Link to jump to start of content The Seattle Times Company Jobs Autos Homes Rentals NWsource Classifieds
The Seattle Times Washington Huskies
Traffic | Weather | Your account Movies | Restaurants | Today's events

Husky Men's Basketball Blog

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

All blogs and discussions ››

December 17, 2007

A brief hiatus

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:00 PM

The blog is going on a brief hiatus so the tech guys can overhaul a few things.

Not sure what, exactly, but it's being done to all the blogs here at the Times, and it requires taking the blogs down for a little --- told it could be up to a couple of days.

So if you don't see anything on here for a few days, that's why, and we'll talk when it's back up.

You can always comment here on our Husky Basketball Forum.

Ranking the Pac

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:56 PM

Been enough games now to start assessing where teams are, so here we go with the first of our weekly ratings:

1, UCLA --- Has been beaten once and maybe has looked just a little more vulnerable than expected. But still the favorite to win the Pac-10 this year.

2, Washington State --- Only undefeated team, and while the schedule hasn't been great, win at Gonzaga shows the Cougars are right where everyone thought they'd be. Getting some consistent efforts from center Aron Baynes, which could make WSU better down the stretch this year than it was a year ago.

3, Stanford --- For all the emphasis on how good their inside game could be, Cardinal is also leading the conference in three-point shooting at 41.9 percent. And now Brook Lopez is eligible again.

4, USC --- Three losses, sure, but throw out the Mercer game as a fluke, and the other two are a four-pointer to Kansas and an overtime defeat to Memphis. Tim Floyd doing a good job of molding a lot of talented newcomers.

5, Arizona --- Looks like they've survived the Lute Olson situation pretty well. Jerryd Bayless might be a better PG this year than Mustafa Shakur ever was.

6, Oregon --- Lost a couple games, and you still wonder how much they'll miss Aaron Brooks when things get really tough. But also no reason to think not capable of another deep run.

7, Cal --- Has yet to play a ranked team but has gotten some breakthrough-type performances from guys like Patrick Christopher and Eric Vierneisel, indicating they are deeper than just the two big guys inside.

8, Arizona State --- Sun Devils most improved team in Pac-10 and one of the most improved in the country, likely to only get more dangerous as they gain more confidence. Freshman G James Harden averaging 16.4 points and shooting 55 percent from the field.

9, Washington --- This could be the most ominous sign of all --- despite big emphasis on defense, still last in the conference in field goal percentage defense at 47.3 percent --- Arizona is ninth at 43.4. Huskies need some feel-good wins entering Pac-10 play.

10, Oregon State --- So far, C.J. Giles hasn't helped much. Beavers are last in the league in shooting by a wide margin at 40 percent --- USC is next at 44.9.

December 16, 2007

More on Portland

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:09 PM

A few day-after links:

--- First, here are my stories for today: The game story with more on the defensive emphasis and how that may have impacted the offense; and the notebook, with items on Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon and the lineup.

--- Here's the game story from the Oregonian,

--- Up next for UW is Portland State on Tuesday. Here's a lot of good info on the Vikings from the Oregonian's PSU blog.

--- PSU's athletics web site has a good preview of the game. PSU, coached by former UW assistant Ken Bone, is 7-4 and has won four of its last five games. Most relevant, it gave Washington State a pretty good run last Sunday before losing 72-60.

--- Remember, Tuesday's game won't be a matchup with former Husky Phil Nelson, who is now on the PSU roster. Nelson is redshirting this season as a transfer and is not eligible to play.

December 15, 2007

Portland aftermath

Posted by Bob Condotta at 7:30 PM

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

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

It was definitely a grinder, no question about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Portland game thread

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:29 PM

HUSKIES ESCAPE --- UW wins 67-63 thanks to a heady play by Ryan Appleby at the end of the game, hitting a running banker as the shot clock ran out with six seconds left. He had 18 to lead UW. But this feels like a step backward for this team after the tight game with Pitt a week ago.

More later.

AND STILL A GAME --- It's 60-57 with 3:53 left but Portland will be shooting two FTs when we come out of the time out. A few calls haven't gone UW's way here in the last few minutes but that's hardly the reason this one remains close --- Portland has been whistled 30 times to 24 for UW so far. Portland continues to have a rebounding edge, 30-24.

STILL A TIGHT ONE --- UW leads 54-53 with 7:13 left but Portland has the ball (though just five seconds on the shot clock). UW is shooting better this half --- 10-15 --- with Brockman finally getting going a little as he has nine points, though he didn't get his first field goal until there was 12:25 left in the game. Just a sluggish effort by UW no matter how it turns out from here.

TIED AT 44 --- 11:46 left and it's still a game here. UW had a three-point lead and a three-on-one break when Justin Dentmon threw a lob pass that was intercepted and led to a three-point play the other way, killing a chance for UW to begin to pull away. UW has held Portland to 4-14 shooting this half but the Pilots are hanging around. Real surprising is that Portland has a 26-20 rebounding edge. UW is at plus-7.9 for the season in rebounding.

APPLEBY BREAKS DROUGHT --- UW looks fired up forcing TOs on Portland's first two possessions and with Ryan Appleby following each with three-pointers --- the first two of the game for UW. But Portland still holds a 33-32 with 18:19 left.

LONG HALFTIME TALK?: Might have been a pretty intense halftime for UW asthe team didn't come back out onto the floor until there was 1:30 left before the half --- usually teams come back out at the 4-5 minute mark. That left just enough time for a shot or two and then to the bench, with a lot of players just heading straight to the bench. Lineup looks the same. First five minutes should be interesting.

PILOTS AHEAD 30-26 --- Portland has a 30-26 lead at halftime and UW as the Huskies are just 10-30 from the floor. Nik Raivio has 13 points for Portland having hit 3-5 three-pointers. UW is 0-7 from beyond the arc while Portland is 5-12. Portland has lost 11 turnovers but is shooting 12-24 to make up for it. UW has no one with more than four points and the offense is quite stagnant so far.

PORTLAND NOW AHEAD 22-18 --- Huskies are 8-25 shooting and now have seven turnovers after taking care of the ball well the first 10 minutes. UW seems to be playing good defense but Portland has been patient on offense and gotten a few good shots near the end of shot clocks. UW is just bad on offense right now and Brockman continues to be scoreless going 0-4.

PORTLAND AHEAD 20-17 --- Could have been 23-17 but a three-pointer by Taishi Ito was just waved off due to an offensive foul inside. Ito has been the best point guard on the floor so far with eight points, two assists and at least one steal. Portland is on a 7-2 run. Jon Brockman doesn't have a point for UW having been well guarded by Portland's Kramer Knutson.

PRETTY SHAKY BEGINNING --- It's tied 11-11 with 11:57 left as the Huskies are having trouble getting their offense going. UW is just 5-16 shooting and 0-5 on three-pointers. Portland is 2-4 beyond the arc which is keeping the Pilots in it so far. UW is turning up the heat defensively and has forced seven turnovers, though a few have been unforced, while losing just one. Pretty subdued crowd here so far.

INTERESTING STARTING LINEUP --- The starters have been announced and it's another different lineup --- Artem Wallace, Tim Morris, Joel Smith, Ryan Appleby and Jon Brockman. A big move for Wallace, who has gone from last guy on the bench to starter in two weeks.

PRE-GAME --- A half-hour before tipoff and it'll be interesting to see what kind of crowd comes for a game on what is a busy Saturday.

For my story today I wrote about Portland freshman Luke Sikma, the son of Jack Sikma. If nothing else, he should provide some intrigue today.

December 14, 2007

Freshmen looking to settle roles

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:35 PM

In my story today I wrote a little bit about Matthew Bryan-Amaning trying to find his role on the team.

As I noted, MBA had started the previous three games before being relegated to the bench and seeing just four minutes against Pitt, a season-low.

MBA was candid in admitting he thinks he could be contributing more.

"I should be doing a lot more than I have been doing,'' he said. "I feel I've got the ability and the opportunity to be in the starting five and make an impact.'

MBA said his hangup has been not playing at a high intensity level every minute he's on the floor as he did at the high school and prep school levels.

"I just have to learn to be able to make that jump,'' he said. "Because I was known as a guy with a good motor at that level so I should be able to go harder at this level. With a team like this where there's a chance to make an immediate impact, I should keep that mentality.''

One of the other frosh, Justin Holiday, has a chance to get back in the rotation Saturday. He missed the trip to Oklahoma State with a viral infection and then didn't play against Pitt while still in recovery mode.

But UW coach Lorenzo Romar said every player on the roster is competing for a starting spot, including Holiday, whose forte is defense, which the team is emphasizing more than ever.

"Based on what we are doing right now, if he hadn't been sick, he might be in there starting,'' Romar said Thursday. "But he got behind when he got sick.''

More on lineup search

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:42 AM

For my story for today I expanded on what I wrote here yesterday on the Huskies looking for the best lineup and rotation heading into Pac-10 play.

Included in the story is a note that Jon Brockman has started all 72 games he has played at UW.

Some of you pointed out that you didn't think he started Senior Day as a freshman, and you are right.

Brockman is listed as having started all 64 games in his career prior to this year, but I should have looked more closely because in the game-by-game section, it shows he didn't start on Senior Day against Cal in 2006 --- actually meaning he has started 64 of 65 games heading into this season. (Interestingly, he ended up playing 32 minutes that day, more than all but two games that season).

So hope that clears that up, though the larger point remains that Brockman has essentially been a starter for every game he's played here and is the one guy going forward that doesn't figure to be subject to any change in his role.

December 13, 2007

Searching for a lineup

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:47 PM

UW coach Lorenzo Romar met the media today and said the lineup is still unsettled for Saturday's game against Portland.

"There's a couple of spots that anyone could contend for,'' he said.

Jon Brockman is set as one starter, and it's possible Ryan Appleby goes back in the lineup, as well --- he was pegged to be a starter before injuring his thumb. Venoy Overton has also started all eight games this season.

But other than Brockman, the lineup seems in flux with Romar saying he wants to use the rest of the non-conference schedule to settle on a lineup and rotation heading into Pac-10 play.

As he did last week, Romar said he will decide the lineup for Saturday based on defensive effort in practice.

"Guys that come in and show a commitment to doing things that we want to do get the minutes,'' Romar said. "That hasn't changed. We've placed more emphasis on it (this year) but that has been the issue the entire time.''

Romar said the team won't change lineups as much once Pac-10 play starts so he hopes it begins to congeal a bit now.

UW has used three different starting lineups going 3-1 with the lineup of Brockman, Quincy Pondexter, Joel Smith, Overton and Justin Dentmon; 1-2 with Brockman, Pondexter, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Overton and Dentmon; and 0-1 (against Pitt) with Brockman, Joe Wolfinger, Smith, Overton and Tim Morris.

That means eight of the 11 players on the current roster have started at least once this season. UW used seven different lineups last season but that includes the Senior Day lineup and two others that were the result of injuries to Spencer Hawes, meaning the Huskies had four different lineups for strictly performance reasons last season.

UW appears to have no health issues heading into Saturday with Appleby continuing to get better and everybody else fine.

December 12, 2007

Couple quick notes

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:28 PM

A few quick things:

--- First, for the guy who wondered where Senque Carey is, he's in his third year as an assistant coach at Fresno State.Carey did have the fightening incident at New Mexico but has recovered and doing well in coaching.

--- C.J. Giles played his first game for Oregon State last night and it wasn't quite what he'd hoped, fouling out in six minutes. Here's a good overview.

--- The Huskies play Portland Saturday at 3 p.m. Here's a link to a roundup of Portland's last game, a 58-57 win at Montana on Friday night. Some interesting names on their roster --- Luke Sikma is the son of Sonic legend Jack and Nik Raivio is the brother of the former Gonzaga star.

With finals for the team and other things going on, this has been a slow week for UW hoops news. But we'll be out there tomorrow to get a few things to pass along here.

December 11, 2007

Doug Wrenn update

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:06 PM

Glad to see people liked the C.J. Massingale update the other day.

Here's the next one I found, Doug Wrenn --- I promise I will soon get to guys who actually completed their full UW careers.

Wrenn, as this link shows, is now playing in Korea.

Got to admit that basketball has allowed Wrenn to see the world --- going by that list, he's played in Italy, the Philippines, Iceland, Montenegro, China and now Korea.

Good assessment of Lute Olson's situation

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:24 AM

A few of you have have asked for my thoughts on the Lute Olson situation, and I haven't really given any because I don't really have any more insight than you do.

But I would say I agree with those who think his coaching days may be over, including Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, who offers a good breakdown of the situation here.

I was at Pac-10 media day, as well, and while I didn't spend any time close to Olson to come away with the same view of him as Wilner did, I do remember being caught a little off-guard when Olson was talking about Kevin O'Neill and said this: "I was tired of holding the hammer myself, so now we both have the hammer.''

I thought right then that meant he was already grooming O'Neill to take over, which was the obvious assumption from the start but still seemed surprising to hear said quite so plainly by Olson himself.

If Olson is gone for good, no doubt it's the end of what may be the most important and successful coaching tenure in Pac-10 basketball other than John Wooden. Judging by the way Arizona has played of late, it may also turn out to be about as seamless a transition as could have been possible for someone succeeding someone like Olson

December 10, 2007

Anybody remember C.J. Massingale?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:05 PM

If you do, here's an update on the one-time Husky, who played at UW for three seasons before transferring after Lorenzo Romar's first season for D-II Metro State.

C.J. Massingale is from Tacoma and came to UW in 2000. As the story indicates, he's been in Australia playing for four seasons now.

My favorite part of the interview is where Massingale relates that he just got married the day before in Las Vegas and the interviewer responds by asking about his knee surgery without even a congratulations or a what-the-heck-are-you-doing-here-talking-to-me-a-day-later question.

Tough road ahead for Huskies?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:00 AM

It may be insane to even worry about RPI this time of year, but with no game until Saturday there's some down time here, so figured this is worth some discussion.

After Saturday's loss to Pitt, UW is at 179 in the RPI and the Huskies have little oppportunity any time soon to improve that number.

UW's next three games are at home against Portland, Portland State and Cal State-Northridge, which all loom as fairly easy wins, but not likely to help the RPI much.

Then comes what may be UW's most critical game of the season, a Dec. 29 date at LSU. Other than a Dec. 31 home game against Idaho State, that will be UW's last non-conference game of the season.

It was thought that due to the strength of the conference that this would be a year when a Pac-10 team might finally get an invite to the NCAA Tournament with less than a winning conference record, something that has never happened.

But if UW doesn't beat LSU, even if it went 10-8 in Pac-10 play --- to date, the minimum needed to get an invite out of the Pac-10 --- it would have 13 overall losses and no quality non-conference wins.

Seems like an awful lot to ask to get an invitation --- in fact, no Pac-10 team has ever been invited to the NCAA Tournament with that many total losses.

All of which means that if UW wants to get to the NCAA Tournament this year, it has to beat LSU and probably win at least 10 conference games. Otherwise, it may have to do even better in Pac-10 play, such as 11 or 12 wins and a top five finish, which obviously won't be easy with the Pac-10 as strong as it is; or win the conference tournament.

All of which also means that Saturday's loss, and that .1 second too early that the game ended for the Huskies, might have been a fateful blow.

December 9, 2007

Sunday links

Posted by Bob Condotta at 8:52 AM

Here's our coverage from today:

--- Our game story, focusing on the frenetic ending;

--- The notebook, leading off with Ryan Appleby's return;

--- And the best piece of all, Steve Kelley's column on the lost opportunity of the Class of 2006 and Quincy Pondexter's assertion that he's here to stay.

--- There is also plenty from the other side, including this game story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and this gamer from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

--- There's also this story from the Oregonian on C.J. Giles which should be of interest to anyone who follows Seattle prep basketball. The story (understandably, given its focus) doesn't mention that Giles also approached UW about coming to the Huskies after leaving Kansas but was told that the Huskies were no longer interested. Giles confirmed that to us in this story here last January.

--- John Canzano has a good column on how Oregon is trying to adjust to life without Aaron Brooks.

--- Cal has a big game today against Kansas State and here's a good wrapup of the Bears' season to date. Cal seems to quietly be sneaking up on the rest of the Pac-10. (Not to mention that the blog this story is from has one of the best names ever).

--- Also on TV tonight is Portland State at WSU at 5:30 p.m. PSU is coached by former Husky assistant Ken Bone and one of the assistants is former UW player Curtis Allen.

December 8, 2007

More on Pitt game

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:28 PM

Here are some leftovers from the Pitt game.

--- First, Justin Dentmon on the final play.

"I just saw three sconds on the clock and felt like I could get off a shot by taking it the length of the floor and getting a good shot. ... I already had my mind made up that I was just going to take it.''

"I thought I got it off in time.All I heard was 'Appleby, Appleby, Appleby' and I just shot and the buzzer went off and everything went silent when I shot it. I don't know if I got it off or not. It just looked confused I didn know what happened and then I saw my teammates coming on the court.''

"I trying to get a layup. In those situations I've always been trained, been taught, that what you do is just try to get a layup easy or draw a foul.''

On the shot getting overuled: "It's real hard. It's like someone is stepping on your chest. You figured that you did something good and you are happy, then they take it away and it is like everything went bad.''

--- UW coach Lorenzo Romar said he thinks the team will get a lot out of the game, even though it was a loss.

"We won a game by 14 points a couple of weeks ago and our guys knew we didn't play well. I think our guys saw that even thoough it wasn't a win that what we talked about in practice, we went out and carried it out in the game.''

Romar said that even though it might have seemed like a tough week from the outside, with the big loss at OSU and the transfer of Adrian Oliver, that the team's morale was good all week.

"Guys came in the right attitude from day one and worked.''

Here's a bit more from Romar:

Overall: "The Pitt team was a very good basketball team. Their guard, Levance Fields, did a good job controlling his team. He made a couple of big shots. In the first half, they out-scrapped us, but in the second half we came back and scrapped a little harder. We don't have a win to show it but we pulled ourselves together. As a team, we made progress. I know winning is what it's all about but also you're making progress to put yourself in a position to win on a consistent basis. That's what we're looking for. It is great to have Ryan Appleby back with us."

On the final play: "My thoughts were, as he continued to dribble, if he could possibly get there in time. I knew it would be difficult, when he saw a little daylight at half-court as he split the defenders I thought maybe he could get to the lane and make the play. When he eventually shot the ball, I thought it was going to be really close. When they reviewed on the monitor, the ball was in his hand when the red light came on. I thought our guys were hanging in there all the way to the end of this game. If we can continue to put forth an effort like that, we will eventually become a consistently good basketball team."

Romar also praised the play of Artem Wallace, who had six points in 16 minutes in his most extensive action of the season:

"They were beating us on the boards and when we went small we weren't doing very well. We needed someone who could make a physical presence in this game. It was an alley fight and Artem can get physical. I thought he did a nice job."

Romar also talked about Quincy Pondexter, who didn't start for the first time all season and had an erratic game, with just two points until the final three minutes: "He settled down a bit. He rebounded for us, he made some great plays...Today, Quincy played 25 minutes. He's been averaging 24 minutes. If he'd played 6 minutes, that would've been a message. He played, he just didn't start."

--- And this from Ryan Appleby

On returning to play: "It felt good to be out there against a great team like Pittsburgh. On our home floor with the great crowd like we have every home game. It was fun. I've waited five weeks to get out there again and get a chance to play. There's no better feeling than that. It would've been great if we'd gotten the win though."

On his health: "My thumb's not bad. It's not a hundred percent yet. But I tried to get through a little bit of it, what I have left. I'm trying to get my legs back from sitting out those five weeks. I did a bunch of conditioning and running but it's just not the same as playing up and down the floor and cutting and backpedaling and jumping and all of those things. I got tired for a little while there in the second half but I just kept plugging away.

On the wait before the last shot was called off: "It was a bunch of mixed emotions. In my head I was saying, `We won this game, we pulled it out. We didn't play really great but we made some strides and won the game.' But then I said, `Uh oh, what if we didn't win this game? It's going to be a tough loss.' I was going up and down both ways, even though I thought I was sure that the ball had gone in and the ball had left his hand before the clock went off."

--- And here is some of what Pittsburgh Head Coach Jamie Dixon had to say:

"You can't get a better game than that and to win it like we did, how we gathered ourselves up for the second half and played efficiently as a team in a lot of ways. We know how hard it is to win here, I know the winning streak is 30-something straight wins. ...

"It's good to see our guys come together and when things got tough and they kept making tough shots, we made plays too. I thought we grew up a lot today, a young group grew up a lot today."

On the wait for the review: "I've never been in (that situation) and I hope to never be in it again to be honest. It was about an hour and a half standing and waiting on the sideline there. The players kept coming over and saying that it wasn't good. Then we saw some people at the table saying it wasn't good. During that time we kind of had an inkling. I guess it was good TV --- that's what we're here for."

Breshers in the house

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:15 PM

Forgot to mention earlier that UW signee Tyreese Breshers was at the game today.

He's in town for the weekend just to visit --- he took his official recruiting visit last fall before he signed his letter-of-intent. He appeared to be hanging out a lot with a couple of other LA guys --- Darnell Gant and Justin Holiday.

Pitt aftermath

Posted by Bob Condotta at 4:52 PM

The Huskies were understandably down after the close loss to Pitt, that could have instead been the best win of the season.

Players said they thought Justin Dentmon's shot had gotten off in time but were also resigned to the ruling by officials.

"From where I was sitting, if I was the ref, I would have called it good,'' said UW guard Ryan Appleby. I'll have more on the last shot and the reaction to that in my main story.

Aside from the ending, UW coach Lorenzo Romar said he saw a lot of posititves saying he thought "we scrapped a little harder'' in the second half.

"I thought there were more possessions in this gamee where we did a decent job of guarding,'' he said. "We also only turned the ball over eight times. And 18 assists on 29 field goals is a pretty good job.''

Indeed, the eight TOs was the fewest of the year and a real bright spot.

You also saw just how big a difference Appleby can make, not only with his shooting (18 points) but helping steady the offense.

"Add him to the mix and they become a different team,'' said Pitt coach Jamie Dixon.

Also saw a breakout for Artem Wallace, who had six points in 16 minutes after playing just 18 in the first seven games, as well as a nice last three minutes from Quincy Pondexter, who really struggled early (he had four of the team's turnovers) but hit two three-pointers late and also a highlight-reel block to keep UW in it.

Romar said the revamped starting lineup --- Joe Wolfinger, Joel Smith and Tim Morris started for Pondexter, Dentmon and Matthew Bryan-Amaning --- was based on defense in practice.

"We went with those who had shown the biggest commitment to defense,'' he said. "Nothing else. Stats, nothing else mattered. The ones who made the biggest commitment are the ones we went with.''

Jon Brockman got hit in the jaw early but returned to the game and said later he's fine.

Pitt game thread

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:51 AM

THAT'S A TOUGH WAY TO LOSE --- But it looks like the refs got it right on that one as Pitt wins 75-74. You can't say they didn't look at it long enough, either. That's UW's first home non-conference loss since Dec. 2003 against Gonzaga. More later.

PONDEXTER REAWAKENS --- Pondexter has hit two threes in the last two minutes to keep UW in this one as it is Pitt 73-71 with 40.4 seconds left. UW has hit 10-22 three-pointers, its best this year other than the Long Beach State game (11-19).

PITT AHEAD 67-60 --- With 4:43 left. Artem Wallace is having his best game of the season with six points but Quincy Pondexter is not with just two points on 1-6 shooting and at least four turnovers.

PANTHERS UP 60-54 ---- Levance Fields and DeJuan Blair are leading Pitt right now, combining for 32 of the team's 60 points overall and 13 of 26 this half. Pitt is now shooting 23-47 for the game after that 7-23 start.

PITT HOLDING ON --- The Panthers hit 10-11 shots over the end of the first half andd beginning of the second to take a six-point lead. It's now four at 53-49 and UW has the ball. Pitt guard Ronald Ramon is doing a better job on Appleby this half --- he'd follow him to a parking lot at an Arby's in Everett right now. Brockman has been stuck on 10 for a while as Pitt is double teaming him every time he gets the ball.

PITT TAKES LEAD --- The Panthers have hit five of their first six shots to start the second half and take a 47-46 lead. UW went with the same starting lineup to the second half and got some payoff from Wolfinger as he hit a three and a jumper for five quick points.

UW LEADS 37-34 AT HALF --- What a difference Ryan Appleby has made, hitting 4-5 three-pointers to lead the Huskies with 12 points. I'd expect he may be back in the starting lineup from this point. UW has just five turnovers and has held Pitt to 14-33 shooting, though the Panthers made seven of their last eigth to keep the game close after the Huskies opened up an eight-point lead. Pitt leads on the boards 22-14. UW is 6-12 on three-pointers to 2-5 for Pitt, which is the difference in this game right now.

HUSKIES HANGING ON --- UW continues to lead, holding on to a 31-27 advantage with 2:53 left. Pitt is shooting 11-30. Artem Wallace is about to come into the game, maybe to help on the boards as the Panthers have a 20-14 rebounding edge. Brockman leads all scorers with 10, getting at least four points when he fought through double teams to score.

PITT'S SHOOTING THE PITS --- The Panthers are just 7-25 shooting at the 6:54 mark of the first half as UW has built a 22-16 lead.UW has a lot to do with it as the Huskies are doing a nice job contesting everything. But Pitt has also missed about five putbacks, layins and dunks right at the rim. Pitt is outrebounding UW so far, 18-12.

APPLEBY BACK --- Appleby returned to the game to a loud ovation at the 15:04 mark and it took him only 19 seconds to make his first three-pointer of the season, part of an 9-0 UW run that got the Huskies a six-point lead. Morris did a good job defensively on Pitt's Sam Young before leaving at the 12-minute mark. There are a lot of football recruits sitting behind the bench, as well as a few coaches. Tyrone Willingham is in his usual seats two rows behind the basket near UW's bench for the first time this season, with Charlie Baggett a row behind him. Chris Tormey is sitting with a number of the recruits as is Randy Hart.

UW PLAYING BETTER --- At least statistically, as Pitt is 3-9 to start the game. But that includes a missed dunk and lay-in by Pitt's DeJuan Blair, who is every bit the 6-7, 265 he is listed. Pitt has a 7-5 lead so far and a 2-0 edge in turnovers.

NEW STARTING LINEUP --- The Huskies have decided to switch things up a bit, with Tim Morris in the starting lineup for Justin Dentmon and Joe Wolfinger for Quincy Pondexter. No injuries, apparently, but more about guys earning time by playing defense well in practice.

PRE-GAME --- About 7 minutes to tipoff and there are a lot of empty seats. This is supposed to be a capacity crowd, so it will be interesting to see how many actually show up --- maybe just a lot of late arrivers.

I wrote today about how this could be a quite different game than when the two teams met last year when Pitt won 65-61 in what was pretty much a slugfest with both teams trying to get the ball inside a lot. Both teams are a little more perimeter-oriented this year so the pace should be a little quicker.

December 7, 2007

A few links

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:16 PM

Here are a few stories about the Pitt game:

--- First, this preview from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as well as this story on how the Panthers are hoping to begin shooting better.

--- There's also this Q-and-A on Pitt from the Post-Gazette.

--- There is also this preview from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Notice both stories mention that Pitt has a chance to snap UW's 31-game home winning streak in non-conference play. The last loss game against Gonzaga in 2003.

--- The Tribune-Review also has this story with some fun details on the last time the Panthers played out here in 1950 that was part of a two-week eight-game trip to the West Coast in which Pitt lost all eight --- including two games on back-to-back days against the Huskies.


---- C.J. Giles hopes to make his Oregon State debut Tuesday at Cal State-Bakersfield.

--- Former Husky Harvey Perry isn't exactly lighting it up at College of Southern Idaho, averaging 13 minutes a game coming off the bench and averaging 5.8 points per game.

Ryan Appleby "will be available'' against Pitt

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:40 PM

That's the official word from UW coach Lorenzo Romar from before practice today as the Huskies prepare to take on Pitt tomorrow at noon.

The Panthers practiced at Hec Ed this morning and then the Huskies took over the floor.

And the coach said UW guard Ryan Appleby should be ready to make his first appearance of the season as long as he doesn't suffer any setback in practice today in his recovery from a broken thumb suffered Oct. 31.

Appleby has experienced soreness in the thumb in practices the last two weeks, particularly when it gets banged on --- he hurt his right (or shooting) thumb. But otherwise, the recovery has gone to form.

The starting lineup is expected to be the same, with Justin Dentmon and Venoy Overton at guards, and Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Jon Brockman and Quincy Pondexter up front.

Pitt is healthy and will go with its regular starting unit which has the team off to an 8-0 start and a No. 9 national ranking.

Pitt is led by 6-6 forward Sam Young, who is averaging 18.6 points per game and thriving in an expanded role this season with Aaron Gray and two other starters from a year ago gone. Young averaged just 7.2 points per game last season.


To answer two questions raised on the other post:

--- Joe Wolfinger redshirted his first season then sat out last year with an injury, so he is officially a redshirt sophomore. He could apply for a sixth year at some point, ala Juan Garcia in football, but that hasn't happened yet and not sure if it will.

--- Jrue Holiday signed an official LOI with UCLA so no real turning back on that one.

December 6, 2007

Counting them up again

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:29 PM

Meant to get to this earlier, but with Adrian Oliver's departure, time to update the roster for the Huskies by class.

07-08 roster
G --- Ryan Appleby
G --- Tim Morris

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

C - Joe Wolfinger
F - Quincy Pondexter

F - Matthew Bryan-Amaning
G - Justin Holiday
G - Venoy Overton

F - Darnell Gant

TOTAL - 12 (but only 11 available with Gant redshirting).

08-09 roster
G - Justin Dentmon
F - Jon Brockman
C - Artem Wallace
G - Joel Smith

C - Joe Wolfinger
F - Quincy Pondexter

F - Matthew Bryan-Amaning
G - Justin Holiday
G - Venoy Overton

F - Darnell Gant (redshirting this season)
G - Isaiah Thomas
G - Elston Turner
G - Scott Suggs
F - Tyreese Breshers


Comment: UW remains one over the limit, but as the coaches always say, those things tend to work themselves out --- as we saw with Oliver's leaving, hard to predict the future.

Pitt's coming

Posted by Bob Condotta at 9:44 AM

And the Panthers will do so with an 8-0 record after beating Duquense last night.

Pitt and UW will play Saturday at noon in a game that already looms critical to Washington's post-season hopes.

Despite having played three big-name teams, the Huskies rank 175 in the RPI this week in large part due to having lost all three of those games.

Pitt beat writer Ray Fittipaldo says this could be a tough game for the Panthers to win, however, due in part to the long trip. Pitt is making the trip West today and will practice at UW tomorrow.

Here's another take on last night's game and one thing to remember is that this is an inter-city rivalry, the two schools are about two miles apart, so emotions tend to run high.

--- By the way, Ken Pomeroy doesn't see much good ahead for UW, with his formula now predicting the Huskies to finish 10-21 overall and 3-15 in Pac-10 play. If you recall, Pomeroy's math was pretty right on concering UW a year ago as he called for the Huskies to be right in the 7-8-9-win stage in the conference early on so this may not be the best omen.

December 5, 2007

Oliver story from Modesto Bee

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:46 PM

Adrian Oliver had a few interesting comments in this story in the Modesto Bee, his hometown newspaper, hinting that he may transfer to a school near his home where he could win a national title.

Sounds a little like Cal or Stanford could be in the offing.

December 4, 2007

More on Oliver

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:38 PM

As I wrote in the post below, Adrian Oliver has decided to leave the Huskies.

Here are some quotes from Lorenzo Romar delivered at his regular meeting with the press today:

"Adrian Oliver is going to transfer. He let me know today. He thought being
away from home was something that he could adjust to. But being here has
just been too difficult for him, being away from his family.

"Freshmen, when they get away from home, usually are homesick. Just about
every one of them go through it. Most don't after that period. But in
Adrian's case it was a little more difficult for him. He's been injured as
much as anyone and that doesn't make it any easier. You never want to see
anyone go, but at the same time we'll move on.

"I love his family, they are good people. Adrian is a good person. It's just
one of those things."

Here is a quote from Oliver given to the UW sports information department:

"At this point my family needs me and I need to be closer to them. I'm going
to find a school down there where I can be with my family at the same time."

Oliver had battled injuries and illness all season, missing the trip to Oklahoma State with a bad back.

I talked to Oliver for a while last week and he gave no hint that he was thinking of leaving, saying that he was frustrated having been injured and not being able to play more in Ryan Appleby's absence, but that he understood the realities of having more competition in the backcourt.

"It's frustrating to see an opportunity and then something like this happens,'' he said. "But that's the game --- you can't do anything about it but move on.''

Oliver's departure further thins UW's depth for this season with Ryan Appleby still officially questionable for this week's game with a thumb injury.

As for the future, it gives UW 14 scholarship players for next season, obviously making it easier to fit the four players the Huskies have signed for the Class of 2008. Three of those players are guards, but UW will now be losing three guards off this year's roster --- Oliver and the graduating Appleby and Tim Morris --- so the roster won't be as backcourt heavy as it initially appeared.

Oliver's departure also means there is just one player left from the Class of 2006, at the time billed as maybe the best in school history. Spencer Hawes left after one year for the NBA, Phil Nelson transferred to Portland State after last season, and now Oliver. The only one left is Quincy Pondexter.

Oliver leaves team

Posted by Bob Condotta at 3:34 PM

As had been rumored for a few days, UW guard Adrian Oliver has decided to transfer, citing homesickness.

Here's a story.

I'll have more on this in a little while.

December 3, 2007

Programming note

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:01 PM

As those of you who read the football blog may know, I'm still in Hawaii, and with the basketball team now off until Saturday, there may not be much here for the next day or so.

But that doesn't mean the blog is dying or anything. I'll be full-steam with lots of basketball stuff in a few days, if not before then. But just wanted to point out the reason for the absence of a lot of stuff here of late.

December 1, 2007

Huskies creamed by Oklahoma State

Posted by Bob Condotta at 5:40 PM

So much for making an early statement about being able to win on the road.

Instead, the Huskies were clobbered by the Cowboys in Oklahoma State.

I didn't see a lot of the game as I was navigating the traffic to Aloha Stadium for the football game tonight but from looking at the box score here, looks like UW had a lot of the same problems --- a lot of turnovers (20), and not enough defense (OSH shot 58 percent).

It isn't helping UW to be down to nine players right now, to be sure, but the Huskies suddenly appear to have some issues they are going to have to figure out with Pitt coming in next Saturday and a tough conference slate ahead.