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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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March 31, 2007

Hoop scoop coaching rankings

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:18 PM

Sitting here flipping through the newest issue of Basketball Times during the dead time during the Final Four --- and there's beginning to be a lot of that as Florida runs away from UCLA.

Included in the issue is Hoop Scoop's ranking of college basketball head and assistant coaches, with the Huskies mentioned several times. (Hoop scoop is also on-line and is noted for its rankings of recruits).

Somewhat oddly, they include Lorenzo Romar in a list of "coaches in mid-career'' instead of having a long enough career to be included in the overall rankings, even though a guy like Georgie Tech's Paul Hewitt --- who is younger than Romar and hasn't been a head coach as long as Romar --- is on the overall list.

So Romar is listed No. 5 among the Top 40 Coaches in Mid-Career behind Karl Hobbs of George Washington, Steve Alford of Iowa (and now New Mexico), Bobby Gonzalez of Manhattan, and Stan Heath, just fired by Arkansas. Mid-career coaches are defined as those with 6-20 years of head coaching experience.

But Romar's ahead of guys like Larry Eustachy, Kevin Stallings, Skip Prosser, Trent Johnson and John Brady. (No other Pac-10 coaches are on the list).

The top 10 overall coaches, in order, are Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Bobby Knight, Rick Pitino, Jim Calhoun, Lute Olson, Ben Howland, Tom Izzo, Tubby Smith and John Calipari.

Other Pac-10 coaches on the top 40 list are Tim Floyd (No. 32) and Herb Sendek (No. 33).

The most curious selection may be Pepperdine's Vance Walberg at No. 30. Walberg has a long and successful history as a junior college coach, but this was his first season as a Division-I head coach.

That puts Walberg five spots ahead of Mark Few (No. 35). Like Few or not, hard to figure how Walberg rates as a better coach.

And I'm assuming this was a list done early in the season as Tony Bennett isn't anywhere --- not even on a separate list of the top 40 up-and-coming coaches, defined as coaches with five or fewer years as a head coach. The only Pac-10 coach on that list is Jay John at No. 26, which also seems debatable given OSU's shaky status.

Two UW coaches are included on the list of top 100 assistants --- Jim Shaw at No. 60 and Cameron Dollar at No. 77. Other Pac-10 assistants on the list are Arizona's Josh Pastner (No. 5), Oregon's Scott Duncan (No. 12), USC's Bob Cantu (No. 21), UCLA's Kerry Keating (No. 23), Cal's Joe Pasternack (38), USC's Gib Arnold (44), UCLA's Donny Daniels (58), Arizona State's Mark Phelps (81) and Oregon State's Kevin Mouten (87).

Pac-10 ref doing Ohio State-Georgetown game

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:49 PM

For those who like to keep tabs of how Pac-10 officials are viewed, Dick Cartmell is doing the Ohio State-Georgetown game.

Cartmell did probably a half-dozen UW games this year, and is generally regarded as one of the top officials in the conference. He is a native of Richland and still lives there.

March 30, 2007

Does Pac-10 run stop here?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:02 PM

Just hours away from tipoff of what should be a fun Final Four, so I thought I'd give you my picks (though considering I picked Texas to win it all, I'll understand if you choose to stop reading here). And I encourage you do the same in the comments section.

UCLA has been at the forefront of the Pac-10's emergence as one of the top conferences in the country this season, and the Bruins could help make a case for the Pac-10 as unquestionably the best if they can emerge victorious here.

But much as I'd like to see the Pac-10 run continue, I'm afraid it's about to end. At the risk of going all Billy Packer here, I just think Florida is better.

I keep reading all these stories about Florida's supposed complacency. And sure, the Gators have looked a little bored at times, having done all this before.

But hard to see that being a factor now.

These guys all came back with just one thing in mind --- to make history by repeating. I don't think they'll have any trouble turning it two steps away from immortality.

And assuming they come to play, they are still --- in my mind --- the best team in the country. I just don't think UCLA's front line will be able to match up with Florida's, which will be the ultimate difference (though I'd forgotten that the Bruins actually outrebounded the Gators a year ago 40-35).

I'd love to be wrong, though, as I think that if UCLA can get past Florida it will win the whole thing.

The X factor here is Ben Howland. You have to think it has burned him since last April the way that the Gators dominated UCLA in the final. Howland's a master at devising gameplans to shut down opponents, and I'm betting he's had plans in mind for this game since the day after the tournament ended a year ago.

But as much as I think Lorenzo Mata is one of the more underrated players around, I just have problems seeing him stop Noah or Horford, no matter how good the strategy.

Sure, maybe UCLA can make up for its apparent shortcomings up front if Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison have superhuman games.

But this is a special Florida team, driven here by a quest to create a special legacy.

In the end, I think they'll get it done. Call it 72-61 against the Bruins.

In the other game, I like Ohio State over Georgetown. The Hoyas are undoubtedly riding a magical wave to have gotten this far, and that sort of karma can't be discounted.

But neither can having Greg Oden on your side.

So make it 81-75 Buckeyes and another Ohio State-Florida clash for a national title. We'll leave for later what that would say about all the supposed parity in college sports.

Friday mismash

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:33 PM

A few news and notes for a rainy Friday afternoon:

--- Lorenzo Romar was on with Dave Mahler of KJR-AM earlier today from the Final Four in Atlanta and said "we don't know'' what Spencer Hawes is going to do. As we reported here a few days ago, Hawes and Romar will likely talk early next week after Romar returns from Atlanta. There is increasing speculation that Hawes will declare for the NBA draft so he can attend tryout camps, but won't hire an agent so he will have the option of returning. He would have until June 18 to pull out of the draft. Hawes continues to be regarded as a probable lottery pick.

--- UW assistant Cameron Dollar was also on with Mahler and said there is nothing new to report on the Long Beach State job. This jibes with recent reports out of Long Beach stating that the 49ers are continuing to look at candidates and that a decision may not be reached now until after the Final Four.
Dollar is considered to be one of the four leading candidates for the position. One of the others is UCLA assistant Kerry Keating and his involvement in the Final Four could be delaying things.

--- As some of you have already pointed out, WSU's Tony Bennett was a landslide choice as AP Coach of the Year, as announced today (story here). As the AP voter for the state of Washington this year, I had a vote for this award and I didn't have to think long --- actually, not at all ---- to cast it for Bennett. According to the Pac-10 media guide, Bennett is the first conference coach to win AP Coach of the Year honors since Oregon State's Ralph Miller in 1982.

March 29, 2007

San Jose paper rates Hawes 14th

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:45 PM

Here's a projection of the NBA lottery picks from San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami with some interesting comments on each player.

Kawakami writes that he talked to a number of scouts in the process of putting his draft order together, and he rates Hawes 14th with the comment that "he's a raw low-post specialist. NBA equivalent: A young and sane Rasheed Wallace.''

Not sure if calling him a "low-post specialist'' completely captures Hawes' value, however. So much of what awes scouts about Hawes is his ability to play facing the basket and handle the ball. I was reminded of that while watching some of the pickup game Wednesday when Hawes grabbed a rebound and led a fast break with a fancy dribble behind-his-back, the kind of move few 7-footers of any era could pull off.

Hawes struggled at times this season, there's no doubt, but a bad game or two obviously hasn't done much to scare off the NBA scouts as all of these mock drafts indicate.

Long Beach search goes on

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:06 AM

There was some thought that Cameron Dollar might have found out by now whether he will be the new head coach at Long Beach State.

Instead, as Frank Burlison explains in this story, Long Beach's seach goes on with the school's athletic director headed to Atlanta and the Final Four. Dollar will be there, as well, so things could still happen rapidly.

From what I gather, there won't be any decision-making on Dollar's part should he be offered the job. This is regarded as a great place for a young coach such as Dollar to get his start.

ESPN's Andy Katz, in his Daily Word column today, says that UCLA assistant Kerry Keating and former Gonzaga and Minnesota coach Dan Monson are the favorites, but also writes that Louisville assistant Marvin Menzies, who has a lot of West Coast experience, should also be in the mix. He didn't mention Dollar.

March 28, 2007

Hawes decision still a week or two away

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:13 PM

With the spring quarter beginning, UW players are back on campus, and with the season already a distant memory, beginning already to prepare for the future.

All of the returnees gathered for a pickup game this afternoon at Hec Ed, including center Spencer Hawes, who is back from his week vacation in Hawaii and enrolled in school.

Hawes, however, said he is still contemplating his next move --- to stay in school or declare for the NBA Draft. Or, simply, to declare without hiring an agent so he can attend workout camps to gather even more information about which way he should go, which seems to be the conventional wisdom as to what he is most likely to do.

Hawes said he would discuss the issue with some family members this week, including uncle Steve, then meet with UW coach Lorenzo Romar early next week after Romar returns from the Final Four (most coaches attend the event as it also serves as the annual NABC coaches convention).

Hawes said it will still be "another week or two before I really start getting down to it.''

The deadline to declare is April 29. Hawes would then have until June 18 to pull out of the draft as long as he hadn't hired an agent.

Hawes joked that he was still "in Maui mode'' after his vacation, and he was greeted with lots of "Hawaii 5-0'' type jokes from teammates.

Every returning Husky played today except for Joe Wolfinger, who is still rehabbing his foot. He went through a private conditioning and shooting workout earlier in the day.

Also playing today was Isaiah Thomas, the former Curtis High grad who intends to sign with UW for the Class of 2008, as well as Oregon State forward Marcel Jones, who is in the area for spring break.

ON STUCKEY --- Several questions on an earlier post about Eastern Washington's Rodney Stuckey and his future. I posted this last week but it bears linking again ---- a blog post from Dave Trimmer at the Spokesman-Review stating that Stuckey is enrolled at EWU for the spring quarter and appears to be debating only whether to declare for the NBA or return to Eastern and not transferring to another school. Transferring would require sitting out a season and delaying his NBA entry by two years, which doesn't seem to make much sense for someone who is regarded as a first-round pick this year. Here's a recent mock draft from HoopsHype that has Stuckey at No. 22 this season.

Speaking of mock drafts, here's one dated March 28 from that has Hawes at No. 10 and Stuckey at No. 33.

Looks like Bennett's staying

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:18 PM

Just a quick heads up that Washington State has called a press conference for later this afternoon to discuss the status of Tony Bennett's contract, with all indications that the school will announce an extension.

This means there may be no coaching movement at all in the Pac-10 this year, or in the Northwest, with indications out of Eugene that Ernie Kent may be staying put, as well, and with Bill Grier's decision to take the San Diego job indicating that Mark Few isn't budging from Gonzaga.

March 27, 2007

Roy to Hawes: Stay in school

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:31 PM

Here's a story from on Brandon Roy, making the case that staying all four years at UW is a big reason he's the odds-on favorite to be the NBA Rookie of the Year.

Most interesting for UW fans may be the final paragraph with a quote from Portland coach Nate McMillan saying that Roy wants to talk to Spencer Hawes and tell him to stay in school, that "it would be the right thing for him to do.''

Roy, of course, thought about turning pro early twice --- after his senior year of high school and again after his junior season at UW, the latter time staying mostly because of a knee injury which had limited his time during the 2004-05 season.

Every situation is different, but for Roy, it obviously has worked out just fine.

As for Hawes, he's back in town after spring break (yes, he's enrolled in school for the spring quarter) though apparently still contemplating his next move.

--- As for the Mike Montgomery to Long Beach State rumors posted on the comments section earlier, I don't think there's anything to that right now, anyway. I can't find any stories that mention that.

--- And from the "where are they now?'' department, here's a story from the Spokesman-Review on Idaho's hopes for next season, including some information on former Husky Harvey Perry and the comment that "some close to the program felt he was the team's (Idaho's) best player'' during practices this season.

Dollar interviews at Long Beach State

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:53 AM

After his name was bandied about as a potential candidate at Long Beach State last week, Cameron Dollar was officially contacted over the weekend and interviewed with school officials there on Monday.

Here's our story with more details from today's paper.

One note that didn't make it in the paper is that Washington will host Long Beach State next season. So if Dollar gets the job, he'll have a quick reunion with the Huskies.

While there are five rumored names of candidates, including that of former Gonzaga and Minnesota coach Dan Monson, one person told me they think the two favorites are Dollar and UCLA assistant Kerry Keating.

Here's more on the Long Beach State job from Frank Burlison at the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Frank also includes his All-Southern California high-school all-star teams with Justin Holiday making the second team and Jrue Holiday as the Junior of the Year.

--- Players are due back from spring break this week and will begin spring workouts with coaches as allowed by NCAA rules (players can work out for short periods in small groups). Word is that Spencer Hawes is expected to participate, though this isn't necessarily a sign of his ultmate intentions but just Hawes leaving his options open until he makes a final decision. One person told me today, however, that it isn't expected Hawes would hire an agent until the very end of the process, saying that a potential scenario is that Hawes will decide to go through some of the pre-draft workout stuff, then make his final decision close to the June 18 deadline to pull out.

--- Joe Wolfinger isn't expected to participate in the spring workouts and there is beginning to be some concern about his long-term status. Wolfinger missed the season with a stress fracture in his foot but his is a different injury than that of Joel Smith, who also missed the season with a stress fracture but has returned. Wolfinger has a navicular bone injury (Smith had a metatarsal injury), and those can be dicey for big men. Wolfinger has attempted to rehab without surgery (there was a point where surgery was planned but then when it began to heal better, it was called off). For now, the hope is still that Wolfinger will be back in time for the trip to Greece in August. But the next few months loom critical for Wolfinger's future.

March 26, 2007

Catching up with Isaiah Thomas

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:32 PM

Had a chance to talk for a little while today with Isaiah Thomas, the former Curtis High School guard who committed to the Huskies last spring.

Thomas, you may recall, was urged last fall to instead go to South Kent (Conn.) Prep School to solve some academic issues, which will delay his entry into college until the fall of 2008.

But Thomas reiterated today that when he does enroll, he will definitely be a Washington Husky.

"I'm committed to them and they are committed to me,'' Thomas said, adding he plans to sign during the early period next November.

Thomas is home for spring break but returns to South Kent this weekend. He will return home this summer to play for the Friends of Hoop AAU team, then return to South Kent in the fall for another season there.

"I've got to stay for another year,'' Thomas said.

Thomas said he enjoyed this season at South Kent after struggling early with a little homesickness.

"It's going good now, once I got used to being away from home and school,'' he said, adding that he averaged 27 points and eight assists this season for South Kent.

The team lost in the semifinals of the New England Preparatory School Athletic
Conference playoffs, details of which are here.

While home, Thomas has played a little pickup ball with Franklin's Venoy Overton, who also recently committed to UW and will sign next month.

Thomas said he's excited about the thought of playing alongside Overton in UW's backcourt.

"We played on some AAU teams when we were younger, so we've got a good relationship,'' Thomas said. "It'll be good playing with another hometown basketball player.''

Thomas said there is no issue with how the two play together.

"He's the two and I'm the one, or he's the one and I'm the two --- it doesn't matter,'' Thomas said. "We just play basketball.''

That's a philosophy that jibes with that of coach Lorenzo Romar, who disdains classifying his players, particularly in the backcourt.

At South Kent, Thomas played alongside another future Husky, big man Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who has already signed and will enroll as a member of the Class of 2007.

"He's a good player,'' Thomas said. "He's a three and a four. He posts up more than he's on the wing. But he's real athletic. .... He'll add athleticism and energy and he gets a lot of rebounds. He's going to bring a lot to Washington.''

Though he was initially a little anxious about the move to South Kent, Thomas said he's now happy with the way things have worked out.

"It's made me grow up a lot faster and realize what I've got to do to get where I want to be,'' he said.

Monday mismash

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:02 AM

A few quick items for a Monday morning:

--- As we wrote here over the weekend, UW assistant Cameron Dollar's statement last week that he hadn't been contacted by Long Beach State shouldn't be taken as meaning he isn't in the running for the head coaching vacancy there. Here's a story today by Frank Burlison of the Long Beach Press-Telegram that Dollar is on the short list to replace the fired Larry Reynolds and that a decision could come sometime this week.

--- The Pac-10 is now 10-5 in NCAA Tournament play, the most wins of any conference and the second-best winning percentage (.667) of those with multiple teams, trailing only the SEC, which is 9-4 (.692). But the Pac-10 can take over that title if UCLA beats Florida Saturday. It's the most wins for the Pac-10 since a 13-5 record in 2001, a year Arizona reached the final game.

--- Since it's been a topic of discussion on the board here, I'll pass along this from the Portland Tribune stating that new Oregon AD Pat Kilkenny wants to talk with Ducks coach Ernie Kent about a contract extension. There is also this story reporting the same thing from the Eugene Register-Guard. If Kent stays, and with WSU coach Tony Bennett apparently also nearing agreement on a new contract, there could be no coaching turnover in the Pac-10 this season. It would be the first time since after the 2001 season that no schools changed coaches.

--- In case you missed it, UW recruit Justin Holiday led Campbell Hall of North Hollywood, Calif., to the state Division IV title Saturday. Here's a report from the Los Angeles Daily News.

March 25, 2007

Pac-10 vs. ACC

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:27 PM

For what it's worth, this is the second straight year there is a Pac-10 team in the Final Four and no ACC team.

But while the Pac-10 has much to be proud of --- and even Oregon's loss, being as competitive as it was, only served to further advance the conference's cause --- this is also a Final Four that has had few surprises.

Add up the seeds of the four teams involved --- two No. 1 seeds (Florida and Ohio State) and two No. 2 seeds (UCLA and Georgetown) --- and you get six. That's the smallest number since 2001, when it added up to seven (two No. 1 seeds, a two and a three).

The only time that number was lower than six was 1993 (three No. 1 seeds and a two).

Former UW assistant to join Gonzaga staff?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:52 AM

Interesting news last night and this morning out of Spokane where Gonzaga associate head coach Bill Grier will reportedly become the new head coach at San Diego.

Here's our story about it. Here, also, is some coverage via the Spokesman-Review's SportsLink site.

As the stories on this point out, Grier had it in his contract that he would be the next head coach at GU should Mark Few ever leave, so this may be an indication that Few isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

ESPN, meanwhile, is reporting that Few will replace Grier with former Utah head coach Ray Giacoletti, an assistant at UW for four years under Bob Bender.

March 24, 2007

Meet the new boss. ....

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:02 PM

Watching UCLA dismantle Kansas today only reinforced the feeling that the Bruins have again become THE program in the Pac-10.

When has that ever not been the case, you may ask incredulously.

A fair query given UCLA's history.

But consider that heading into this season, the Bruins had won just two of the past 10 Pac-10 titles, and with a conference record of 112-68 in that decade were closer in standing to California and Washington (each 90-90 during that span) than the top two teams -- Stanford (138-42) and Arizona (137-43).

But by winning the last two regular season championships, and now becoming the first Pac-10 team to make back-to-back Final Four trips since a different era Bruins team did it in 1975-76, UCLA has reclaimed its title as the dominant program in the conference.

And that dominance doesn't figure to fade anytime soon with 6-foot-10 center Kevin Love --- generally regarded as maybe the best recruit in the nation this season --- coming to Westwood next year. There's a decent chance that UCLA will be the preseason No. 1 next year no matter what happens from here.

Not that the Bruins will ever be able to rip through the conference the way they once did given the increased competitiveness in the Pac-10. Oregon has a chance Sunday to put two Pac-10 teams in the Final Four for the first time.

But today made clear that until further notice, the road to the Pac-10 title goes through Westwood.

Campbell Hall wins big

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:52 PM

Campbell Hall High School, featuring UW recruit Justin Holiday, had no trouble with Cardinal Newman High today in the California Division IV State title game, winning 70-34.

Here's a report from the LA Times noting that Justin Holiday scored 15, hitting 7 of 10 shots, while Jrue Holiday --- one of UW's key targets for the 2008 class --- had 20.

At the bottom of the story is some updated recruiting info on Jrue Holiday in which he says he's not close to making a decision but has already visited North Carolina, UCLA and USC and is planning an unofficial visit to Texas.

He also accompanied his brother on a trip to UW in December.

Holiday brothers go for title today

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:09 AM

Campbell Hall High School of North Hollywood, Calif., featuring future Husky Justin Holiday and prospective Husky Jrue Holiday, competes for the California State Div. IV championship today.

The game will be played this morning at Arco Arena in Sacramento, the site of last weekend's NCAA regional featuring WSU and Gonzaga.

Here's a preview of the game from the Los Angeles Daily News and you'll note the impressive stat line the brothers have combined for this season --- 42.4 points, 19.1 rebounds, 10.5 assists, 8.2 steals, 3.9 blocks.

Justin, a 6-foot-6 swingman, has already signed with UW and will play for the Huskies next season. Jrue, a 6-2 junior guard, is among UW's top targets for its Class of 2008.

Here's another preview of the game against Cardinal Newman High of Santa Rosa from the Los Angeles Times.

March 23, 2007

Dollar clarified

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:21 PM

I've written a couple of items on here in recent days on the fact that Cameron Dollar has been rumored to be a candidate for the head coaching vacancy at Long Beach State.

To make the situation more clear, Dollar said again tonight he has "not been contacted'' by officials at Long Beach State.

But to say he is not in the running is not accurate since it's uncertain exactly who the school may be interested in at the moment.

Dollar has been mentioned by several media outlets as a potential candidate, which makes a lot of sense because of his experience helping Lorenzo Romar rebuild Washington's program the last five years as well as his ties to California. He was a four-year letterman at UCLA, an assistant for a season at UC Irvine and a head coach for a year at Southern California College in Costa, Mesa.

Long Beach State is looking for a coach to replace Larry Reynolds, whose contract was not renewed despite leading the 49ers to the NCAA tournament this season. Here are details on the departure of Reynolds from ESPN.

And here's a story mentioning Dollar as a possible candidate, with Gonzaga assistant Bill Grier also on the list.

Proving time for Pac-10, other notes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:26 AM

Tonight's the night the Pac-10 can truly establish itself as the best conference in the country this season.

Its regular-season record was solid enough to make that case (a 93-26 nonconference record and a No. 3 standing in the RPI and the Sagarin) but the postseason has been even better.

After last night, the Pac-10 is 8-3, the most wins of any conference, and the second-best winning percentage (.727) after only Conference USA (which is 3-0, all by Memphis).

The SEC (7-3) and the Big 12 (6-3) are running close behind, and could overtake the Pac-10, though all the Big 12 has left now is Kansas.

But the Pac-10 can all but sew up that crown if it can get at least one win tonight when USC plays North Carolina and Oregon takes on UNLV in Sweet 16 games.

With one team already in the Elite Eight, the Pac-10 has a chance to get multiple teams in the round of eight for just the fourth time. The last time it happened was 2001 when Arizona, Stanford and UCLA all made it to the Elite Eight. Only Arizona won from there, eventually losing to Duke in the national title.

That season has long been regarded as the high-water mark for the Pac-10 before this year.

On a few other matters:

---- I wouldn't worry about Lorenzo Romar and Kentucky, as one reader suggested. I don't think Romar's interested in going anywhere, and I don't think that's where Kentucky would be looking. Here's a story this morning reporting that Kentucky wants Billy Donovan and judging by his comments, sounds like Donovan might be interested, as well. Donovan was an assistant at Kentucky from 1989-94 under Rick Pitino, so it's a situation he already knows well.

---- From everyone I have talked to, Isaiah Thomas is planning on staying at South Kent School for two years. He didn't get there until late November and from what I understand, it's not a program he can whip through that quickly.

"He needs to (stay two years),'' South Kent coach Raphael Chillious told me earlier this year. "We're not one of those pop-up-by-night prep schools that can get it done in one year.''

---- As for the Greece trip, final details are still being sorted out so the answers to many of the questions asked about that on here I don't have yet. In general, teams get 10 days of practice ahead of time, and then the trips last about 10 days with 5-6 games played, etc. Incoming freshmen can't play, and generally, only those on the roster with remaining eligibility play, so Hans Gasser and Brandon Burmeister aren't expected to make the trip.

March 22, 2007

Ex-Huskies lead teams in scoring

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:27 PM

Thanks to reader Mallory for pointing this out while I was engrossed in watching the tournament --- Brandon Roy led the Blazers in scoring tonight in Portland's 92-86 win over the Knicks with 24 points while Nate Robinson led New York with 31.

Here's the box score.

And the obvious question is whether it has ever happened before that Huskies led their respective teams in scoring in the same game.

I honestly have no idea, and there are only a few pairings where it really would have been realistic to have happened --- James Edwards against Detlef Schrempf, maybe? Steve Hawes vs. Louie Nelson?

If you think you know whether this has ever happened before, I'd love to hear it.

By the way, word is that Isaiah Thomas --- home for a few days on spring break ---- was at UW today playing some pickup basketball with Venoy Overton, among others.

Dollar to Long Beach State?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:34 PM

Here are more rumors involving Cameron Dollar, this one reporting that he could be in the running for the job at Long Beach State.

Here's another story mentioning Dollar and Long Beach State from Frank Burlison at the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Dollar obviously is a well-known name down there because of his years at UCLA.

Gasser named All-Academic

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:12 PM

The Pac-10 All-Academic team is out and it includes one Husky --- Hans Gasser on the second team.

Here's the team from the Pac-10 website.

March 21, 2007

Sixth years, and Stuckey (UPDATED)

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:25 PM

I'll try to address a couple of topics that have come up here of late:

TOPIC ONE: There have been a lot of rumors about Rodney Stuckey of Eastern Washington and what lies ahead in his future.

Here's a blog entry from Dave Trimmer at the Spokesman-Review reporting that Stuckey is enrolled at Eastern for the spring semester while trying to figure out what to do. Most think he's headed to the NBA if he's headed anywhere, and for now, that seems the safest bet.

TOPIC TWO: A few of you have asked about Joe Wolfinger and whether he can get a sixth year of eligibility after sitting out the past two seasons.

I've changed some of this from what I originally wrote after someone brought up the example of Nevada's Marcelus Kemp, who was awarded a sixth year before this season. You can read about that here.

They have apparently recently changed the rule not awarding sixth years until after fifth years are played, so Wolfinger could conceivably get a sixth year ahead of time.

As I originally wrote, however, sixth years are generally dicey to get if one of the years a player sat out was voluntary, as is the case with Wolfinger. However, since he didn't play a second of either one, his chances could be better.

TOPIC THREE: I reported earlier here that Cameron Dollar has been mentioned as a candidate for the vacant job at Liberty. Word is there are two finalists, and neither one is Dollar, with former Oregon State and New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay the apparent front-runner.

Dollar in running at Liberty?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:19 AM

Washington assistant Cameron Dollar is reportedly in the mix to be the new head coach at Liberty, according to this story from the Lynchburg New & Advance.

Another interesting name on that list is former UW assistant Ritchie McKay, most recently the head coach at New Mexico.

Dollar, 31, has been an assistant at UW for all five of Lorenzo Romar's years as head coach. He was also with Romar for all three of Romar's seasons at Saint Louis. Dollar is considered a top-notch recruiter and works with UW's guards.

Here is some information on Liberty University, which is located in Lynchburg, Va. It's a Division I school that plays in the Big South Conference.

Here's the Wikipedia entry on Liberty, pointing out that it was founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971.

Liberty fired coach Randy Dunton last month --- you can find details on that here.

Dollar has often expressed his interest in being a D-I head coach, though only if the opportunity is right. Here's a column from Steve Kelley on Dollar and his aspirations last March.

March 20, 2007

More on Hawes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:17 AM

I wrote a little about Spencer Hawes and his looming decision today for our paper and Web site.

As noted in the story, Hawes is leaving for a vacation this week, during which he figures to spend a fair amount of time debating what he's going to do.

And while I know there are rumors making the rounds in both directions --- he's staying, he's going --- I don't think any decision has yet been made.

I also think it's hard to read much into anything one way or the other. For instance, one could argue that the fact he still hasn't decided anything is a good thing --- if he were gone, he'd just be gone. On the other hand, the more removed he gets from the UW season may make it that much easier to walk away.

There are a number of factors at play, to be sure, including strictly emotional ones such as his legacy at UW. Hawes knows if he left now, he wouldn't be remembered in quite the way he hoped when he came to UW because of the team's struggles this season.

Then there are more practical considerations such as his draft status and readiness for the NBA. There seems little doubt he would be a top 10-15 pick, at worst, if he came out.

Here's a mock draft from published March 1 that has Hawes at No. 6

And here's one from published March 19 that has him at No. 11.

As for his readiness for the NBA, I think that comes into play in a way some often miss. It's not so much whether NBA scouts think he's ready in terms of drafting him --- teams draft on potential as much as they do immediate production and a couple bad Pac-10 outings aren't going to scare away anybody from taking a 7-footer with his obvious skills --- but how it may affect his future earnings.

The new NBA collective bargaining agreement calls for rookies to receive only two-year guaranteed contracts with an option for a third year instead of three years with an option for a fourth (You can find more detail on that here).

That means players who aren't as ready to contribute immediately risk getting a contract down the road that may not be as lucrative as if they make an instant impact. This is something Hawes has mentioned several times this year, and I had one knowledgable person tell me this would have as much as anything else to do with Hawes' decision this year.

If he thinks an extra year of college will help make him readier to maximize a contract two years after his rookie deal (remember, all rookie contracts are slotted and not negotiated so his immediate reward won't vary much) then he may be more inclined to stay an extra year. If he's not worried about it, then it's one step closer to the door.

As I detail in the story, the deadline for declaring is April 29. If he doesn't hire an agent, he can pull out of the draft by June 18. If he doesn't hire an agent, he could still attend pre-draft camps to get a gauge on his stock --- players can do that once and return to college.

March 19, 2007

Some thoughts from Romar

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:26 PM

Had a chance to talk with Lorenzo Romar today about several different topics, some of which I'll save for later, but some of which I'll pass along now.

--- Asked him about what's happening with Spencer Hawes and he said Hawes is going on vacation for the rest of spring break (to Maui) and sometime after that may have a decision. Romar said he's not in any hurry to get a decision from Hawes, though one must come by the deadline to declare of April 29.

Romar said there's a chance Hawes will decide to declare so he can attend tryout camps to get opinions from NBA scouts, but leave the option open of coming back.

"I'm not sure if he will, but if he did, it would make a lot of sense,'' Romar said. "That's what they are there for.''

As for Hawes being with Kevin Durant's family at the USC-Texas game, Romar pointed out that Hawes is good friends with a lot of players he met on the AAU circuit, such as Durant and North Carolina's Ty Lawson.

"I'm sure they are probably discussing their situations, that would only be natural,'' Romar said. "But I wouldn't read more into it than that.''

--- Romar attended Justin Holiday's playoff game this weekend, which you can read about here, as Holiday scored 24 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in a win in the California State Div. IV Regional final.

"If you watched him, you wouldn't say he's a lottery pick, but you would say that, number one, he keeps getting better and better, but number two, he really helps you,'' Romar said. "He just understands how to win games.''

Romar pointed to a play late in the game where the center for Horizon --- 7-foot Jeff Withey, who has signed with Louisville --- appeared headed for a basket in the final 20 seconds that might have put his team ahead. Instead, Holiday reached in and forced a jump ball which led to his younger brother Jrue Holiday then making the three throws that sealed the game.

"He's getting better offensively all the time,'' Romar said of Justin Holiday, a 6-6 swingman.

--- In case you haven't noticed, three Pac-10 teams made it to the Sweet 16 --- and the Huskies beat all three this season (conceding that Aaron Brooks didn't play for Oregon). It doesn't do the Huskies any good now, but for Romar, it's some validation that part of Washington's struggles this year was the strength of the conference.

"I think people were aware of how strong the Pac-10 was, but I don't know if they were really aware,'' Romar said. "There easily could have been four Pac-10 teams in the Sweet 16. The Pac-10 was strong, I think we are seeing that now. I think when it's all said and done, if they could look back and look at the Pac-10 (and what it has done in the tournament) they would say Washington probably should have been in the NIT.''

Conference breakdown

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:12 AM

Here's a breakdown of NCAA Tournemant play for those conferences that had more than two teams invited (the best way to adequately compare the Pac-10):

SEC (five teams in) 7-2 --- Vanderbilt, Florida and Tennessee all 2-0, Kentucky 1-1, Arkansas 0-1.

Pac-10 (six teams in) 7-3 --- USC, UCLA and Oregon all 2-0, WSU 1-1, Arizona and Stanford 0-1.

ACC (seven teams in) 6-6 --- North Carolina 2-0, Maryland, Virginia, Boston College and Va. Tech all 1-1 and and Duke and Ga. Tech 0-1.

Big 12 (four teams in) 5-2 --- Kansas and Texas A&M 2-0, Texas 1-1, Texas Tech 0-1

Big East (six teams in) 5-4 --- Georgetown and Pitt each 2-0, Louisville 1-1, Notre Dame, Marquette and Villanova all 0-1.

Big Ten (six teams in) 6-5 --- Ohio State 2-0, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue and Michigan State all 1-1 and Illinois 0-1.

So that leaves three teams each from the Pac-10 and SEC, two from the Big East and Big 12, and one each from the Big Ten and ACC. There are also one each from Conference USA (Memphis), Mountain West (UNLV), Horizon (Butler) and Missouri Valley (Southern Illinois).

By any measure, obviously, the Pac-10 is doing well, and our columnist, Jerry Brewer, makes that case here, as well.

March 18, 2007

Daugherty out, other notes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:42 PM

Stuck here in the Sacramento Airport for reasons that don't need explaining other than to say that I unexpectedly got to watch all the games today and browse the net more than I thought.

We don't usually talk UW women's basketball on here since I don't cover that team. But obviously the firing of June Daugherty is a matter of a lot of interest to Husky fans, so if you want to discuss it here, go ahead.

Here's our story on the firing as well as a blog posting from UW AD Todd Turner on explaining the move.

In other matters, there was some good news for the men's team over the weekend as UW recruit Justin Holiday led Campbell Hall into the California State Division IV title game with a win in the regional final Saturday. As this story reports, Holiday had 24 points and 20 rebounds. He's a 6-6 swingman who has drawn some comparisons to former Husky Bobby Jones. His brother, Jrue, a junior guard, also plays on the team and is being recruited by UW.

In what was interesting news for the UW team, Spencer Hawes was shown on TV during the USC-Texas game sitting next to the father of Kevin Durant. I know Hawes knows Durant from the summer league circuit, and it's certainly intriguing was there. But I don't know what it means.

As for USC, more good news for the Pac-10 --- consider there are three Pac-10 teams in the Sweet 16 and just one from the ACC (North Carolina).

Ducks get through

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:27 PM

Sitting here at the Sacramento Airport watching Oregon finish its whupping of Winthrop, which is more good news for the national perception of the Pac-10 (and yet another predicition of a Pac-10 loss that Seth Davis whiffed on).

The Pac-10 now has two teams into the Sweet 16 for the third straight year --- something that has never happened before, and yet another sign that the conference is beginning to become a consistent power.

It is also the fifth time in the last seven years that the Pac-10 has had two or more teams into the Sweet 16.

Considering the recruits coming in next season and the overall youth of most of the teams, there is no reason to think the conference won't be as good or better next year.

Now USC has a chance to get three teams into the Sweet 16 --- only four times have three or more conference teams made it that far, most recently in 2002.

Also, here's an interesting overview of Arizona's season from the Arizona Daily Star, postulating that everything changed for the Wildcats when they lost at Washington State two days after winning at Washington --- a night when UA certainly looked like one of the best teams in the country.

UPDATE --- And make sure you look in the comments section for an interesting post from reader Dana about Ernie Kent's interest in the opening at Michigan. As Dana points out, with Tony Bennett's situation also in some flux --- check Steve Kelley's column today on that --- there could be a lot of activity in Northwest coaching circles in the coming weeks. As for UW, word I got again from Todd Turner recently is that the extension that Lorenzo Romar and Turner agreed on before the season should be officially signed soon. Turner said there were some final details to work out and that it was decided to wait until after the season to get it all done.

March 17, 2007

UCLA hangs on, WSU doesn't

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:00 PM

It's all done here in Sacramento, and I have to admit I'm not feeling real confident about my pick of UCLA to the final game right now. The Bruins just don't seem to be playing real well right now, though Indiana had something to do with it.

But the Bruins have survived, and I remember that they kind of looked like that last year when they beat Alabama in the second round, a game I also got to see some of as it was played at the same site as UW's win over Illinois.

As for the Cougars, that game bore out what has long been a thought of mine about basketball --- the team with the best player will eventually win. Derrick Byars is really, really good and reminded me a lot of Brandon Roy both in game and manner --- he's noted for his unselfishness and seems soft-spoken and good-natured in interviews.

I asked Kyle Weaver after the game about a comparison to Roy, however, ane he said no.

"He shoots the three a little more than anyone in the Pac-10,'' Weaver said of Byars, who attempted 196 before Saturday, almost half of his 419 shots overall.

So the Pac-10 is now 5-3 with USC and Oregon going tomorrow, each in Spokane. The Pac-10 has had at least two teams reach the Sweet 16 each of the last two years --- Washington each time, obviously, along with Arizona two years ago and UCLA last year ---- so at least one needs to win to keep that streak alive.

Rating the Pac

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:07 PM

So last night in Sacramento, as we were having dinner and watching the USC-Arkansas game, a few of us discussed just how much conferences should be judged base on NCAA Tournament results.

The Pac-10 is 4-2 after the first round, for instance. Does that validate the Pac-10 yet? All four that won were higher seeds, so it could be argued that the conference hasn't really done anything yet.

On the other hand, higher seeds are rewards for regular season prowess.

This weekend figures to truly tell the tale of the Pac, led off with the two games here involving WSU and UCLA.

Back to the original question, however, there is little doubt that the years the Pac-10 has done well in the tournament are the years the conference was perceived to be good in the regular season.

Consider these Pac-10 records in the NCAA Tournament of late:

06 --- 8-4.(UCLA to national title game)
05 --- 5-4
04 --- 1-3
03 --- 6-5
02 --- 9-6 (only other time Pac-10 had six teams in tournament)
01 --- 13-5 (Arizona to national title game)
00 --- 4-4
99 --- 1-4
98 --- 11-4 (four teams to Sweet 16)
97 --- 13-4 (Arizona won national title)

The 04 season, the year the Huskies made their run from 0-5 to 12-6 while Stanford went 17-1, is generally regarded as one of the worst years for the conference, and the tournament record shows it. The 97-98 period has always been regarded as one of the best for the conference,. as well as the 01-02 period, and the tournament records indicate that as well.

By the end of this weekend, the tale of the Pac-10 this year should be told.

Turner and the NIT

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:31 AM

Had a chance to talk with UW athletic director Todd Turner on Friday on his role in the hiring of Kevin Stallings as the coach at Vanderbilt, the team that will face Washington State today.

As I detail in this story here,Stallings got the job in 1999 after Turner --- then the AD at Vanderbilt --- was unable to lure Bob Bender away from UW.

And not to belabor the point on the NIT, but this was the first chance I'd had to talk to Turner since early last week. He has since talked with C.M. Newton, the head of the NIT selection committee, to get his views on why UW was not invited. Newton told Turner the same thing he'd told reporters --- that UW was close but squeezed out by a number of different factors, including the paring of the field.

But Turner also said that "basically, we just didn't win enough games'' particularly on the road. Turner said that from talking to Newton, he thinks if UW had won just one more road game, it would have been invited.

"I think losing 10 games on the road was a problem for us,'' he said. "If we had won one more it wouldn't have been an issue.''

Turner also said he thinks the fact that there is no one on the NIT selection committee with ties to the Pac-10 hurt UW's cause. The two West Coast representatives are Rudy Davalos, longtime AD at New Mexico, and Carroll Williams, longtime coach at Santa Clara.

"I think our league would benefit from better representation on the selection committee,'' Turner said. "The fact that we don't have a person sitting around the table, I don't think it's an absolute necessity, but I just don't know how much guys from other leagues see the Pac-10 night in and night out and you can't win in that situation.''

"What disappoints me more than anything else, and in some ways this reflects on the perception of our league, is I don't think people regard the schedule in the Pac-10 as being as challenging as the ACC or the SEC or the Big Ten and I think that's totally unfair. We played 20 games against Pac-10 teams and of our (13) losses, only two were against teams that were not in the NCAA tournament (Oregon State and Cal). To think that we weren't a tournament caliber team
is hard to justify. I think that we were a tournament caliber team.''

Turner also said he thinks UW could have won a game or two in the NCAA tournament had it gotten in, basing that in part on how the Pac-10 has performed so far, going 4-2 in the first round.

As for the future, Turner confirmed that UW has been talking to the NIT about hosting pre-season games next season. The NIT recently decided to hold opening round games in that tournament on-campus rather than at neutral sites.

"We are definitely we will be the host of a West region,'' Turner said. "That would be great.''

March 16, 2007

Tournament more physical

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:11 PM

There's always a lot of discusson on this board about officiating so it's interesting to be at an NCAA Tournament site and see games with officials from other conferences.

One of the main guys on the WSU game yesterday was an ACC official, and some of the Cougars felt the officials let them play more than happens in the Pac-10.

"They were letting a bit more go than what we are used to in the (Pac-10),'' said WSU center Aron Baynes. "We have to get used to that.''

Also, a few of you have asked about the future of Isaiah Thomas. I haven't checked on that officially in a little while, but my understanding is that nothing has changed --- he has to stay at South Kent for two years and then plans to come to UW for the 2008-09 season.

But obviously, things can change. But he has said he plans to eventually sign with UW. On that timeline, the earliest he would sign with UW is next November to be a member of the Class of 2008.

Day two

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:21 PM

Some of the games didn't necessarily go to plan, but the end result of the first day of the tournament for the Pac-10 did --- two wins as higher seeds, one loss as a lower seed.

Day two should be a little more interesting, especially the Arizona-Purdue and USC-Arkansas games.

As long as it shoots anything like it did at the Pac-10 Tournament, Oregon should win.

I also think USC will get past Arkansas. The Razorbacks had a nice ending to the season to get into the tournament, and have a higher RPI --- 35 to USC's 40. But the Trojans should be motivated to play better defense than they did against Oregon, and if Nick Young gets rolling at all, Troy should move on.

As for Arizona, who has a clue what the Wildcats are going to do from one game to the next? I doubt Lute Olson does. Arizona is truly one of those teams in the tournament that could lose in the first round or go to the Final Four.

Watching the way Arizona lost to Oregon makes one think an early exit is in store. But then, maybe all those guys will remember that NBA scouts are watching and decide to bring it.

I'm still in Sacramento, so I'll try to pass on any nuggets I get here, as well as just some general observations. Feel free to pass along any of your observations, as well.

March 15, 2007

Dreary tourney so far

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:29 PM

So where's all this parity in college basketball, anyway?

Sitting here watching another rout --- true, this one's expected with UCLA up 18 on Weber State at half --- has me thinking this is one of the least exciting openings to an NCAA Tournament I can remember.

Eight games are over, with the higher seed winning every one, all by at least nine points, and by an average of 17.7.

What I figure it means here is that we are in for a real thriller with Gonzaga and Indiana. Rarely seen four straight double-digit games in one day at one regional.

Huskies handled UCLA, Weber in Seattle

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:35 PM

Here's a fun fact for you as you watch UCLA and Weber State --- this is a matchup of two teams that lost by a combined 39 points in Seattle this season.

The Huskies beat Weber State 80-51 on Dec. 22 in the wake of the win over LSU, and defeated UCLA 61-51 just 12 days ago in what was the highlight of UW's season.

To answer one question that has arisen here regarding the Huskies:

--- I think Tim Morris can have a great impact next year, especially on the defensive end. He played most of three seasons at Stanford so he has a lot of experience, and sitting out a year has allowed him to work on his offense --- the main weakness in his game is shooting --- and refine his defense.

"He'll be able to help us defensively and give us more depth there,'' UW coach Lorenzo Romar said the other day.

Here are Morris' career stats and you can see he struggled from the field his last year at Stanford, particularly the 4-23 from the 3-point line. He's better in transition, however, one reason he wanted to come to UW, which typically runs more than does the Cardinal under Trent Johnson.

UW sixth in top 25 wins

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:53 PM

Here's a chart I found flipping through the Vanderbilt post-season media guide I thought you might like.

It's a list of the teams with the most regular season wins this year against teams ranked in the AP Top 25.

1, UCLA, 9
2, North Carolina, 7
3, (tie) Vanderbilt, 6
USC, 6
Tennessee, 6
6 (tie) Oregon, 5
Marquette, 5
Washington, 5
Washington State, 5

Maybe the biggest thing to take from this is the strength and parity this season of the Pac-10 since there are five Pac-10 teams on the list.

Cougs make case for Pac-10

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:35 PM

One up, one down for the Pac-10 now after Washington State's 70-54 win over Oral Roberts in Sacramento.

More than a few national analysts had picked Oral Roberts, which could have been viewed not only as wondering just how good the Cougars really are, bnut also questioning the Pac-10.

One believer now, however, is ORU coach Scott Sutton who said that the Cougars "showed in the second half why they are one of the top 10, 15 teams in America.''

Sutton seemed a little surprised at the way the Cougars dominated late, and said that "the thing we don't see in our league is that kind of size. We haven't seen that since December.''

Bad omen for Pac-10?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:31 AM

Louisville is putting it to Stanford, lleading 46-20 at halftime.

So count the Pac-10 as the first conference with a team out of the tournament.

I had promised to provide some commentary on Pac-10 games earlier --- and I had Stanford being drubbed by Louisville in the first round (okay, so maybe I thought Louisville had a chance).

We'll just scratch that one.

The next Pac-10 team in action is Washington State against Oral Roberts, and being down here in Sacramento, there are a lot of different schools of thought on this one.

Oral Roberts certainly passed the eye test during practice yesterday --- Caleb Green and Ken Tutt look like the real deal --- and ORU did win at Kansas this season.

On the other hand, the Golden Eagles also lost 10 games this season and had to scrape and claw to get past Oakland in the Mid-Continent final.

Can a 10-loss MCC team really beat the second-best team in the Pac-10?

Sure, the way the Cougars have played at times lately. WSU has looked a little vulnerable near the end of the season, losing three of their last six. And Oral Roberts is the team that comes into this one with some tournament experience, losing to No. 1 seed Memphis 94-78 last year. Oral Roberts players and coaches played that up yesterday, saying a year ago they were just happy to be here ---- this year, they want to stay a while.

So I expect a tough game for the Cougars today.

But in the end, I don't think ORU is going to show the Cougars anything they haven't seen before --- the Cougs did win 13 Pac-10 games this year.

Call it WSU 67, ORU 59.

For more info on the game, check our preview here.

March 14, 2007

Invisible Ducks

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:12 AM

With Washington's season over, I'm down in Sacramento helping with our coverage of Washington State and Gonzaga. Don't worry, I won't pass along a lot of Cougar and Bulldogs news here.

But I plan to keep the blog going as much as possble.

One story that caught my eye today that I thought might brighten the mood of Husky fans is this TV column from USA Today. It points out that due to the way the CBS schedule breaks Friday, Oregon's game vs. Miami-Ohio will be seen by just three percent of the nation.

Later, I'll try to break down how I view the Pac-10 matchups in the tournament.

And also watch in coming days for some more post-season UW wrapup.

March 13, 2007

More interesting NIT news

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:35 PM

This involves the 2007 pre-season NIT, in which the Huskies are scheduled to play.

And the ironies could just continue to abound.

After not being invited to the post-season version, UW could find itself hosting the opening rounds of the pre-season edition next fall.

The NIT announced today that it is going back to on-campus sites for the first two rounds. Washington has been in talks with the NIT to host, at either KeyArena or the Everett Events Center and I'm sure would love to host it at Hec Ed now that that appears to be a viable option, as well.

Here is the official release from the NIT.

NEW YORK --- The 2007 NIT Season Tip-Off will return to campus sites to assure the student body and local fans can be part of the action. The format guarantees each team at least two games. The announcement was made by Committee Chair C.M. Newton and Greg Shaheen, President of the NIT, L.L.C.

"The NIT Selection Committee made the decision to return to campus sites and play a two-night doubleheader format after reviewing feedback from the sites, participating institutions and conferences from this year's event. It is in the best interest of the NIT and college basketball to make the change to insure the high quality of teams that have participated in the tournament in the past," Newton and Shaheen explained.

The NIT Season Tip-Off, founded in 1985, was originally played in neutral arenas and a year later, moved to campus sites, where single games were played. The format remained the same until last year, when the contests were moved to neutral sites and teams were guaranteed two games.

The first round of the 2007 NIT Season Tip Off begins on November 12 and 13. Second-round action will take place on November 14 and 15. The four remaining teams will square off in the semi final doubleheader at New York's Madison Square Garden on November 21 with the championship doubleheader to follow on November 23. ESPN will once again provide television coverage of the event.

Katz defends Huskies

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:15 AM

I know ESPN's Andy Katz isn't universally loved by Husky fans.

But he leapt to Washington's defense yesterday in his Daily Word column on It's one you have to subscribe to get, but I'll link it anyway just in case you can get it.

Interestingly, the main topic of Katz's column is Washington State's efforts to keep Tony Bennett. He says WSU is ready to pay 2-3 times Bennett's current estimated $350,000 deal to keep him there.

But in the final item, Bennett writes that "the biggest snub of the post-season wasn't Syracuse. It was Akron, Washington and Iowa not making the NIT.''

More from Newton

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:50 AM

Here's the complete story I wrote for today on what C.M. Newton said about the Huskies not being inivted to the NIT.

Admittedly, he was still a little vague about it all. I know one theory being bandied about at UW is that the guys on the committee simply never see UW play due to being on Fox and West Coast starting times. Newton denied that, saying the committee knew as much as it needed to know about the Huskies, and a few other West Coast teams were invited.

Newton also denied that TV played any role in the selections.

Here's Jerry Brewer's column saying that the Huskies should use the snub as motivation for next season. He points out some of what Lorenzo Romar has said before --- that previous Husky teams played with a chip on their shoulder that this team didn't seem to always have. Maybe the NIT snub becomes its rallying cry.

Here, also, are a few questions and answers for next season.

The biggest question revolves around Spencer Hawes and whether or not he will return. Romar said yesterday he had yet to talk with Hawes about that and that no timetable has yet been set for making a decision.

We'll have more from Romar talking about the future a little later.

March 12, 2007

Newton speaks

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:01 PM

I got a hold of C.M. Newton, the chair of the NIT Selection Committee, for a phone interview today.

Much of what he said is probably what you would expect in terms of defending what happened, but he also went into detail about the selection process, and some of that I'll save for a story in tomorrow's paper.

But here's a bit of what he said.

Asked about Washington, he said: "We got down to those last few teams and they (Washington) were one of them, but with the committee members voting, they missed (getting in). We had eight automatic qualifiers which really hurt (teams like Washington). If we hadn't had that many, Washington would have been in the field, but we just had the 24 (at-large) spots.''

There were eight committee members, including Dean Smith and Gene Keady, and Newton said they simply voted for the teams they felt should be in, and the 24 with the most votes got in (eight teams received automatic bids for winning regular season conference titles).

Newton said the Huskies "are much like the other teams that were in the mix (and were left out). Iowa was fourth in the Big Ten, or Akron which had (25) wins. UConn was one of those that had a very similar record to Washington's. That's just the way the votes came out.''

"There was no one reason (UW was left out),'' Newton said. "No conspiracy. None of that stuff.''

As I detailed here earlier, the NIT has taken at least one Pac-10 team every year since 1981 except for two seasons when there was no conference team left with a winning record after those that received NCAA invites.

But Newton said the committee didn't consider conference affiliation. Nor, he said, did TV play a role.

"We are serious about trying to make it as fair and as good a basketball tournament as possible,'' he said. "TV doesn't have a say, the size of the home court doesn't enter into it. Just look at the fact that North Carolina State is going to Drexel. That never would have happened before. We would have gone where the gate was.''

Newton said TV only gets involved once the matchups are set in terms of setting game times, dates, etc.

Newton said the committee considered "who they played, how they played and where they played them. ... ultimately, it was what your gut feeling was about them as a basketball team.''

Newton was asked if UW's 1-10 road record might have been a factor. "That's one of the things you look at,'' Newton said. "Road record and who they choose to play outside their league, all those factors come into it.''

Newton mentioned Drexel as a team that got impressed the committee "because one of the thigns they did was they are a bunch of road warriors. They went out and played people out of their league. Who you choose to play, we look at all of those things. Ultimately, you just sit down and rank the teams and the teams with (the most votes) get in.''

Newton said that he had talked with UW athletic director Todd Turner a few days before the selection process

"Todd is one of my favorite people and I talked to Todd before our meeting,'' Newton said. "I know he feels very good about their future and I do think they are going to be really good next year.''

I asked him about teams like Fresno State, which some have mentioned on here as not having a resume as good as UW's. "You can find warts on every team and you can find beauty marks on every team,'' Newton said.

The Huskies are scheduled to play in the pre-season NIT next year, but Newton said that had no impact on anything. "That's a whole different animal,'' he said. "We are just tickled to death they are going to be in the pre-season NIT next year.''

Washington-OSU comparison

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:13 PM

Talked to a few people at the UW today and there is still a state of shock over not being invited to the NIT.

Among their frustrations is comparing themselves to some of the other teams in the tournament:

Here's one passed along to me by someone at UW comparing Washington and Oklahoma State:

Oklahoma State vs. Washington

Record: OSU 22-12 / UW 19-13
(OSU incorrectly listed as 22-11 in NIT bracket)

Road Record: OSU 0-8 / UW 1-10

Conference Record: OSU 6-10 / UW 8-10

Last 10 Games: OSU 3-7 / UW 5-5

Wins vs. NCAA Tournament teams: OSU 5 / UW 5

Losses to non-NCAA Tournament teams: OSU 5 / UW 2

OSU is a No. 2 seed in the NIT, UW is not selected.

Some historical perspective

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:02 AM

Here's our story today on Washington being left out of the NIT, which includes some material presented on the blog earlier and some that was not.

For those wondering why the Huskies were so sure they would get in, they were looking at history.

Did some checking this morning, and Washington now becomes the Pac-10 team with the most wins to not to go any post-season tournament since Stanford in 1983-84. That Stanford team went 19-12 and 8-10 and fifth in Pac-10 play. That was a time when the Pac-10 wasn't as highly thought of as it is today, however. Only two Pac-10 teams received NCAA bids that year, No. 3 Oregon went to the NIT and No. 4 UCLA declined to go to the NIT, so there was little expectation Stanford would get an invite.

To find a Pac-10 team with more than 19 wins that didn't get invited to any tournament, you have to go back to USC in 1974 (24-5) which was a completely different era.

Granted, there is some win inflation at work in college basketball these days, everybody's playing a few more games, and UW's soft early schedule led to its overall record looking better than its conference record.

Still, 8-10 in Pac-10 play with any kind of winning overall record --- coupled with a few big victories late, as UW had beating UCLA and USC last week --- has usually been good enough.

ASU went two years ago at 7-11 in Pac-10 play and 18-13 overall; Oregon State went the same year at 8-10 and 17-14; ASU also went in 2002 at 7-11 14-14; Cal went in 2000 at 7-11 and 16-14, winning two games in the NIT to finish 18-15.

But obviously, the NIT has changed, which might be the biggest reason UW was left out. Having to take eight regular-season champs that didn't make the NCAA compressed the field, as did reducing the field from 40 to 32.

One warning sign might have come last season when USC was not invited despite a 17-13 overall record and 8-10 and sixth in the Pac-10. One difference is that the Trojans stumbled late last year, losing seven of their last nine. Another difference is that the NIT had already taken one Pac-10 team (Stanford) before deciding not to select USC.

Simply assuming the NIT would take at least one Pac-10 team is the biggest reason the Huskies figured they were in, especially once Stanford got into the NCAA Tournament.

Only twice since 1981 has the NIT not taken at least one Pac-10 team. Those years were 2003 and 2001. Each year, there was no Pac-10 team remaining after those picked for the NCAA Tournament that had won more than six conference games or had a winning overall record.

But obviously, this is one time that history didn't repeat.

March 11, 2007

Player reaction

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:12 PM

Somebody asked for some player reaction about the NIT snub. So here you go:


"We were shocked. I'm still shocked. We sat there and went through all four regions and we kind of thought it was a typo. We kept waiting for our name to come up.

"To think we are not one of the top 65 teams in the nation is hard for us to swallow. To say we didn't merit the NIT as well is unbelievable.''

"I think they say they go off a lot of the same criteria as the NCAA Committee. Maybe our record away from home might have been something that got us, but I think we feel as everyone else feels that the Pac-10 is one of the best conferences in the country and to go almost .500 in that and not make the NIT is tough to swallow.''

On whether anyone imagined the season could be over after leaving LA: "No, we all thought we were close down there to getting an NCAA berth if we could have gotten through the tournament. I don't think it went through anyone's mind that we wouldn't get in the NIT.''

On what he did: "The first thing I did was I went and got a ball and started shooting. It's the only thing you can really do to keep your mind off it.''

On whether it was his last game as a Husky and if the snub could influence his decision: "I don't know. It could figure into it, it could not. I'd say that's the last thing on my mind right now.''

On what the team did: "Everyone kind of just sat there, no one said anything. Everyone was equally shocked to hear the news.''

"To suggest we are not as good as any of the teams in there is almost a joke.''

On whether he will spend a lot of time wondering how close the Huskies were to winning a few more games this year: "Especially now, if you get caught up in that and start thinking about that, you'll just drive yourself crazy.''


"It's a great shock. I thought for sure (the team would be invited). I was thinking we were still possibly going to sneak in the NCAA tournament. To not make the NIT is tough.''

More on NIT

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:52 PM

If you want to vent, here's a list of the members of the eight-person selection committee along with their e-mail addresses.

The head of the committee, you'll notice, is C.M. Newton, a former basketball coach at Vanderbilt and someone UW athletic director Todd Turner knows well (Turner was AD at Vanderbilt before coming to UW but not when Newton was coach).

Also on the committee are former coaches such as Dean Smith, Gene Keady and Don DeVoe. Hard to argue that those guys don't know basketball, obviously, which makes this all that much more difficult to figure out.

Here, also, is our story on the snub, with a few more details than I posted earlier.

Romar "stunned'' at NIT snub

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:54 PM

The Huskies were so confident an NIT bid was coming that they were taped up and ready to practice tonight after hearing the news.

Instead, they watched in disbelief as they were not picked for the NIT.

"There's no way in the world I would say we would not be in the NIT,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "I am completely stunned.''

Asked if he had any idea why, he said "no. No idea why. There's not one I can imagine or conjure up in my mind.''

Season over?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:12 PM

If I saw the brackets right, the Huskies weren't invited to the NIT.

We'll obviously have more on this later but it looks like the season is over.

Final NIT-ology out

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:32 PM

The final NIT-ology is out and has Washington as a No. 5 seed playing Mississippi State in the first round.

Interesting to think about, anyway, as the brackets are about 90 minutes away from being released.

As I look at the projections, the main thing that comes to mind is how many good teams there could be in the NIT --- Alabama, Kansas State, Air Force, Drexel. A consolation prize, to be sure, but still a lot of good basketball possible.

Pac-10 gets respect

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:41 PM

The Pac-10 has nothing to complain about this year.

Three teams seeded among the top 16, six teams invited overall for the first time since 2002 --- the only other time six teams received bids.

And Stanford being an 11 seed theoretically means that the Cardinal wasn't even the last time invited when many of the bracketologists figured Stanford wasn't in at all.

More later.

NIT on tap

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:44 AM

It will be a different type of Selection Sunday for the Huskies as they wait for the NIT brackets to be announced rather than the NCAA Tournament.

I wrote about that in this story here today. The NIT brackets will be announced at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 and ESPNU.

NIT-ology still has UW as a No. 6 seed which would mean a road game in the first round and likely a pretty quick turnaround with first-round games Tuesday and Wednesday.

I know there's a lot of interest in the players arriving next year. Here's a good feature on Justin Holiday from the Los Angeles Daily News. One minor clarification to the story --- it says Holiday has committed to UW. But he has done more than that as he signed his letter-of-intent in November.

And here is the story on Campbell Hall's win in the regional semifinals Saturday night. Story says Justin Holiday had 18 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four steals, two blocks and played some good defensne on the star player for the other team --- headed to Penn --- in the second half.

When we all talk about players who will help improve the perimeter defense next season, Holiday --- who stands 6-6 --- shouldn't be forgotten.

March 9, 2007

The last word on Brooks-Appleby

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:46 PM

I wrote a little bit about Aaron Brooks in an item for the newspaper today.

In the course of that conversation, Brooks referred indirectly to the incident here a year ago with Ryan Appleby. I couldn't help myself, so I asked Brooks if he had happened to see Appleby while he was here ---- all 10 teams stayed at the same hotel.

"No,'' he said. "If I did see him, I wouldn't say anything to him.''

Brooks said he hadn't realized how upset Appleby still is over the incident, but also indicated he's done trying to apologize. He tried to shake Brooks hand before the two teams played in Eugene last month but Appleby refused.

Brooks said he heard after the game in Eugene the talk that Appleby felt Brooks' apology wasn't sincere and should have been made in person.

"I tried to do it right after the game here (last year) but I couldn't get to the locker room,'' he said --- apparently, he wasn't allowed to get to the UW locker room that night. "I wasn't in Seattle that much this summer. He wants me to go to Washington just to do it? I mean, I don't know.''

Back at Staples, Tourney to stay in LA through 2012

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:10 PM

While the Huskies are gone, we are still here, ready to cover the rest of the Pac-10 Tournament, so we'll continue to check in here from time to time.

The big news this afternoon was the announcement that the Pac-10 Tournament will stay at the Staples Center through 2012.

Officials for the Pac-10, Fox and the Staples Center said that other cities --- including Seattle --- put in bids to host the tournament.

But ultimately, Fox Sports Enterprises --- which runs the tournament --- wanted to keep it in LA where its base is and where it feels the tournament can be most successful.

"We feel building equity in a market is crucial,'' said Mitch Huberman, senior vice president of Fox Sports Enterprises. "As well as a chance to build a destination for schools.''

A Staples Center official said the tournament is among the most important events the arena hosts, right with the Emmys and the Grammys.

Pac-10 officials pointed to some improvements being made in the area that will make the tournament more of a happening for those who attend. A $2 billion complex of hotels, restaurants and clubs is being built across the street from Staples, with some of it due to be open next season.

The new five-year deal coincides with the five-year TV contract between Fox and the Pac-10.

Huskies a No. 6 NIT seed?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:17 PM

I'm admittedly stealing this from reader Toby, but thought I would put it out here so it would maybe get more visibility.

Toby passed along the NIT-ology web site that publishes projections of the NIT draw. You can find the site here. Here, also, is the field broken down by bracket.

They have UW as a No. 6 seed, which means the Huskies would have to go on the road to face No. 3 seed Michigan.

Among the other three seeds listed are Bradley, Oklahoma State or Georgia, just to give you an indication of the possible level of competition.

All tough places to go, and all good experiences for a team that now has to use the NIT to build toward next year. Oklahoma State might be avoided as an opponent for UW since the Huskies are due to play there next Dec. 1 in the Pac-10-Big 12 Challenge.

Interestingly, the NIT-ology bracket has UW possibly facing Saint Louis in the second round, which would obviously be a matchup of Romar and his old school.

Here, as well, is the general NIT web site which should tell you all you need to know about the tournament.

The basics are that it is a 32-team field that unlike years past, is now seeded and bracketed like the NCAA Tournament. That means the higher seed teams host (unless there are extenuating circumstances why it can't) so if UW is a No. 6 seed, it likely wouldn't host any games unless there were upsets in its brackets.

I notice the NIT-ology site doesn't even list Santa Clara as a possibility. But a knowledgable source said last night that was one team already mentioned as a possible first-round foe for UW.

I know the Huskies have done what needed to host a game by submitting a formal bid, etc. and are hopeful of getting a home game. But now that the NCAA has taken over the tournament, the old days of bigger schools simply buying home games in the NIT are over.

The NIT bracket will be announced Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 and ESPNU.

The morning after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:30 AM

Sure, it's been a longshot for a while.

But today is the first day we can write for certain that the Washington Huskies are not going to the NCAA Tournament.

That does not mean their season is over, however, as the NIT is sure to come calling and UW could have five more games. So, many of the questions some of you have asked about the future won't get answers from the coaches just yet as there is still some season to play.

My understanding is the team is taking today and tomorrow off, then will resume practice Sunday with an NIT game possible on Tuesday or Wednesday.

But certainly, the loss to WSU felt like an ending, eliciting in its wake a lot of questions about what happened and where things head now.

I'll try to a few of your questions here:

WHAT WAS UW'S BIGGEST PROBLEM THIS YEAR? I think the main thing, as was made evident again in the WSU game, was UW's defense out front. As one coach watching the tournament told me "they are not very good perimeter defenders.''

Ryan Appleby is good defending catch-and-shoot guys, as he showed last week against Arron Afflalo, but not as good guarding on the ball. Justin Dentmon struggled in every area all year, and his weight gain seemed to make him lose a step this year, which hurt him on defense. And Adrian Oliver, while showing promise, isn't yet ready to defend guys like Kyle Weaver or Derrick Low. WSU got 48 of its 74 points from its three starting guards and they shot 15-24 from the field.

The good news is that the perimeter defense should be much improved next year. Tim Morris and Joel Smith are each capable defenders who apparently have often been getting the better of this year's starters in practices of late. I think there is some sentiment that Smith would be starting right now were he healthy, in large part due to his defense.

And Oliver will be a year older and Dentmon probably in better shape and with a renewed focused. Then there's Venoy Overton, who will have some adjusting to do but has the quickness and athleticism to make an impact on defense immediately.

WILL SPENCER HAWES BE BACK? Hate to punt on this one, but it's still too early to tell. I don't think he's told the coaches anything yet. Word here is that he's still a top 10-20 pick at worst, so the question is going to be whether he wants to come back to improve his stock a little bit, but maybe more so to leave a greater legacy at UW --- which could prove to be the biggest factor in the end.

As for Hawes, he was outplayed Thursday by WSU's big guys, specifically Robbie Cowgill. He struggles more against quicker, more athletic defenders, and theh Cougars did the right thing using Cowgill and Clark on Hawes rather than Baynes. Hawes also isn't yet a great defender, which has compounded the problems out front.

WILL ANYONE REDSHIRT NEXT YEAR TO MAKE ROOM FOR EVERYBODY? That's really hard to tell right now and I don't think the c oaches have such things in mind right now. Of the guys coming in, I know the plan is for Overton and Bryan-Amaning to play a lot immediately, especially in the case of MBA if Hawes leaves. Plans always change, however. I think they wanted to redshirt Phil Nelson this year but couldn't when Joel Smith got hurt. At the moment, I wouldn't think any of the current roster would redshirt next season for reasons other than injury, etc.

HOW MUCH BLAME DOES ROMAR TAKE FOR THIS SEASON? Certainly, as the head coach, the ultimate responsibility falls on him. But at the risk of sounding like an apologist, I don't think this has been a bad coaching job. I haven't talked to anyone here who scratches their head and wonders why this team isn't doing better. This team has some physical deficiencies that have become obvious during the season, mostly the perimeter defending stuff mentioned above. The UW coaches did try some things this year, mostly playing more zone defense than ever before, and slowing down the offense.

With just 10 players all season, there were pretty limited options for a lot of things, but the Huskies did try a number of different lineups before finally settling on the one that seemed to work best --- it just wasn't good enough. Again, at the risk of sounding like an excuse maker, it's also hard to take the Hawes illness thing out of the equation. Maybe if UW had won at least won on that Bay Area trip, when Hawes was really beginning to struggle, things might have turned out a lot differently. This team didn't seem to react real well to adversity once it hit, and when it lost momentum on that trip, seemed to lose a lot of confidence. How much of that falls on Romar is really hard to judge. With such a new team, I think it's more accurate to judge him on many of these issues a year from now, when youth and inexperience is no longer a factor.

Also, I would point out that a 19-win season by UW's historical standards is still pretty good. UW's only had 10 seasons of 19 or more wins since the formation of the Pac-10 in 1978 --- Romar has coached four of them.

On a side note, I'm staying here to cover the rest of the tournament and while this is a Husky blog first, I plan to post some things that I think may be of general interest, as well.

Cougs simply better than Huskies

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:56 AM

Ultimately, that was Lorenzo Romar's analysis of Washington's 74-64 loss to Washington State Thursday night.

"The better team won,'' he said.

Impossible for anyone to argue when one team beats another three times --- once on your floor, once on their floor and once on a neutral court.

Certainly, there is some deeper analysis you can make.

Robbie Cowgill outplayed Spencer Hawes, pushing him out to the free throw line and never letting him get the ball close to the hoop; the UW guards couldn't defend their Cougar counterparts especially at crunch time; and the Huskies didn't catch a lot of breaks on the officiating, or didn't do anything to create them, as WSU had a 29-10 free throw attempt advantage and 25-7 in the second half.

Add it up, and the Cougars were simply better.

Experience, certainly, played a factor, something both coaches mentioned.

"Washington's young --- they have some inexperience --- and our experience showed for us,'' said WSU coach Tony Bennett.

Here's our coverage of it --- our game story; the notebook, which mostly due to deadline issues leads off with information on some of the earlier games but does include some UW material; and Steve Kelley's column.

Now, the Huskies head to the NIT.

The selections will be announced Sunday at 6 p.m. and UW seems likely to host a game on Tuesday or Wednesday against a team such as Santa Clara or San Diego State.

It's a consolation prize, to be sure. But for a team that is undeniably young, also one that holds lots of value. UW could play as many as five games, giving the Huskies that much more experience for next season.

March 8, 2007

Cougars taking over

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:34 PM

WSU has regained control of this game and this is quickly becoming crunch time for the Huskies.

You may have noticed that the Cougars are again doubleteaming the post on almost every possession. They didn't do it as much in the first half, not really going to it at all until midway through.

But it seems to be taking its toll right now on the Huskies, who still don't seem to know how to handle it.

Artem rising

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:00 PM

Thank Artem Wallace for this halftime lead as the sophomore big man has eight points on 4-6 shooting in 14 minutes.

He was forced to play more than usual with Spencer Hawes picking up his second foul with 8:20 left.

Then Ryan Appleby took over hitting three long three-pointers en route to nine points. That added to the 10 scored by Quincy Pondexter as the Huskies have led much of the way.

UW trailed by 11 and eight at halftime of the first two games against the Cougars.

Early fouls help UW

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:36 PM

The Huskies caught a break when Aron Baynes went to the bench at the 15:05 mark with his second foul.

UW has used his absence to assert dominance on the boards, which is helping the Huskies overcome some tough shooting. UW has a 9-5 rebounding advantage but is 4-12 from the floor.

The early matchups inside had Baynes on Brockman and Cowgill on Hawes.

Don't know how it sounds on TV, but there is not much noise in here --- the quietest for any of the games today, with a lot of people leaving after the USC game.

Not the intense atmosphere of either of the first two meetings.

Late night with the Huskies

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:43 PM

Get ready for what may be the latest starting game --- in the Pacific time zone, anyway --- in UW history.

Overtime of USC-Stanford means the Huskies may not tip until about 9:10 or so. the UConn game last year began about 10 p.m. local time back east, but I don't ever remember a UW game that will go this late.

In fact, as I finish that at 8:48 p.m., UW has hit the court and it says 27 minutes on the clock. So that's a 9:15 tip time at best.

Probably has no real impact on the game, but it does on those of us covering it. Our deadlines are now tighter than ever.

I think the Huskies would have preferred that Stanford won that game. But all that matters right now is trying to beat the Cougs.

One of you asked about how the teams feel about the tournament being here. The reality is that Fox is the financial backing for the tournament and the network wants it here, so this is where it is going to stay through at least 2011.

I think most coaches and school officials realize that money talks loudest and while in a perfect world, they'd prefer it be moved around, they know for now, this is where it has to stay. Several people have made the comparison with the Big East Tournament, which is played every year in New York. They hope that eventually, maybe this tournament can take on that feel.

Big men take center stage

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:03 PM

We're still about two hours to go before tipoff of the UW-WSU game here.

Which gives some more time for breaking it down.

One point of speculation is how WSU will matchup on UW inside.

In the game in Seattle three weeks ago, the Cougars mostly used Ivory Clark and Robbie Cowgill inside, with Aron Baynes getting 18 minutes off the bench.

Since then, however, WSU has altered its lineup, with Baynes starting and Clark sitting.

That's a significant difference in stature as Baynes is 6-10 while Clark is 6-6. Clark especially seemed to bother Spencer Hawes with his quickness, especially in that last five minutes when the Cougars held UW's interior players scoreless.

But Baynes is obviously a much bigger body to put on Hawes, who scored 22 points and hit 7-12 shots and 8-11 free throws.

Figure that Baynes will start on Hawes and the 6-10 Cowgill on Brockman.

Baynes also changes things for UW on the defensive end, as well, as he has suddenly become an offensive force, averaging 16.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in the last three games. That includes a standout performance against USC Saturday when he had 25 points in 34 minutes, hitting all 10 of his shots.

I asked one coach down here about WSU's change in personnel and he said it makes the Cougars much better suited for a long NCAA Tournament run as Baynes poses a lot more problems than does Clark due to his size.

For the Huskies, the trick will be staying out of foul trouble.

One thing we haven't noted much is that the Huskies got no bench scoring against Arizona State, with the bench only playing 37 minutes.

UCLA-Cal aftermath

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:59 PM

Some interesting reactions to UCLA's loss to Cal from Bruin coach Ben Howland, who seemed particularly down on his team afterward and several times made references to the loss to UW Saturday.

"I'm extremely disappointed in how we've played our last two games,'' Howland said. "If we don't play any better than we are playing right now, than any team in the field of 64 will beat us.''

Howland said UCLA is shooting too many threes right now --- the Bruins had 25 in 55 overall attempts against Cal.

Another problem --- Arron Afflalo seems to be hitting the wall a bit. He has had two straight poor games and some scouts here said they think he looks a little tired.

Another problem --- UCLA's guards seem to have switched roles. Darren Collison took 15 shots for the second straight game while Afflalo attempted only seven against the Bears.

By the way, the Huskies again practiced at UCLA today for their pre-game shootaround.

Cal shakes it up

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:11 PM

Step right up if you had Cal-Oregon in one semifinal of the Pac-10 tournament.

The bracket for the Pac-10 Tournament just broke wide open with Cal's upset of No. 1 seed UCLA.

It's the biggest upset since No. 8 UCLA beat No. Arizona in 2003. But that's the only win by a No. 8 seed since the tournament was reinstated before this year.

The obvious implication for the Huskies is that anything now seems possible in this tournament for any of the teams that are left.

Cal simply outworked the Bruins, especially at the start, and Omar Wilkes did nice job defending Arron Afflalo while Ayinde Ubaka played like an all-conference player throughout, especially at the end.

Thoughts on tonight's game

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:37 PM

Washington coaches and players are pretty much in lockstep on what the Huskies have to do to win tonight's game --- play hard, play good defense and take care of the ball.

But here's a little bit more in their own words.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar: "We've got to defend, take care of the basketball and be every disciplined because they are a team that takes advantage of every single mistake that you make, mentally or physically.

UW forward Jon Brockman: "They are a great team. Personally, I've never beaten them and it's a big game. We know they are great on defense and great on offense and they work together really well. We've got to come out and have a great game.''

Brockman on what UW has to do differently this time: "Ultimately, we've just got to come out and defend and play hard. We've got to come out and play hard like we did last time and take care of the ball and step it up a notch the last half of the game. The last time we were right there with them and then the turnovers and the stops we didn't get really hurt us.''

Cal up early

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:30 PM

Cal has a 31-20 lead on UCLA as I write this, which would certainly be an interesting turn of events if it holds. The Huskies a lot of work to do before this game would have impact them, but obviously removing UCLA would be beneficial.

I'm sitting right behind the Cal bench and the Bears seem as into this game as any other team has here during the tournament.

There was an interesting aftermath to the Oregon-Arizona game as Wildcat coach Lute Olson turned a question on Maarty Leunen into a rant on the fact that the Pac-10 had just nine players on its all-conference team instead of the usual 10 --- the conference said it was because only nine players received votes on half of the ballots cast.

"It's an embarrassment to our league that we have the best league, the best this conference has ever been, and we can't find 10 guys who deserve to be all-conference,'' Olson said. "It's a really, really embarrassing situation. ... I've talked with the people there (at the Pac-10) and I'm embarrassed for them that they couldn't come up with a 10th guy.''

Olson said he wasn't just lobbying for one more of his players, mentioning Leunen and Lodrick Stewart and Gabe Pruitt and several others as those he thought deserved it.

Olson said he figured he'll get in trouble with Pac-10 officials for speaking and that maybe he'd get a one-game suspension.

"If they'll name a 10th player, I'll be happy to sit out the first game next season,'' he said.

It was the first time since 1985 that there were just nine players on the All-Pac-10 team.

Oregon advances to Final Four

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:12 PM

Of the Pac-10 Tournament, that is.

Arizona put up surprisingly little fight in this one, continuing the erratic play that colored the entire season and raising further questions about the direction of that program.

The Ducks, meanwhile, have won four in a row and figure to give UCLA a real game tomorrow, assuming the Bruins beat Cal next.

Three's the key?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:24 PM

Somebody asked who is UW's second-best three-point shooter after Ryan Appleby.

It's an especially relevant question heading into tonight's game against WSU. The Cougars at times are susceptible to leaving outside shooters open with their emphasis on doubling the post. Consider that Oregon swept the Cougars this year by making a combined 23 of 50 three-pointers in two games.

The Huskies weren't quite as successful in their two losses to WSU, going 11-33.

Appleby is by far UW's most dangerous three-point shooter, making 81 of UW's 186 treys this season.

Second on the team in terms of makes is Phil Nelson (24) but he has made just 29.3 percent. In terms of percentage, the second-best shooter is Quincy Pondexter (18-47, 38.3 percent).

But the player who could emerge as the complimentary threat to Appleby is Justin Dentmon. He shot just 31.9 percent for the season (23-72) but has been better of late, making 3-4 against Arizona State Wednesday and has made six of his last 12 in the last three games.

Few to Oregon shot down

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:06 PM

Promise I'll have some Husky stuff on here soon.

For now, here's an interesting column today from the Eugene Register-Guard with Oregon AD Pat Kilkenny refuting rumors that Mark Few to Oregon is a done deal.

Brooks shining early

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:49 PM

Think what you want of Aaron Brooks, but those of us who thought he should have been the Pac-10 Player of the Year this season are getting plenty of ammunition in the opening minutes of Oregon's game against Arizona.

He has 16 points with seven minutes left in the first half --- as many as Arizona, with Oregon holding a 24-16 lead --- and also has two of the more impressive defensive plays I've seen all year with his blocks at the rim of 6-10 Ivan Radenovic and Jawann McClellan.

Have to admit, an Oregon-Washington final would be a lot of fun.

At Staples

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:19 PM

I'm here for the tipoff of the Oregon-Arizona game, which should be a good one.

Each won on the other's home court this year by margins of three points or less in what were two of the best games of the Pac-10 season.

And --- in what I'll admit is a cheap shot --- Husky fans can watch to see if Aaron Brooks can make it through a complete tournament game.

Off to Staples

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:48 AM

I'm heading out to the arena soon for the first of four games today.

Once there, we'll have plenty on here, including a breakdown of the UW-WSU game, and observations on other games.

For now, I'll link to our coverage of last night's win over ASU, including our game story and Steve Kelley's column, all of which you can find here.

March 7, 2007

Closing up Staples

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:55 PM

It's been a long day traveling and a long night here at the arena, and I have to head to the hotel soon, so I won't have a long post right now.

But much of the talk afterward was of the time out with 7:46 left and ASU ahead 45-41 when Lorenzo Romar threw a clipboard on a seat and lit into his team.

Romar said he did it because the team didn't seem to have a lot of energy "and this was not the time to not have a whole lot of energy.''

Duly inspired, UW finished the game on an 18-6 run to hold on to beat ASU 59-51.

It was a statistically sloppy game, but most games involving ASU this season have been --- UW shot just 38.5 percent but held ASU to 40.4 and controlled the boards (39-28).

I thought Justin Dentmon's play was huge as he had 13 points and three assists and two turnovers in 32 minutes. He has had just four turnovers in the last three games.

Now come the Cougars, and we'll try to break down that game more tomorrow.

The Huskies, though, pronounced themselves ready.

"I can't wait,'' said center Spencer Hawes. "They've beaten us four in a row. It's time to put an end to that.''

And no, Tim Morris did not play. For whatever reason, a lot of the national internet sites often insert players on the roster but not in uniform into the game. Morris won't play this year.

Here come the Cougs

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:50 PM

That might have seemed harder than it needed to be at times, but the Huskies got it done and now can begin thinking about another crack at the Cougs.

We'll have more later.

UW back on top

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:23 PM

We wondered what we'd see on a neutral court from the Huskies. We're getting our answer --- a few minutes of bad followed by a few minutes of good, and then repeat, which seems fitting of a setting that is neither home, nor road.

ASU seemed to have all the momentum with that 45-41 lead, but the Appleby three and the Pondexter dunk had the Huskies hopping to their sideline.

One thing to keep in mind --- UW hasn't won a game by fewer than five points all season while losing three by four or fewer. So are the odds in UW's favor to finally win a close one? Or will they again wilt at the end?

UW up 32-24 at half

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:47 PM

A few interesting halftime numbers:

--- Jon Brockman is 4-9 from both the field and the free throw line, leading the Huskies with 12 points and eight rebounds.

--- The technical on Quincy Pondexter is the first against a UW player this season.

--- ASU ended the half 10-27 from the field after starting out 8-13.

--- Justin Dentmon has six points and one turnover and now has just three turnovers in his last two-and-a-half games.

More like it

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:28 PM

That's a 22-3 run as Justin Dentmon sinks a three-pointer and the Huskies have regained control as halftime nears.

A good 10 minutes is outweighing a bad 10 for the Huskies so far.

Ominous beginning

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:57 PM

Instead of picking up where they left off against UCLA, the Huskies look like they are reprising the poor efforts against the likes of Oregon State and Cal.

UW is 4-10 with five turnovers while allowing an ASU team not known for its offense to make eight of its first 13 shots.

And there's very little energy here, and what noise there is seems to be coming from those rooting for the underdog. UW has a lot of work to do.

The color purple

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:32 PM

You'll see many of the Huskies wearing purple shoes tonight. They are a new brand of Nike shoes in school colors that many of the teams will be wearing here this week --- obviously in their own colors.

At least it ended early

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:09 PM

The Cal-OSU game was a real snoozer --- a 70-51 win for the Bears --- and did nothing to advance the theory that adding all 10 teams a year ago was a good thing.

But at least it didn't take too long and the UW-Arizona State game should begin at its scheduled 8:42 tip time.

At Staples

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:52 PM

Have finally arrived and ready for a night of basketball --- even if Oregon State isn't.

How the Huskies lost to them two weeks ago remains as big a quandary as the football team's loss to Stanford --- each could be the ultimate decider on a post-season berth.

As for UW, the team practiced at UCLA today then headed back to the hotel and is now at the arena.

More later.

Off to Staples

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:43 AM

About to head to the airport for the trip to Los Angeles, so the next post from me probably won't come until I'm at Staples later this afternoon.

We'll plan to post often once we are there, however, throughout the tournament.

In the meantime, here are a few more stories around the conference.

First, here's a good overview of Arizona State's situation heading into the tournament from the Arizona Republic. Interesting note in there on some parallels between this ASU team and Herb Sendek's 1997 NC State team and the ACC Tournament run it made as a No. 8 seed.

Here's a story from the East Valley Tribune making some of the same comparisons.

Here's a good overview of the whole tournament from the LA Times.

Here's a column on Pac-10 coaches again feeling a little disrespected from Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Finally, here's an overview of the tournament from Jake Curtis of the San Francisco Chronicle headlined "Huskies are Pac-10 dark horse.'' We'll start to see how much gallop there is in that horse tonight.

Brockman, Pac-10 preview

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:06 AM

I'll pass along our Pac-10 Tournament preview, which ran in the paper today.

First, this feature on Jon Brockman, and then this overall look at the entire tournament. Also, here's a look at six other teams that have gone 4-0 to win conference tournaments.

Looking elsewhere, here's a good read from the Oakland Tribune, the paper's sixth annual poll of writers who cover the Pac-10 Conference. The writers named Ryan Anderson as freshman of the year, differing from the coaches who named Chase Budinger, but sided with the coaches in selections of Arron Afflalo as Player of the Year and Tony Bennett as Coach of the Year. There are lots of other interesting categories as well, however, so make sure to read it.

March 6, 2007

In the zone

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:09 PM

The key for the Huskies tomorrow will be solving Arizona State's matchup zone defense.

The Huskies did it well enough to beat the Sun Devils twice this season, but both games were a struggle.

The Huskies won 64-53 at home and 66-61 in Tempe, shooting a combined 44.7 percent overall and 11-28 from the three-point line

UW coaches and players say solving the zone is difficult because it's not something they see a lot --- most Pac-10 teams play man-to-man most of the time.

"They probably played (zone) 99 percent of the time, so you do something long enough, you get really good at it and confident at it and that's where they are now,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar.

ASU also changes it up. In the second game in Tempe, after UW busted out to a 44-21 halftime lead, the Sun Devils changed up its zone, extending the defense on the perimeter.

"They came out on us and pressured us,'' Romar said.

The Huskies wilted a bit, and then Romar said the team grew tight. "I think we got tentative thinking 'oh no, another game on the road.' Those thoughts started creeping in and I just think we became totally passive.''

ASU cut the lead to three before UW rallied to hold on.

Interestingly, ASU coach Herb Sendek played almost all man-to-man while coach at NC State, where he faced Romar and the Huskies twice. But he went with the zone this year, saying Tuesday that he felt it gave his team the best chance to win with the personnel it has.

ASU point guard Derek Glasser said this week the Sun Devils got more accustomed to playing the zone as the year went on.

Glasser said one thing that could actually be good news for the Huskies --- that the zone tended to work best on the second game of weekend trips or homestands, since that team usually only had a day to prepare. Indeed, the Huskies tore apart ASU's zone in the first half in Tempe, a Thursday game when it had all week to prepare for the zone.

ASU's stats back up Glasser's statement. On six of the eight conference weekends when ASU played two games, the second opponent scored fewer points than the first. That includes last weekend when Stanford beat ASU 63-53 on Thursday before ASU rebounded to win at Cal 42-41 on Saturday.

Another example were the visits by UW and WSU. The Huskies beat ASU 66-61 before WSU came to Tempe two days later and won 48-47.

A couple answers

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:15 PM

There were a couple questions thrown my way I'll try to answer here:

--- Can Ryan Appleby break the career three-point record at UW? Sure. Appleby has 149 in his career, including 79 this season, which is just two off the single-season mark set by Tre Simmons in 2005. The all-time leader is Deon Luton with 212, so a normal Appleby season would break it.

--- Who was Lorenzo Romar looking at the other night when he was at the Class 4A State Title game? Probably DeAngelo Casto. Coaches can't talk about that on the record, but I'm sure he was giving him a look, as well as some others just to make sure.

--- What's UW's bracket for the Pac-10 Tournament? UW's first game is Wednesday night against Arizona State. Win that, and then it's WSU in the quarterfinals Thursday night at 8:50 p.m. The winner of that game will get either USC or Stanford in the semifinals.

Pondexter says he'll stay

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:53 AM

Quincy Pondexter said Monday he'll almost certainly be back as a Husky next season rather than considering applying for the NBA, something I wrote about in this story here today.

I realize completely it seems a little strange for a freshman averaging 10.7 points a game to even be considering the NBA, and I don't think there was ever much chance of it happening.

But Pondexter had left the door open for that a few weeks ago when he told several of us that he would "re-evaluate'' his situation at the end of the season. Here's that story.

To be frank, I thought that story was more interesting as a peek into his mindset than it was as breaking news, since I think few thought it realistic he would really opt for the NBA after this season.

I think the new story is interesting for the same reasons --- he now seems full steam ahead on thinking only about the Huskies next year and not anything else. At the time he told he would think about the NBA, he had just returned to the starting lineup after sitting for nine games. Now, he's started the last eight games and seems to have a more clearly defined role on the team. That may all just be a coincidence. But as Pondexter himself said Monday, he feels he's "settling in'' now.

Also today was this story on the All-Pac-10 honors and Jerry Brewer's column on how Lorenzo Romar and Cameron Dollar led a Saint Louis team in a similar position as this year's Huskies to victory in the Conference USA Tournament in 2000.

Here, also, are the weekly Pac-10 notes from the Eugene Register-Guard, with an interesting look at Stanford's NCAA hopes, as well as some info on the Huskies.

Here's an LA Times story on Will Conroy being released by the Clippers.

March 5, 2007

Poll position

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:26 PM

Someone sent me an e-mail a little while ago wondering if I was the one AP voter who voted for the Huskies this week, noting I hadn't yet published my poll.

Here is the AP Poll with UW receiving two votes this week (which could be one voter putting UW No. 24 or two putting them No. 25).

No such luck. Here's my poll, which continues to be sans Huskies:

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

You'll see I didn't punish UCLA much for losing to UW. There were an awful lot of losses this week, however, so not everybody who lost a game dropped all that much since in a lot of cases, the teams behind them did worse.

Hawes, Brockman comment on honors

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:55 PM

Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman met the media today to discuss their Pac-10 honors. Brockman was named to the All-Pac-10 Team and Hawes to the All-Freshman team.

Here's a little of what they said:

HAWES: "It's a big-time honor, and especially this year with so many great players, it's great to be on that list. I think with the way the season went for me in the middle part, it was kind of a struggle there, so it's nice to get that award in the end.''

BROCKMAN: "I was excited. It's a huge honor just thinking that there are so many good players in the league this year to be named in that group is a huge honor and it's something to be proud of.''

More on all-conference honors

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:11 PM

I didn't get the whole team on the previous post so I'll do it here.

The coaches picked just nine players this year for the first time since 1985 --- rule is all players have to be mentioned on at least half the ballots to get on the team (coaches vote for the team but can't vote for their own players or themselves).

Here's the team:

Arron Afflalo, UCLA
Jon Brockman, Washington
Aaron Brooks, Oregon
Darren Collison, UCLA
Lawrence Hill, Stanford
Derrick Low, WSU
Kyle Weaver, WSU
Marcus Williams, Arizona
Nick Young, USC

Player of the year was Afflalo.

Freshman of the year went to Chase Budinger, with five others named to the all-freshman team --- Spencer Hawes, Ryan Anderson of Cal, Taj Gibson of USC, Brook Lopez of Stanford and Tajuan Porter of Oregon.

Tony Bennett of WSU was coach of the year.

As I explained here last week, I would have voted for Brooks. Somebody protested to me that he's a ballhog who got a lot of points just because he took a lot of shots. But in Pac-10 games only, he took just one more shot than Afflalo in one more game, so he didn't really hoist up that many more than Afflalo. I just thought Brooks meant more to his team, especially when considering all the last-second shots he hit.

Coach of the Year is unarguable.

I would have gone with Ryan Anderson for Freshman of the Year --- I thought he was more consistent than Budinger, though Budinger actually ended up averaging 14.9 PPG in conference games to Anderson's 14.7 (Anderson averaged 6.8 rebounds to Budinger's 5.9).

I'm surprised Mustafa Shakur didn't make the team --- I figured he would have been the 10th guy. Shakur's 7.0 assists per game are the most in the conference since Brandon Granville averaged 8.3 for USC in 2000. But evidently all those turnovers --- Shakur had 63 in Pac-10 games only, the most in the conference (Justin Dentmon had 55) --- made the difference.

Brockman named to All-Pac-10 team

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:57 AM

The All-Pac-10 team is out and Jon Brockman is the lone Husky named.

Spencer Hawes was named to the All-Freshman team as well as honorable mention on the all-conference team, and Quincy Pondexter was also named honorable mention on the freshman team.

UCLA's Arron Afflalo was Player of the Year, Arizona's Chase Budinger was Freshman of the Year and Washington State's Tony Bennett was Coach of the Year.

The entire team can be found here.

How'd we do?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:14 AM

Now that the regular season is over seems a good time to compare how the media thought the Pac-10 race would unfold compared to how it actually did.

Here's the official from last November:

1, UCLA (21 first-place votes, 335 total points)
2, Arizona (13, 280)
3, Washington (no first-place votes, 236)
4, Oregon (1, 193 votes)
5, Cal (177 total votes)
6, USC (160 total votes)
7, Stanford (127 total votes)
8, Oregon State (75 total votes)
9, Arizona State (69 total votes)
10, Washington State (54 total votes)

Here is my poll:
1. Arizona
3. Washington
4. Oregon
5. USC
6. Cal
7. Stanford
8. Washington State
9. Oregon State
10. Arizona State

And here's how it turned out:

1, UCLA, 15-3
2, WSU, 13-5
3, USC 11-7
4, Oregon 11-7
5, Arizona 11-7
6, Stanford 10-8
7, Washington 8-10
8, Cal 6-12
9, Oregon State 3-15
10, Arizona State 2-16

Obviously, all of us were way wrong about the Cougars --- the biggest gainer from the original poll --- and UW --- which suffered the biggest drop. I'd give myself some credit for at least picking WSU eighth, though my selection of Arizona first kind of negates that.

I wasn't sure how well Darren Collinson would replace Jordan Farmar --- obviously, very well --- and I still think Arizona has as much talent as anyone in the conference and underachieved a little bit.

We missed a bit on USC, but some of that was due to where we picked Cal, which at the time had a healthy DeVon Hardin and likely would have come closer to meeting expectations if he hadn't gotten hurt. Cal's drop moved up USC and Stanford. But some of the teams were picked accurately overall --- UCLA as the winner, Oregon at No. 4 and Oregon State and Arizona State as bottom-feeders.

March 4, 2007

Huskies tough it out

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:13 PM

Okay, back to UW hoops.

In reviewing the stats from the UCLA game, one of the most impressive things about it is that the Huskies won despite shooting just 40.3 percent, making 22-54 shots.

I figured going in UW's best chance of winning was to have an abnormal shooting night, making a bunch of three-pointers, that sort of thing.

Instead, the Huskies simply gutted it out.

UW made just 3-8 three-pointers, and the overall shooting percentage I referenced above is the sixth-worst of the season for the Huskies. The only games they won shooting a lower percentage were Idaho (38.7) and Stanford (38.1).

UW beat UCLA because it outrebounded the Bruins 44-29 and turned in its best defensive game of the year --- as noted on an earlier post, UCLA's 31.3 percent shooting was the lowest this season against the Huskies, and the lowest since the Lehigh game (29.3 percent) on Dec. 23, 2005.

The previous low against UW this year was the second Arizona State game (34.0) --- ASU also shot just 34.7 percent in the first game between the two in Seattle.

And the best omen for UW is that poor shooting by opponents is starting to become a trend --- five of the last eight foes have shot 45.7 percent or lower.

GU favored to win WCC title

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:08 PM

I see a lot of, uh, interest on here in the Gonzaga game coming up.

As I like to think we can sometimes discuss college basketball in general on here, as well, I'll pass along this from Ken Pomeory --- his odds on the West Coast Conference tournament. He says Gonzaga has a 63.6 percent chance of winning it with Santa Clara next at 24.3.

We'll see what he has to say about the Pac-10 later this week.

The day after

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:57 AM

I'm headed off for a day of skiing, but thought I would post a few things on my way out.

First, here's a quite encouraging column for Husky fans by Steve Kelley on the rumblings that Spencer Hawes is suddenly leaning toward staying for at least one more year. As quoted in the column, Hawes won't say much publicly one way or the other. But some close to him, including his closest teammate, Jon Brockman, hint that he's thinking more about it now than ever.

Brockman told me much the same the other day when he said that "this team is becoming more and more important to him.''

Here, also, is our game story, focusing on the Huskies finally appearing to grow up; as well as our notebook, which leads off with Ryan Appleby's defensive effort on Arron Afflalo and that of Justin Dentmon on Darren Collison. Continuing to play defense like that is the key to making a long Pac-10 tournament run.

Here are a few views from the other side: here's theLA Times, centering on the uninspired Bruins angle; and the LA Daily News on Collison's bad day.

Also of interest in the Daily News is this story on Campbell Hall winning the CIF-SS Division III championship led by Jrue and Justin Holiday. Justin has already signed with UW and Jrue, a junior, is seriously considering the Huskies.

Here, also, are the updated RPI numbers for the Pac-10 with the Huskies up to 74.
They were in the 90's before the weekend, evidence of how much impact a few quality wins can make.

Not sure RPI matters much, however. I talked with a few people around the program and some colleagues Saturday to determine whether UW has any shot other than winning the Pac-10 title and the general consensus was no --- remember, no conference team has ever gotten an at-large bid with a conference record worse than 10-8 (UW is 8-10) and no more than six teams have ever been invited (Washington is seventh). But if UW were to win at least three in LA, it could get a little interesting.

March 3, 2007

Taking them lightly?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:16 PM

The theme of the UCLA players afterward was that they just didn't have the intensity needed.

"We've got to play a lot harder than our opponents,'' said center Lorenzo Mata. "We didn't today.''

UW guard Justin Dentmon said that seemed evident long before the game.

"Even from the way they were warming up, I think they thought they were just going to come in and get another easy win,'' Dentmon said. "We weren't going to let that happen.''

Dentmon said the Bruins were "laughing and giggling and doing stuff you do when you aren't focused.''

Guard Darren Collison said the pre-game antics weren't the issue.

"That's how we always are, being loose as a team,'' he said. "But I felt like out intensity wasn't there from the jump.''

Why, no one seemed to know, though none of the Bruins wanted to say they didn't play hard because they already had the Pac-10 title wrapped up.

"I hope not,'' Collison said. "We shouldn't have.''

The game was physical throughout, which Hawes said indicated the Bruins were playing hard.

"There were a couple of no-calls and stuff that were questionable but it all worked out in the end,'' Hawes said.

Pac-10 tournament lineup set

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:54 PM

Washington State's hard-fought win over USC finalized the seeding for the Pac-10 Tournament --- and defined the path the Huskies will have to travel.

UW will play Arizona State while Cal will face Oregon State in the first round Wednesday night.

The Cougars clinched the No. 2 seed with their win over USC, so if the Huskies beat ASU, they will face WSU in the second round Thursday.

Other Thursday games are Oregon and Arizona in a match of the four-five seeds, the Cal-OSU winner against UCLA (No.1) and USC (No. 3) vs. Stanford (No. 6).

The WSU-UW/ASU winner would then face the USC-Stanford winner in the semifinals Saturday.

Here are a few other notes on UW's win today.

---- The Huskies have won five of the last seven against UCLA dating to the 2004 Pac-10 Tournament.

--- Spencer Hawes set a career high with 15 rebounds.

"I was just more active on the glass, just going after more of them,'' said Hawes, who had 12 on two other occasions but otherwise hadn't hit double figures this year. "Before the game, that was one of the keys because that's one of our strengths and we had to exploit that and I said 'you know what? No more messing around. It's time to go out and grab some.'''

--- Dentmon had just two turnovers against the Bruins after having zero against USC Thursday. "He made progress this weekend,'' Romar said. "He just made a concerted effort to really try to run our team.''

--- Both Hawes and Jon Brockman had double-doubles. The only other time that happened this year was the win against LSU on Dec. 20.

--- UCLA had 20 points at halftime, a low for a Husky opponent this season

--- Arron Afflalo seemed to indicate he thought Darren Collison took a few too many shots afterward. "He has to do the best he can to not get caught in his own percentages and make sure everyone else has it going because that's the point guard's duty,'' he said.

--- UCLA reserve big man Alfred Aboya sat out with a knee injury suffered at WSU Thursday. His bench replacements, James Keefe and Ryan Wright, had no rebounds in 14 minutes.

Updated game story

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:33 PM

Biggest win of year

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:57 PM

They may not be to full maturity yet, but the Huskies did an awful lot of growing up today.

This was the team everyone expected to see all season, finally showing the potential that had them ranked No. 8 early in the year.

Two dominating inside players, timely shooting, solid defense all the way around.

A lot of momentum to take into the Pac-10 Tournament, where the Huskies will be the scariest No. 7 seed in the history of that event.

For now, I'm sticking to the thought that the Huskies have to win that tournament to make it to the Big Dance, but today's win might open up a few possibilities down the road to explore at a later date.

Spencer Hawes had a career-high 15 rebounds along with 13 points while Brockman had 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Ryan Appleby and Justin Dentmon played the kind of perimeter defense missing too often this season, holding Collison and Afflalo to a combined 6-29 shooting.

And UW has now beaten two top 10 teams this season at home (Oregon, UCLA) and finishes the year 17-2 at Edmundson Pavilion.

This is a Sweet 16 team at home. Too bad UW had to play road games.

Can they hold on?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:52 PM

That was an 11-0 run by UCLA in about 1:40 to get right back in the game.

Suddenly, the Huskies have 15 turnovers for the game, losing four in the last four minutes to aid UCLA's comeback. UW's been in this spot a few other times (WSU, Pitt) and not held on. Can they today?

Amazing defensive numbers

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:38 PM

Arron Afflalo just hit two jumpers to keep UCLA in it a bit.

Still, he is 4-10 from the field while Darren Collison is 1-12, a combined 5-22.

Hanging on

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:28 PM

UCLA appeared poised to go on a run to start the second half, hitting three of its first four shots.

But the Huskies steadied things as UCLA is now 13-46 shooting for the game ---- 5-15 in the second half, and 2-11 since making three of the first four.

Huskies getting defensive

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:53 AM

Definitely the best half of defense for the Huskies this year as UW has held UCLA to 8-31 shooting. Lorenzo Mata is 3-5 inside and Russell Westbrook 2-3. The rest of the Bruins are 3-23.

That has helped the Huskies to a 31-20 lead and Hec Ed is rocking like it was, uh, last season.

Justin Dentmon is doing a great job keeping Darren Collison out of the middle, and the UCLA point guard has just one assist and no points, going 0-5 from the floor.

The Huskies are just 12-32 itself and have missed a few open shots that could come back to haunt them.

Also, UCLA is more used to being behind than you might think --- the Bruins are 7-3 in games in which it has trailed by 10 or more points this season.

Hawes, Pondexter to sit early

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:40 AM

UW coach Lorenzo Romar announced Friday that seniors Hans Gasser and Brandon Burmeister would get starts for their final home games.

He didn't tell us, however, who they would start in place of, and the assumption was it would be Quincy Pondexter and Ryan Appleby. Instead, word is that Appleby will start but Spencer Hawes will also sit at the start.

Again, this is a Senior Day only deal. Romar has historically given starts to his seniors for their final home game.

Aboya may not play today

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:18 AM

All of the Los Angeles papers are reporting today that UCLA backup forward/center Alfred Aboya may not play today after injuring his knee Thursday at Washington State.

Here's a story from the Daily Breeze on the injury and its possible ramifications, which mean mostly that Ryan Wright or James Keefe may have to play more than usual.

Also, went to the Franklin-Ferris game last night, a report on which is here. Looked like Venoy Overton was pressing a little bit, though the foul situation was obviously an issue, as well --- the game was way too closely called for my taste but maybe the officials felt they had to keep it tight to keep control. Peyton Siva is a great scorer, and if the Huskies have him and Isaiah Thomas in the same backcourt down the road, points will never be a problem.

Ferris was much better than I thought it would be and DeAngelo Casto has to be improving his stock, though I see on this report that he's only receiving lukewarm interest from Gonzaga, WSU and Oregon State.

I'm interested in the thoughts of anyone else who was there.

March 2, 2007

Wolfinger update

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:43 PM

I had a brief note earlier today on the status of Joe Wolfinger, whose recovery from a foot injury has apparently taken a turn for the better, and I'll expand on that here.

It was thought a few weeks ago that Wolfinger might finally need surgery to repair a stress fracture that has kept him out all season.

But UW coach Lorenzo Romar said Friday that the foot has responded well recently and surgery may not be necessary.

Romar said he made the comments about surgery being possible because Wolfinger's bone still showed a break when the boot was removed a few weeks ago.

"But as he began to become more active, there was no pain,'' Romar said. "As he continues to be pain free and activity has increased, there is a chance he won't have to have surgery.''

Romar said Wolfinger is doing the stairmaster, shooting flat-footed and even some light jumping.

Romar said Wolfinger may begin jogging next week.

"We're trying to increase it more and more and see if he can pass each mini-test so that he can eventually run on it,'' Romar said.

The 7-foot Wolfinger redshirted last season to add a little bulk, weighing 230 pounds when he showed up at UW in the fall of 2005.

Ironically, he now needs to lose a little weight as he is up to about 275 pounds. But Romar said the weight isn't a real concern.

"When he is really able to start running, I think he'll top off at about 260-265, which he can carry just fine,'' Romar said. "You see him at 275, he just looks good. He doesn't look too big or too skinny.''

The return to full health of Wolfinger is critical as the Huskies may need another big body next season should Spencer Hawes turn pro. Either way, Wolfinger figures to have a key role next year.

USC or WSU in second round?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:16 PM

Tomorrow's game against UCLA is now just window dressing for both teams, with seeds for the Pac-10 tournament decided for both.

The intrigue for the Huskies is on the other side of the state.

UW clinched a No. 7 seed last night and will play Arizona State in the first round Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

Should UW win that game, it would then play the No. 2 seed on Thursday. And that will be either USC or WSU depending on which team wins tomorrow in Pullman.

WSU is a game ahead of USC but USC would hold the tiebreaker if it beats the Cougars. Essentially, the two teams would have split against each other, and USC has a win against a higher-seeded team in the conference than WSU, having beaten Oregon twice while the Cougars were swept by the Ducks.

So for the Huskies, the question is which team would be a better fit in the second round.

I actually think it's hard to tell than it might appear on paper.

UW obviously matches up pretty well with USC given the way the two have played this year --- the Huskies could have won in Los Angeles and pretty much dominated last night.

WSU, meanwhile, has won four in a row against the Huskies, suggesting that's the last team UW would want to face.

But USC would have a little of a homecourt advantage at the Staples Center (I think it's overstated as that place is so cavernous it never really feels like anyone has much of an edge, but certainly the Trojans would have a lot more fans there) while the Huskies might be due to finally beat the Cougars.

Certainly, UW would feel a lot better about playing the Cougs now after the tight loss two weeks ago than it would have earlier in the season.

Course, a loss to ASU will make it all moot, but fun to speculate about for now.

On Floyd

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:01 AM

A few of you have commented on how Tim Floyd reacted after the game and wondered why.

I can tell you he was pretty upset with his team afterward based on the comments on the official quote sheet.

"It was not one of our better defensive efforts,'' he said. "I thought we didn't get back defensively for our perimeter players in defensive transition. We made some real mistakes as far as location and they made us pay for it.''

There was a timeout with about six minutes to go in the first half after Ryan Appleby hit a three-pointer when Floyd lit into Lodrick Stewart and Daniel Hackett.

"Defensive transition was the key,'' Floyd said. "There was a timeout that we called about that. We needed guys to get back, rotate, run the floor and find a guy. We have been pretty good at it all year long, that is why we have been able to rob people, but we didn't do a good job tonight.''

At another point, Floyd said simply that "we didn't get into the game.''

Floyd was also obviously upset with the officiating.

More on USC game (Revised)

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:06 AM

The links on-line have been updated so I will now simply post those:

Here's the game story. And here's the notebook which includes info on UW's 3-point shooting, Justin Dentmon and Joe Wolfinger.

March 1, 2007

USC postgame

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:19 PM

Lots of positives tonight other than the gnawing feeling of wondering why the Huskies haven't played like this all season.

But then maybe it's just that home-road thing --- UW is now 16-2 at home and 1-10 on the road.

Among the positives:

--- The play of Justin Dentmon as he made three early three-pointers and had no turnovers in 32 minutes. His only other no turnover game came in 24 minutes against Idaho Nov. 29.

"I think he had a real high level of concentration,'' UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Consequently, he did a great job of taking care of the ball.''

Dentmon said it will help his confidence heading into the UCLA game Saturday.

---- UW's three-point shooting, as the Huskies hit 10-18. It's the most since the Huskies made 13-26 against USC on Dec. 28.

"They worry so much about our inside that it gives us a longer look,'' said UW guard Ryan Appleby, who hit 5-7.

--- The Huskies did a nice job adjusting once USC made that run to cut the lead from 17 to five with under seven minutes left. At that point, UW got the ball inside a lot and Spencer Hawes scored eight of his 13 points in the final four minutes.

--- Romar said center Joe Wolfinger, sidelined all season with a foot stress fracture, may be able to avoid surgery, after all. Romar had said last week that Wolfinger may need surgery after he has tried to recover without it. But Romar said the foot has responded well in recent days and for now, surgery has been postponed.

--- UW clinched the No. 7 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament and will play Arizona State in the first round. The best thing about that is avoiding UCLA until the final, if UW were to get that far. UW would likely play WSU in the second round and either USC, Stanford or Arizona in the semifinals.

--- To answer a question asked, I still see no way UW gets to the NCAA Tournament without winning the Pac-10 Tournament. An 8-10 conference record just won't cut it.

Huskies clinch seventh seed

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:43 PM

Sorry to be late on posting --- deadlines kept me away.

A quick note to point out that UW's win and Cal's loss to Arizona means the Huskies have officially clinched the No. 7 seed for the Pac-10 Tournament. The Huskies will play Arizona State next Wednesday at 8:42 p.m.

If WSU beats USC Saturday, that means the Cougars would get the No. 2 seed, setting up a Husky-Cougar rematch in the second round of UW could get past Arizona State.

Could take a while now

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:25 PM

The officials seem compelled not to let this on get out of hand and have already called 14 fouls this half --- eight on UW --- with 11:50 to go.

That means there will likely be a lot of free throws shot the rest of the way.

The Huskies are clinging to a 62-54 lead as USC has gone on a 13-4 run.

USC hanging around

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:14 PM

The Huskies were just ahead 58-41 and looking like they might blow out the Trojans.

But USC scored six in a row to cut it to 58-47 though after the time out, Artem Wallace will shoot two free throws.

One ominous sign is two quick fouls by Brockman as he now has three and is on the bench. Brockman leads UW with 15 points on 6-8 shooting and also has seven rebounds.

Huskies up at half

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:59 PM

UW leads 48-37 at the end of one of their highest-scoring first halves. UW hasn't scored this many points in a half since putting 51 on Oregon Jan. 25.

The key has been the three-point shooting. UW is 9-13 with Ryan Appleby making 4-6 and Justin Dentmon 3-3. Quincy Pondexter and Phil Nelson have also each hit one.

Nick Young kept USC close with 13 points, hitting three straight jumpers late in the half after Washington went up 44-30 on the four-point play that included the Tim Floyd technical.

Getting crazy

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:39 PM

UW has taken a 43-30 lead, and USC coach Tim Floyd is enraged, getting a technical after a strange play in which Ryan Appleby made a three and Quincy Pondexter was called for a foul away from the ball for pushing off on Lodrick Stewart.

Floyd has seemed peeved for a few minutes now, mostly as his team's defense, which has allowed UW to hit 9-13 three-pointers already. At a time out at the seven-minute mark, he laid into Stewart and Daniel Hackett.

Then he started baiting the refs and almost seemed to be trying to get a T by running onto the floor.

This is a big game for USC as any chance of finishing in second place could go out the window with a loss tonight.

Blazing from three

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:29 PM

UW has opened up a 31-23 lead here with 7:16 left in the first half, and three-pointers are a big part of it.

UW has hit 5-9 already --- as many as they've made in seven of the last nine games. Dentmon has three and Nelson and Appleby one each.

Overall, UW is 11-19 with Hawes also hitting two jumpers just inside the line. USC is also shooting 50 percent (10-20) but the Huskies have forced both a five-second and a shot clock violation as the pressure seems a little better tonight.

Dentmon shines early

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:13 PM

One big thing the Huskies could get out of the rest of the season is a little confidence heading into next year.

No player needs that more than Justin Dentmon, and maybe he got some back here in the opening minutes today.

UW leads 13-11 with 14:23 to go thanks in part to two three-pointers by Dentmon. He was just 6-26 in Pac-10 games coming into tonight.

Tipoff nearing

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:32 PM

About 30 minutes until game time and not much atmosphere for a game that doesn't have much apparent meaning for UW with the Huskies out of the NCAA tournament at-large race.

But this game does have some meaning in terms of seeding for the Pac-10 tournament. If the Huskies win at least one game this weekend and end up tied with Cal, UW will have the tiebreaker on the Bears and finish with the No. 7 seed. That means a first-round game with Arizona State and a likely second-rounder with WSU, an easier road, probably, than having to face Oregon State-UCLA in the first two rounds.

With no live TV for this game, we'll try to keep the updates going throughout the game.

Awards time coming

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:19 PM

The Pac-10 will announce most of its major post-season awards Monday.

I wrote this overview of what I think might happen yesterday. In it, I made the case --- which I know will be unpopular on this board --- that Aaron Brooks ought to be the Pac-10 Player of the Year.

As I state in the article, I simply think he's done more for his team this year than any other player in the Pac-10. Good arguments can be made for Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison, as well, and it won't surprise me if either of them wins it, especially if UCLA sweeps this weekend to win the Pac-10 title going away.

But most of Brooks' numbers are even better in conference play than in non-conference, and the big shots he has made to win crucial games for Oregon puts him over the top in my book.

Remember, the coaches vote on the official awards, and it's always hard to know their exact criteria --- is it simply the player who had the best year statistically, or the player who means the most to his team? Often, to be sure, that is one in the same.

The coaches also pick the 10-man All-Conference team, which is selected regardless of position.

I think these players are locks --- Brooks, Afflalo, Collison, Nick Young, Kyle Weaver and probably Jon Brockman and Marcus Williams. Brockman's leading in rebounds, is top 10 in scoring, and among the top five in shooting, and the coaches love the manner in which he plays.

Williams statistically is a no-brainer. But too often, he's played as if he has no brains --- ala, the foul on the three-pointer last week against ASU --- and a few coaches might wonder about that. But I'd think he'll make it.

Mustafa Shakur seems likely to make it, as well, but like the rest of his Arizona teammates, has slumped of late. Still, he is averaging almost one-and-a-half more assists per game than any other conference player, so he probably gets on.

That's eight, with the final two probably coming from a pool of Ryan Anderson, Jeff Pendergraph, Derrick Low and Lawrence Hill.

Hill may be the most underrated player in the conference (sixth in scoring, 11th in rebounding); Pendergraph is a very good player whose numbers are held down by playing for Arizona State and is second in rebounding; Low was a no-brainer until his numbers started to drop off a few weeks ago due to illness and injury (he no longer ranks among the top 20 scorers when considering only Pac-10 games, for instance); Anderson's been the most consistent freshman.

I address the freshmen team in the story, as well, positing that Anderson will likely be named the Freshman of the Year. Hard to argue considering his numbers (top five in both scoring and rebounding). But the five-man All-Frosh team is a more difficult proposition with seven good candiates --- Anderson, Spencer Hawes, Brook and Robin Lopez, Tajuan Porter, Taj Gibson and Chase Budinger. Easiest way may be to leave off Robin Lopez (Brook's numbers are a lot better) and go with six.

Coach of the Year will undoubtedly be Tony Bennett.

WSU is also likely to win the Newcomer of the Year award, which goes to the transfer that made the biggest impact. There were few that did much this year, so I'd figure the award will go to Cougar guard Taylor Rochestie, who transferred from Tulane.

Lodrick Stewart comes home one more time

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:06 AM

Could this really be the last big-time game in Seattle for one of the famed Stewart twins?

Might be, as Lodrick Stewart comes to town with USC tonight to play the Huskies. With Rodrick at Kansas and no guarantee of an NBA future for either, it's just possible this could be the last time one of the Stewart twins falls into the Seattle spotlight.

So I wrote about Lodrick Stewart's sometimes tumultuous but ultimately fulfilling career at USC today. He freely admits he spent most of his first two years there wondering why he hadn't stayed home to attend UW --- early in the process, there was ample chance that could have happened, though once the Huskies took Tre Simmons, there was no longer room for both, which turned out to be the deal breaker.

And how different might history have developed if that had happened?

To address a couple of other issues:

--- One reader asked why UW no longer plays as much pressure defense. That is simply a function of the team's personnel. The coaches have adjusted this year since the Huskies don't have the players to run the same kind of defense. But next year, with Venoy Overton coming in and Tim Morris and Joel Smith back in the mix, I'd expect the pressure defense to return.

--- There is no live TV tonight of any kind. The only way to see the game is in person, or to watch the delayed telecast on FSN following the WSU-UCLA game.