- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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THE BIGGEST offensive threat in the Pac-10 is Isaiah Thomas, a 5'9" point guard whose self-assurance—like that of his namesake, Pistons Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas (no relation)—far outstrips his listed height. Which isn't a problem for Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, who has happily watched Thomas's production (16.9 points per game last year, 15.5 the year before) live up to his bravado. "The main goal is to win a national championship," Thomas says. "We feel like we can play with any team in the country."
The Huskies' quest starts with the sprightly Thomas, who became an adept distributor when the lights were brightest last season: In three NCAA tournament games he averaged 6.3 assists (nearly double his season total of 3.2) while committing just seven turnovers, along with 15.7 points and 1.7 steals. Joining him is athletic senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, a U.K. native who should become one of the conference's top big men.
But the Huskies' backcourt depth, headlined by Thomas, will define this team. Senior Venoy Overton, who often came in to close out games last year, is a 5'11" demon pressuring the ball; 6'6" freshman wing Terrence Ross boasts NBA range; senior wing Justin Holiday, whose intangibles Romar compares with those of former Duke star Shane Battier, might be the Pac-10's premier perimeter defender; and sophomore Abdul Gaddy, who was the consensus No. 2 ranked point guard (behind John Wall) coming out of Tacoma's Bellarmine Prep, has the biggest upside of all. Gaddy had a weak debut, but this year should be a different story. "Abdul is probably the best we have in terms of just running a team," Romar says. "And now he's a year older, quicker, faster." Or as Thomas puts it, "He knows how good he is.... He's ready to shut a lot of people up." Isaiah, of course, can relate.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
Coach Lorenzo Romar (9th season)
2009--10 record 26--10
Pac-10 11--7 (3rd)
NCAA tournament Sweet 16
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