington women's basketball game vs. Washington State on Jan. 20.

"The new videoboard will be used to deliver live statistical information as well as instant replays and live in-game action. The University of Washington is also developing features to be used during the team's entrance to the arena as well as player introductions and other in-game features."

Smith maybe in two weeks

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:37 PM

UW coach Lorenzo Romar, during his weekly Tuesday meeting with the media, said today that guard Joel Smith won't play either of the next two weeks, but could return after that, meaning he might be available for the trip to the Arizona schools the first week of February.

Smith has missed all season with injuries to his right foot. Though he has a redshirt year available, there does not seem to be any thought of him sitting out this season. Smith has said repeatedly he wants to play this year and the team needs him.

Also, Quincy Pondexter will sit out practice today with the sprained ankle suffered at Cal and Romar said it is hoped that he will be available for the WSU game Saturday. He is officially listed as probable but Romar said the team will have to see how he performs in practice this week before figuring out how much --- or whether --- he can play.

As for possible lineup changes for Saturday's game, Romar said it was too early in the week to know.

January 15, 2007

Huskies no longer hold a poll position

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:56 PM

For the first time this season, the Huskies aren't ranked in either poll.

Here's the AP Poll, and here's the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

And here's my poll for the week --- as I've pointed out before, I am the voter in the state of Washington this year.

WEEK 10
1, Florida
2, Wisconsin
3, UCLA
4, Kansas
5, North Carolina
6, Pittsburgh
7, Oregon
8, Texas A&M
9, Alabama
10, Ohio State
11, Arizona
12, Oklahoma State
13, Air Force
14, Duke
15, Butler
16, Notre Dame
17, Memphis
18, Nevada
19, LSU
20, Texas
21, Connecticut
22, Kentucky
23, Clemson
24, Tennessee
25, Washington State

I left the Cougars in my poll, feeling that an overtime loss on the road against a team like Stanford --- which I think is quickly becoming a borderline top 25 team in its own right --- wasn't a real black mark.

As for the rest of it, my top three is the same as the real poll's top three this week, which I think is the first time all year I've been in lock step with everyone else for those spots. Wisconsin cemented its hold on No. 2 with the win over Ohio State, in my estimation.

One of my biggest risers is Oregon, which I had at 14 last week, and one of my biggest drops is Duke, which I had at No.6 last week much to the consternation of a few of you who thought I had the Blue Devils too high. Looks like all of you who said that were right.

At least one of you asked a question about how I arrive at my poll for each week, how much time I spend on it, etc., so I'll try to address that here.

I consider myself a big college basketball fanatic and have been for most of my life, so asking how much time I spend on it is hard to figure. I watch every game I can, and read everything about the sport I can, which I do even in years I'm not voting (this is the second time I've voted in the poll). So in a way, all of that time can be considered research for the poll even if I'd be doing it anyway.

As for what resources I use, I try to watch the highlight shows every night to see snippets of the games that aren't on. I also check out as many web sites as I can --- I don't really depend on any specific ones but I regularly look at a dozen or so sports sites every day and often learn things that help me in my research for voting in the poll. Along with the mainstream web sites, I look at sites such as Ken Pomeory's regularly.

I also make sure to look at up-to-date standings of every conference on Sunday --- the poll is due by early Monday morning and I typically do mine Sunday night after the games of that day have been completed --- to make sure I haven't missed something during the week.

I also keep a file with all of my past polls so I can easily remember how I've voted in the past.



Pondexter update

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:39 AM

Here's the official update on UW forward Quincy Pondexter, who was injured in Saturday's loss at Cal, and it has to be considered good news considering how he looked after the game.

The school reports that he was diagnosed with a sprained left ankle. He did not
practice today (Monday) but is expected to return to practice by mid-week and is listed as probable for Saturday's game at Washington State.

January 14, 2007

Huskies hung up

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:40 PM

To add insult to the lost weekend in the Bay Area, the Huskies apparently had a rough trip home.

After losing at Cal Saturday afternoon, they hustled off to Oakland airport hoping to catch a flight around 6:30 p.m. that would get them home to Seattle around 8:30 or so.

Instead, when they got to the Oakland airport, they found out the plane they were supposed to be on had problems and their flight was cancelled. Everyone booked on the flight was then bussed to the San Francisco airport to catch a flight that left around 9:30 p.m.

Just a bad weekend all the way around.

The day after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:07 PM

Always intersting to see what the other side has to say after games like Saturday's, so I thought I'd provide some of the coverage here.

There's this story from the San Francisco Chronicle centering on Ayinde Ubaka trying to get in Justiin Dentmon's head before those final two free throws. The writer gives all the credit for Dentmon's miss to Ubaka's taunting but I don't know. Given Dentmon's sporadic play this year, and that of the Huskies down the stretch, that he made just one of two seemed right in line.

That story also mentions that Jeff Tedford and his staff received standing ovations when they were introducted. In fact, Tedford was introduced as "the hardest working coach'' in college football, or something to that effect. And he apparently had some hard work to go do as he was long gone by the time the second half rolled around.

Here's a San Jose Mercury News story making the point that Ryan Anderson outplayed Spencer Hawes and should be considered a legit candidate for Pac-10 freshman of the year. Hard to argue with any of that.

Here's a column from Monte Poole of the Oakland Tribune on how the Bears simply outworked the Huskies Saturday, something the Huskies readily conceeded.

And just in case you missed it, here's our coverage from today. I linked the game story and you can find the notebook easily from there. The notebook has more details on Hawes' recent flu bug.

January 13, 2007

Where to now?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:56 PM

I see I've already been chided for calling the Cal game a "must-win'' and now saying that the Huskies can no longer afford any more losses.

I guess I felt the Cal game was a "must-win'' in the sense that the Huskies needed it to still have a little margin for error to get into the NCAA Tournament. Now, it's hard to see where the Huskies have any real margin for error at all.

What will help is that the Pac-10 is considered the best conference in the country, and at least six teams figure to get invites, if not seven.

On the other hand, the road to even a 9-9 conference record --- which would seem the minimum for making the tournament --- now seems pretty rugged. That game at Pitt Feb. 17 will take on even added importance now as that will be the one chance for UW to show that its struggles are due to the strength of the Pac-10 rather than ineptness.

But after this one, UW's focus was on merely figuring out a way to win one game, let alone make the NCAA Tournament.

As might be expected, the Huskies were pretty down after this one, especially since they felt they lost it largely because Cal simply wanted it more and played harder.

Asked about the free throw Justin Dentmon missed at the end that could have won it for the Huskies, UW coach Lorenzo Romar said "that wasn't the game.''

"We could talk about those free throws and if he makes them both we win the game,'' the coach said. "But I'm telling you that when you look at the fact they had 18 points in second-chance shots, then you don't have to (talk about that). We had an opportunity to not be in that situation. Cal deserved to win the game --- they outworked us.''

UW players seemed at a loss to explain why the Bears would have outworked the Huskies when it seemed like the Huskies were the ones that had more to gain --- or lose.

Dentmon said he thinks maybe the UW players have taken winning for granted and have forgotten what it takes to win.

"'I think so,'' he said when asked that very question. "I think a little bit of everybody did. I know I did at a point in time. Then you get a taste of losing and you begin to think that's just a fairy tale, like it's not true. You've got to out and play hard every time.

"It's just little stuff throughout the game that we don't key on doing. We just need to focus throughout the game. Sometimes we get off our game plan and we just have to stuck to the game plan.''

Players admitted they never thought they'd be in this situation.

"Obviously we are real surprised,'' said UW center Spencer Hawes. "Our goal was to compete for the Pac-10 title.''

Hawes has been struggling with a virus of some sort that has caused him to lose at least 10 pounds, though he's been trying not to use that as an excuse.

Whatever the case, he was definitely off his game today as he had just 13 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes and often seemed to force or rush bad shots, something he admitted afterward.

"I just got too caught up in it and started trying to do too much and that's what happens,'' he said.

As for the person asking about Romar's record in overtime, he is now 3-9 in overtime as UW coach. That includes an 0-3 record in his first season, and another loss early in the 2003-04 season before the team began its turnaround.
UW has now lost its last five overtime games --- two this season and all three last year, including the Sweet 16 game to UConn.

Another tough loss

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:11 PM

I'll have more later, but for now, a few quick notes on the loss that figures to be a turning point --- one way or the other --- for the Huskies.

They can't lose anymore, so either the losing stops here, or this marks the day that it became apparent this team just doesn't have it.

This was by far the most surprising loss of the year as the Huskies were just outhustled most of the day.

"We were outscrapped,'' was the way UW coach Lorenzo Romar put it.

For the first time this year, UW was outrebounded --- and by a shocking margin of 47-36 by a team missing two of its three best big players.

Adding more bad news, Quincy Pondexter suffered a sprained left ankle. Officially, he's okay. But Pondexter was wearing a boot and had to be helped around by teammates to get to the bus after the game.

As for Spencer Hawes, everybody is finally acknowledging just how sick he has apparenty been, which became evident in his play today as he was outplayed by Cal's Ryan Anderson all day. Anderon had 18 points and 14 rebounds while Hawes had 13 and five.


Ugly first half

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:53 PM

Cal leads 35-33 at the end of a first half that had about as much flow as a mud pie.

The Huskies missed six of their first seven shots but actually ended up shooting 12-25 for the half. Unfortunately for them, they are just 6-13 from the free throw line, otherwise they'd have the lead.

Cal is 12-30 from the field, and while UW's defense seems a little better, the Bears are also simply missing a lot of open shots. Omar Wilkes missed a point-blank dunk and Ryan Anderson is 0-4 on three-pointers.

Justin Dentmon has been a sparkplug for the Huskies with six points, four rebounds and three assists continuing his resurgance begun at Stanford, and Hans Gasser has turned in some of his best moments of the season with five points and two rebounds.

But Spencer Hawes continues to struggle, forcing a few too many shots under heavy duress and making just 3-7 for seven points, and Jon Brockman picked up two early fouls and has just four points and three rebounds.

At Cal

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:29 PM

Have arrived at the arena after taking a stroll down Telegraph Ave. and a few of my favorite haunts here --- Sufficient Grounds coffee shop and Fat Slice pizza, where the slices are truly Bosio-sized.

Here's our preview story on today's game focusing on the fact that the season is half-over now and the time for the Huskies to stop talking about being young is over.

Certainly, they have to win today if they are going to make a serious run at anything this season. Cal is 2-2 in conference play but has some serious problems now, especially inside with DeVon Hardin out for another month or so and 7-foot Jordan Wilkes out for the season.

You would think UW's game plan today would be to pound it inside to Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes as much as they can.

Hawes, however, continues to be bothered by a flu bug that started before the Arizona game. His numbers haven't been the same since as he had scored 20 or more points in six of seven games before the Arizona game but has scored just 31 points in the three games since then.

"I don't want to blame it on that, but I can definitely feel it,'' he said. "I'm just trying to get back to normal.''

As for Cal, the two players to watch are 6-10 freshman forward Ryan Anderson (17.2 points per game) and senior PG Ayinde Ubaka (14.3 and 5.2 apg).

And for what it's worth, the magic number for the Huskies today could be 70, given Cal's history this seasaon --- the Bears are 10-0 when holding teams to 70 or fewer points but 0-6 when giving up 71 or more.

January 12, 2007

A couple more notes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:29 PM

A couple other notes of interest as I go through the info from today:

--- I asked Lorenzo Romar if he wishes the team had played another road game or two in the non-conference schedule to prepare for the Pac-10 schedule and he said yes.

"Another road game probably would have been helpful,'' he said.

Particularly since UW is beginning Pac-10 play with five of seven on the road. As Romar pointed out today, he didn't mind that start since UW then gets five of seven at home in conference play. If the Huskies had beaten USC or Stanford, they would have had a chance at being better than .500 after that stretch, then returning home for the bulk of the schedule. Instead, the Huskies are now scrambling at 1-4 just to stay alive in the conference race.

--- About the last offensive possession, Romar pointed out that UW was out of time outs, having used its last one after the two free throws by Anthony Goods with 24 seconds left that put Stanford ahead 77-75. Phil Nelson then threw a bad pass leading to another free throw on the other end with UW getting a last chancce with eight seconds left.

"We pretty much just had to come up in space and see what we could get,'' Romar said.

The result was a three-pointer by Nelson that missed.


Stanford redux

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:30 PM

Just back from UW's practice today at Cal's Haas Pavilion and the Huskies had the look of a team that desperately needs a win.

There was little of the light-hearted end-of-practice dunking or halfcourt shooting that often typifies these workouts. Instead, the Huskies had a serious air about them, knowing the season is in danger of slipping away.

Lorenzo Romar said today that "I don't know if there was a game where I was more unhappy'' than how the Huskies let the Stanford game slip away Thursday night.

The Huskies fell apart in the last four minutes after holding a five-point lead, commiting costly turnovers and ill-advised fouls.

To address a few that have gotten the most attention on this board:

--- Ryan Appleby said he thought he should commit an intentional foul when he fouled Stanford's Anthony Goods with 27 seconds left and the score tied at 75. Goods made both free throws to put SU ahead for good. Romar had told the players after Quincy Pondexter missed his first free throw with 29 seconds left to foul if he missed the second one.

When Pondexter made the second one to tie the game at 75, Romar didn't want the team to foul. But Appleby still thought the coaches wanted a foul. "It was just a misunderstanding,'' Romar said.

Said Appleby: "I thought they kind of wanted us to foul, so that's what I did. It was just a spur-of-the-moment type thing at the end of the game.''

--- Spencer Hawes said he thought about trying to call a time out when he got the ball with just under 45 seconds left when Justin Dentmon saved it after a missed Stanford shot. UW led 74-72 at the time. But Hawes said he then decied to try to pass it out, seeing Pondexter and Brockman down the court, but then got the ball stripped by Lawrence Hill. Hill then made a lay-in and was fouled by Hawes to put SU ahead 75-74. "I was trying to make a step-through pass and he got his hand on it,'' Hawes said.

--- Jon Brockman said he knew UW was down three at the end but he didn't think there was time left to do anything but tip the ball in. Brockman tipped in Phil Nelson's miss on a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left to make it 78-77. "I was hoping maybe I'd get fouled and get a three-point play,'' he said. "I knew we didn't have enough time to kick it back out and try for a three-pointer. It was just kind of how the game rolled.''

--- As for all the criticism of Hawes on this board, it's worth nothing that he's still trying to get over a nasty flu bug that he says has caused him to lose a little weight. He became ill before the Arizona game and his performances haven't been the same since then.

--- Brockman didn't practice much today after playing 37 minutes against Stanford but is expected to be fine tomorrow. With Brockman sitting out, assistant Cameron Dollar worked much of practice as the 10th player.

--- Dentmon tweaked his ankle in practice today but should be okay.

--- Romar said the Huskies will go with the same lineup.

--- There's obviously a lot of debate on here right now about some of Romar's coaching moves. But we saw again today at practice an example of his immense people skills. As the Huskies finished practice, the Cal players began arriving and it was like a receiving line to see all the Bears come over to greet Romar, specifically the likes of Jordan and Omar Wilkes and Jerome Randle, who all gave Romar big hugs.


January 11, 2007

Letting it slip away

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:54 PM

The Huskies were as down after this one as they have been after any game all season. Even Jon Brockman, who is usually able to turn a negative into a positive, seemed just about inconsolable after the Huskies let Stanford steal this one, 78-77.

"We just blew it,'' Brockman said several times.

Indeed they did. UW was just 2-8 from the floor with five turnovers in the final five minutes after taking a 71-66 lead. The Huskies also hit just 1-4 free throws in the final 1:35, including two misses by Spencer Hawes with 1:35 left that could have put the Huskies up three. And there were two costly fouls in the final 40 seconds, including the reach-in by Ryan Appleby that allowed the Cardinal two easy points to take the lead for good.

"We were our own worst enemy down the stretch,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar, who was unusually short in his post-game remarks. "We just didn't play smart, I'll leave it at that.''

Now they are 1-4 and have a long road to get back into contention in the Pac-10. In fact, now it's worth wondering what the Huskies will have to do just to get into the NCAA Tournament as getting to 10 wins --- usually what is necessary to get an at-large bid out of the conference --- obviously won't be easy now.

On the positive side, the Huskies could have won three of the four Pac-10 games they have lost with a little stronger play down the stretch --- USC, Arizona and tonight.

And the biggest positive of tonight was the re-emergence of Justin Dentmon (15 points, 7-9 shooting in 24 minutes).

The Huskies also outrerbounded Stanford 39-30 despite the presence of the Lopez twins and took care of the ball well until those final five minutes, losing 14 for the game.

On the negative, Hawes had maybe his worst overall game, going just 3-12 and having three shots blocked by Robin Lopez and fouling out in 29 minutes. He also missed those two free throws.

He readily accepted blame afterward, however, saying that the presence of the Lopez twins "is no excuse. I have to be ready to play against anything and anyone and I don't think I was.''

UW also again was lax on defense, allowing Stanford to shoot 15-25 (60 percent) in the first half and 30-55 (54.5 percent) for the game.

"They were getting way too many dunks,'' Brockman said.

Dentmon said the Huskies are keeping a stiff upper lip about it all, however, saying he thinks the team is "going through the same thing we were going through last year (when they lost three in a row to start 5-5 in Pac-10 play). We're just going through it at the beginning of the year this year. We just have to stay focused.''

There wasn't a lot of time for interviews afterward, and deadline situations due to the snow at home also left for little time for a lot of great questioning, so I didn't have a chance to ask some of the specific questions a few of you have wondered about. But we'll try to get to some of them tomorrow.

Hanging in

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:15 PM

Considering the way this one started --- with Anthony Goods hitting his first five shots and scoring 13 points before the game was nine minutes old --- the Huskies have to feel pretty good to be down just two at the half.

Jon Brockman has come up big with 10 points while and the Huskies are getting some good contributions from the likes of Phil Nelson and Artem Wallace to offset a subpar game so far from Spencer Hawes. Hawes doesn't often face someone his own size and so far, Robin Lopez is getting the better of him, twice blocking his shot.

There isn't a real raucous atmosphere here as this is the first time in a while that UW is here on a Thursday instead of a Saturday, which may have something to do with it. But so far, the surroundings don't seem like something that should really hinder the Huskies.

At Stanford

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:26 PM

About an hour before tipoff, and the most interesting sight was watching the Lopez twins of the Cardinal and UW's Quincy Pondexter spend a little time at halfcourt talking.

All three grew up in Fresno and played at San Joaquin Memorial High School. At one point, one of the twins gave a playful nudge to Pondexter as they chatted. They obviously have a lot of affection for each other, but they all promise to be all business on the court tonight.

Just in case you didn't see it, I detailed the relationship of the twins and Pondexter in this story today, as well as the fact that the game also marks a reunion of UW's Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman with Stanford guard Mitch Johnson --- all three played on the same AAU team, Friends of Hoop, during their high school years.

"He's one of the funnest teammates I've ever had,'' Brockman said this week. "I have so much respect for him as a person and a player.''

Johnson, interestingly, isn't likely to start tonight. With each of the Lopez twins now in the lineup, Stanford is going with just one guard --- Anthony Goods --- with Johnson coming off the bench. Goods has emerged as a better shooter than Johnson.

Figure outside shooting to be a huge key tonight as both teams are solid inside and likely to collapse on each other inside. The team that can hit the outside shots figures to have a big edge.

Roy takes over rookie scoring lead

Posted by Bob Payne at 4:40 PM

From the Associated Press today:

It is official, Brandon Roy is the NBA's top rookie scorer. But Adam Morrison is close behind.

As of today, Roy was averaging 13.8 points a game for the Trail Blazers. Morrison, who plays for the Charlotte Bobcats, had 13.7.

Roy, sidelined with a heel injury for 19 games this season, qualified on the rookie leader board after playing more than 15 games.

Both top scorers are from the Pacific Northwest. Roy grew up in Seattle and played at Washington, while Morrison grew up in Spokane and played at Gonzaga.

Pac-10-Big 12 series officially announced

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:52 AM

The Pac-10 and the Big 12 conferences have officially announced an agreement to play a four-year men's basketball series of 12 annual games between the two leagues, starting with the 2007-08 season.

How it affects UW is that the Huskies will play at Oklahoma State --- and not Texas A&M as had been originally speculated --- on Dec. 1, 2007. UW also will have a road game at LSU next Dec. 29 and is still trying to get into the pre-season NIT. All of that is much of why the Huskies say they don't want to play Gonzaga next season.

Here is some of the official release from the Pac-10 Conference with quotes from the two conference commissioners:

"This series of games with the Pac-10 will showcase some of the best college basketball in the country," Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg said. "Our two conferences annually produce highly rated teams and multiple NCAA Tournament teams. This series will provide quality match-ups that will help to build the strength of our teams' non-conference schedules. We are excited to have the opportunity to do this with the Pac-10 in a way that allows all of our teams to participate."

The series will continue in 2008, with games slated for December 4-7. The contests scheduled will be return games of the matchups from 2007, but may not be scheduled for the same day of the week. The games in the series in 2009 will be played December 3-6, 2009, while matchups in 2010 will be played December 2-5, 2010.

"We are pleased to make this scheduling arrangement with the Big 12 Conference and its members," Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen noted. "It will enable both conferences to provide exciting, high-level basketball competition. The games will spotlight college basketball in early December and will be excellent programming for our television partners. I commend the coaches of the two conferences for embracing the competition which will enhance the power ratings of all participants."

Additional components of the series, including the name of the event, television and sponsorship will be announced at a later date.

Here is the schedule for next season:

BIG 12 / PAC-10 MEN'S BASKETBALL SERIES
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007
Oregon at Kansas State
Oklahoma at USC

Friday, Nov. 30, 2007
Washington State at Baylor
Iowa State at Oregon State

Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007
Washington at Oklahoma State
Missouri at California

Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007
Arizona State at Nebraska
Stanford at Colorado
Texas at UCLA
Texas A&M at Arizona

Outside the 10-game series window
Arizona at Kansas (Sun., Nov. 25, 2007)
Stanford vs. Texas Tech (Sat., Dec. 22, 2007)
[Neutral Site To Be Determined]

January 10, 2007

What might have been

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:20 PM

I talked for a while this week with Stanford center Brook Lopez, one-half of the Lopez twins tandem that figures to make life difficult for the Huskies in Palo Alto Thursday night.

One of my questions to him concerned his older brother, Alex.

In case you've forgotten, Alex Lopez played for the Huskies in the 1994-95 season and into January of the 1995-96 season before transferring due to a lack of playing time. He finished his career at Santa Clara. Here's an old story from the Times written when Lopez transferred.

What I hadn't known was that the entire Lopez family moved to Seattle when Alex first became a Husky, including little brothers Brook and Robin.

"We moved up to Washington for his first year,'' Brook Lopez said.

Brook said the family had decided to move back to California the next year before Alex made the decision to transfer to live in Fresno near grandparents. Still, it's worth wondering what might have happened had Alex had a good career at UW and the family decided to stay in Seattle. Imagine a frontcourt of Spencer Hawes, Jon Brockman and the Lopez twins.

Brook was obviously young when Alex played at UW and he said he had no real thoughts on what happened with Alex or whether that affected how his family felt about Washington.

The family's mother, Deborah Ledford, was a swimmer at Stanford and had wanted Alex to become a Cardinal, and the twins say they never seriously considered any other school.

Alex Lopez is now the head basketball coach at El Camino Real High in Woodland Hills, Calif.

The main focus of our conversation was the fact that the Lopez twins played on the same high school team as UW forward Quincy Pondexter at San Joaquin Memorial in Fresno. Much of that will be included in a story in Thursday's paper.

But I also asked Brook Lopez about the one time he faced off with Hawes. Hawes recalled earlier this week that the only time they played each other was the final AAU game of Hawes' career. He said he had 35 points and 15 rebounds but that the team the Lopez twins were on won.

Said Brook Lopez: "He has so many post moves he can use against you. He's a great player. He has so much variety. He has his hook shots, he uses the glass well, a lot of bank shots, he can get you up and go around you. He shoots the ball really well.''

Brook Lopez had a back injury earlier in the year but said he's now about 75 percent. He got his first start Sunday when Stanford beat Virginia and figures to start again against UW alongside his brother.

Wednesday wanderings

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:36 AM

Good morning.

I'll refer you first today to a couple of stories in our paper.

First, here's our Pac-10 notebook, with an emphasis on the continuing show of strength by the conference. It's now realistic to think the conference could get six teams in the NCAA tournament --- and that's potentially good news for the Huskies, who might need all the help they can get come March.

Also in the notebook is an item on C.J. Giles and the fact that he did look into coming to UW, but the Huskies --- already full on scholarships --- weren't interested. Also included is a note that UW and WSU have never before been ranked at the same time, and only once (1949-50) have been ranked in the same season.

Next is our Husky notebook, with a lead item on Tim Morris and his possible contribution to Thursday's game at Stanford even though he won't be playing. Morris is sitting out this season as a transfer from The Farm, and will have one year of eligibility next year. He said it's particularly frustrating sitting out this year because he feels he is much-improved and would like to be able to show it on the court. It's easy to overlook when anticipating next season the impact Morris could make.

And in some alumni news, here's a story on Will Conroy being named the Player of the Week in the NBA Developmental League.

If you happen to get NBATV, pay attention for the NBADL Game of the Week. I was flipping through the channels Sunday and saw part of a Tulsa-Arkansas game featuring Conroy.


January 9, 2007

Lineup the same

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:01 PM

The Huskies had their weekly press conference today, and coach Lorenzo Romar said the starting lineup is likely to stay the same when Washington plays at Stanford Thursday.

Romar left open the possibility of a change in part due to the fact that two practices remain this week and also that the flu that Spencer Hawes caught last week has apparently lingered.

But Hawes said he's beginning to get over it and didn't anticipate any problems playing.

The Stanford game features a lot of interesting connections -- Hawes and Jon Brockman are good friends with Stanford guard Mitch Johnson, as they were all teammates on AAU teams; Quincy Pondexter has been lifelong friends with Stanford centers Brook and Robin Lopez; and Tim Morris (sitting out this season) played last year at Stanford.

Morris said today he's telling coaches and players all he knows about what Stanford runs, though he also suspects that the Cardinal will change the names of their plays.

As for the question on TV for Saturday -- it's available on Comcast, which is Channel 14 in Seattle, 76 in Bellingham, 17 in Spokane, 409 on Dish Network and 656 on DirecTV). It's not live on FSN due to other programming. California had already set the time because of its own TV deals in the Bay Area so it could not be moved to a more suitable time for FSN.

January 8, 2007

Cougs ranked, Huskies still in coaches poll

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:08 PM

The new rankings are out and the big news locally is that Washington State is in the rankings for the first time since 1983, when it was actually still just the top 20 and George Raveling was the coach and Craig Ehlo a player.

Here's the coaches poll, which has WSU 23 and UW 24th. I'd have to do some research to find if the two schools have ever been ranked at the same time, but I think it's pretty unlikely.

Here's the AP poll, which has WSU tied for 22nd and UW unranked (technically, the Huskies are 30th if you count the placings out).

And here's how I voted in the AP poll this week.

1, North Carolina
2, Florida
3, Wisconsin
4, Ohio State
5, UCLA
6, Duke
7, Kansas
8, Oklahoma State
9, Arizona
10, Pittsburgh
11, Butler
12, Texas A&M
13, Alabama
14, Oregon
15, LSU
16, Tennessee
17, Memphis
18, Connecticut
19, Nevada
20, Air Force
21, Clemson
22, Washington State
23, Notre Dame
24, Georgetown
25, USC

In retrospect, I'm already feeling that I moved UCLA down too far considering the Bruins lost to a ranked team on the road. But Wisconsin's been really hot of late and I still think Ohio State might be the best team in the nation once Greg Oden gets fully integrated into everything and the Buckeyes looked good in routing Illinois over the weekend. But something will get settled there this week as Ohio State hosts Wisconsin tomorrow then plays at Tennessee Saturday.

You can see I had WSU right where the final poll did. The Cougars deserve it for what they've done of late, including almost winning at UCLA, winning at USC, and beating Arizona at home.

You can also see I'm one of the 11 votes for USC. As someone told me over the weekend, USC might have three pros on its team in Pruitt, Young and Gibson, so I think the Trojans might just keep moving on up.

Giles to Oregon State

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:55 AM

Former Rainier Beach star C.J. Giles, who was dismissed from the team at Kansas earlier this year, is transferring to Oregon State.

Here's the release from the school.

As the release states, he began classes today at OSU and is considered a walk-on, and will not be eligible until after Dec. 8, 2007.

There had been talk that Giles was considering immediately turning pro, but he obviously has decided against that and will resume his collegiate career at OSU.

Ranking the Pac-10

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:13 AM

Either on TV or in person, I was able to see all 10 Pac-10 teams in action over the last few days. What follows is my ranking of the teams, with a few thoughts culled from all those hours of viewing:

1, UCLA --- I think Arizona's starting five is more talented than UCLA's, but the Bruins are deeper, which could make the difference in the long run. One thing I'm not sure gets appreciated enough about UCLA is what a blue-collar team it really is. These guys work hard.

2, Arizona --- One scout told me over the weekend that all five of Arizona's starters have legitimate NBA hopes. Arizona is hardly using its bench at all, however, which could prove costly down the road. The maturation of Mustafa Shakur is making a huge difference and Arizona just seems a more together team this season.

3, Washington State --- The most amazing thing about WSU's win over Arizona was that the Cougars didn't really shoot it all that well. Leading scorer Derrick Low was 1-12 and WSU was 28-65 overall, so it's not as if it was simply a case of the Cougars doing everything right. Almost as impressive was that they blew a seven-point lead in the last minute yet then showed the resilience to win in overtime. They look like they are for real.

4, USC --- Another team that appears to be for real. USC is now 13-4, but the Trojans are a much better team now that Gabe Pruitt is fully back in the fold. If Lodrick Stewart keeps shooting the way he did Saturday (28 points) USC could stay in this thing all the way. One Oregon State player was quoted as saying the Trojans may be more talented than UCLA.

5, Oregon --- Everyone always knew they had talent. Now all those players have matured, and the biggest difference to me seems to be how hard they are playing --- diving on the floor for loose balls, etc. The chemistry just seems a lot better. Oregon's game at Arizona Sunday night will tell a lot more.

6, Washington --- No choice but to downgrade the Huskies a bit after the 0-3 start to the conference season. Still, if UW had beaten USC, which obviously was well within reach, the Huskies would probably be right about where everyone thought heading into the season. Huskies at least showed they could beat a team playing a zone Saturday, something they can probably expect to see more of in coming weeks as teams try to take away Spencer Hawes. Next three games, all on the road, will determine whether Huskies can stay in Pac-10 race.

7, Cal --- Bears looked dead after the loss to injury of center DeVon Hardin, but rebounded by winning two of first three Pac-10 games, all on the road. Bears now have five of next seven at home. Loss of Hardin could be critical against UW this weekend, however.

8, Stanford --- I had them here and then the Cardinal went and won at Virginia Sunday. Still, considering Stanford just lost at home to Cal, it's hard to rank them higher than the Bears. But with the Lopez twins rounding into shape, this is a dangerous team, and with one last non-conference game against Gonzaga later this month, one that can still make a run at the NCAA Tournament.

9, Arizona State --- Not a lot of talent on hand, but Herb Sendek has them playing hard and they will win a few games on effort alone.

10, Oregon State --- Same can't be said of the Beavers, who looked like a team that had quit in their loss to USC Saturday. That was the kind of game that makes you wonder about the future of Jay John, who in his fifth year, doesn't appear to have the Beavers in any better shape than when he took over.

January 7, 2007

It only gets harder

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:01 PM

Watched most of Stanford's win over Virginia today, which only reinforced the notion that the Pac-10 might be the best conference in the country right now.

Stanford had just gotten beat at home by Cal then went cross country to beat what had been a hot Virginia team coming off a rout of Gonzaga. Here's a story on the game.

That win by Stanford takes on extra meaning for the Huskies as that's where UW heads next for a game Thursday in Palo Alto. UW has suffered bitter losses there the past two seasons, particularly a year ago when UW appeared ready to win before Justin Dentmon's foul as the game ended allowed Chris Hernandez to make three free throws and tie the game, with the Cardinal then winning in overtime.

Most ominous for UW about Stanford's win Sunday is that both of the 7-foot Lopez twins appear to be finding their game. With those two fully in the fold now, this is one team that won't give up much, if anything, against UW inside.

Jon Brockman mentioned after Saturday's win over Arizona State that the Bay Area trip is one the returning UW players have had circled for some time. UW also lost at Cal last year, making it the one Pac-10 trip where the Huskies didn't win at least one game (other than the single-game trip to Washington State).

Also, one of you asked about Joe Wolfinger. We had a note on him here the other day after I talked with him before Thursday's game. He basically said that it will be at least two weeks before he has his foot examined again, and then he will take it from there. Even if things looked good, he would then have to get cleared to play, then get in shape, etc. So he's still a ways away from returning, and I think it's still more likely that he sits out the whole season than that he gets on the court.


January 6, 2007

A win's a win

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:01 PM

The Huskies simply needed a win tonight against Arizona State, and that's what they got.

There were no style points in this one, but there aren't going to be against Arizona State, which is quickly replacing Washington State as the least fun team in the conference play. Herb Sendek runs a deliberate style in the best of times, and is really slowing it down this season with the Sun Devils not having the talent to match up most nights.

At least the Huskies were able to persevere.

"You've got to be able to win against different (styles) of teams,'' said guard Ryan Appleby.

Due in large part to Appleby, the Huskies were able to do that. He found his shooting stroke again after an off night against Arizona to lead UW with 20 points while also handling point guard duties for much of the game.

The other statistical star tonight was Jon Brockman, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season in getting back to health after straining a biceps tendon against Weber State --- an injury that was kept quiet until the last few days.

But UW coach Lorenzo Romar felt there were some other stars, as well, citing Adrian Oliver and Artem Wallace. Oliver scored just six points in 32 minutes but played solid defense and had just one turnover. Wallace played just six minutes, but they came in the second half as the Huskies began to finally open up the lead a little bit. Wallace didn't score, but Romar thought his defense was a key.

The Huskies changed up their defenses a little tonight, using man at times and zone at other times. And often when they were in man, they used their bigger players to run out and double the ball on the perimeter, something Romar felt Wallace did particularly well.

For the second straight game, however, UW basically used just seven players --- the starters plus Justin Dentmon and Quincy Pondexter off the bench --- a sign that the rotation is shortening.

Pondexter had just three points, but ASU's defense took away much of UW's transition game, which is where Pondexter often gets a lot of his points. He had just four shots in 18 minutes.

Pretty desultory half

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:53 PM

There's maybe 7,000 fans or so here with many having apparently decided to watch the Seahawks, instead.

They aren't missing much as there hasn't been a lot of excitement to this first half. ASU led early 8-3 and the Huskies haven't been able to put together a big run to put them away. UW leads just 31-28 at halftime thanks mostly to Ryan Appleby's 11 points and the nine of Spencer Hawes.

UW's defense is better as ASU is shooting just 10-23 after making five of its first seven, but UW has eight turnovers and has made just 12-28 shots.

Gameday

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:28 AM

Here's some pre-game reading for you.

First, here's our preview for today's game, which explains further why the Huskies are going with the game lineup and Lorenzo Romar's admission that he might have made a mistake staying in the zone so long against Arizona. Also included are some notes on Justin Dentmon and Jon Brockman's shoulder injury.

Here's a look at the game from the Arizona State viewpoint from the Arizona Republic with the observation that forward Jeff Pendergraph seemed particularly frustrated with the losing during the game at Washington State Thursday night. That's something worth watching tonight, to see how ASU reacts if things start to go poorly for them again.

Elsewhere, it's a big day around the Pac-10, with Oregon holding an early lead on UCLA, USC playing at Oregon State and WSU hosting Arizona. If the games break a certain way, UCLA, Arizona, Washington State and USC could all be tied for the lead in the conference after today with Oregon and Cal a half-game back.

That's just one more reason why it's so critical for UW to win today, as the Huskies can ill afford to fall further behind in what figures to be the most competitive Pac-10 race in seasons.

January 5, 2007

Lineup to stay the same

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:29 PM

UW coach Lorenzo Romar just finished meeting the media here before Friday's practice and said that the starting lineup will remain the same for Saturday's game against Arizona State.

That means the lineup will again consist of Jon Brockman, Spencer Hawes, Adrian Oliver, Ryan Appleby and Phil Nelson.

Romar said he liked the way that lineup began the game and that "that group probably moves the ball better (than the previous starting lineup)'' which he felt contributed to a reduction in turnovers --- UW had just 11 after averaging 21 in the two LA games.

But as Romar quickly added "we have still not soloved the defensive part of it.''

Romar said after viewing the film, he thinks the Huskies stayed in the 2-3 zone too long and that "we should have mixed it up a little bit'' if for no other reason than to give Arizona some different looks.

He said he went to the zone because Arizona had gotten some layups against UW"s man defense, to protect Spencer Hawes (who had three fouls early in the second half) and because he thought the percentages worked in UW's favor to let Arizona shoot from the outside.

But it ultimately didn't work.

Romar also revealed that Jon Brockman suffered a right shoulder injury sometime around the Weber State game on Dec. 22 and was unable to do much shooting in practice last week and most of this week. He said Brockman is fine now, however.

Oregon's Porter eyeing UW

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:36 PM

Opened the mailbox after the game last night to find the latest issue of The Sporting News, which included this interview with Oregon freshman guard Tajuan Porter, who said the team he most wants to play this year is Washington.

Here's a link to the story on the TSN Web site, as well, in which the 5-foot-6 Porter, when asked what game he is most looking forward to this season, says Washington.

He then elaborates to say he's eagerly awaiting UW "because Lorenzo Romar cut me from the USA Basketball team (Romar coached the team this summer). Behind closed doors he tried to sugercoat it. He said he wasn't cutting me because I was short. I can't wait to play Washington. Just to get back at him.''

He'll have to wait a few more weeks, however, as UW and Oregon don't play until Jan. 25 in Seattle. Porter hasn't been starting, but he may have to that night as Oregon's usual point guard, Aaron Brooks, won't be able to play in that game as part of his punishment for the hit he levied on Ryan Appleby at the Pac-10 Tournament last year.

Brooks, by the way, is leading the Pac-10 in scoring at 17.6 per game. Porter has leveled off after a fast start and is at 14.3 per game, 15th in the conference.


The morning after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:27 AM

Here's some further reading material on the events of last night:

--- First, here's a column by the Arizona Daily Star's Greg Hansen, calling Arizona's performance last night one to remember. It's important for Huskies fans to remember, as well, that while UW did some things to lead to the defeat, the Wildcats played exceptionally well themselves.

--- Here's the game story from the Daily Star that highlights how well Arizona played as a team last night, with four players scoring 20 or more points.

--- Here's a story from the Tucson Citizen giving some of the credit for Arizona's win to the fact that the Wildcats played a tough non-conference schedule and were ready to go on the road and win in Pac-10 play.

--- Here's our coverage, which includes this game story, this notebook and this column from Steve Kelley The notebook includes the contrasting reactions from Quincy Pondexter and Justin Dentmon to being benched. Pondexter responded by tying a career-high with 25 points while Dentmon played a career-low 14 minutes and seemed a little confused by it afterward.

The notebook also includes Lorenzo Romar's explanation for the lineup changes.
The game story, meanwhile, details Romar's explanation for staying in the zone defense much of the second half, and the amazement by UW players that Arizona could shoot as well as it did for the entire game.

Basically, the Huskies just didn't think Arizona would be able to win the game by shooting three-pointers. As Romar said, the Huskies took a gamble and lost.

And looking ahead, here's a story from the Arizona Republic on Arizona State's loss last night in Pullman. The story includes the weather problems in Pullman which helped keep the crowd to just 2,504 last night.

We'll have more later from UW's practice when we'll get further explanations on last night and a look ahead to the ASU game on Saturday.

Also, here are a couple of notes that made it into some editions of the paper and online, but not into others:

-- Freshman center Joe Wolfinger had hoped that the New Year would bring a new outlook on his injured foot, which has kept him out all season. Wolfinger was diagnosed with a stress fracture in late September and has had his foot immobilized since. Romar said a few weeks ago Wolfinger might be able to take the boot off and have the foot evaluated shortly after the New Year.

But Wolfinger said Thursday that it will still be two weeks to a month before taking off the boot.

"It's going to be a while,'' he said glumly.

Wolfinger redshirted last year and could return to play this season if he gets healthy. If he doesn't play, he may petition for a sixth year of eligibility.

-- Fans who root for both the Huskies and Seahawks will have a tough decision Saturday as UW's basketball game with Arizona State tips off at 5 p.m. -- the same time the Seahawks' playoff game against Dallas is scheduled to begin.

The time for UW's game was set months ago to fit in with FSN's TV schedule so there is no opportunity to change the time. A UW official said the Huskies might have considered changing the time if not constrained by TV.

The good news for UW is that the game is close to a sellout so the Huskies won't take a financial hit from fans who may decide to watch the Seahawks instead.


January 4, 2007

Great game, tough loss

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:14 PM

Well, you have to admit it was at least entertaining.

And it should be noted that the three teams UW has lost to are now 8-1 in Pac-10 play.

But the Huskies obviously have some major issues, especially on the defensive end, which became evident as the coaches did two things they don't normally do --- play a zone defense and make major lineup changes.

As I detailed elsewhere, tonight's change in starting lineup was the most significant for strictly performance reasons in some time.

Junior Ryan Appleby started in place of Justin Dentmon and freshman Phil Nelson replaced Quincy Pondexter, with UW coach Lorenzo Romar saying a shakeup was necessary in the wake of Sunday's 96-74 loss at UCLA.

"We felt that we hadn't had a very good start in the past couple of games and we wanted to get off to a good start,'' Romar said. "Phil Nelson has been doing a good job for us (and) Appleby understands what we want more than anybody else out there.''

Pondexter reacted the way you'd hope, tying a career-high with 25 points off the bench. Nelson (career-high 16 points) and Appleby (31 minutes, much of it at point guard) also played well enough. But Dentmon continued to struggle, playing a career-low 14 minutes, just five in the second half.

Still, the players seemed to understand.

"If there was a message being sent, I think it got across,'' said Spencer Hawes.

Still, none of that helped UW play any better defense. UW mixed up man and 2-3 zone in the first half, then went almost exclusively with the zone in the second half.
Arizona responded by hitting 16-21 shots in the second half, including 6-10 three-pointers.

Romar said "you could probably blame me for staying in the zone. I didn't think we were doing a very good job in the man defense so I switched to the zone and they began to hit. We didn't think that they would continue but they did. We took a gamble and we lost it.''

Also interesting tonight is that UW played just eight players, a season-low, with Hans Gasser getting just two minutes, meaning only seven players saw significant time.

Romar said afterward he wasn't sure what lineup will start against Arizona State, and it's likely that won't be announced until Saturday.

That game now becomes a true must-win, however. UW's first three Pac-10 losses all make sense, especially seeing how well USC is playing --- the Trojans won at Oregon tonight. But UW absolutely has to beat Arizona State to maintain any claim to being an upper echelon team in the conference.

Three-point shooting key for switch

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:42 PM

As the game started, one reason why UW changed its lineup for tonight became immediately apparent --- Arizona often uses a 1-3-1 zone to defend the Huskies, which often forces UW into taking a lot of 3-point shots.

And Phil Nelson and Ryan Appleby are obviously two of UW's better three-point shooters right now. Starting Nelson, anyway, paid off as he scored five of UW's first 10 points.

Lineup change coming

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:11 PM

After debating things for a few days, the Huskies have decided to alter their starting lineup for tonight's game against Arizona -- freshman forward Phil Nelson will get the first start of his career in place of Quincy Pondexter, and Ryan Appleby will start at point guard for Justin Dentmon.

Coaches are generally not available to talk before the game so there is no explanation yet for the change other than the obvious -- the team needs a win.

Nelson played well in the loss at UCLA, which could be one reason for that change, while Dentmon has had obvious struggles and maybe the coaches think he would benefit from coming off the bench.

The changes were not decided on until today.

They are the first changes to the lineup since early in the season, when Adrian Oliver replaced Appleby at one guard spot, other than when Spencer Hawes didn't start the first game while still recovering from knee surgery.


Previewing Arizona

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:21 AM

It's counting down to the game that figures to go a long way toward determining the course of Washington's season.

Some might argue that's overstating the case just a bit. But an 0-3 start in this conference this season will be hard to overcome in terms of competing for the Pac-10 title. The good news is that after tonight, UW will have two of its four games against what right now look to be the two teams in the conference --- UCLA and Arizona --- out of the way.

Here's some reading material on the game from Tucscon.

First, here's a preview from the Arizona Republic (and the Tucson Citizen) stating that Arizona will try to become the first team this season to outrebound the Huskies, while the Huskies will try to cut down on their turnovers.

Arizona, as the story points out, was outrebounded 36-27 by Stanford last Saturday, and the Huskies, statistically, are a better rebounding team than the Cardinal. Arizona, however, spent a lot of the game putting its big men near the perimeter to try to draw Stanford's big men out of the paint, something Arizona figures to try to do again tonight.

Here are some notes on the game from the Arizona Daily Star, including a look back at last season's epic contest in Seattle.

And here's an intersting story from the same paper on some of the players who have transferred out of Arizona in recent seasons in search of more playing time, similar to the situation the Huskies just faced with Harvey Perry.


January 3, 2007

Hawes-Oden in second round?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:16 PM

ESPN's latest Bracketology is out and at least someone still has some faith in the Huskies.

Joe Lunardi lists Washington as a No. 7 seed in the East and facing Missouri State in the first round. If UW were to win, Lunardi has UW playing Ohio State in the second round, a matchup of two of the premier freshmen centers in basketball in the Huskies' Spencer Hawes and Ohio State's Greg Oden.

Lunardi lists five Pac-10 teams in the field --- UCLA as a one, Arizona as a two, Oregon as a five, UW, and Washington State as a 12. He also lists USC as one of his last four teams not to make it in, meaning he almost put in six Pac-10 teams.

The Pac-10 has had six teams in only once (2001-02) and hasn't had five since the 2002-03 season.

He also positions Gonzaga as a No. 6 seed in the West but playing in Chicago.

That's interesting since Spokane is a first-round site this year, and Gonzaga could play there because the Spokane Arena is not Gonzaga's home court and the Zags will play only two games there this season. A few weeks ago, it was tempting to think both Gonzaga and UW could be sent to Spokane. But as each struggles, each also runs the risk of having to play far away from home should it make it in the field.

Washington State is the official host for the Spokane site, meaning the Cougars could not play there. In Lunardi's bracket, the Cougars are headed to Columbus, where the Huskies were sent in 2004.

Huskies out of my top 25

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:00 PM

Okay, so I'm ready for all your slings and arrows, but I left the Huskies out of the top 25 this week when I sent in my ballot for the AP writer's poll.

And the Pac-10 team I replaced them with is Washington State, which now has a better overall record, a better conference record, a higher RPI and a better record against teams ranked in the top 100 in the RPI, not to mention simply playing better this weekend against the same two foes as the Huskies.

All the RPI information can be found here courtesy of Ken Pomeroy's blog.

So here's my ballot for this week:

1, UCLA
2, North Carolina
3, Duke
4, Wisconsin
5, Florida
6, Arizona
7, Ohio State
8, Alabama
9, Kansas
10, Oklahoma State
11, Pittsburgh
12, Butler
13, Texas A&M
14, Connecticut
15, Notre Dame
16, Oregon
17, Tennessee
18, Memphis
19, LSU
20, Marquette
21, Purdue
22, Nevada
23, Air Force
24, Clemson
25, Washington State

And speaking of Pomeory's, here's his updated Washington team page in which he has the Huskies starting out 1-7 in Pac-10 play and going 8-10 in conference play and 18-12 overall.

I think that would spell an NIT berth if that comes to pass.

January 2, 2007

Smith back later this month

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:28 PM

Just back in town after the trip to Los Angeles, and didn't get to Lorenzo Romar's weekly press briefing today.

But Jayda Evans, who covered it for us, reports that Romar said that Joel Smith has ditched his crutches and is only wearing a boot. At practice he'll remove the boot and do some light walking and sliding drills. If he continues to heal and not feel pain, Romar expects Smith to return this month.

So that sounds like good news for adding to UW's backcourt, both in terms of defense and scoring.

And as we've reported here before, Smith says he wants to play this year and not redshirt, so that's not an issue.

January 1, 2007

The day after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:08 AM

A quick note to pass along the stories from today:

First, here's our game story from today with some telling quotes from Jon Brockman at the bottom about how the team got "a slap in the face'' about the realities of Pac-10 basketball.

Here's our notebook with a lead on Justin Dentmon accepting the blame for not leading the team the way he wanted at point guard.

And here's Steve Kelley's column with some good quotes from the coaches about how youth has to stop being an excuse for the Huskies.

Here also is the new coaches poll with the Huskies still at No. 20.


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