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9/25/2006 11:37:00 AM
Checking The ID Of ... Washington
Lorenzo Romar will send a balanced team on to the court this season..
John W. McDonough/SI
(This is the third in a series looking at the new identities of highly ranked teams from 2005-06.)
OLD IDENTITY: The Huskies were the anti-UCLA in the Pac-10, playing a fast-paced brand of ball that made them the highest-tempo team to reach the NCAA tournament. Their lineup was headlined by a trio of mid-sized athletes; the UW's top three scorers, all seniors, were 6-foot-6 guard Brandon Roy, 6-7 small forward Bobby Jones and 6-6 power forward Jamaal Williams. The Huskies were carried by Roy, a do-everything, first-team All-American who took the majority of their biggest shots and averaged 20.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
NEW IDENTITY: Three of five starters are gone from a UW squad that was a controversial finish (against UConn) away from reaching the Washington D.C. Regional final. I spoke with head coach Lorenzo Romar to get the scoop on what the Huskies will look like in 2006-07. Here are four clues:
• Romar expects a reversion to retro Washington. Retro, as in before Roy turned into a Lottery Pick and became the focal point of the offense. The hallmark of the successful Husky teams prior to '05-06 was a balanced, multiple-option attack. "Last year was the first year where we had one main guy," Romar said. "In years past, we'd have five guys in double figures, or close to it. On one night, Nate Robinson would get 25; the next, Tre Simmons would get 25; and then Bobby [Jones] would get 20. This team is going to be more like that -- different guys are going to step up."
The candidates to emerge as the Huskies' new leading scorer are sophomore forward Jon Brockman (8.4 ppg), sophomore guard Justin Dentmon (8.3 ppg), junior guard Ryan Appleby (7.9 ppg) and heralded true freshman center Spencer Hawes, but when asked who he thought would be No. 1, Romar said, "I couldn't tell you. It's too hard to predict."
• This is Brockman's year to become a household name. As a freshman, the hard-nosed, bullish forward started all but one game and led UW in rebounding (6.5 rpg). As a testament to his work ethic, he was named team captain -- as a true sophomore -- this offseason. "I think Brockman will make as big of a jump from his freshman to sophomore year as anybody in our conference," Romar said. "People didn't understand how good of a player Brandon Roy was for the first three years, because he deferred to other guys who scored more. And I think Jon, like Brandon used to do, deferred a lot last year. Now Jon is going to step up and be more of a focal point."
• The best part of this team, for once, is in the post -- but don't assume that means the Huskies will play significantly slower. The arrival of Hawes, a homegrown, 6-11 center who would probably be in the NBA if the rules allowed, had some wondering if UW would heavily adjust its offense to a halfcourt, inside-out arrangement and simply bang the ball in to Hawes and Brockman.
That's not happening. Romar still plans to run. "We're going to play uptempo," he said. "Our emphasis will probably be more inside than it has been in the four years I've been here, because [in the past] our strength wasn't necessarily scoring on the blocks."
Romar is confident that Hawes can operate in the open court -- "he can run the floor, has great hands, can pass the ball, and has scoring touch from outside, too" -- and the blue-chip center clearly has a taste for transition basketball: His college decision came down to UW and North Carolina.
IDENTITY T.B.D: After Brockman, Dentmon and Hawes, the Huskies' other two starting spots -- the two-guard and small forward positions -- are up for grabs. Appleby is the Huskies' best 3-point gunner (he was 70-of-165 last season) and should see plenty of P.T. Fellow junior Joel Smith, a 6-4 athlete, and redshirt freshman Harvey Perry, also 6-4, are also in the running in the guard rotation. The real intrigue is around the three other true freshmen who arrived with Hawes. Six-foot-three Adrian Oliver, according to Romar, is a "crafty offensive player" who can play the 1 or 2; and Quincy Pondexter (6-7) and Phil Nelson (6-8) were both major recruits who can score on the wing.
MATHEMATICAL IDENTITY: Roy wasn't just a go-to-guy; he was also incredibly efficient. According to kenpom.com, of players who used at least 24 percent of their teams' possessions, Roy (who used 27.5 percent of Washington's) was the No. 1 most efficient scorer in the nation. Romar expects the Huskies to collectively fill Roy's void, but by the numbers, Appleby is the most efficient returnee. His rating of 114.9 from last season -- impressive because of his 3-point accuracy -- was actually second-best on the team last season. Even if Appleby doesn't start, it would be wise to make him a big part of the UW offense.
Readers, now it's your turn: Where should the Huskies be ranked in the preseason? Fire off your responses in the comments section.
No matter the talent on the court for UW, the most important element to this team is Lorenzo Romar. I don't think the Huskies will have a better team than they did last year but they will easily compete for the Pac-10 crown with this young set of players. The most important fact for UW fans to realize is that the first wave of a talent (Robinson and Roy among others) has left and the legacy has continued through recruiting. We are fortunate to have so much great basketball to look forward to.
Because they are so young, they should be in the top 25, but not the top 15, so around 20. It's a fair start because they should be able to climb fast with wins over Gonzaga and LSU early on. No matter what they're ranked in the beginning, they'll always be a legitimate threat to crack the top ten with Lorenzo Romar at the helm at some point in the season.
the Dawgs will be competitive this year, that we can be certain of... they should easily compete for the Pac-10 regular season and tournament titles... where should they be ranked to open the year? i would have to say around 18-23 just because they arent proven and a lot is up for debate... but with such a great coach and the bluechippers they have coming in (not just this year but also next year) this program should be a powerhouse for years to come
expect romar to build washington's overall game around the strength of the team...the combination of hawes and brockman will force opposing d's to focus inside leaving them vulnerable to appleby and dentmon....Dentmon is better than advertised and the rest of the pac10 will find out quick...washington's a top 10 team come tournament time, with a legit chance to make a run a very young and talented team
I'm with Steve. I think the Huskies are a solid thrid in the Pac-10, but I can see them being a team you had better play earlier in the year, because if they come together there isn't any reason why they can't make a deep tourney run.
UCLA fans crying, again. They've lost 3 straight to Washington. Injury problems...Washington had more, but does whine about it. They only had 11 scholarship players available the entire year; Bobby Jones was playing on a bad ankle (same problem as Farmar) and Mike Jensen missed the first part of the season with shoulder surgery. Harvey Perry missed the season with a bad back and Zach Johnson has been on scholarship for two years without ever playing.
Washington has more talent top to bottom than Arizona...a few front liners and then so so....UCLA...best big man 3.9 per game (Mata) and Wright and Aboya less. Collison .402 shooting and 1.1:1 turnover ratio. Luc Richard...not nearly as productive per minute played as Brockman or Williams or even Affalo. Affalo graded too slow and too unathletic by NBA scouts to get drafted. UCLA has no scholarship back up point and their tallest player in 6' 8" and was helpless against Florida. Washington's back up center, Joe Wolfinger (7'2")is better than anyone at UCLA; not to mention Hawes.
Arizona has similar problems in the front court with Walters and perimeter playing Euro Radenovic.
Shakur is point, but is he better than Justin Dentmon at Washington. Collison hasn't shown he's better than Dentmon. Williams is very good and Budinger has promise....but Brockman is more productive (rebounds plus pts) than Williams and Quincy Pondexter is at least as good an athlete as Budinger. Arizona has no one in the position equal to Oliver, and certainly no one that can shoot with Appleby who topped JJ Redick and Morrison from three last season.
Washington's second line players are much better than UCLA or Arizona.
Seems that UW is in a position similar to Louisville last year. Great coach, successful team that lost some big players. L-ville suffered last year because of injury, but more so because of their youth.
UW is facing similar challenges. It will be interesting to see if Romar can do a better job than Pitino in "growing his guys up". I think HermNation is right, Romar is the factor, and he's up to the challenge. He's got a line up of NW talent that is going to stay in Seattle now.
This is the way it's going to go. Talented youth struggle alittle early, come together mid season and challenge for Pac 10 title. Next year, class of the league, walk all over everybody to Final Four. All of this predicated on Hawes staying for two years. Print it.
whoever takes a team led by derek raivio and sean mallon over justin dentmon and spencer hawes is plain crazy.....not to mention the dawgs have one of the deepest teams on the west coast...i know their unproven, but dont think for a minute that romar will shy away from using the freshmen early....the zags are nothing this year without the "stach"
LSU and Pitt should provide much tougher challenges than Gonzaga, as they both return major impact players (Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Aaron Gray respectively). The Zags lost Morrison who not only led the nation in scoring, but also drew numerous double teams, making it easier for the supporting cast to get easy buckets. The Zags don't have anyone to replicate that.