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Husky Men's Basketball Blog

Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies. E-mail Bob.

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February 28, 2007

On turnovers and pace

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:41 PM

In the wake of the post earlier today on Justin Dentmon, one reader wondered whether UW's slower pace this year might somewhat render irrelevant any statistical comparisons to previous seasons.

That's a good point. So I turned to Ken Pomeroy's site where you can find a wide variety of stats, including possessions per 40 minutes --- the most relevant in this discussion.

The findings were a little surprising as Washington's pace of play isn't dramatically different than it has been.

This year, UW has 71.3 possessions per 40 minutes, which ranks 39th in the country. Last year, UW averaged 72.3 possessions per game --- a difference, obviously, of just one per game, not really enough, you wouldn't think, to really impact the stats all that much.

In 2005, UW had 73.8 possessions per game, and in 2004 the Huskies were at 75.4, which ranked seventh in the country.

Washington State, by way of comparison, averages 61.6 possessions per 40 minutes this season, showing that the Huskies are still playing at a lot quicker pace than the Cougars.

The Huskies just aren't quite as effecient, however. The Huskies are averaging 77.9 points per game to WSU's 66.5.

Dentmon vows to come strong

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:22 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 27, 2007

Huskies holding chin up

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:03 PM

This was the last regular Tuesday press conference of the year for the Washington Huskies, and despite finding themselves in a position they never envisioned, they insisted the rest of the season still holds meaning.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar talked again of the team still having a chance at winning the Pac-10 Tournament next week.

"We are definitely capable (of that),'' Romar said. "It's a strong league and there are a lot of teams that are capable. We are one of those teams.''

To that end, winning two this week --- or at least competing --- is important.

"We've got to play well this weekend,'' said UW forward Jon Brockman. "We can't just expect miracles to happen in Los Angeles.''

Players and Romar said practice Monday went well even though UW is mired in its longest losing streak since 2004.

"Guys were getting after it,'' said center Spencer Hawes. "It was intense. Just like any normal practice.''

The Huskies are currently tied with Cal for seventh in the Pac-10. The team that finishes seventh will likely be able to avoid UCLA in the second round of the Pac-10 Tournament.

Cal hosts Arizona and Arizona State this week, meaning the Bears could easily end up with at least one win.

The tiebreaker for determing seeds is:

1, Head-to-head --- not applicable since the two teams split.

2, Each team's record vs. the top team in the conference and then continuing down until one team gains an advantage. UW can take the edge here by beating either USC or UCLA. Right now, Cal would have the edge, believe it or not, due to sweeping Oregon State --- the two teams have the same results the rest of the way.

3, Won-lost percentage vs. All D-I opponents. UW would have the edge here if it got this far.


Conroy to Clippers

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:10 PM

Lorenzo Romar just told us that Will Conroy has been picked up by the Los Angeles Clippers, apparently for another 10-day contract.

That will give Conroy a homecoming as the Clippers are here to play the Sonics in Seattle on Thursday.

The Clippers will host the Sonics Wednesday night, and Conroy may be in uniform for that game.

Conroy was with Memphis for 10 days earlier this month, then let go at the end of that contract. He had been back in the NBA DL playing for Tulsa.

Here is Conroy's player page from the NBA DL where he was averaging 15.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Here, also, are his stats from his stint in Memphis.

February 26, 2007

More on Overton

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:10 PM

I'll try to address a few of the questions that have arisen regarding today's news on Venoy Overton:

--- First, I think the scholarship situation may be just this simple --- Tim Morris becomes a walk-on, if needed, and Darnell Gant may not make it in due to grades. From what I know, this has nothing to do with anything regarding Spencer Hawes. But obviously if he leaves, that opens up another scholarship. Two of those three is all that is needed to happen to make this work out.

--- From what I've been told, the UW coaches really value Overton for his defense, quickness and athleticism. UW's guards have had trouble defending all season and it's thought Overton could make a big difference there immediately, on top of whatever offense and ballhandling he will add.

--- As for Overton, he was rated as the No. 26 PG in the country this year by Rivals.com.

Here's the Star Times list for Saturday that included Overton and has his stats.

Here's a Sideline Smitty column from earlier this year that included this quote from an anonymous coach that "I don't know if there is a player who works as hard as he does on both ends of the court for 32 minutes.''

Here's the story from the final game of the state tournament last year when Overton scored 20 points as Franklin won going away.

--- It sounds as if Overton began reconsidering his recruiting after USC took a commitment in November from Brandon Jennings, a Class of 2008 player regarded as one of the best junior point guards in the nation. That was on top of the signing of O.J. Mayo, who may also play some point guard. So it sounds as if USC knew there was a chance they might lose Overton, but took that risk to take those other players. Overton committed to USC in September but didn't sign due to concerns over his academics.

--- As for Jamelle McMillan, he originally committed to North Carolina State, where his father, Nate, played. That was when Herb Sendek was coach. When Sendek went to Arizona State, McMillan followed him there.

Huskies get surprise commitment

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:09 PM

The Washington Huskies got a big surprise gift today --- a commitment from Franklin High point guard Venoy Overton.

Here's the story that will soon be posted on our website:

The University of Washington has taken a big, and somewhat unexpected, step toward solving its point guard woes by getting a commitment from Venoy Overton of Franklin High.

Overton, a 6-foot senior, had been committed to USC but said Monday he is changing his mind and will sign with UW in April.

"I just did a lot of thinking over the last few weeks that this would be the best thing for me and my family,'' Overton said.

Overton committed to USC last September but did not sign an official letter-of-intent.

While the Huskies appear to be full of scholarships for next season, Overton said he will be on full scholarship.

UW had had troubles at point guard this season with sophomore Justin Dentmon struggling.

Overton said the opportunity to make an immediate impact at that spot played a big role in his decision to change his mind.

"They said they really needed a point guard,'' Overton said.

Overton said UW "was always my top choice'' but that "I just got caught into that whole USC thing'' when he committed to the Trojans last September.

Overton said another factor in changing his mind was "I'm not sure about the playing time and how packed in it is there and how I would fit in. I feel it's a better fit for me at UW.''

USC's recruiting class includes guard O.J. Mayo, considered by some as the top high school player in the country.

"Now I get to play against him,'' Overton said.

Overton said he made the announcement Monday so he can concentrate on playing in the state tournament for Franklin.

"I wanted to get this out of the way so I could just play basketball,'' he said.

Overton was named to the Star Times team last week after averaging 21.7 points and 5.7 assists this year for Franklin, which is 21-2 and the top-ranked 4A team in the state.

Overton said he talked with USC coaches to tell them the news. "It was tough, but they understood,'' he said.

FURTHER COMMENT ---

The obvious question is how the Huskies will fit him in, given that they already have at least 13 scholarships committed for next year. My answer at the moment is I don't know.

Here's how next year's roster now looks:

07-08 roster

SENIORS
G - Ryan Appleby
G - Tim Morris

JUNIORS
G - Justin Dentmon
F - Jon Brockman
F - Artem Wallace
G - Joel Smith

SOPHOMORES
C - Joe Wolfinger
C - Spencer Hawes
F - Quincy Pondexter
F - Phil Nelson
G - Adrian Oliver

FRESHMEN
F - Matthew Bryan-Amaning
F - Darnell Gant
G - Justin Holiday
G - Venoy Overton
TOTAL 15.

Maybe this is a sign that Spencer Hawes is for sure out the door, since him leaving is the most logical way that a scholarship opens. For today, the big news is simply that the Huskies have taken a definite step toward solving what has been an obvious problem this season.

UPDATED COMMENT --- Remember that Tim Morris can move to walk-on status if necessary. Also, there are apparently some concerns over Darnell Gant's academics, which would also open up a scholarship.

UPDATED --- Here's a profile of Overton from Rivals.com.

Poll position

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:37 PM

Just two weeks left of regular season polls.

Here's this week's AP poll.

And as always, here's mine:

1, Ohio State
2, UCLA
3, Kansas
4, Texas A&M
5, Florida
6, Wisconsin
7, Memphis
8, North Carolina
9, Georgetown
10, Washington State
11, Nevada
12, Southern Illinois
13, Louisville
14, Texas
15, Pitt
16, Virginia Tech
17, Vanderbilt
18, Maryland
19, Virginia
20, Butler
21, UNLV
22, USC
23, Michigan State
24, Duke
25, Oregon

You can see I differ a little on the order of the Pac-10 teams. But I also don't quite get why the Cougars would fall more than Pitt would. I decided, based on the recent game between the two teams and the way each has played of late, that Louisville had to be rated ahead of Pitt.


Monday mismash

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:55 AM

Time to start looking ahead, which is what I tried to do in today's story where I attempted to break down where the Huskies go from here. Basically, they are heading to the NIT barring a miracle run through the Pac-10 Tournament, where the Huskies will now have to play four games instead of three to win it.

I was remiss Sunday not to link a couple columns from our paper: first, this from Blaine Newnham talking to Marv Harshman about both the Huskies and Cougars. Like everybody else, Harshman pins many of UW's problems on Justin Dentmon; next, there is this from Steve Kelley on Brandon Roy, in town to play the Sonics tonight.

A lot of you have asked why the Oregon-Washington rivalry has become so heated. I attempted to explain that, from a football side, anyway, a few years ago
in this story here.
A couple of positives lost in all the spotlight on the Brooks-Appleby thing were the play of Quincy Pondexter and Phil Nelson.

Pondexter scored 13 points for the second straight game after having not hit double figures since Jan. 27. Pondexter hit 12-19 shots for the weekend and looked more assertive going to the basket then he had in quite a while, especially against Oregon. The up-tempo nature of the game surely helped him against the Ducks.

Nelson had scored just three points in the previous five games but broke out for 10 against the Ducks. He said afterward he felt comfortable at Mac Court, where he played often while in high school.

Adrian Oliver also tossed in seven against the Ducks, meaning the four true freshmen scored 50 of UW's 85 points, the most since the Arizona home game Jan. 4.

February 25, 2007

The day after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:47 AM

The Aaron Brooks-Ryan Appleby dust-up figures to be remembered forever now.

Maybe it would have faded away a bit if last nght's game hadn't developed the way it did.

But everything that happened Saturday --- from Appleby's refusal to take Brooks' hand before and after to the way the two played on the floor as the two leading scorers in the game --- will put this one in permanent UW-Oregon lore.

Here's our coverage today, including this game story and notebook.

Here's more from the Eugene Register-Guard including this column by Ron Bellamy that delves more deeply into Brooks' thoughts on it all, and this game story.

To address one question raised on here that the stories may not answer of why did the other UW players take Brooks' hand when Appleby didn't? Spencer Hawes said it what happened was between Brooks and Appleby and it wasn't for the other Husky players to get involved. Also, Brooks went around to some of the other UW players before he got to Appleby, and all of the Huskies said they had no idea what Appleby was going to do --- he hadn't told them, apparently.

But the other Huskies thought it definitely fired up Appleby, Phil Nelson saying "he feeds off'' that kind of emotion.

It was interesting after the game as the players milled about on the court with family and friends. Appleby stood near the UW bench talking with a few people, Brooks was over in the corner near on the same side talking with a few friends. They never seemed to make eye contact.

But a few Huskies acknowledged Brooks with brief handshakes or nods and when Lorenzo Romar playfully sunk a shot from out-of-bounds, about 35 feet from the basket, Brooks grabbed a ball and tried to match it. Brooks' shot went off the front rim and the two exchanged what appeared to be some brief good-hearted banter.

Point is, I think everybody had their own feelings on this issue, and were resolving them in their own way.

As for the two teams meeting again this year, as it stands now, they are in opposite brackets of the Pac-10 Tournament and wouldn't meet until the championship game if each got that far.

February 24, 2007

Oregon post-game

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:53 PM

Much of the media focus afterward, as might be expected, was on the Ryan Appleby-Aaron Brooks issue.

Appleby had said it would be a gametime decision whether he would accept Brooks' traditional pre-game handshake, and when the time came, he said he didn't because he still felt "disrespected'' from what happened last year.

"I'm not going to acknowledge someone like that,'' Appleby said.

Brooks said that "if he didn't want to shake my hand, that's on him. I can't dwell on that. We had a basketball game to win.''

Thanks to Brooks' 30 points, the Ducks did just that.

"We have to give it up to Aaron Brooks,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "He really carries this team and that's why he's up for Player of the Year for this conference.''

Romar said he was proud of the team's effort, which was a far cry from the uninspired outing at Oregon State.

"The Pit was phenomenal,'' Romar said. "I haven't heard it this loud in years. I was proud of our guys for how they handled that.''

Romar said the difference was simply that "Oregon was the better team tonight.''

UW shot an even 50 percent --- solid, but not good enough to offset the Ducks, who were 11-18 in the second half and 25-46 for the game. UW also again lost the turnover battle, losing 15 while forcing just eight.

Oregon had a 40-18 edge in free throws attempted. But again, a lot of that came late as the Ducks attempted 14 in the final 3:07 as the Huskies tried to rally.

UW has now lost four in a row, its longest losing streak since the 0-5 conference start in 2004.


Crazy half

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:15 PM

At least it's exciting.

The Huskies were in control for a little while with that 30-19 run built on 17 points by Ryan Appleby, obviously intent on making a statement.

But Appleby was slowed a little after the Ducks moved 5-6 guard Tajaun Porter off of him and instead used Bryce Taylor and Aaron Brooks as defenders.

That helped spark a 21-3 Oregon run that has this place rocking.

Appleby refuses Brooks' handshake

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:30 PM

Ryan Appleby is sure to hear it from the Oregon crowd now.

As the teams set up for the jump, Aaron Brooks tried to shake his hand. Brooks held the hand out for quite some time but Appleby, with his hands on his knees, didn't budge, inciting a loud boo from the crowd and a derisive chant of "Appleby'' from the student section on UW's first possession.

Obviously, he hasn't quite forgiven and forgotten. But I'm not sure he did UW any favors as the crowd is even more into it now, if that's possible here.


At Mac Court

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:54 PM

I've arrived at Mac Court, wading through a few hundred students waiting outside for the doors to open on my way.

The Oregon looks in prime form for UW's annual visit --- I saw a few fans holding up "Have fun in the NIT'' signs, and one guy holding a photo of Ryan Appleby with his face bloodied after the hit from Aaron Brooks in the Pac-10 tournament last year. Hopefully that part of it doesn't get too ugly.

The bigger picture is the Huskies are going to have to really bring it to get a win here today. As I pointed out from Pitt, I didn't think that was a very intimidating environment at all, nothing like the Huskies will get here today, and UW has yet to show this year it can stand up to a real crazy crowd, getting blown out at Gonzaga, WSU, Arizona and UCLA. The Huskies did hang in against Stanford, which is on a par in terms of environment with most of the others. But overall, that's not much of a track record.

The first five minutes will likely tell a lot. In most of the previous road blowouts, the Huskies fell down big early and never recovered. They've got to get some confidence from the start tonight.

UW has won here the last two years and hasn't won three straight here since 1980-82.

Also to watch tonight --- Spencer Hawes needs just 11 points to pass Mike Hayward for the most points by a freshman in UW history. Hayward had 406 in the 1987-88 season.

Brooks seeks first win vs. Huskies

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:23 AM

I wrote a lot today about Aaron Brooks in our preview story for tonight's game as he's an obvious angle due to his Seattle ties and the flareup with Ryan Appleby last year. The two haven't been on the same court since then.

But included in the story is, I thought, a pretty telling quote from Lorenzo Romar about the difference in makeup of this year's team vs. those of the last few seasons.

I'll reprint it here:

"Those were some unique individuals,'' Romar said, recalling the likes of Bobby Jones, Nate Robinson and Will Conroy. "Those were three underdogs that had never been pampered, always had people say 'I don't think you're good enough.' They'd always been the underdog --- Nate was told he was too small, Will Conroy 'you're not good enough,' Bobby Jones was underrecruited. So those guys had that in them. The makeup of our team for the most part here is guys who have been good early, and they have to learn that.''

Basically, he's saying the previous group had always had to work for everything while this group has been used to having things come a lot easier. Maybe that's one reason this team has often seemed to have trouble finding the needed fire for games, especially on the road.

February 23, 2007

Stuckey to declare for NBA?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:39 PM

Surfing the net, I found another interesting story to pass along, this one saying that Eastern Washington's Rodney Stuckey is likely to declare for the NBA Draft.

Stuckey has said many other times this year that he is likely to be back, and as far as I know, this is the first time he's said he will look at the NBA. He says in the story he'll declare without signing with an agent, so he'll at least have the option of returning.

But Cheney could look a long way away once he starts thinking of the NBA, especially considering what a disappointing year this has been for the Eagles, who may not even make the Big Sky Tournament.

Loss at Oregon embarrassing?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:07 PM

I realize this is a Husky blog and the Cougars and Ducks are topics about as dear to the heart as paying taxes and wiping gutters.

That said, I saw this a little while ago on Foxsports.com and wondered if it seemed a little out of line.

Here's the link to the college basketball front page, which shows a picture of Tony Bennett with the caption saying that "Washington State came crashing down from a five-game winning streak with a thud in an embarrassing loss to Oregon.''

Really? Embarrassing?

Set aside hatred of the Cougars and Ducks for the big picture. Is a five-point road loss against the No. 23 ranked team in the country really "embarrassing?" Would it be called "embarrassing'' if a Duke team ranked No. 9 lost to, say, a Wake Forest team ranked No. 23 (that seems about the same on the rivalry scale)?

And the headline --- "Free Falling.'' Really? A WSU team having its best season ever that lost a single game on the road against the No. 23-ranked team in the country after winning five in a row is "Free Falling?''

No offense, but the Huskies probably wouldn't mind a collapse like that right about now.

Guess the Pac-10's right back where it always has been on the old national respect-o-meter.

In Eugene

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:49 PM

I'm Eugene and just back from the end of Washington's practice and the beginning of Oregon's, where we talked with players and coaches on both sides.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar insisted that the team will bounce back, saying "I think that loss took a lot out of us but I think we will recover.''

The question now is recovering to what. It's pointless now to do much speculating about UW's post-season hopes. It's either win the Pac-10 Tournament and get the conference's automatic bid, or go to the NIT.

For the record, Romar said today the Huskies would accept an NIT bid, though he was quick to say that doesn't mean he's accepting that as UW's fate. He said he's holding out hope of an NCAA bid and won't concede until it's official there can't be one.

But UW's RPI took a fatal hit last night, dropping to 94 today. Not that it's really worth talking about.

For now, this team has to figure out how to win a few games against good teams. UW has three left against NCAA Tournament-bound teams, all teams that should be playing at full strength.

In the portion of practice we watched today, the Huskies were working a lot on entry passes and transition defense, two things that have failed this team often. Oregon State greatly exposed UW's backcourt Thursday night. The Beavers play aggressively --- they lead the Pac-10 in steals when considering conference games only at 7.38 per game and had 14 against the Huskies. Expect Oregon to also get after UW's guards.

To answer a few things I've seen on here:

--- Hans Gasser is a scholarship player for UW and always has been one, though there was briefly talk two years ago of him becoming a walk-on to free up a scholarship. He was recruited by Romar and not Bob Bender and was part of Romar's first full recruiting class.

--- UW may go after adding some help in the backcourt if it can figure a way to make the numbers work. For now, the Huskies are full up for the next two years, but these coaches are also always working, so nothing they do would surprise me in terms of trying to add some backcourt help, especially of the JC kind. UW tried to do just that last spring with the recruitment of Blake Young, who ended up at Kansas State.

--- For now, there's little the Huskies can really do lineup wise with just 10 healthy players, so expect to see the same lineup the rest of the way. The Huskies have to hope Justin Dentmon can begin to turn it around just enough to get some confidence heading into the off-season. He admitted last night he's "real, real frustrated'' at the way his season has gone, but also insisted that he isn't giving up, saying "I'll be back.'' Those comments were included in this story here.

--- There will undoubtedly be a lot of media focus tomorrow on the first meeting between Aaron Brooks and Ryan Appleby since the incident at the Pac-10 Tournament last March. Both players met the media today and said their issues are in the past, though Appleby admitted he's not sure how he will react tomorrow if Brooks reaches out his hand or otherwise greets him. I'll have more on that in the paper Saturday.

February 22, 2007

Aftermath of a disaster

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:17 PM

It's hard to even know what to say after that one.

I could break down a few numbers --- like how UW lost its most turnovers (21) since the UCLA game on Dec. 31, or how the Huskies allowed Oregon State to get a season-high 14 steals (admittedly one and the same), or how UW got just three points off its bench.

But mostly, it's just time to realize that this team is unlikely to become the team everyone thought it would at the beginning of the season. More often than not, this is how it has played this season --- seemingly without passion on defense and without chemistry on offense.

A few of us talked to Brandon Roy at halftime and asked him what he thought was going on and he mentioned "inexperience and inconsistency with their guard play.''

That probably about covers it in a nut shell, and you saw all of that tonight.

UW again came out flat, passive, unfocused --- whatever words you want to use --- and let Oregon State take control early, signs of a team that hasn't yet realized what it takes to win on the road, or win consistently.

And the guards were again a mess. Justin Dentmon and Ryan Appleby combined to go 5-20 from the field with nine turnovers and just six assists. Appleby didn't hit a three-pointer until the final minute and Dentmon had six turnovers by himself.

And don't be fooled by the three throw totals. The refs weren't a factor in this one even though OSU shot 42 free throws to UW's 10. Instead, the Huskies tried to get back in the game by fouling --- smart, considering OSU's free throw shooting woes --- and the Beavers attempted 28 in the final two-and-a-half minutes.

The UW locker room was predictably somber and the Huskies were as harsh on themselves as anyone else could be.

Asked if it was embarassing to play like that in front of Brandon Roy, Jon Brockman said "that was an embarassing performance in front of anyone.''

Brockman said that "everyone knows we should be playing better'' but seemed perplexed at what the problems are.

"But we've got to figure something out,'' he said. "I'm not the type of person to belly up and roll over.''

UW coach Lorenzo Romar, meanwhile, all but admitted that the NCAA Tournament hopes are dead after having remained optimistic until now. "With this loss it makes it real tough to get an at-large berth,'' he said.

UW is also now almost certainly relegated to being the No. 7 seed (or maybe even No. 8) at the Pac-10 Tournament, meaning it would have to win four games in four days to take that title --- something that is impossible to envision right now.


NIT here they come

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:46 PM

There's 3:56 left and seemingly little hope for UW in a game that seals their fate barring an unlikely run through the Pac-10 Tournament (guess we have to include that caveat just in case).

To answer a few questions --- all that is needed for an NIT invite is a winning record and UW is actually assured of that since the worse the Huskies could do is 16-15.

I'm sure they would be invited as the NIT always needs big names, especially on the West Coast. And I'm also sure they would go since they can obviously use all the experience they can get.

Just in case I'm wrong and UW comes back, I'll post again.

Otherwise, this may be it until after the game.

All they need is a miracle

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:40 PM

The Huskies got one once here three years ago, down 16 with about six minutes left, to pull out a win that started that team on its way to the NCAA Tournament from an 0-5 start.

But this game has none of that feel as the Huskies simply looked befuddled against what is an Oregon State team not even playing all that well itself.

To answer one question, UW has yet to make a three-pointer, going 0-8. UW has made at least two in every game this season.

Huskies in trouble

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:13 PM

Sorry for no halftime report. Went to talk to Brandon Roy --- I'll have some of that later.

But UW is now down 31-24 and looking in serious trouble. Hawes and Brockman combined for just six shots in the first half, almost all the result of rebounds putbacks, out of 27 total shots for the Huskies. They have to change that percentage in a hurry to win this one.

Brandon Roy in the house

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:39 PM

Too bad he can't play, but maybe just seeing Brandon Roy behind the bench will give the Huskies a little spark.

Roy just walked into the building and is sitting behind the UW bench, evidently having made the drive down from Portland. Pretty sure it's the first time he's been at a UW game this season.

Roy is the one wearing a Mariners' cap.


Sluggish start

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:22 PM

This is really bad basketball so far, and the Huskies had better start showing some life or they could be in real trouble.

There isn't much of a crowd here and I've heard more noise at a mime concert, but UW isn't using it to its advantage. Instead, the Huskies seem lulled to sleep by the atmosphere.

Worst news of all is that Spencer Hawes has two fouls and no shots attempted.


USC game on delayed TV

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:30 PM

A quick note to pass along --- the USC game next Thursday will be televised on a delayed basis on FSN-NW at 9:30 p.m.

There will be no live telecast of the game in any form, so you won't find it on a dish or anything. But Fox will record the game for a delayed telecast that night following the UCLA-Washington State game.

In Corvallis

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:08 PM

The drive down here was pretty easy, though there were a few rain storms.

There are 53 minutes remaining until tipoff as I write this and this is as empty an arena as I have been in this year at a similar point before gametime. This is often a rowdy environment, but OSU's losing ways have led to a real drop in attendance this year, and the early start time tonight could depress it even further. All possible plusses for the Huskies.

When I arrived about a half hour ago, C.J. Giles was going through a fairly intense workout and laid down a mammoth dunk off a lob that had the basket shaking for a minute or so. He's obviously had issues off the court, but if he keeps to the straight and narrow, he will make the Beavers a much tougher team the next few years.

Off to Corvallis

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:49 AM

I'm just about to begin the drive to Corvallis for the latest "must-win'' game for the Huskies, a phrase, I'll admit, but has been overused by all of us this season. It's just been the weird nature of this season that the Huskies keep seeming to have a chance.

The time for that is just about over, however ---- the Huskies have to win two this weekend, which is why I decided to write about their NCAA Tournament chances one more time today.

I talked with former UCLA coach Steve Lavin, who is now an analyst for ESPN, for a while Wednesday after hearing that he has been consistently predicting that the Huskies are going to make it in. He did so again Sunday, saying he expects UW to win its last four games and make it in, possibly as the seventh seed from the conference.

I asked Lavin flatout if he was just being nice to Lorenzo Romar, who is a good friend. No, he insisted.

"They really remind me of our team in 2000,'' Lavin said, then began telling me the story of the 1999-2000 Bruins who started off 4-8 in Pac-10 play, then won their last six to get an at-large bid. That got the Bruins in at 10-8 in Pac-10 play and 19-11 overall. That team beat only two ranked teams all year, but one was No. 1 Stanford on the road late in the season.

The Bruins went on to advance to the Sweet 16.

I asked Lavin why he thinks the Huskies are going to pull it off.

"This conference is so strong this year, you can be improving incrementally but not necessarily see the wins and losses,'' Lavin said. "When I look at the games they played, the strength of the Pac-10, the fact that they fared well against Pitt in a tough environment, that they've won five of seven games in a league that is going to send at least six to the tournament and you factor in all of their young players --- you just know they are going to learn from those experiences.''

To further preview tonight's game, here's a little reading:

First, here's a story from the Oregonian assessing the tournament chances of the entire Pac-10.

And here are a pair of interesting stories from the Corvallis Gazette-Times. First, a story on OSU coach Jay John getting a vote of confidence despite being headed to a fourth losing season in five years; and a look at a pair of redshirting OSU players, including C.J. Giles.

February 21, 2007

Romar turns down USA Basketball job

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:40 PM

One byproduct of Washington's planned trip to Greece next summer is that Lorenzo Romar will not return as a coach for USA Basketball.

Romar coached the American team to the FIBA Americas U18 Championships last summer, a roster that included Spencer Hawes.

As part of a desire by USA Basketball for more continuity in the program, Romar was asked if he wanted to coach the U-19 team this summer for the FIBA World Championships --- many of the same players are expected to return, simply moving up a year in category.

"They're trying to keep the teams together the way the Europeans do,'' Romar said this week.

But Romar said no, citing his demands with the Huskies.

"We're planning on going to Greece and I thought it was to much to do it again this year,'' Romar said.

Romar said he "hated'' to have to say no because of the fact that so many of the same players will take part and that the tournament will be held in Vancouver, B.C.

DePaul's Jerry Wainright is expected to be the head coach, instead. He was an assistant for Romar last summer.

Here's a wrapup of the team's activities last summer.

Interesting story on Pac-10 officiating

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:42 AM

This is a few days old, but here is a real intersting story on officiating in the Pac-10, including a listing of the top-ranked officials in the conference as judged by the conference itself.

Verne Harris, the top-ranked official, just did the UW-WSU game. Harris also was the lead official on what was probably the most controversially officiated Husky game of the season --- the double-overtime loss at USC when the host Trojans attempted 38 free throws and the Huskies 12.

Dick Cartmell, you may recall, is an official who works a lot of Gonzaga games and didn't work as many in the Pac-10 last year, but this year has done a number of conference games. Among the notable UW games Cartmell has officiated this year were Arizona (home), Stanford (away) and at Gonzaga.


February 20, 2007

On Nelson and not playing

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:59 PM

A couple of you have asked why Phil Nelson didn't play against Pitt Saturday.

I think it's as simple as looking at his numbers of late --- he hadn't scored in his three games prior to Pitt and had just two points in each of the two before that.

The official reason was simply that other guys were playing better, namely Adrian Oliver, who set a career-high with 32 minutes against Pitt.

The Pitt game wasn't real up-and-down, so the Huskies didn't need to go deep into the bench, and they didn't, with six players getting all but 17 of the minutes.

Nelson today said "I didn't expect it'' that he didn't play at all, and that it was the first time it's happened in his career. But he said he knows the coaches want him to work on some things, mainly on the defensive end.

"The biggest thing is competing, playing hard, maybe I haven't been doing the things they want me to do as well as I used to,'' he said. "It's just playing hard. Maybe they don't think I'm playing hard enough.''

He's obviously hoping to play this week as UW travels to his home state of Oregon --- he's from Keizer, Ore., and was recruited by both schools and said he has a lot of friends at Oregon and Oregon State.

He said he's already gotten a few calls from a few of his friends about making his return --- as well as a few that haven't been as friendly.

"They say stuff about 'be ready for The Pit' and the Appleby incident last year,'' he said. "Just trying to get in your head and scare you a little bit.''

On TV, and more

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:34 PM

To answer a question on TV for the USC game --- there is none of any kind and the only way to see the game in any form is to be in the arena next Thursday.

FSN picked the WSU-UCLA game for its broadcast that night and can hardly be blamed for that.

For all the consternation there often is over the Pac-10 TV deal, the reality is that the USC game will be one of just two this season for the Huskies not available on some sort of telecast somewhere. The only other game that had no TV of any kind came at Arizona State, which was also played on a Thursday night --- that's the night when there are typically just two TV windows and four games being played.

UW's other three remaining games will have TV on either FSN or CBS, all the games in the Pac-10 tournament are televised, and any NCAA game is obviously on (most NIT games typically get telecast as well) meaning this will be UW's most visible season in terms of TV in scchool history.

--- Not a lot of big news from Lorenzo Romar's press conference today. He talked a lot about the shift in offensive emphasis the last few weeks, crediting it to the return to health of Spencer Hawes and the realization of the team that utilizing the big men is the best way to go.

He talked a little of UW's NCAA Tournament hopes, saying mostly that the Huskies just have to win and worry about it later.

He elaborated a little on the trip to Greece, saying that country was picked in part because it would serve as both a good playing and educational experience. He said a lot of details are still being worked out so he didn't want to get real specific about a lot of things.

Expect the lineup to stay the same.

Tuesday reading

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:42 AM

Here's a few stories to pass your way today:

First, here's a good feature from the Eugene Register-Guard on enigmatic forward Sasa Cuic of Oregon State, the team the Huskies play Thursday night in Corvallis.

How erratic is Cuic? He led OSU with 25 and 22 points two weekends ago in games against Arizona and Arizona State, then came back with a zero-point effort at Stanford last Thursday, going 0-10. UW has to hope it gets the bad Cuic instead of the good one Thursday.

Also from the Register-Guard is a Pac-10 notebook complete with conference rankings --- interstingly, they rank UW sixth and Oregon eighth.

And here's our story today on the Greece trip and the surgery to Joe Wolfinger.

We'll have more from UW later after coach Lorenzo Romar meets with the media.

February 19, 2007

More on Wolfinger, Greece

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:38 PM

In a separate interview after his coach's show, Lorenzo Romar elaborated on the team's trip to Greece next August and Joe Wolfinger's surgery.

Romar said Wolfinger's situation isn't necessarily a setback just a new way to ensure that the injury heals properly.

Wolfinger has been dealing with a stress fracture since September and the hope was that it would heal without surgery.

"He wanted to try that route instead of going straight to surgery,'' Romar said. "This will be a real good thing. It will get it healed.''

The surgery will happen in a few weeks and Romar said Wolfinger should be recovered by the time of the trip to Greece. That trip is set for late August and will mean the team will have 10 additonal days of practice including a half-dozen or so games.

Romar said "it's great timing'' to do it next year when as many as 11 players could be returning, including Wolfinger, Joel Smith and Tim Morris, who all sat out this season.

The last time UW took such a trip was to France before the 1997-98 season.
That was the team that advanced to the Sweet 16 under Bob Bender.

Romar confirms Greece trip, Wolfinger to have surgery

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:44 PM

We've written about the chances of this happening on here before, but Lorenzo Romar confirmed on his coaches show on KJR-AM tonight that the Huskies will take a pre-season tour of Greece next August.

Teams are allowed to take such foreign tours once every four years, though UW hasn't actually taken once since 1998. On such tours, the teams typically play 5-6-7 games against local teams while also partaking of sight-seeing, educational ventures, etc.

You'll note the last time UW did one was the year Bob Bender's team went to the Sweet 16 and a lot of people thought the extra practice paid off well.

Romar said tonight the team will get 10 additional practices out of the trip. All players on the current roster are eligible but incoming players are not.

It's for that reason that UW did not take a similar trip last summer, though it was eligible for one, since Spencer Hawes, Adrian Oliver, Phil Nelson and Quincy Pondexter would not have been eligible to play.

Oregon took a similar trip to the Bahamas last summer and Ducks coach Ernie Kent credited the extra practice and the bonding as contributing factors in the team's fast start this season.

--- In more disconcerting news, Romar also said that center Joe Wolfinger will have surgery soon to repair the stress fracture that has held him out all season. Wolfinger had opted to heal the injury through rest and rehabilitation but surgery is now apparently needed.

"We're optimistic he will be back next season,'' Romar said.


Poll position

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:30 PM

As always on Monday, the new polls are out.

You can find them both here.

I think the AP poll presents some bad news for UW as there are just three Pac-10 teams included --- UCLA at No. 4, WSU at 9 and Oregon at 23 --- which means that the national image of the conference is starting to slip.

I had a little different as you can tell from looking at my poll here:

1, Ohio State
2, Wisconsin
3, UCLA
4, Kansas
5, Florida
6, North Carolina
7, Memphis
8, Washington State
9, Texas A&M
10, Pitt
11, Nevada
12, Georgetown
13, Air Force
14, Southern Illinois
15, Butler
16, Louisville
17, Virginia Tech
18, Vanderbilt
19, Virginia
20, Texas
21, West Virginia
22, BYU
23, Stanford
24, Kansas State
25, USC

I've had Oregon in every poll until now --- including the pre-season --- but the way the Ducks have lost five of their last six caused me to drop them out. I think Oregon's lack of an inside game has begun to take a toll.

I also moved Arizona back out for the obvious reasons.

Meanwhile, I put Stanford back in the poll and kept USC in it, while dropping them a little bit. You'll note USC is 26th when considering the rest of the votes, so I'm not that far off.

The bottom 10 or so of the poll is a real jumble and I'll admit it was as hard for me to put together this week as it has ever been with almost everybody from 13-25 losing last week, some teams twice, so I'm open to arguments there. There doesn't seem to be a lot of difference among a lot of those teams.

Rest of game times set

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:21 PM

The times for the rest of Washington's games have been set, along with the TV situation, and it's pretty much as we projected it to be last week --- the UW-UCLA game will be on CBS at 11 a.m. on March 3 with the UW-USC game on March 1 not selected:

Here is the official release from UW:

Washington's final regular-season men's basketball game against UCLA has been selected by CBS Sports to be televised live at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 3, the Pac-10 Conference announced Monday. The Huskies host the first-place and fourth-ranked Bruins at Bank of America Arena.

Washington's preceding home game, against USC on Thursday, March 1, was not selected for television and the game time has been set for 7 p.m.

The Pac-10 did not announce the game times and television schedule for the final week of the regular season until today so its broadcast partners could provide the best possible matchups.

The other Pac-10 game that will be televised on March 3 is the Arizona at Stanford contest that airs on ABC at 12:30 p.m.

On Thursday, March 1, FSN will televise the UCLA at Washington State game at 7:30 p.m.

Three of Washington's four remaining games will be televised, including both games on this week's road trip. The Huskies visit Oregon State, Thursday, Feb. 22 for a 6 p.m. game that airs on FSN Northwest.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, the Huskies invade McArthur Court in Eugene to meet 23rd-ranked Oregon. The game will be televised at 7:30 p.m. on FSN.

Washington (16-10) is in seventh place in the Pac-10 standings with a 6-8 record.


REMAINING WASHINGTON MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE

Thursday, February 22
6:00 p.m. PST -- Washington at Oregon State, FSN Northwest

Saturday, February 24
7:30 p.m. PST -- Washington at Oregon, FSN

Thursday, March 1
7:00 p.m. PST -- USC at Washington, No TV

Saturday, March 3
11:00 a.m. PST -- UCLA at Washington, CBS

MORE COMMENT --- The big news in this is that the WSU-USC game on March 3 was not picked up by either ABC or CBS. Many had expected last week that it would be on one or the other, with the UW-UCLA game on the other. Instead, ABC opted for Arizona-Stanford, seemingly a curious choice considering the Cougars could be playing for the Pac-10 title. Maybe the network thinks that the intrigue of Arizona's possible situation --- the Wildcats may be on the bubble for an at-large spot --- will make for better TV.

The Monday wash

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:44 AM

Here's a few news and notes for a Monday morning:

--- First, here's our story today speculating about whether Washington still has any legit NCAA Tournament hopes. Again, winning the last four is a lot to ask for this team. But we're simply making the point that the way other things have happened, if the Huskies pulled it off, they'd have a good chance of getting in.

--- Here's a similar story from Aaron Fentress at the Oregonian saying that three wins might place Washington squarely on the bubble. It might, though four would obviously be that much better.

--- Funny anecdote from Pitt I didn't get on here yet. During Lorenzo Romar's post-game press conference, which had him sitting at a podium in a big interview room just off the court, a man's cell phone began to go off playing the old '50s tune "Money (That's What I Want'') --- which is not to be confused with a Pink Floyd song with a similar title. The man struggled to turn it off causing Romar to stop talking and finally look his way as the room grew silent. After a pause, Romar finally said he knew of some places where the man "could get you some sweeter tunes'' eliciting a loud round of laughter.

--- Justin Dentmon understandably gets a lion's share of criticism for UW's turnover woes. But he hasn't been alone of late. Jon Brockman has led the Huskies in turnovers each of the last four games with 17 in that time.

February 18, 2007

Back from Pittsburgh

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:04 PM

Spent all day traveling, which is why there was no post earlier today pointing you to our stories.

If you missed it, you can find our coverage here.

One thing I realized while flying is that the Huskies are due to win some close ones.

Losing two straight games by four points means the Huskies have now lost all five games this year that were decided by four points or less or in overtime --- the two-OT loss to USC; a 78-77 loss at Stanford; the OT defeat at Cal; and these last two games.

Conversely, UW's closest win of the season is the five-pointer over ASU. Maybe the Huskies simply aren't good enough to win the close ones, but I've got a feeling they'll have a few more such opportunities the rest of the way.

--- The close loss to Pitt didn't do much for UW's RPI. The Huskies are at No. 80 today according to Pomeroy. They were at 81 heading into the game.

--- On a blog-related note, a few of you have sent me e-mails wondering why you have trouble getting posts published from time-to-time. It's nothing personal and we aren't into banning people here. Instead, there are some glitches that arise every once in a while that cause you to get messages saying you can't post for whatever reason --- I get them trying to publish these entries. When that happens, just keep trying. The only time we delete posts are for reasons of profanity, libel, personal attack, etc., as described at the bottom of the comment form.

February 17, 2007

Still in it?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:16 PM

This is starting to look like a real "what might have been'' season for the Huskies.

Consider the Pac-10 standings after today's play:

1, UCLA 12-2
2, WSU 11-3
3, USC 9-4
4, Stanford 9-5
5, Oregon 8-7
Arizona 8-7
7, Washington 6-8
Cal 6 -8
9, Oregon State 2-13
10, Arizona State 0-14

If the Huskies had been able to beat WSU --- they didn't, they didn't deserve to, and I understand it's all hypothetical --- but still, they were four points away and had their chances.

And if they had won that game (or one of the others they tossed along the way), look how close they'd be to being right back in the hunt for an NCAA tournament bid.

In fact, consider that the Huskies still have a chance to pass Oregon next week. if UW beats Oregon State Thursday while WSU beats Oregon --- and that's how the oddsmakers will probably expect it to happen. If that happens, UW will play at Oregon Saturday with a chance to pass the Ducks in the standings and take the tiebreaker on them.

I bring it up only to point out that for as many times as we've all painted the Huskies as dead this year, they're just a few points away from really being in it. And to point out that with four games left, there is still life.

It's a faint pulse, to be sure, as UW will have to sweep in Oregon --- never easy in any circumstance and a lot to ask of a team that's won just one road game this season --- then beat USC and UCLA at home, two of the three best teams in the conference. So the odds would say it won't happen.

But if it does, and given the freefalls going on in Tucson and Eugene, the Huskies might just still have a chance.

If not, they'll have lots of cause to wonder what might have been.

And kudos to Stanford for getting two needed wins without Anthony Goods, who sprained his ankle against UW last Sunday. Stanford now looks like a sure thing to get into the tournament.

Meanwhile, there's Arizona, which still had an RPI of 10 as of Friday, but now has lost eight of its last 13 games and now has to play its final three games on the road --- at Arizona State next Sunday and then Cal and Stanford. Obviously it will be interesting to see how the Wildcats respond now. Those of us who picked Arizona to win the Pac-10 this season are wondering what the heck is going on ---- and wondering what the heck we were ever thinking.

--- As for my thoughts on the officiating against Pitt, I wouldn't say the Huskies lost the game because of it if only because I'm not one of those to ever blame anything solely on the refs --- officiating is so much a matter of perspective, and I think that if it's looked at with an objective eye it usually turns out to have been pretty even.

But the free throw disparity is worth pointing out in a game where the Huskies were the ones going inside all the time while Pitt was the team doing more from the perimeter. That said, UW's guards got beat a lot off the dribble, which is what led to a lot of the fouls. Quincy Pondexter picked up four fouls in 17 minutes, for instance, largely because he had trouble keeping his man in front of him. I was just passing along that there were some who thought it odd that Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes shot a combined two free throws despite taking a combined 29 shots from the field (both free throws by Brockman).

As for what crews work games, it's usually decided upon at the time of scheduling. Given that a Big East crew worked this game, I'm sure that means a Pac-10 crew will work the game when Pitt comes to Seattle next Dec. 8.

Pitt tidbits

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:29 PM

A few more notes and quotes before I wrap it up from the arena for a while:

--- Two of the three officials were from the Big East, including the head referee, so that can be safely called a Big East crew (no one seemed to know where the third official was from). UW coach Lorenzo Romar tried to be tactful afterward when asked about the officiating and UW's 25-8 disadvantage at the free throw line, but assistant Cameron Dollar was a little more forthcoming.

"Twenty five to eight and we're going inside every time,'' Dollar said. "But that's what happens on the road.''

--- Dollar was particularly enthusiastic about the way the Huskies played afterward despite the end result. "We were just playing right,'' he said. "We played with a purpose on both ends of the floor.''

Asked what, in particular, UW is doing well now that it wasn't a little while ago, Dollar said "we're starting to eliminate the stuff we can control. We're starting to make the other teams do what we want them to do.''

In other words, starting to follow the game plan. Dollar said the Huskies didn't want to let Aaron Gray beat them "and every time he got the ball, we had two guys on him.'' That meant other Pitt players, who the UW coaches wanted to see shoot the ball instead of Gray, indeed shot the ball a lot more than Gray.

"And when they were shooting, they were doing it with a hand in their face,'' he said. "We were making them shoot over us.''

Unfortunately, Pitt hit just a few too many of those. Maybe the most painful was a long three-pointer by Pitt guard Ronald Ramon as the shot clock was running out over the outstretched hand of Ryan Appleby with about eight minutes left.

"I had a hand in his face, so there's not much you can do about that,'' said Appleby.

Said Dollar: "At least we put ourselves where they had to make plays like that to win.''

The Huskies also followed the offensive game plan with Hawes and Brockman taking 29 of UW's 56 shots. "We were going inside-out a great portion of the game and we eliminated runs due to our negligance rather than them making great plays,'' Dollar said.


Huskies lose close one

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:47 PM

This should get posted on-line soon. But until then, here is a story I filed a short time ago from the game:

The standings will show it as simply another loss, something the Washington Huskies can ill afford right now.

But in the quiet of Washington's locker room following a 65-61 loss to the No. 7-rated Pitt Panthers here Saturday, there was also a sense that the young Huskies are starting to grow up.

For the first time on the road this season against a ranked team, the Huskies hung tough until the end, with the outcome in doubt until the final minutes.

"I wish we had another month to play,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "Hopefully we've turned the corner. I don't think three weeks ago we would have been able to do what we did tonight.''

The loss dropped UW's overall record to 16-10 and made it likely that the Huskies will now have to win their remaining four regular-season games to have any chance at making the NCAA Tournament.

It also dropped UW's road record to 1-8.

But unlike a 30-point loss at Arizona just 14 days ago, or a 28-point loss at Washington State, or a 22-point loss at UCLA, the Huskies could point to a play here, a call there, that might have made all the difference.

"We came out and fought,'' said UW guard Adrian Oliver.

The Huskies, in fact, led by seven in the first half, and never trailed by more than six against a team that is 79-8 at home since the Petersen Events Center opened in 2002.

But the Panthers used a 16-6 edge in turnovers and a big advantage at the free throw line (19-25 compared to UW's 6-8) to ultimately pull away.

"It's a 40-minute game and unfortunately we didn't get it done just like (a loss by the identical score of 65-61 to Washington State on Wednesday),'' said UW center Spencer Hawes. "It's been tough having so many opportunities and it just didn't go our way.''

Hawes scored just 12 points but held Pitt's 7-foot senior center Aaron Gray " a possible lottery pick this June " to five points, tying a season-low. Hawes also tied a career-high with 12 rebounds and had three blocked shots.

"I thought he held his own,'' Romar said of Hawes.
Gray suffered a sprained ankle late in the game when he collided with Jon Brockman while going for a rebound. It was unknown how soon Gray will be back, with Pitt coach Jamie Dixon saying "it could be worse'' than previous sprained ankles Gray has had. "I hope I'm wrong.''

Brockman led UW with 13 points and added nine rebounds as the Huskies outboarded the Panthers 42-32. Ryan Appleby added 11 points as the Huskies hit 7-11 three-pointers, their most since making eight against Arizona State on Jan. 6.

But much like the loss to Washington State on Wednesday, the Huskies couldn't close the deal late.

After Hawes hit a jumper to make it 58-57 with 3:08 left, UW went cold. Gray made a lay-in on the other end in front of Hawes " his only field goal of the game on a set play with the other coming on a rebound putback " to put Pitt ahead 60-57 with 2:45 remaining.

Brockman missed a jumper on the other end, and after a Pitt turnover, Hawes missed a jumper from the
corner after a time out.

Pitt's Levance Fields made two free throws to put Pitt ahead 62-57 with 1:39 left.
Hawes hit a rebound putback with 1:24 left to put the Huskies within 62-59. Fields then missed a jumper with 47 seconds left, but Sam Young won the scramble for the loose ball giving Pitt another chance. Ronald Ramon was fouled with 29 seconds left and hit both free throws to put Pitt up 64-59 and that was enough to allow the Panthers to hold on.

"We responded the right way,'' said Dixon, whose team had suffered its worst loss at Petersen Events Center on Monday, a 66-53 defeat to Louisville.

Pitt is now 23-4 overall.

The Huskies return to action Thursday at Oregon State, knowing that they are in must-win mode from here on out, but also feeling again like that might just be possible.

"There are still a lot of positives we can take out of this game,'' Hawes said. "Hopefully we can take those and channel them in the right direction and benefit from this.''

No moral victories now

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:57 PM

A nice effort by the Huskies today, but unfortunately they are past the stage where that does them much good.

Interestingly, the second straight game UW has lost to a top 10 team by the score of 65-61.

But this game merely inspires a lot of wondering what might have been had Spencer Hawes been able to play that way all season. He didn't score well, but his rebounding, defense and shot blocking were superb and made the Huskies a different team today.

The free throw differential is easy to point to (Pitt made 18-23 to UW's 6-8) but the Huskies hurt themselves in the second half getting beat off the dribble too much on the perimeter.

Turnovers once again played a big role, as well, as UW lost 16 to just six for Pitt and the Huskies just couldn't get enough shots to fall.

More later.

Hangin' tough

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:24 PM

The Huskies just keep hanging in. There's 11:09 left and the game is tied. Pitt looked ready to go on a little run early in the half, taking a five-point lead, but UW has used rebounding to steady things.

After Pitt got seven of the first eight rebounds of the second half, UW came right back to get eight of the next nine and the Huskies now have a 32-24 edge on the boards.

UW is also 6-8 on three-pointers, already the most three-pointers they've made in a game since beating Oregon on Jan. 25.

Halftime notes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:05 PM

A couple other quick notes:

--- Adrian Oliver's two three-pointers in the first half equals his total of the last nine games.

--- And Justin Dentmon has just one field goal attempt, that a tip-in, in 15 minutes. As someone said "it looks like Justin had a nice talking to about his shot selection.'' But he also has four rebounds and just one TO in 18 minutes, that the five-second call.

Not half bad

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:52 AM

UW fans have to be encouraged by that half.

The Huskies have stood toe-to-toe with Pitt for a half, trailing 31-28 largely due to Pitt's large edge at the free throw line --- the Panthers have hit 11-13 to UW's 2-2.

I'm not big on ripping the refs, but I would say that UW doesn't seem to be getting much benefit of the doubt so far. There have been four charge-block situations and all four have gone against the Huskies. And Jon Brockman got two fouls and had to sit out the last six-plus minutes of the half.

Still, the Huskies are playing the way they have to play against a team like this. They have outrebounded Pitt 21-14 with Hawes getting five, and they are hitting a few shots --- 4-6 from the three-point line with Adrian Oliver making 2-3. UW has as many offensive rebounds (eight) as Pitt does defensive rebounds.

A sign that this team may be growing up was Oliver's staredown with Pitt's Mike Cook after the two got tangled going for a rebound. For once, the Huskies didn't seem intimidated on the road.

We'll see if it lasts.

Optimistic beginning

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:20 AM

We're at the second media time out and the Huskies lead 14-8 --- and that's a good indicator of how the game has gone as UW has been the better and more aggressive team so far.

Hawes is just 1-4 shooting but he has three rebounds, a block and a nice pass to set up a UW field goal.

Contrary to what was thought, Hawes and Aaron Gray have matched up quite a bit --- it was a Gray shot that Hawes blocked.

And while this is a real nice arena, there isn't much energy in here. This is a real quiet place so far --- not even a lot of noise from the Oakland Zoo student section. The most noise is coming from the Husky bench as the UW contingent seems to have a lot of life --- as much as I have seen for a road game in quite a while.

It's a good start.

More from the arena

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:42 AM

A couple other tidbits from the Petersen Events Center:

--- Word is that Gray and Hawes won't match up directly much, if at all, with Pitt likely using Levon Kendall to defend Hawes while putting Gray on Brockman, with UW doing the same on the other end.

--- Among those in the UW section are former Husky Jason Hartman, who played a few years during the Bender era before transferring to Portland State and now lives in this area; and Ray Horton, the former UW football player who is now an assistant with the Steelers.

--- This arena is built on top of where the football stadium used to be, where Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett, Mike Ditka and others played. The cabbie who drove me here lamented that Pitt football has never been the same, that the focus of the school shifted from football to basketball when that happened --- the football team now plays at Heinz Field, the home of the Steelers, with students being bused down there for the games.

At the arena

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:52 AM

And what a place the Petersen Events Center is. This is nicer than any Pac-10 arena and on par with most things I've seen in the NBA.

But it's also still about 15 degrees outside with snow everywhere, meaning a snazzy arena isn't everything.

This column from Ron Cook in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today laments that the school hasn't been able to attract a better claiber of recruit and is the one thing that may keep the team away from a run to the Final Four this season.

Aaron Gray, remember, was a Ben Howland recruit.

This story from the same paper previews the game in traditional fashion with some good thoughts on UW's big men.

There was also an interesting anecdote in one of the papers today about Romar trying to hire Jamie Dixon as an assistant at UW when he took over in 2002 --- Dixon was then an assistant at Pitt. As I wrote the other day, the two have known each other for more than 20 years, with Dixon saying that his performance against Romar in a summer league team helped him get his scholarship to TCU --- Dixon was then in high school and Romar in the NBA.

Speaking of the NBA, there are roughly 20 NBA scouts here today to see the matchup of Gray and Spencer Hawes. I wrote about that matchup today in our preview in the Times.

It's likely, however, that Jon Brockman will begin the game guarding Gray, though Gray figures to defend Hawes on the other end.

For those of you concerned the team was out late watching the Rookie Challenge, I should have been more clear that they went there for dinner and to begin watching it, but they were back at their hotel (which was only a few minutes away) early on.

Finally. the lineup will stay the same for today's game.

February 16, 2007

In Pittsburgh

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:25 PM

I made it here after about nine hours in the air and in Pittsburgh traffic from the airport and all I can say is that UW fans had better hope the Huskies are in better shape to play the game tomorrow than I am to write about it.

At least the hour or so it took to get from the airport to my hotel gave me a lot of time to read the Pittsburgh papers.

There were two interesting stories.

One was this column by Bob Smizik of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in which he writes 20 or so inches about how fans shouldn't worry about Pitt bouncing back from the loss to Louisville Monday night yet never even mentions the fact that the Panthers are playing Washington Saturday. Kind of a sign how much luster this game has lost due to UW's struggles this season from the shine it figured to have when it was scheduled last July.

Smizik points out that Pitt has struggled against teams with quick guards, which unfortunately doesn't really define what the Huskies are right now.

There was also this from the Tribune-Review giving a Pitt's eye view of the Huskies and much praise for Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman.

I was on a radio show here today and they were pretty eager to hear about Hawes and to see him match up with Aaron Gray Saturday.

As for the Huskies, they practiced here for about two hours and then had study table and other activities in the afternoon. They were slated to have dinner at a Hard Rock Cafe tonight where they would be able to watch Brandon Roy play in the Rookie Challenge tonight.


Off to PIttsburgh

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:18 AM

And as you can see by the post time of this blog, I had quite the early flight. Heard a lot of horror stories of traveling back east this week so hoping it all goes okay. But I may have no time for quite a while to post so figured I'd do this now.

Here's our story from today setting up Saturday's game with a little of the history of how it came together. The Huskies don't plan to make a regular habit of playing non-conference games during the conference season but didn't have much choice with this one.

Here, also, is a look at Pitt coach Jamie Dixon and how he is handling the loss of his sister, Maggie,
who died suddenly last April of heart failure at age 28 after coaching Army into the NCAA Tournament.

February 15, 2007

Closer to eighth than sixth

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:54 PM

Watching the action tonight had to make UW fans feel that much worse about what happened against the Cougars.

Look at the conference standings after tonight's' games, including Oregon's upset loss to Cal and Arizona's defeat at home at the hands of USC:

1, UCLA 11-2
2, WSU 11-3
3, USC 9-4
4, Stanford 8-5
5, Oregon 8-6
Arizona 8-6
7, Washington 6-8
8, Cal 5-8
9, Oregon State 2-12
10, Arizona State 0-14

Had the Huskies been able to beat the Cougars, they might have been able to make a serious run at passing Oregon since the Ducks are the one team that UW could earn the tiebreaker on.

Instead, UW's loss to WSU gave the Ducks a little wiggle room despite their sudden skid --- Oregon has now lost five of its past seven games starting with the defeat at Washington.

But with a 20-6 record and an RPI of 25, the Ducks are safe as long as they can get two more wins and even one may be enough, particularly if they finish in the top five in the conference.

Arizona, on the other hand, is making things a little uncomfortable for itself. The Wildcats are just 17-8 and have lost seven of their last 12 games, which seems more than just a little bad spell but a sign of some serious issues. That Arizona is struggling so much makes it even that much harder to fathom the way the Wildcats blew out the Huskies in Tucson a couple of weeks ago.

Arizona's high RPI (No. 7 entering the week) gives the Wildcats some wiggle room as well. But Arizona's schedule the rest of the way isn't easy --- home to UCLA Saturday then on the road to Arizona State (due to beat somebody at some point) and Cal and Stanford.

All of which points out just how in it the Huskies could have been.

Instead, UW now has to worry about staving off Cal for seventh place.

And if you've noticed, if the season ended today, UW would play Arizona State in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament. If the Huskies won that game, they would then get a third shot at beating Washington State this season in the second round.

Defending Dentmon (slightly, anyway)

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:55 PM

It's easy to point to Justin Dentmon's 0-5 shooting in the final three minutes of the game as UW went scoreless and pin the whole loss on him.

But I reviewed the game on tape this afternoon, specificially the end, and decided that Dentmon might be getting just a little bit more heat than is maybe deserved.

This isn't to defend his play for the season --- he is now down to 41.4 percent shooting overall and 28.6 percent from the three-point line, and has only 97 assists against 77 turnovers, none of which are close to good enough.

That said, let's review those five shots Dentmon took at the end.

The first was an off-balance three-pointer as the shot clock was running out and 2:35 left on the game clock. It was a tough shot to make, but he had no choice but to take it. This shot came after the whole team basically passed the ball around the perimeter for 30 seconds finding nothing else open. As the PG, Dentmon shares responsbility for that, no doubt. But as for the shot itself, hard to see what else he could have done there. Maybe he could have driven to the hoop, but he seems pretty out of options by the time he gets the ball.

Dentmon then got the offensive rebound and put back a little finger roll that was short. You could blame him for hurrying that shot, maybe, but on the other hand, he's a couple feet away from the basket. It was as high percentage a shot as the Huskies were likely to get there considering the way WSU was playing defense. The fault there, it seems, is in the execution, not in the decision.

His third shot then comes at the end of the sequence. After Dentmon missed his putback, Brockman missed a putback but Oliver got the rebound and UW called time out to set up a play.

Here, things fell apart a little bit. Brockman jumped out high to get the ball at the top of the key, but nothing was open and Dentmon ended up with the ball near the three-point line with the shot clock at eight seconds. He then shot a jumper that missed.

On the telecast, Bob Weiss says that both Brockman and Appleby were open, and Appleby does appear to have been wide open a few seconds earlier but Dentmon didn't get him the ball. This is the first shot were Dentmon deserves healthy blame, in my estimation, for both exection and decision, the latter of which is the most critical. With eight seconds left, he still had time to find someone else, or even better, drive to the hoop and create something. But in his defense on this point, no one else was doing anything, either. This was another possession where the ball was basically passed around for 25 seconds before Dentmon finally decided to do something.

Dentmon's next shot comes with 23.8 seconds left, a drive to the hoop after UW called time out, still down 62-61. Dentmon misses the shot and it goes out of bounds off UW. Both Dentmon and Romar thought he got fouled by Robbie Cowgill, and in looking at the replay, I've certainly seen less contact called. Weiss even says at first it's a foul before backtracking when he sees the replay. On execution, you can maybe fault him for not being stronger to the hoop. But as a decision, it wasn't a bad one and with how quickly he went to the hoop, was likely one of the main options on the play.

Dentmon's final shot is a 3-pointer with seven seconds left after WSU had taken a three-point lead. This is the play where Hawes originally pops out to the three-point line, likely ready to take a three --- as he had done successfully against USC --- only to be well covered by Ivory Clark. This entire play seems a little messed up, however, as it seems rather late developing all the way around, the reason Clark was able to quickly get up on Hawes. By the time Dentmon got the ball, there was little else to do but fire up a three and hope, and that's what he did.

My point, I guess, is that I would really fault Dentmon for his decision to shoot on only one of the five shots --- the jumper with eight seconds left on the shot clock. One came at the end of the shot clock, another was a close-in putback on a rebound, the other is the drive to the hoop where a foul certainly could have been called, and then the three-pointer at the end.

The only other shots in the 3:31 span were the putback by Brockman, the missed three by Oliver with 1:19 left and then the three-pointer by Appleby with three seconds left after WSU went ahead by four.

Interesting to note in all of his is how the Cougars kept giving UW chances. WSU was 0-1 from the field with two turnovers and gave up three offensive rebounds from the 4:03 mark until there were 17 seconds left.

Q and A time

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:12 PM

Lots of questions after this one, so I'll try to provide a few answers (though answers are admittedly hard to find right now).

WHAT'S WITH JUSTIN DENTMON? For starters, I will point out to those of you saying he is young, in terms of age, he's older than most as he is 21 years old --- remember, he attended prep school for a year out of high school. It was hoped he would come to UW with a little added maturity because of that, and coaches cited that at times last year when Dentmon played well as a freshman.

His comments after the game last night really weren't a lot different than what he has said at other times this year --- he has said several times that he is struggling to adjust to a new role and at times confused by whether he's supposed to be a playmaker or a scorer.

UW coaches want him to be both.

A few of you have asked why the Huskies have no "true'' point guard. It's largely a choice. Any of you who have read this for long know that Lorenzo Romar wants his guards to be able to do everything equally. He resists labels and would never refer to Conroy was the point, and Nate as the shooting guard, saying both were each equally, though obviously they settled into those roles as their careers progressed.

Romar feels point guards who aren't good scorers are easier to defend, so in recruiting, they typically look for guards who can do both. Dentmon, for what it's worth, was the No. 10-rated point guard in the country by Rivals.com in 2005, so the Huskies weren't the only ones thinking he could play the point.

I still think a lot of this team's problem down the stretch is a lack of familiarity with each other's game, which is in part a product of the sporadic practice time they've had together this year, mostly due to Hawes' various ailments. The Cougars, especially the four main guys, have been together for three years --- that experience and cohesiveness showed down the stretch.

But as I wrote a few weeks ago, the Huskies tried to address point guard depth after the season by recruiting some JC players. They went hard after Blake Young, a JC transfer from Florida who instead landed at Kansas State where he was the starter early in the year before suffering a knee injury.

ARE THE HUSKIES TAKING A CHARTER TO PITTSBURGH? No. The Huskies fly commercial to regular season games and they are going through Minnesota on their way there and Chicago on their way back. They weren't allowed to practice today due to NCAA rules that require one day off a week running Sunday-to-Saturday (travel doesn't count, which does seem a little odd). Reporters don't go on the team plane, per se, but since they are commercial flights, some of us often end up on the team planes just by chance. One of my better memories in that regard is having the same flight with the team a few years ago after it won the Pac-10 tournament in Los Angeles and seeing Will Conroy asleep in his seat holding the trophy.

WHAT'S HAPPENED TO THE THREE FRESHMEN OTHER THAN HAWES? I think it's basically time to admit they weren't as ready as eveyrone hoped to be big-time contributors at this level. To me, Pondexter is the real surprise in that regard. He was the team's leading scorer through non-conference play and had seven straight games of 12 or more points. But he hasn't scored more than eight in any of the last seven.

I think expectations were probably too high for Adrian Oliver and Phil Nelson. Each were highly-regarded recruits, but not to the point that impartial observers figured they would step right into starring roles. I think most viewed them as guys who will grow into real good players by the end of their careers. But they are each four-year players who it looks like will need some time to mature. It is somewhat of a surprise, however, that Nelson hasn't done more offensively. His problems figured to be on the defensive end and I think most figured he would always at least add some shooting. But as I detailed earlier, he's hit a big wall of late --- he has scored zero points in five of UW's last nine games.

WHY COULDN'T ROMAR DRAW UP BETTER PLAYS AT THE END? As someone else pointed out here, they were trying some different things at the end. If you noticed, when UW was down three at the end, Hawes popped out and was ready to take a three-pointer --- the same play the Huskies used to tie up the USC game earlier this year. But the Cougars weren't right on it (I can't remember who but I think it was Clark) and Hawes had to give up the ball.

The play that got Oliver a wide open three-pointer with about 20 seconds couldn't have been executed better other than the shot.

I've wondered if the Huskies don't need to figure out their spacing better, especially when both Hawes and Brockman are in there. It seemed like the middle was really packed in a lot of the times, like the Cougars didn't have to reach all that far to double-team those guys.

But that's where shooting plays a huge role. The Huskies desperately needed someone to hit a few outside shots. For all the flak Dentmon has taken on here, he was the only Husky to hit a three-pointer in the second half, going 2-4.

The mourning after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:15 AM

Lots of stuff to read today on what might have been the toughest loss of the season given everything --- the Huskies were healthy and played their hearts out, yet still came up short.

Here's the game story, focusing on the last 3:31 when UW went 0-8 and didn't score. Here's the notebook, focusing on the unlikely contribution of WSU's Taylor Rochestie. And here's Jerry Brewer's column on the long road UW now faces, one that likely is ending in the NIT now.

Here's the view from the other side from Glenn Kasses' blog at the Spokesman-Review.

Probably doesn't matter too much anymore, but here are the updated Pac-10 RPI numbers showing the Huskies now at No. 80.

Also from Pomeroy are his updated predictions on how UW will do based on his statistical models. I hate to point out that he's been pretty much right on all season. If he continues to be as prescient, UW will win just one more the rest of the way.

As an aside, I wrote on here several times yesterday that the Huskies would need to make some outside shots to win this one as the Cougars like to pack the defense inside to keep the ball out of the paint.

And of all of UW's problems right now, finding another perimeter scorer is suddenly becoming paramount. In terms of offense, anyway, guys like Quincy Pondexter, Adrian Oliver and Phil Nelson have disappeared.

Pondexter hasn't hit double figures since the first WSU game, with that coming mostly in garbage time; Oliver has 14 points in the last five games and Nelson has just four points in the last five games.

Ryan Appleby is just about UW's only consistent three-point shooter at the moment --- in Pac-10 play, he has accounted for 37 of UW's 75 three-pointers. No one else has more than nine (Nelson, none since Jan. 27 against Oregon State).

Last night is the perfect example of a game where Joel Smith might have made a big difference. You saw what the Cougars got off the bench in a relative veteran like Rochestie (he's only a sophomore but he's a third-year guy who was a starter at Tulane two years ago). When the Huskies were just aching for someone to hit something from the outside to open up the inside, Smith might have been the one to get it done.

February 14, 2007

Apple Cup aftermath

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:53 PM

I haven't had time to read all the posts, dealing with deadline writing duty, but I would imagine quite a few concern UW's inability to get the ball inside in that final 3:31 when they had a chance to win the game.

Spencer Hawes didn't take a shot after scoring with 5:33 left to put the Huskies ahead, and Jon Brockman's only shot in that span was a rebound putback.

"Some of it was just good defense by Washington State and also there were a few lapses on our part throughout the game,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "We just need to continue to make sure that we go inside --- that is what we need.''

UW players said WSU's interior defense stiffened during that stretch, with the Cougars fronting the post more and bringing even quicker double teams.

"They did a good job of getting in front of them and playing helpside D on them,'' said UW point guard Justin Dentmon.

That left Dentmon to attempt five of UW's final eight shots in that span of 3:31 in which the Huskies went scoreless.

"It just wasn't falling,'' said Dentmon, who finished 2-12 for the game.

Said Jon Brockman: "Down the stretch they were playing it so packed in. It was hard to make the read on what they were going to do. ... It was real hard for us to get it in there and then to make plays when we got it in there.''

Hawes scored 22 points in a season-high 38 minutes and never came out in the second half, proof of how important the Huskies thought this game was.

In fact, four of UW's five starters --- Hawes, Brockman, Ryan Appleby and Dentmon --- played 38, 37, 36 and 34 minutes, respectively.

This was one that couldn't be placed on effort or

Cougars getting it done

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:51 PM

The score is ominous enough for UW with the Cougars ahead 40-32 at halftime.

Here's an even more ominous number --- WSU has 15 rebounds to 13 for UW, taking away one of Washington's obvious statistical advantages coming into the game. UW has been outrebounded just twice this year, by Cal and Arizona on the road, but the Cougars are getting to the loose balls and simply getting in better position a lot of the time.

If that doesn't improve, UW has no shot.

Hawes is scoring well (12 points) but also has just one rebound. Taylor Rochestie is turning into a Husky killer, with 10 points in this half bettering his season-high of nine, which he tied in the first game against UW.

Heavy Cougar presence

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:43 PM

To answer one question asked, there is definitely a big contingent of Cougar fans here making an awful lot of noise. It's not 50-50 but it's maybe 75-25 which makes a big difference since there is rarely much cheering for the visiting team here.

Tipoff nearing

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:02 PM

There seems to be a more feverish feeling in the arena tonight for one of the most highly-anticipated UW-WSU hoops games in decades. We'll see if that benefits the home team tonight.

There appear to be no personnel surprises with each team going with its regular starting lineup.

We'll try to check in here from time to time during the game, along with our usual after-game coverage, so feel free to comment here throughout.

Shooting, turnovers key for Huskies

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:15 PM

And, of course, you read that and think, well, no kidding, aren't those keys to every basketball game?

But as we pointed out before the Cougars and Huskies played the first time, there are few statistical areas that better illustrate their differences than shooting and turnovers.

The Cougars, for instance, are first in the Pac-10 in fewest turnovers per game at 8.8 (in Pac-10 games only) while the Huskies are ninth at 14.5 (Arizona is last at an astounding 17.5 which explains a lot about what's happened to the Wildcats).

As a result, WSU leads the Pac-10 in turnover margin at plus-4.15 per game while UW is tied for seventh at minus-one.

That's a difference of five possessions a game for the two teams.

Shooting will also be huge for the Huskies tonight as the Cougars like to double-team the post to get the ball out of the interior. It's a strategy that can backfire if teams can nail some outside shots, though the Cougars are so good at rotating that opponents often aren't open long.

Still, as UW's Phil Nelson said "since they double the post a lot, we can get a lot of good shots if we play it right.''

The key then is making them.

UW is shooting 35.4 percent from the three-point line in Pac-10 play, down a little from last year's 38 percent (which led the conference) but not so far off as to think the Huskies don't have it in them to suddenly get really hot for a night.

Both of these areas could be early barometers of how this game is heading.


Trent Johnson clarified

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:46 PM

I've seen some message board chatter about a comment attributed to Stanford coach Trent Johnson following the Cardinal's loss to UW Sunday.

Johnson is quoted as saying that "We got beat by Washington State, who is ranked 14th in the country, and today we got beat by a better team.''

A lot of people have taken that to surmise that Johnson is saying UW is better than WSU.

That's not what he meant, however.

Johnson was asked what had happened to Stanford over the weekend as it was basically dominated by both the Cougars and the Huskies. What he was attempting to say is that in each case, Stanford got beaten by "a better team.''

He was not comparing the Cougars and the Huskies, and I bring this all up simply in the quest for accuracy and not wanting to see a coach get blamed for something he didn't say.

Johnson, however, did have a lot of good things to say about the Huskies during Tuesday's Pac-10 conference call.

Asked what he thought the difference in this UW team was and the one that Stanford beat last month, he said "their defensive intensity was as good as I've seen from that team all year and definitely was different from what we faced the first time around.''

Gameday reading

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:05 AM

Ten or so hours until tipoff, so here's some reading to keep you busy until then.

First, here's our preview today focusing on the Huskies being a different team from what they were for the last meeting on Jan. 20.

As I tried to explain in the story, the Huskies might have felt the absence of Spencer Hawes more keenly against the Cougars than any other opponent because of the way WSU plays defense.

The Cougars like to double the post to force the big players to give it up. One of Hawes' greatest strengths, meanwhile, is his passing. UW's gameplan that day was built around Hawes and thwarting those double teams. When Hawes was suddenly out, the game plan pretty much went for naught.

Also, once Hawes was out, the Cougars concentrated their interior defense on Jon Brockman not worrying much that UW's other big men would beat them. But with both Hawes and Brockman, they'll have to leave one single-covered to double the other, and obviously leave someone else open on the perimeter

"You've got to be able to pass out of it quickly and make quick decisions to score,'' Hawes said. "I think we've improved in that.''

Tonight, we'll see how much.

Also, here is a preview story from Glenn Kasses of the Spokesman-Review

Glenn makes the point that UW's backcourt has struggled against WSU's defense in recent games, and that was certainly true the last game. Justin Dentmon had maybe his worst game of the season in the first meeting going 1-6 with one assist and five points in 30 minutes. Conversely, Dentmon played well against WSU last year, including a 16-point game in Pullman, so maybe he'll draw on that history tonight.

Here, also, is Glenn's blog for a good overview of all things Cougar.

Here's a story from the Oregonian on the wealth of big men in the Pac-10 this year with much of its focus on Hawes.

This Pac-10 notebook from the Arizona Daily Star makes the point we've made here, as well, that Washington's schedule is one of the biggest things it has in its favor in making an NCAA Tournament run. That's not saying it's not really hard, just that if the Huskies can win some games the rest of the way, the quality of the opponents they will have beaten will speak loudly. Easier said than done, however.

Here's a story from the Tucson Citizen about Arizona's NCAA chances that also sheds a favorable light on UW if you read between the lines. The story makes the point that finishing strongly is one of the most important faces the Selection Committee considers. That's another one that UW still controls, having won five of its last six.

February 13, 2007

Huskies healthy, ready to go

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:16 PM

Not a lot of news out of UW today, which is a good thing.

The Huskies say they are as healthy heading into tomorrow night's game with WSU as they have been in a while. And not just healthy, but in shape.

"Guys have been able to practice for the last week or two and that's helped us to improve,'' said UW forward Jon Brockman.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar said the lineup will stay the same, the first time in a long time he has actually answered that question the day before a game, having previously wanted to hold off for reasons of health or, simply, to see who was practicing best.

Some Pac-10 notes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:52 AM

Today's the day the Pac-10 coaches hold their weekly teleconference and here are a few quick notes of interest:

---- Oregon coach Ernie Kent said he suffered a torn rotator cuff at the end of the game against Arizona when he collided with an assistant. He said he'll be able to make it through the season but will have surgery afterward. Interestingly, he had the same surgery on the other shoulder this off-season.

--- Stanford guard Anthony Goods could be out for the rest of the regular season with the sprained ankle he suffered against UW Sunday. Mitch Johnson will replace him in the strarting lineup. Coach Trent Johnson said it is a high ankle sprain and Goods will be out 2-3 weeks, if not more. Stanford is now just a game-and-a-half ahead of UW in the Pac-10 standings.

--- UCLA guard Darren Collison, who missed the game Saturday against West Virginia with an injured shoulder, should be back for Thursday's game at Arizona State, according to coach Ben Howland.

Panther loss the pits for Huskies?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:14 AM

If you believe that good teams don't play two bad games in a row, then Pittsburgh's loss at home to Louisville last night doesn't auger well for UW's visit there Saturday.

That's the view of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Greg Prisuta, who predicts plainly that there will be "bad news for Washington on Saturday'' due to the Panthers' loss to Louisville.

Here's a game story from the same paper quoting star center Aaron Gray as saying the key now will be how the team responds.

Here's a story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noting that Louisville's quick pressure defense forced the Panthers into 19 turnovers. That would have been the perfect recipe for the UW team of last year, but not so sure if this year's team can pull that off.

And here's a story about what a hot ticket Pitt basketball has become with a long list of celebs seen at recent games including Joey Porter and Hines Ward. Good things usually don't happen to Seattle athletic teams when those guys are around. Hopefully Porter doesn't realize Jerramy Stevens is a UW grad.

Here's a story from today on Jon Brockman being named Pac-10 Player of the Week as well as some additional TV info.

Today is the regular weekly press conference for Lorenzo Romar so we'll have more later on.


February 12, 2007

Poll position

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:43 PM

Here's the AP poll for this week.

And below mine, done before the games of Monday (wish I'd gone with my instinct and left in Texas).

The final poll has five Pac-10 teams --- UCLA fifth, WSU at 10, Oregon at 15, Arizona at 19 and USC at 22.

You see I have them a little differently, with WSU and Oregon a little lower, and USC still ahead of Arizona (the Trojans did beat Arizona in their one meeting this season and still have better conference and overall records, if only slighthly).

Anyway, here's my poll for this week:

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


More on TV

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:10 PM

Here's the official news release from Fox Sports Net on the TV situation for Wednesday's game. Hopefully this answers your questions:

As a result of a conflict with FSN's Seattle Sonics broadcast schedule, the Huskies-Cougars matchup on Feb. 14 will be delivered on alternate channels in parts of Western Washington. For viewers inside the Seattle DMA, where they will receive the Sonics-Suns telecast, the 7pm Huskies-Cougars game can be found on the following providers and channels:

Comcast Ch. 17 Greater Seattle
Comcast Ch. 76 Bellingham

Fox College Sports Central: Available on a sports tier for various cable and satellite operators. Check local listings.

DirecTV FCS Central
Dish Network FCS Central
Wave Broadband FCS Central
Click! Network FCS Central
Millenium Cable Local channel TBD

Throughout the remainder of the network's five-state region, the game will be televised on FSN Northwest.

More on Brockman

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:28 PM

Here's the official release on Jon Brockman from the Pac-10:

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - WASHINGTON forward Jon Brockman has been named the U.S. Bank Pacific-10 Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for Feb. 5 - 11.

Brockman, a sophomore from Snohomish, Wash., averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds over the weekend as the Huskies swept the Bay Area schools. In the 79-71 win over California, Brockman recorded 22 points, shooting .615 from the field, and tied his career-high with 14 rebounds against the Bears. His efforts continued to shine in Washington's 64-52 upset over then No. 25 Stanford as he tallied 14 points, 10 boards and a block against the Cardinal. For the week, Brockman was 12-of-24 (.500) from the floor, including 12-for-19 (.632) at the line.

For the weekend, Brockman compiled 25 percent of the Huskies' points and 35 percent of their individual rebounds. In addition, his performance against the Cardinal marked his 11th double-double and 14th double-figure rebound effort of the season.

This is the first weekly honor for Brockman and Washington's 29th Player of the Week all-time.

2006-07 U.S. Bank Pac-10 Players of the Week: Nov. 20 - Chase Budinger, Fr., F, ARIZ. Nov. 27 - Darren Collison, So., G, UCLA. Dec. 4 - Josh Shipp, So., G/F, UCLA. Dec. 11 - Daven Harmeling, So., F, WSU. Dec. 18 - Bryce Taylor, Jr., G, ORE. Dec. 26 - Spencer Hawes, Fr., C, WASH. Jan. 1 - Ivan Radenovic, Sr., F, ARIZ. Jan. 8 - Aaron Brooks, Sr., G, ORE. Jan. 15 - Anthony Goods, So., G, STAN. Jan. 22 - Nick Young, Jr., G/F, USC. Jan. 29 - Brook Lopez, Fr., F, STAN. Feb. 5 - Daven Harmeling, So., F, WSU. Feb. 12 - Jon Brockman, So. F, WASH.

Brockman Pac-10 Player of the Week

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:35 AM

Jon Brockman has been named the Pac-10's player of the week.

Brockman had double-doubles in both games last weekend, and totaled 36 points and 24 rebounds in the victories over California and Stanford.

It is the first time Brockman has been selected as a player of the week in his UW career. He is the second Husky this season, joining Spencer Hawes, who was named after the win over LSU.

TV news CLARIFIED

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:51 AM

I have since received some additional info on this so this post has been updated:

To clear up the TV situation with the WSU game, due to a conflict with the Sonics, that game will not be shown live on FSN in the Seattle area.

That is defined as a 75-mile radius of Seattle. Those inside that area will see the Sonics on FSN. Those outside of that will see the UW-WSU game.

However, Fox Sports is producing a telecast of the game and it will be available in several ways for those inside the Seattle area.

First, those with Comcast Cable can see it on Channel 17 in Seattle. This is the same scenario as happened with the Idaho game earlier this year.

Also, the game will be available on Fox College Sports so those with Digital TV and others who get packages that include all the FSN channels should be able to access it.

Also, the game at Oregon State on Feb. 22, which has been listed as a TBA, will start at 6 p.m. so it can be shown live on FSN regionally. FSN picked up the Washington State at Oregon game for its national broadcast that night and tipoff of that game is 8 p.m.

UW is still awaiting word on whether games against USC March 1 and UCLA March 3 will be picked up for TV.

The UCLA is almost a certainty to be picked up either for broadcast by CBS at 11 a.m. or ABC at 12:30 p.m.


The morning after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:55 AM

Here's what's percolating the morning after one of UW's biggest wins of the season:

First, here's our coverage, beginning with Steve Kelley's column on Spencer Hawes. Steve staunchly defends Hawes, pointing out that when healthy, Hawes has done what would have been expected of him this season.

Here's my game story focusing on the improved defensive effort Sunday. Stanford didn't play well, either, but it takes two to tango and I think a lot of the Cardinal's struggle had to do with Washington's renewed focus on defense.

And here's the notebook looking ahead to Wednesday's game against WSU, which looms large for reasons personal and practical.

Before Husky fans get too excited, however, Jake Curtis of the San Francisco Chronicle points out that Stanford's fortunes changed greatly once guard Anthony Goods sprained his ankle midway through the second half. Goods wasn't exactly tearing it up before getting hurt, however, as he was 1-6 for three points in 23 minutes with four turnovers before leaving. For all the focus on Justin Dentmon's lackluster offense yesterday, that defense has to be taken into account, as well.

Here's the view from the San Jose Mercury News reporting that Goods could be out a while.

If so, and if Stanford has trouble recovering, maybe the Cardinal is the team that the Huskies can slip past to get into sixth place. Stanford, however, finishes with four of six at home, and two figure to be sure wins against Oregon State and Arizona State. The other four, however, are tough --- Oregon, Arizona and at USC and UCLA.

The weekend didn't have much impact on UW's RPI. The Huskies are still No. 74. The Pac-10 remains No.3 and UCLA remains No. 1 with the Bruins not suffering despite the loss to at West Virginia. The key word there being "at'' as the RPI is particularly forgiving for road defeats, and rewarding of road wins.

To answer a couple of things --- The coaches wore sneakers as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer weekend sponsored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society. They do it every year around this time.

As for Dentmon, I haven't heard him complain about his thumb in a while so I don't know if that's an issue or not. The last time I asked him about it he downplayed it and said it wasn't a real problem.


February 11, 2007

Hawes and defense key win

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:34 PM

The talk after UW's 64-52 win over Stanford was about the team's defense and the return to form of Spencer Hawes.

The Huskies held Stanford to 52 points, only Weber State (51) has scored fewer against UW this year, and 38 percent shooting.

Hawes, meanwhile, scored 18 points despite being guarded most of the game by Stanford's Robin Lopez, the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots.

"It was good tonight to see him playing like the normal Spencer,'' said UW forward Jon Brockman.

If the Huskies continue to get those two things --- defense and solid play from Hawes --- a run at the NCAA Tournament isn't out of the question.

UW has six games left and wins in four of them might actually be enough to get them in. That would put the Huskies at 20-10 overall before the Pac-10 tournament, which would give an opportunity for another win or two (or three or four depending on how it unfolds).

And if all four of their remaining regular-season wins came in Pac-10 play, UW would finish 10-8, which might also be enough (though much still depends, in terms of perception, on how competitive the Huskies are against Pitt Saturday).

Just as important, doing that would give the Huskies a solid record in their last 10 games, which is one of the key factors the NCAA Tournament considers.

UW's RPI was 77 heading into today's game, which obviously isn't very good. But as I detailed in a story talking with some bracketologists last week, UW's RPI isn't a huge issue. If they win the games they need to win the rest of the way, the RPI will rise enough to make it good enough.

As for the defense, UW players said afterward it's mostly an issue of finally understanding its importance.

"We put together a very good defensive effort tonight,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "I thought, as a group, we did what we were supposed to do. It was just great to see guys go out and compete together as a team at a high level.''

"Our guys did a prety good job of containing everyone and we really did a good job of being alert and rotating,'' Romar continued. "I thought, in the first half, we got almost every loose ball.''

The Huskies weren't great on offense, shooting just 38.2 percent themselves, but they at least had the right guys shooting most of the time. Hawes and Brockman were a combined 11-24 and Ryan Appleby and Quincy Pondexter took the majority of the rest of the shots. In fact, those four were 19-41. The rest of the team was 2-14.

Justin Dentmon had a subpar game, but was hampered by two early fouls that had him on the bench for all but six minutes in the first half, and he then spent most of the second half trying to get the ball inside as the Huskies made a more concerted effort to do that after the break. Dentmon was 0-4 with three points, two turnovers and no assists in 19 minutes.

"We turned the ball over too many times in the first half (7),'' Romar said. "But until the last minute or two, we did a good job of taking care of the ball in the second half.''

A day for defense

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:00 PM

The Huskies won this one in a most unusual way --- with their defense. That's been their main weakness much of this season but one they appear to be on the way to improving if this game is any evidence.

The 52 points scored by Stanford is the fewest allowed by UW in a conference game this year and the second-lowest of the season --- the only lower total was Weber State's 51 on Dec. 22.

Another good sign is that Spencer Hawes looks back to his old self --- in the starting lineup and leading the Huskies with 18 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes while helping hold the Lopez Twins to a combined 13 points.

And for another night, the Huskies keep those NCAA Tournament fires at least on the back burner.

Wednesday's game against WSU takes on that much more importance now.

Entertaining first half

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:54 PM

If probably a little bit nerve-wracking for UW fans.

The Huskies have led almost all the way, but have never been able to get the lead above five, with Stanford making just enough three-pointers (3-8) to offset UW's four-point edge at the free throw line.

Spencer Hawes indeed started and looked like he was on his way to his best game in weeks in the first two minutes when he scored the first two points and then had assists that led to four more.

But strangely, the ball never seemed to really find its way into Hawes' hands all that much the rest of the way --- he didn't score again until the final four minutes despite being on the floor most of the way (he played 15 minutes).

Brandon Burmeister has played eight minutes and has five key points.

This looks like a game that will come down to foul trouble and free throws, one reason both coaches have been on the refs from the start. Every foul figures to be precious.

Hawes expected to start

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:08 PM

There had been rumblings the last few days that Spencer Hawes would return to the starting lineup in time for the Stanford game, and with tipoff nearing, that appears to be the word.

Nothing official yet, but Hawes is expected to start in game of much importance to the Huskies.

Here's our story on today's game focusing on Stanford's Mitch Johnson, an O'Dea High grad whose role has changed as this season has progressed.

February 10, 2007

Can the Huskies realistically move above seventh?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:05 PM

That seems a relevant question after a Saturday of basketball that didn't include UW.

Here are the Pac-10 standings with only UW and Stanford left with a game to play this weekend:

1, UCLA 10-2
2, WSU 10-3
3, USC 8-4
4, Stanford 7-4
5, Oregon 8-5
Arizona 8-5
7, Washington 5-7
8, Cal 4-8
9, Oregon State 2-11
10, Arizona State 0-13

All along, I thought 10-8 would be enough to get the Huskies into sixth place. But I'm not so sure anymore looking at those standings, particularly considering Arizona would have the tiebreaker on the Huskies and the best UW can do against Stanford and USC is split.

UW's best hope now seems to be for an Oregon fade, which would have to include a UW win over the Ducks. That would give Washington the tiebreaker on Oregon as well as simply handing the Ducks another loss..

But Oregon will probably be favored to win at least three of its remaining five games --- the Ducks travel to Cal and Stanford next weekend, then close with home games against WSU, UW and Oregon State.

Also, consider now that of UW's six conference games left, five are against the five (or five of the six) top teams in the conference.

That has all the makings of UW finishing right where it is now --- in seventh --- and having a third matchup this year with Arizona State in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament.

For reasons of the odds, if nothing else, the Huskies might want to hope that ASU wins one between now and then. The Sun Devils keep hanging tough, but also keep losing, and their schedule now turns rugged.

ASU has five chances left to avoid becoming the first 0-18 team in Pac-10 history --- home games with UCLA, USC and Arizona the next two weekends and then a road trip to the Bay Area to play Stanford and Cal.

Pondexter on future

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:52 PM

Really late posting this, but in case you didn't see it earlier, here's a link to the our story today on Quincy Pondexter, which expands on the post here Friday on his thoughts on his future.

As I said Friday, it seems unlikely he'd really go at the end of this year, but he was firm in saying he's going to at least think about it.

The story also goes into some of his struggles this season.

Pondexter, like some of UW's other freshmen this year, admits that he has had to learn to simply play hard all the time.

Lorenzo Romar, when asked what Pondexter had done to get back in the starting lineup, said "he has just been making it a point to try to play harder and try to get in there and do the thigns you ask of him.''

Gonzaga players suspended

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:23 AM

Now comes the inevitable word from ESPN's Andy Katz that Josh Heytvelt has been suspended following a drug arrest detailed below.

Here are the details from Katz.

And here's a story from the Spokesman-Review.

Could this really be a season where the only in-state team to make the NCAA Tournament is Washington State?

Gonzaga players arrested

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:43 AM

Gonzaga's big game with St. Mary's tonight figures to be a little overshadowed now with the news this morning that Josh Heytvelt and Theo Davis have been arrested for possession of drugs.

Here are the details from KHQ-TV in Spokane.

Here's a more detailed story from the AP posted at 10:51 a.m.

UPDATE - To answer the question below on Theo Davis, here's a story from a couple of weeks ago when he decided to redshirt the season.

February 9, 2007

Spencer and Phil's pad

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:24 PM

If you want to know how two of UW's freshman players are living, SI.com has the answer with this photo essay of the "crib'' of Spencer Hawes and Phil Nelson.

The text is written by Joshua Mayers, a UW student who also does some part-time work for the Times.

Pondexter still considering NBA

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:12 PM

Talked with Quincy Pondexter after practice today for a story that will turn in Saturday's paper.

But among the things he said is that he will still consider leaving after this season for the NBA, even though his freshman year has at times seemed like more of a struggle than might have been anticipated given the hype surrounding his arrival.

"You have to consider it,'' he said today. "You have to consider it no matter what because you never know. ... You have to think about it. I think every player, every scholarship is (year-to-year) so you have to come back and think and re-evaluate your situation and see what's best for you and your future and that's what I plan to do after this season.''

Pondexter is still rated pretty highly on a lot of draft lists, though most of them have him pegged as a Class of 2008 player and not this season. Pondexter's numbers have dropped off severely of late and he is averaging only 8.3 points in Pac-10 play. But he obviously has a lot of measurables that will attract NBA attention, and he showed his vast potential when he scored 25 against Arizona.

Still, I'd be pretty surprised if he's not back next season.

Conroy done in Memphis UPDATED

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:07 AM

Unfortunately, it looks like Will Conroy's time in Memphis is done.

This story in the Memphis paper states that Conroy won't be signed to another 10-day contract with his current 10-day contract having expired on Thursday.

UPDATED --- I should have pointed out earlier that Conroy was selected for the inaugural NBA D-League All-Star game as a guard for the Eastern Conference. He was voted in by fans and coaches who watched his development.

Being released by Memphis means he will likely be able to play in that game now. It will be held in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb.17 at 2 p.m.

Hawes on not starting, other notes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:51 AM

Some of this part of the notebook hasn't made it on-line yet, so I will present it here. Much of it touches on the starting lineup change last night and Spencer Hawes remaining on the bench.

Twenty-three games into a surprisingly troubled season, the Washington Huskies made another change to their starting lineup before a 79-71 win over Cal Thursday night.

But it didn't involve freshman center Spencer Hawes, left again on the bench in favor of Artem Wallace.

Instead, the Huskies made a switch at small forward, inserting Quincy Pondexter at small forward in place of Phil Nelson.

"Quincy has really been coming around lately,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "We felt he deserved to have an opportunity.''

Statistically, Pondexter didn't do much with it, scoring just two points in 19 minutes, though they were a memorable two, coming on a rousing dunk off a lob pass in the second half.

Hawes, meanwhile, made his case to return to the starting lineup, scoring 16 points and grabbing five rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench.

Hawes has been on the bench for the last five games after sitting out against Washington State with a sprained ankle. He has also been battling a virus but has recently begun returning to health.

"I feel like I'm getting some pop in my step,'' he said after the Cal game. "I'm playing with some more energy out there.''

Romar said afterward that if Hawes continues to perform as he did against Cal, he will likely return soon to the starting lineup.

"He's been able to practice more consistently the last two weeks and as a result we are seeing his play get better and better,'' Romar said.

Complicating matters, however, is that Wallace continues to improve and had eight points in 22 minutes against the Bears.
Hawes said he's not frustrated over not starting but admits he'd rather be starting than coming off the bench, saying "it's just something I've got to get used to. ... It's definitely an adjustment.''

Hawes said he met with Romar for the first time earlier this week about not starting.

"I talked to coach about it and he said once I get back in the flow of things and once he feels I'm ready to get back in there, the time will come,'' Hawes said. "But it's working out for the team. Since I've been out of the starting lineup we've won four of five.''

Nelson was moved ahead of Pondexter after a 96-74 loss to UCLA on Dec. 31.

Nelson started the nine games since then to mixed results " the Huskies are 4-5 in that time and Nelson has been erratic, scoring just four points in the last two games, getting two in an 84-54 loss at Arizona Saturday.

NOTES
[b] Cal starting point guard Ayinde Ubaka began the game on the bench after suffering a recurrence of a virus that held him out of practice earlier in the week but ended up playing 34 minutes.

[b] One of Jon Brockman's only missteps was a free throw that banked hard off the glass and didn't hit the rim. "They opened up the window and the win came in and blew it over the side,'' Brockman joked.

[b] Brockman now has 10 double-doubles this season.

[b] During the last five games, Brockman has averaged 17.2 points.

[b] UW is now 14-1 at home and 1-7 on the road.


February 8, 2007

Cal aftermath

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:19 PM

The Huskies are practicing at 8 a.m. tomorrow to allow the coaches to hit the road recruiting for the night with the Stanford game not until Sunday afternoon.

Which means those of us who cover the team have to be back here around 9 a.m. or so to get any interviews tomorrow. And means a short post tonight so I can get home.

That said, I think there were a lot of good things tonight.

Those of you who have wanted to see the Huskies go inside more on offense got your wish as UW attempted just 10 three-pointers in 51 field goal attempts. Jon Brockman (8-13) and Spencer Hawes (7-12) attempted almost half of UW's shots and made more than half (the Huskies were 29-51).

Brockman had five turnovers as he was as aggressive offensively as he has been all season. And there were a few other sloppy turnovers, as well. But UW had only six in the second half after losing 10 in the first half, one reason they outscored Cal 42-35 after the break after it was 79-71 at halftime.

The other big edge for UW was on the boards as the Huskies outrebounded Cal 37-23. I have a lot more on this in my game story on-line (after midnight) and in the pages of the Times tomorrow.

I'll also have some more on the lineup change, with Quincy Pondexter back in at forward for Phil Nelson.

Nelson played just eight minutes and didn't score and Hans Gasser didn't play at all for just the second time this year as the Huskies really shortended the rotation.

UW is now 15-8 and has won four of five. Certainly, three of the wins have come against the three teams now behind UW in the standings. But turnarounds have to start somewhere.

"We're taking baby steps,'' was the way Justin Dentmon put it.

They'll need to do more than that against Stanford and WSU in the next two games, however.

Huskies get needed win

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:28 PM

Not sensing a lot of interest out there tonight but feel free here to comment away on UW's win.

It was much-needed, and for a night, keeps alive the hopes for a tournament berth. UW has now won four of five, and can feel good that they dominated the inside again with Jon Brockman (22 and 14) and Spencer Hawes (16 and five) leading the way.

More later.

Huskies up one

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:16 PM

And it feels like it should be a lot more.

UW seems to be playing pretty well --- UW is shooting 16-24 from the field and outrebounding Cal 19-11. Yet the Bears are down just 37-36 largely by having hit 5-15 three-pointers --- not a great percentage but all seemingly at key times.

Also keeping it close are 10 UW turnovers, a season-long problem that just isn't going away.

Pondexter back in starting lineup

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:39 PM

The Huskies have made one change in their starting lineup tonight with Quincy Pondexter returning at forward in place of Phil Nelson.

Pondexter hasn't started since a 96-74 loss at UCLA on Dec. 31. Nelson started the last nine games in his place.

But in the wake of a 30-point loss to Arizona and the team needing some perimeter defense and scoring, the Huskies are trying yet another combination.

Two desperate teams

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:32 PM

Tonight's UW-Cal game has all the feel of a loser-out contest at state.

Realistically, the loser is all-but-done in terms of making a real run at the NCAA Tournament.

According to this story from the San Francisco Chronicle today, the Bears are feeling that desperation.

Here, also, is our story from today focusing on Cal's Ryan Anderson, the player the Huskies have to contain tonight to have a chance.

February 7, 2007

Counting them up again

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:36 PM

It's always a popular topic on here to discuss the team's scholarship situation everywhere there is a personnel move of some sort. So let's again break it down again in the wake of the decision this week to redshirt Joel Smith.

2006-07 roster

Scholarship players

SENIORS
F -- Hans Gasser

JUNIORS
G -- Ryan Appleby

SOPHOMORES
G -- Justin Dentmon
F -- Jon Brockman
F -- Artem Wallace

FRESHMEN
C -- Spencer Hawes
F -- Quincy Pondexter
F -- Phil Nelson
G -- Adrian Oliver
C -- Joe Wolfinger

REDSHIRTING
G -- Tim Morris
G -- Joel Smith

WALK-ON
G Brandon Burmeister (senior)

SCHOLARSHIP TOTAL -- 12.

Comment: I've left Wolfinger in the freshman category because even though he's redshirting, he's also losing a year of eligibility. Any appeal to get the year back will happen later and can't be assumed.

07-08 roster

SENIORS
G - Ryan Appleby
G - Tim Morris

JUNIORS
G - Justin Dentmon
F - Jon Brockman
F - Artem Wallace
G - Joel Smith

SOPHOMORES
C - Joe Wolfinger
C - Spencer Hawes
F - Quincy Pondexter
F - Phil Nelson
G - Adrian Oliver

FRESHMEN
F - Matthew Bryan-Amaning
F - Darnell Gant
G - Justin Holiday
TOTAL 14.

Comment:
This still leaves UW just one over the limit and as has been discussed here before, Tim Morris can be moved to walk-on status if necessary, so even if Hawes stays, the numbers will apparently work out.

Also, as Lorenzo Romar said today "we won't be young next year.'' In fact, this is the first year in a while the Huskies will seem to have almost a perfectly apportioned roster with decent numbers in each class.

08-09 roster

SENIORS
G - Justin Dentmon
F - Jon Brockman
C - Artem Wallace
G - Joel Smith

JUNIORS
C - Joe Wolfinger
C - Spencer Hawes
F - Quincy Pondexter
F - Phil Nelson
G - Adrian Oliver

SOPHOMORES
F - Matthew Bryan-Amaning
F - Darnell Gant
G - Justin Holiday

FRESHMEN
G - Isaiah Thomas
G - Elston Turner
TOTAL 14.

Comment: Thomas and Turner have committed but can't sign until November. Assuming all goes as planned, Smith's situation now puts UW one over with the roster as currently assembled, but there seems little chance Hawes would still be here this long, and an awful lot can happen with others on the roster, as well.

It certainly doesn't mean the Huskies stop recruiting for this class, just that they may now have to be a little more selective.

Smith comments on redshirting

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:45 PM

We were unable to talk with Joel Smith before practice today due to time constraints. But the UW sent out some quotes from Smith on his decision today to redshirt:

On His Decision to Red-Shirt the 2006-07 Basketball Season:
"It was a good decision for me and for the team. I want to be able to come back 100 percent and help my team to the fullest; not come back 70 percent or whatever percent I'm at now. I want to help the team out in a lot of different ways and right now I don't feel like I'm capable of doing that. It really irks me to know that I can't get out there and play. I'm a team player, so to not be able to get out there and help my team to the fullest really upsets me."

How difficult was the decision to red-shirt rather than return to play this season?
"It was really difficult because I'm such a competitor. I love to play and sitting here watching my guys struggle is hard. But I think it's a good decision because I want to make sure my body's right."

Would you have make this same decision two weeks ago, or was there a certain point of the season at which you would have decided to play this year?
"I wasn't really thinking about the numbers and the games, I was just trying to think about recuperating and getting back into the motion and the movement of the game. I wasn't thinking about other stuff, I was just thinking about playing."

When did you and Coach Romar meet to make this decision?:
"We talked yesterday after practice just to make sure where each others' heads were and what we wanted to do."

How does it feel to have returned to practice this week after being sidelined the majority of the season?
"It feels great. This is the happiest I've been all year. I'm just getting back in the flow of things now."

Joel Smith to redshirt

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:49 PM

Lorenzo Romar just announced that Joel Smith will redshirt this season.

Romar said Smith came to the decision earlier today.

"He's not 100 percent and he just felt like when he came back, he wanted to be healthy and 100 percent,'' Romar said.

Smith said Tuesday he was only about 70 percent, and with only nine games guaranteed left in the season, there isn't enough time to get healthy and play.

That means Smith will have two years remaining as a Husky.

Romar said earlier Smith would not redshirt this season, but said today, "We thought he would be back sooner.''

Smith suffered a stress fracture in the off-season and re-injured it in late November.

Romar said he left the final decision up to Smith but also said that as of Wednesday, he would have advised Smith to redshirt.

"There comes a point where I don't know how much sense it makes [to play],'' Romar said.

Smith had yet to be cleared to play medically, but now that's a moot point.


Tough road to tourney

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:17 AM

I'll start this morning by linking my story in today's paper on UW's NCAA Tournament chances.

I talked this week with three of the more respected bracketologists in the game, including Joe Lunardi of ESPN, and Jerry Palm and Ken Pomeroy, who each run their own web sites.

The general consensus is the strength of UW's schedule the rest of the way makes it possible for the Huskies to get in if they could win six of their last eight. But they all also agreed that the way UW has played of late leaves little real reason to think the Huskies can do it.

One note that didn't make it in the story was whether the fact UW has four losses by 20 or more points would hurt them --- meaning, is a blowout worse than a buzzer-beater?

"RPI doesn't factor that in, but subjectively in the committee's mind, it factors in a little bit,'' said Pomeroy. "If they end up being a bubble team, they are going to look at the fact that there might have been a few games where they weren't competitive. But you can consider scenarios where if they got hot and won road games at Pitt and Oregon, it would change that perception.''

February 6, 2007

Smith says "it's long odds'' to return

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:09 PM

Joel Smith met with the media here before practice today and seemed to indicate that he is likely to redshirt this season.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar said earlier that a final decision would come tomorrow. Smith said he only wants to return if he is "100 percent'' having already suffered two injuries this season to his left foot.

He practiced Monday for the first time since re-injuring the foot in November and said he felt he was about 70 percent. Told that sounded like a lot of ground to make up in a day, Smith agreed.

"It's long odds, yeah,'' he said. "It's definitely long odds.''

With just eight regular-season games left, Romar said the time to make a decision one way or another is arriving. Smith said he's not worried so much about giving up a full season to play just a third of one. Instead, he said his bigger concern is simply making sure he's healthy before returning and that that may not happen quickly enough to return this season.

"I've got to make sure my body is right before I just jump back into it,'' he said.

Jamaal in the house

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:09 PM

There was an old, familiar face walking around Edmundson Pavilion today --- that of former Husky Jamaal Williams.

Williams said he was back in town for a few days "just chilling.''

He said he is taking a few days off before beginning play in the NBA DL. He said he has agreed to become part of a player pool where he will then be drafted, so he doesn't yet know where he will be playing.

Williams played in France last fall but said he left there once his playing time dropped.

"They were playing me a lot in the beginning and then it just stopped,'' he said.

He said he thinks he was a victim of the fact that the team had another American on its roster as well as a Croatian, which made it difficult to make sure that a certain amount of French players were always on the floor, as well.

"I don't think they were used to having two Americans on their roster,'' he said.

Williams recently played in one game for the King County Royals of the ABA, but said that was just a one-game thing, agreeing to play for a night because he was in town.

Smith decision coming Wednesday

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:42 PM

A quick note from Lorenzo Romar's press conference today --- he said Joel Smith practiced Monday, will practice again today, with a final decision on his status for this season then coming on Wednesday.

Smith has been cleared to practice but hasn't yet been medically cleared to play. That evaluation will come on Wednesday.

Romar said the two have not yet met to discuss what Smith wants to do if he is medically cleared.

And Romar said the final decision "is up to him.'' If Smith wants to play this year, then he'll play. If he doesn't, Romar said, then he won't and will redshirt.

Romar said Smith looked good in practice Monday, adding "energy, toughness and enthusiasm. You could just tell he's been around.''

February 5, 2007

Answering some questions

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:17 PM

Kristian asked a couple of questions and I'm having my own trouble posting on the comments section, so I'll just put the answers here:

The first was wondering why WSU's non-conference SOS rating is so low especially considering a few opponents made the NCAA tournament last year. WSU's non-conference SOS this week is 298.

I think it's so low because a lot of those teams WSU has played haven't turned out to be good this year. That they were tourney teams last year is irrelevant --- the rating is based on performance this season. Utah, for instance, is 8-14, UAB is 11-11, etc. Only three of WSU's non-conference games were road games, and one was against Idaho and the other was a loss to Utah, so that hasn't helped much.

The Pac-10's overall RPI remains No. 3, to answer another question.

As for why ASU played so well against both the Cougars and Huskies in the second half ---- against both teams, the Sun Devils made a subtle change in their zone defense at the half. Against UW, ASU moved a defender from inside out to the high post to try to take away all those shots Spencer Hawes and others were getting from the FT line-area early. Against WSU, the Sun Devils brought the defense out further on the perimeter, making it almost man-to-man at times. Obviously, neither WSU nor UW reacted real well. But mostly, ASU justkept playing really hard. ASU needs another player or two to compete, but they guys they do have are really trying.

Poll position

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:09 PM

It no longer affects the Huskies, but we'll post the Top 25s for this week anyway.

Here's the AP version, which shows mammoth amounts of respect for the Pac-10 with six conference teams ranked --- UCLA (2), Oregon (13), Washington State (14), USC (19), Arizona (24) and Stanford (25).

I wasn't quite as kind to the Pac-10, listing just four. Here's my poll:

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

Despite the big win over UW, Arizona has still lost six of nine. Stanford also lost a home game last week to Gonzaga, and I thought the Bulldogs looked like the better team throughout the game, so I couldn't see rating the Cardinal and not Gonzaga. Hence, the Zags got my final spot, which would have gone to Stanford otherwise.

Here's the coaches poll which was more in line with mine when it comes to the Pac-10, listing just four conference teams --- UCLA (2), WSU (14), Oregon (15), USC (21).


Nice read on Holidays

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:07 AM

We'll put aside UW's dreary present for the moment to take a look into the future.

Here's a good read from over the weekend on Justin and Jrue Holiday from the Orange County Register.

Justin Holiday has signed to play at UW next year while Jrue, now a junior, is considering UW but as he states in the story "I'm not close to making that decision.'' The story states it's down to UCLA and UW.

Jrue is regarded as the better of the two but Justin's stock has been rising recently.

I've talked to Justin Holiday a couple times and every time he has said that he think his presence at UW might help bring Jrue north, as well, but that he's trying to stay out of it as much as he can.

February 4, 2007

The day after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:34 PM

Finally back in Seattle after a full day of basketball Saturday.

I not only covered the Husky blowout but then drove up to Tempe in time to see the Cougars squeak one out against Arizona State.

In case you missed it, WSU played much the same game against ASU Saturday as did the Huskies on Thursday. The Cougars took a big first half lead, then let ASU come back before hanging on. In WSU's case, the Cougs needed a last-second miss of a wide-open three by Christian Polk to win 48-47. Some of the parallels were eerie --- UW went 5-21 from the floor against ASU in the second half after shooting better than 60 percent in the first half, while WSU was 4-20 after shooting better than 60 percent in the first half.

One thing I'll say about ASU, the Sun Devils are one of the hardest-working teams in the conference. If UW played that hard all the time, the Huskies might have another win or two.

Here's our coverage of yesterday's loss, starting with the game story which is similar to much of what was posted here Saturday but has some additional information. Here, also, is the notebook focusing on Artem Wallace.

And Steve Kelley wrote a column today here today about Hawes and the issue of being a one-and-done player. As poorly as Hawes played Saturday, he is still highly thought of by the NBA --- remember, drafting is as much about potential as it is about college production, and he's a 7-footer with rare skills for a player that size.

Here, also, is the updated Pac-10 RPI from Ken Pomeroy showing the Huskies at No. 74 after Saturday's loss.

Admittedly, after Saturday it seems a little futile to even talk about the Huskies and the RPI. I think for now we should just see if they can win these next three home games before talking about their tournament hopes again. Do that, and there's still life. Until then, probably best not to worry about it.

Not that Pomeory thinks that's going to happen. Here are his latest projections for the Huskies and he's got s, UW losing six of their final eight games, which would be a 16-14 overall record and just 6-12 in conference play.

Maybe Husky fans can at least take solace in this --- by losing two games this weekend, Oregon went from a tie for first in the Pac-10 to fifth. And as bad as the Huskies were, they weren't as bad as Oregon State, which scored its fewest points in a Pac-10 game in 41 years Saturday at UCLA.

We may have more here later but I'm not promising anything with a Super Bowl yet to watch.

February 3, 2007

Game story posted

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:53 PM

In case you missed it, we've posted my game story from Tucson already.

You can find it here and it hopefully answers most of the questions you might have about what happened and what the reaction was in the locker room.

Defensively, UW players felt they simply didn't give the effort necessary to win. That also showed up on the boards, which Arizona dominated 45-28.

Offensively, UW players and coaches said the Huskies didn't work the ball inside enough --- 20 of their 63 attempts were three-pointers --- and took shots too early.

"We'd settle for a shot right away when our rebounders couldn't get down in position,'' said Jon Brockman. "It was just like a shot would go up and all the sudden they'd be out on their break. That's a tough thing to deal with. But we do have a lot of good shooters and a lot of times they are going to make those.''

Romar: We didn't compete

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:09 PM

The post-game interviews are over following what was the second-worst loss of the Lorenzo Romar era.

And the coach had a simple explanation for Arizona's 84-54 win here Saturday ---"Our inability to compete at our highest level.''

Romar said several times the Huskies simply failed to play as hard as the Wildcats. "I thought we would compete much harder,'' he said.

Romar cited Artem Wallace, who scored a career-high 12 and led the Huskies, as the one player who really did play hard.

As for why the team would come out that way in a game of this magnitude, Romar said "I don't know.''

It's ugly now

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:57 AM

Obviously any illusion anyone had that UW's three-game winning streak marked a return to form for the Huskies has been shattered.

Washington is getting outclassed in every way in this one, and right now, thinking of the NCAA Tournament seems like a pipe dream.

I'll have more after the game, but for now, the analysis is simple --- Arizona is by far the better team, and the Huskies have a long ways to go to be considered an upper echelon squad.

In big trouble now

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:10 AM

Shooting slump? What shooting slump?

Arizona must like the color purple or something, because while they haven't been able to hit the ocean against just about everybody else in the Pac-10, they fill it up against the Huskies.

UA maade 16-27 shots in the first half, and 4-9 three-pointers, and that has been the big difference.

UW went to the 2-3 zone late in the first half but that did little good, either.

UW's offense, meanwhile, has been non-existent most of the time as the Huskies are just 11-30.

Here are some sobering numbers --- in their last two halves of basketball (today and the second half Thursday) UW has been outscored 85-48 and has shot just 16-51.


McClellan likes Huskies

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:59 AM

I detailed in my story today that Jawann McClellan went into a deep slump after leaving Seattle. He hit 6-9 three-pointers against UW last month, but had gone 6-30 since then.

But he hit his first three-pointer today, and is 2-2 overall, which is a bad sign for the Huskies.

No zone so far

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:50 AM

One of the questions coming into this one was whether the Huskies would stay with the 2-3 zone they used most of the time when these teams met in Seattle, or go with their more usual man-to-man.

So far, it's been nothing but man defense. But even that isn't slowing down an Arizona team that evidently likes to play against UW. Arizona hasn't shot well in weeks, but has made seven of its first 11 shots here to take a 17-14 lead with 11:55 left in the first half.

At the arena

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:26 AM

About an hour before tipoff and most of the players on both teams are shooting around. Spencer Hawes is having a rather lengthy conversation with Chase Budinger at midcourt as I write this.

The overriding theme of this is one is two teams in desperate need of a big win after surprising free falls in the first half of the Pac-10 season.

Here's my story today including the note that Arizona may make another change to its starting lineup with Jawann McClellan moving to the bench to make way for Jordan Hill and the return to health of Marcus Williams.

Here's a story from the Arizona Daily Star with a title that just about perfectly sums it up --- From Promise to Free Fall in a Month.''

Here, also, is the Daily Star's scouting report.

Here's a link to the coverage in the Tucson Citizen, which focused on Hill becoming a starter for the Wildcats.

A couple of my keys today:

1,The Huskies have to not fall behind early. Sounds obvious, but this is still a team with some shaky confidence, and the road games where it was blown out, it was blown out early and never recovered, while the ones in which it won or was competitive, it got ahead or at least stayed right there early on. But this is particularly key today as Arizona also has a fragile psyche right now given its slump. The reaction of both the Arizona players and crowd today figures to be interesting.

2, The Huskies have to shoot well. Another that sounds like a no-brainer. UW has shot better than 50 percent on the road only once all year --- at UCLA, which was mostly because it made a few shots late after the game had been long decided.

3, UW has to force some turnovers. The Huskies are at their best when they get some steals and get out in transition. Considering that in the last three games, all wins, UW has averaged eight steals. In the previous three, all losses, UW averaged three.

February 2, 2007

Whod'a thunk it?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:03 PM

So raise your hand if you figured a few months ago that UW and Arizona would meet tomorrow with sixth place on the line.

Actually, both teams could be worse than that if Cal were to beat Stanford and UW beat Arizona, which would put the Bears in sixth and UW and Arizona in a tie for seventh.

UW center Spencer Hawes agreed that he never would have imagined it.

"Still, it's a huge game for both teams and any time you play Arizona, it's a big one regardless of the circumstances,'' he said.

The Huskies practiced here today looking revived in the wake of their three-game winning streak.

They realize the three games they've won don't compare to what they could accomplish here tomorrow considering Oregon was without Aaron Brooks and the other two were against the two worst teams in the league.

Still, they feel as if they are finding themselves.

"The way that we have played lately, it wouldn't have mattered who we would have played --- we would have had a chance to win those games,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "To go on the road and play the way we did in the first half (against Arizona State) has me a lot more optimistic. You can't fake that.''

The sloppy second half, however, left a slight smudge on that win as ASU outscored UW 40-22 after the Huskies had grabbed a 44-21 halftime lead.

On Friday, Romar again attributed the second-half collapse mostly to playing tentative and being inexperienced with playing with a lead.

"You run across all these different experiences for the first time as a team,'' Romar said. "That was the first time we had a substantial lead on the road like that.''

Romar has instead concentrated on the fine play in the first half, saying that the team's improving health may have made a difference.

"We are finally healthy,'' Romar said. "Guys were active and fresh and quick.''

Romar said the lineup will remain the same even though Spencer Hawes is beginning to look like his old self.

Hawes played 30 minutes against ASU with 13 points and seven rebounds and said after Friday's practice he felt "pretty good. So it's good to be back in that flow.''

Arizona coach Lute Olson met the media here for a while today, as well, and professed nothing but confidence that his team has merely hit a little lull.

"I think we can be very good,'' he said, then pointed out that the team's new starting lineup includes two freshmen. "But we are still a work in progress.''

The main reason UA has slumped is its poor shooting --- Arizona is now eighth in the Pac-10 in three-point percentage (34.5). Hard to believe for those who saw Arizona nail 11-20 against Washington.

Olson said he will continue with the team's new lineup which features 6-9 freshmen Jordan Hill. Hill started in place of Marcus Williams Thursday against WSU with Williams nursing a sprained ankle. But Hill may start tomorrow in place of guard Jawann McClellan as Olson said he wants go to with a bigger lineup.

"We're better with two big guys in,'' Olson said.


The morning after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:12 AM

I've arrived safely in Tucson, where the general reaction is shock over what has happened to the Wildcats.

Arizona has lost six of eight, its deepest slump since the 1983-84 season, Lute Olson's first when he was rebuilding a team that had gone 4-24 the year before.

Here's an example from the Arizona Daily Star.

Here also is our coverage from today --- a game story, focusing on the Huskies finally getting a road win; and the notebook, focusing on Herb Sendek's ejection.

February 1, 2007

ASU observations

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:21 PM

It was a road win, which in the end is all that really matters.

ASU is still playing hard, despite having now lost 11 in a row --- remember that Oregon won here by only five a few weeks ago.

That said, this was one of the strangest games of this or any season, with UW doing almost everything right in the first half and leading by 24 at one point, then seeming to tighten up in the second half and almost lose it all.

"We were playing not to lose,'' said Justin Dentmon.

But for the first time in a road game, the Huskies didn't lose, and that's all Lorenzo Romar cared about.

"I'm more focused on the things we did in the first half,'' he said. "We were sharp. And when you are sharp like that, that's what you build on.''

"That's the best half we've played all year. My glass is half full all the time. We can make the adjustments (to prevent what happened in the second half again). We will take care of that were it to ever occur again.''

Spencer Hawes said the Huskies "got timid for a while'' in the second half. And that began even before Herb Sendek was thrown out, which sent the crowd into even more of an uproar. There wasn't a big crowd, but what there was roared its lungs out the final 10 minutes after Sendek's departure.

Sendeck was ejected for "inciting an undesirable response from the crowd'' in the words of official Michael Reed, who whistled both technicals. I'll have more on all of that in the stories in the paper tomorrrow, and on-line a little later.

Some interesting numbers:

--- UW had 44 points in the first half, 22 in the second half. That's their lowest scoring half of the season (it had been 23 against WSU).

--- UW had just three three-pointers, all from Ryan Appleby in the first half. Only once all year (two against Weber State) has UW had fewer.

--- UW had 19 turnovers, 13 in the second half.

--- Brandon Burmeister was the unsung hero of this one, playing nine of his 11 minutes in the second half as Romar looked for someone to settle the team down. His steal with about a minute left was huge as it appeared ASU would get the ball, down just three. Instead, it then set up Dentmon's big basket a few seconds later. Interesting on that play, however, that it was called a turnover for UW and a steal for Burmeister when he got it back, yet the shot clock wasn't reset.


It's a final

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:59 PM

The Huskies finally have that elusive road win, staving off a wild ASU rally to beat the Sun Devils here 66-61.

Justin Dentmon scored four points in the final 37.7 seconds to keep the Huskies ahead after ASU cut the lead to three.

It wasn't pretty at the end as the Huskies scored just 22 points in the second half, but it'll count just the same.

We'll have more here later.

Hanging on

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:55 PM

This one got way closer than it figured it could as ASU cut the lead to 61-58 and almost had the ball. But Brandon Burmesiter stole the ball when an ASU player attempted to save a steal with about a minute left --- Ryan Appleby threw the ball away on a cross-court pass.


Then Dentmon floated in a shot from about five feet as the shot clock was running out to put UW ahead 63-58 with 37.7 seconds.

Now, after an ASU miss, the Huskies are at the line with a chance to all but salt the game with 24.1.

Hang-on time

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:49 PM

ASU is down just seven, 61-54, and has the ball with 2:29 left and this possession may decide the game.

The Huskies look a little tight and the crowd has been in this one ever since Sendek was booted.

Quick update --- There's now 2:18 left and Jeff Pendergraph is at the line after missing a dunk that could have been a three-point play. That's two pointblank dunks he has missed.

To answer one question, UW simply looks really tight, like a team that hasn't won a road game and is waiting for someone to take over. They had a nice plan in the first half against ASU's zone, but in the second half, it's simply not working as well.

Huskies regain some control

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:37 PM

It's not over as ASU has a chance to cut the lead to nine out of a timeout with 7:49 left.

But the Huskies appear to have regained some measure of control in this one after ASU cut the lead to eight. On two straight possessions, UW got the ball inside, with Hawes getting a dunk and Brockman a three-point play.

And if the Huskies hold on, consider this --- they will have the same overall record as Arizona, which fell to 14-7 with its home loss to the Cougars tonight.

They just announced the WSU score here to much applause.

Finally feels like a road game

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:29 PM

The Sendek ejection has made this finally feel like a road game, as much of the crowd is still standing. ASU has cut the lead to 54-41 and has the ball, and the Huskies are going to have to work harder for this one than it appeared at halftime.

The Huskies don't look real smooth on offense now, with ASU still in that zone, while UW has switched to a 2-3 zone.

Sendek ejected

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:23 PM

It just got interesting here as Herb Sendek was given two technical fouls and ejected with 13:16 left.

ASU fans began booing a foul called on Antwi Atuahene in a scramble for the ball with Ryan Appleby. Sendek raised his hands to urge more booing, and was apparently told to stop. When he persisted, he was whistled for a T. When he continued, he got another T.

Appleby made all four free throws to give UW a 52-38 lead and stop a 17-4 ASU run to start the second half.

The crowd is still booing.

A sluggish second half start

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:12 PM

ASU has shown some life, outscoring UW 11-2 to start the second half and cut the lead to 46-32, enticing Lorenzo Romar to call a time out.

It was obvious Romar didn't like what he saw early as he made three substitutions in the first three minutes, getting Hawes, Pondexter and Brandon Burmeister in the game.

A couple more halftime notes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:02 PM

The 21 points scored against UW by ASU is the lowest allowed by the Huskies this year --- the previous low was 22 by Nicholls State.

And UW's 44 points was the second-most scored in a half against ASU this year.

The Huskies also outrebounded ASU 19-9 led by Brockman's five, and had 11 assists to ASU's four.

Huskies lead 44-21 at half

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:49 PM

And that score is completely reflective of how the game has gone as UW has dominated in every way.

The Huskies have hit 17-26 shots while ASU has made just 7-22. ASU is 4-13 on three-pointers, the only thing that kept the game even remotely close for a few minutes.

Spencer Hawes indeed looks on the road to recovery as he has 10 points to lead all scorers. He also has a newly shaven head that will ask him about afterward.

Ryan Appleby has nine, having hit three three-pointers. Brockman has eight points and Justin Dentmon seven, and Quincy Pondexter six as the Huskies simply look a lot more energetic than some other recent games.

ASU stayed in a zone but the Huskies had little trouble attacking it.

A rout coming?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:40 PM

It sure looks like it as the Huskies have busted out ahead 40-18, with ASU getting just two baskets in the last six-and-a-half minutes.

The Huskies are having little trouble with ASU's zone, finding Spencer Hawes for a few elbow jumpers and Ryan Appleby for three three-pointers.

UW hit 12 of its first 19 shots and has just three turnovers as I type this with 3:20 to go in the first half.

In a play typifying how things have gone, ASU's Jeff Pendergraph missed a slam dunk on a putback that bounced to three-point line where UW's Quincy Pondexter picked it up and raced for a dunk of his own on the other end.

A good start

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:29 PM

There's a timeout here with 7:35 to go in the first half, and UW is up 26-14 with a free throw still to come by Jon Brockman.

This is exactly the kind of start the Huskies needed as they attempt to overcome their road jitters.

ASU is playing primarily a 2-3 zone and the Huskies are doing a good job of attacking it, getting a few baskets on the baseline and working it around to get a few lay-ins, as well.

It also helps that ASU has made just four of its first 11 shots.

It's quiet in here

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:14 PM

So quiet that sitting at press row across from the team benches, we can hear much of what the coaches are saying, especially ASU's Herb Sendek who has been loudly protesting everything so far with the officials.

There can't be more than 2,500 people here, though who knows what they will announce. And there are maybe 200 students.

Not much atmosphere here

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:46 PM

Of all the road obstacles the Huskies may be facing tonight, a raucous crowd won't be one of them.

It's 13 minutes before tipoff and there aren't more than 2,000 people here. A few more will likely arrive, but this is always one of UW's least attended road games, and with ASU at 0-9, there doesn't figure to be a lot of energy here.

One notable face in attendance, however, is former Sonic Hersey Hawkins, who now lives in the area. Hawkins is sitting behind the UW bench with his two sons, who now play high school ball in the area. Hawkins said he's pretty much living the retired life and helping coach his sons and doing a little announcing.

At the arena

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:50 PM

I've travelled all day but finally made it to Wells Fargo Arena for another game that looms as make-or-break.

Guess we've said that before every game lately, but it rings true once again. Hard to see how UW could make a tourney run without winning this game and finally getting over the hump on the road.

But win tonight, and while there is still a long ways to go, the Huskies will again make up ground on three other teams that are ahead of them in the standings.

Since this game is not on TV, I'll try to post more often during the game to give you some of my impressions.

Was Stanford loss good or bad for Huskies?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:04 AM

My general feeling watching the Stanford-Gonzaga game Wednesday night was that the Huskies needed the Cardinal to win to help enhance the perception of the Pac-10, especially in the wake of Arizona's loss to North Carolina over the weekend.

The Pac-10, as we noted earlier in ithe week, has fallen to No. 3 in the RPI. Here's an update through games of Wednesday from Ken Pomeroy.

Pomeroy, interestingly enough, has a blog today restating his case that the Pac-10 is vastly overrated.

Then, as Gonzaga pulled away in the second overtime, I started wondering if maybe the Huskies weren't better off if Stanford lost.

Consider that the Cardinal is now 14-6 overall, potentially just a half-game better than the Huskies (who are 13-7) if UW can beat Arizona State tonight. Stanford also now has home losses to Air Force, Santa Clara and Gonzaga. It does have wins over Texas Tech and Virginia, the latter on the road, and a much better strength of schedule (you can check that out on the link above).

But the Huskies have a chance to enhance their non-conference credibility with the game at Pitt Feb. 17, and could easily end up with more overall wins than the Cardinal.

Obviously, all of this is contengent on UW going at worst 6-3 (they probably really need to go 7-2) in Pac-10 play the rest of the way. And that needs to include a wn over Stanford.

But it seems to point out again that there are still ways for the Huskies to get into the tournament if they begin taking care of their own business.

By the way, here is our coverage today, including a mid-season review, and a look at Arizona State.

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