The mood of the Washington contingent seemed noticeably brighter here today as they practiced at Pauley Pavilion in preparation for tomorrow’s game against the Bruins.
Maybe it’s because, with sunny skies and 75 degree temperatures, it IS noticeably brighter here than in rain-drenched Seattle.
More likely, it was beating USC on Thursday and knowing they now have a chance to get a sweep of the L.A. schools, something UW hasn’t done since 1987.
“We obviously didn’t want to go back to Seattle being 1-4 (in Pac-10) and having to win two straight at home and still being under .500,” said UW guard Bobby Jones.
It won’t be easy – UW has won just twice at Pauley since it opened in 1965, the worst record of any Pac-10 team other than WSU, which has won here just once.
“I think it’s pretty simple,” Jones said. “The team that plays harder will win.”
Here are a few other notes and quotes from practice:
UCLA will be without center Lorenzo Mata, who hurt a knee Thursday against WSU and is out 6-8 weeks; and forwards Josh Shipp (hip) and Cedric Bozeman (shoulder). The status of centers Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey is uncertain.
Hollins has missed five games with a groin injury but said he will try to play. Hollins signed with Lorenzo Romar at Saint Louis and then almost came to UW when Romar became coach of the Huskies.
The two embraced warmly today while Romar was talking with reporters, and Hollins said there was “no way” he was missing a chance to play against the man who recruited him.
Fey, the former star from Capital High School of Olympia, has missed five games with a bad ankle, and had other injuries earlier in the year. UCLA coach Ben Howland said today that Fey won’t play.
But a couple of us ran into Fey on campus and he said he was going to try to play and that he was on his way to talk with Howland about playing tomorrow.
But Dentmon also pointed out that he always seems to play well in big games. He knows all about UCLA. “I like big games,” he said.
As for guarding Farmar and Arron Afflalo, Dentmon said, “They are very fast guards. You’ve got to keep them in front of you.”
I’ve talked with Smith several times recently and he readily acknowledges his defense wasn’t where it needed to be earlier. He didn’t help his cause when he took what he said was “the worst shot of my life” in a key time against Arizona – a hurried three-pointer early in the shot clock when the Huskies held a slim lead.
Smith had five points in 12 minutes Thursday against USC.
“He did a decent job,” Romar said. “He played with energy and guarded well. He helped us defensively.”
Part of it is that Bobby Jones played a few minutes at power forward – his old position – instead of on the perimeter, where he has been most of this year.
But USC also is one of the smallest teams in the conference and it made sense for UW to counter with a smaller lineup. Gasser could be needed against a UCLA team that rivals the Huskies as the best rebounding team in the conference.
Washington leads the Pac-10 in rebounding margin at plus-8.6 while UCLA is next at plus-5.1.
But Wooden apparently designed the arena with practice foremost on his mind – the extra room allows the volleyball team to practice at the same time, four full courts can fit into the arena.
He said one year he looked over and noticed Jaleel White, the actor who played Steve Urkel in the TV series “Family Matters” sitting in the stands. “I thought that was pretty funny,” Roy said.