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Husky Men's Basketball

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

August 3, 2006 at 11:28 AM

Checking ’em out

Got a chance yesterday to watch the Huskies play their daily pick-up game after many of them spent much of the day working at Lorenzo Romar’s basketball camp, and came away with a notebook full of, well, notes, quotes and observations.
So away we go:
All of the current team was there except for Artem Wallace (who is visiting in his native Russia), Harvey Perry, Joel Smith and Zach Johnson. Perry and Smith are each on different summer school schedules than most of the other players and aren’t in class right now and used the time off to return home for a little while. As for Johnson, there is nothing official, but I’d be surprised if he is back with the team in a playing capacity this season.
The returning players who most obviously look different are Justin Dentmon and Joe Wolfinger. As Romar said shortly before the players took the floor (coaches can’t watch the pick-up games themselves): “You look at him and you say –‘He’s improved.’ He’s just better. More mature.”
He also looks bigger, especially in the upper body. Romar said Dentmon received some great experience this summer working as a counselor at the Nike Camp in Indianapolis.
As for Wolfinger, he’s cut his hair and also put on about 25 pounds — he now weighs about 250 pounds — and he looks more able to hold his own inside. Still, he ran the floor well and showed off some decent skills. Not sure he’s a huge contributor this season (maybe 10-12 minutes, that sort of thing) but definitely a player down the road if he continues to progress.
Jon Brockman seemed the most different in terms of temperament. He understandably took a backseat in terms of leadership last season due to the presence of four seniors. But he’s now the leader of this team, having been elected captain in a vote of the other returning players. And he seemed like it Wednesday as he was the one generally organizing matters, getting players back out on the floor after water breaks, etc. On the floor, he seemed a lot more assertive and confident finishing around the basket. The team that included Brockman seemed to win just about every time.
News flash – Spencer Hawes is going to be really good. What impressed me most watching him yesterday was his passing. Twice, he fed Adrian Oliver for backdoor layins with the kinds of passes that would have made Bill Walton envious. Hawes and Oliver, by the way, seemed to have a great chemistry on the floor, Oliver feeding Hawes on several occasions, as well.
Hawes also led one fast break by dribbling behind his back, then through his legs, enticing one knowledgeable observer to say “he could play point guard if he wanted.”
Hawes also flashed his marvelous array of offensive moves, at one point making a 15-foot right-handed hook from the baseline — reminiscent of the memorable shot Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made in Game 6 of the 1974 NBA Finals for you old-timers — then came back and hit about an 8-foot hook shot with his left hand. Then he hit a 3-pointer. Then he declared for the draft (just kidding, but if he’s really this good, I’d buy season tickets this year if I wanted to make sure to see him in a Husky uniform).
Oliver was the biggest revelation to me as I’d never really seen him play before. He seems very heady on the floor, not trying to force things too much but just make the plays that are there — the kind of stuff veterans do. One man who was watching who claimed not to know who any of the new players were asked me who Oliver was, saying he found him the most impressive.
Pondexter looked like a fearless penetrator and a tough defender. As one observer said “he looks like Hassan Adams in transition and Bobby Jones at the defensive end.” He needs to improve his outside shooting, but coaches insist he’s better from the perimeter coming in as a freshman than Jones was when he arrived and Jones obviously became a solid outside shooter in time.
Maybe it was just a bad shooting day, but there weren’t a whole lot of shots outside of about 12 feet being made by anybody, in part because Ryan Appleby is admittedly working this summer on driving to the hoop and his mid-range game and didn’t take a whole lot of three’s while I was watching. Also, Joel Smith would help the perimeter a lot.
Phil Nelson is the obvious candidate to fill in whatever outside shooting void the team has, and while I didn’t see a lot of that Wednesday, Nelson impressed with his athleticism and his rebounding. He didn’t seem afraid to mix it up inside.
They often fill out the teams with high school players and yesterday’s group included Jamelle McMillan, the son of Nate McMillan. Still, word is the Huskies aren’t really recruiting him, in large part because they already have a commitment from a guard for the class of 2007 in Isaiah Thomas. Thomas, by the way, may play with the current group the next few days.

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