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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

December 4, 2005 at 12:28 AM

Countdown to the big game

This has to be the most-hyped basketball game the Huskies have ever played in December and thankfully, it is finally here.
We’ll have complete coverage all day long here and in the pages of The Times.
Look in The Times on Sunday for a preview story as well as a breakdown of the matchup. We’ll also have more coverage than ever on the blog after the game, with contributions by myself as well as another Times staffer, Bob Payne.
Let us know what you think or if you have questions you want answered.
And now for some pre-game thoughts.
UPHOLDING THE PAC: The folks at the Pac-10 office in Walnut Creek, Calif., would be rooting for a Washington win in any circumstance. But the conference could use a big non-conference victory right now as Saturday was another shaky afternoon for the Pac-10.
Oregon was handled easily at home by Georgetown, and Arizona lost at Houston to fall to 2-3, its worst start since the 1989-90 season when they started out 1-2. That included losses at Oregon and Oregon State in a year of a weird conference schedule due to the Pac-10 tournament.
Those losses continued a rough weekend for supposed Pac-10 contenders that began when Stanford was blown out at Montana. It could have been a lot worse had not Oregon State rallied from 22 down to beat Nevada-Las Vegas at home and Washington State held on to beat Kansas State, also at home.
It may not matter to UW, but a weak conference could mean that it’s will be just a little dicier come March to get an extra team into the NCAA Tournament. And as good as we think UW will be, I’m sure the coaches themselves would like the breathing room. I’ve rarely known a coach who really revels in the struggles of other teams in the conference. It’s usually good for everyone if everyone fares well in non-conference games.
BUSTING THE ZONE: Something to watch for early is whether Gonzaga rolls out a zone defense on Washington. Settling into a zone and making UW beat them from the outside has been the usual defensive tactic for the Bulldogs against the Huskies. It didn’t really work all that well last year, as UW hit 12 of 24 three-point attempts. But two years ago in Seattle, the Huskies hit just 6 of 26 three-pointers. Many of the misses came when UW misfired on 22 straight attempts from the field.
Obviously, times have changed, and Washington is better prepared to handle such tactics now.
But Husky coaches showed the film of that game to their players again this week to make sure they don’t fall into the same trap again of settling for three-pointers against a zone.
Brandon Roy said he remembered the Huskies “coming up and penetrating” early in that 2003 game, which UW led 28-20. But then Gonzaga went into a zone.
“We didn’t make good adjustments to how we approached it,” Roy said. “We kept shooting threes and outside shots. We didn’t do a good job penetrating the zone.”
Roy could have much of the responsibility for making sure that doesn’t happen again as he figures to have the ball in his hands a lot Sunday night.
Of course, the Huskies are also a much better shooting team now than they were then, hitting 40 percent so far this season.
And don’t be surprised if Roy doesn’t take a few threes himself. He knows that his supposed weakness is shooting from the outside, and he’s been waiting for a chance in a spotlight game to show he can shoot. Asked about Roy’s shooting the other day, Romar pointed to the stat sheet, which shows that Roy has hit 5 of 9 three-pointers so far this season.
STAYING IN CONTROL
Another thing to watch early is whether the Huskies keep their poise. Again, this is a much different team than most of those that have lost to Gonzaga.
Still, UW’s vets remember that they lost some games against the Bulldogs in the past by letting Gonzaga get under their skin.
“Every time we play them they come in strictly business,” said Bobby Jones. “They come in and do the job, whether it’s home or away. They like to establish physical play early and sometimes you might get caught off-guard and sometimes you might not. But I think at certain points during the game they are just overly aggressive and sometimes that changes the momentum and they were able to run off a good amount of points.”

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