The frost is on the pumpkin and that means Lorenzo Romar and his boys are ready to embark on another exciting Pac Ten basketball season. The season starts Friday with an exhibition against mighty St. Martins. Romar has not only returned quality basketball to UW, but in his short tenure has brought the program to a level it has never experienced for more than a year or two consecutively in the past. Lorenzo has turned Washington into a perennial top ten team, and national championship contender. That is pretty impressive, but Washington has always been a sleeping giant in basketball, all they lacked was a top coach, and a decent facility. Now they have both!
All eyes are going to be on Center Spencer Hawes who compares favorably with young centers now in the NBA. I don't know how long Spencer will be with us, but hopefully he enjoys school enough to stay around till Brockman graduates. I know it is hard to turn down the money, but players develop better in college than they do on the bench in the NBA. I think early entry has ruined the NBA. Wolfinger having to sit out the season is a tough break, he was coming along nicely and would have given UW a twin tower look at times. Artem Wallace will be counted on to spell both Hawes, and Brockman.
John Brockman returns for his sophomore season as the team captain. Can't remember too many soph's getting that honor. What John lacked in his game last year was quickness, and confidence. He had a good year, no doubt about it, but he had some rough edges that needed to be trimmed off. I think you are going to see a much more polished player this year. Will he emerge as the go to guy inside the paint?
Flanking Brockman will be a plethora of talented swing players who will rotate in, and out throughout the game. Talented frosh like Quincey Pondexter, and sharpshooter Phil Nelson. Don't forget Senior Hans Gasser who put together quality minutes last year, and RS Harvey Perry, and Joel Smith can slide between the small forward and two guard slot which adds to the versatility of the team.
At guard Justin Dentmon return to lead the Huskies at the point, with Ryan Appleby, and Adrian Oliver pushing him for playing time. I can see UW going with three guards at times this year when they really want to speed it up. Harvey Perry, and Joel Smith will vie for time at the two, but Washington's guards are able to play both positions.
The Huskies have been bit by the injury bug early as Joel Smith, and Spencer Hawes won't be going full speed early, but both will have plenty of time and should be ready in at most a couple of weeks.
Romar's past Washington teams were blessed by experience and toughness, this one is going to be different. They will be tough, but they are also going to be young. It will be interesting to see how the 16th ranked Huskies progress during a tougher non conference schedule which includes Gonzaga in Spokane for the final time. UW has decided not to renew the contract with the Bulldogs which has to do with lingering bitterness over the Cameron Dollar incident. My feeling is UW gets no real benefit out of playing Gonzaga anyway. The game is nice for the fans, but why should we be doing Mark Few any favors? No!
How will Washington do in the Pac Ten? We have as much talent as anyone in the conference, and perhaps nationally so I think we have a chance once again to win it all. UCLA, USC, Arizona, Stanford, Oregon etc... Should all provide plenty of competition. Look for 6-7 teams in the conference to make the dance this year. We will review the conference race next week and make the usual predictions....Stay tuned.
Oregon is at a cross roads with Ernie Kent. He has to win this year or risk being asked to move on. The Duck's are still trying to get their new basketball arena off the ground to replace the infamous Pit, and I don't think Kent is the guy that is going to take them there. Perhaps Michael Wines, or Blazer Prophet can give us a better idea of what is going on in the Willamette Valley.
We will be covering basketball throughout the season so stop by, and leave your comments. I think the blog has been a success in it's first year, and we have really picked up a lot of readership by word of mouth. I invite everyone who visits, friend, or friendly foe to post your thoughts whenever you visit, and I thank you all for participating!