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Husky Men's Basketball

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

June 19, 2007 at 1:10 PM

Moving on

As I mentioned in a previous post, I watched a little of the team’s afternoon run Monday, so I thought I’d pass along a few observations:
— All the talk about Justin Dentmon’s physical transformation is for real. “He’s completely changed his body,” Jon Brockman said. Indeed, Dentmon looks much trimmer and appeared quicker and faster on the court. And while making grand observations based on a half-hour or so of a summer pickup game can be dangerous, it also seemed like Dentmon was much more involved vocally in what was going on. Lorenzo Romar used the term “rejuvenated” to describe Dentmon the other day and that’s definitely how he seemed from what I saw.
— Don’t underestimate what Tim Morris may bring to this team. As evidenced by the fact that his teammates elected him a tri-captain (along with Brockman and Ryan Appleby) he has made an impact in leadership, even though he has yet to play a game. And leadership in the backcourt seemed to be something this team lacked at times last season. But Morris has also spent the off-year working on his offense, which he also feels will improve simply by getting into an up-tempo system that better suits his talents than did the system when he was at Stanford. The Huskies will obviously move even more in that direction now that Spencer Hawes is gone. In the time I watched, Morris seemed confident taking the ball to the hole and shooting from the outside. Also worth remembering is how well Morris knows this system even though he’s yet to play in a game in it due to his familiarity with UW coach Lorenzo Romar, who is his second cousin.
— Also don’t underestimate the massive improvement Quincy Pondexter may make next season. Remember how Brockman essentially doubled all his stats from year one to year two? Pondexter, who averaged 10.7 points last season, may not quite do that, but he could come close. He looks to be in good shape and by all accounts is more assured and confident and ready to become a go-to scorer. For as lost as he appeared at times last season, he still shot 49.8 percent from the floor overall and 37.5 percent on three-pointers. And he also had the amazing half against Arizona (when he scored 21 points, finishing with 25.)
— Incoming frosh Justin Holiday is here and working out with the team and the first word that comes to mind when describing him is “long.” The second is “skinny.” He obviously needs to put some more weight on his 6-6, 180 frame. But his length and athleticism should immediately help UW’s perimeter defense.
— Brockman says he’s working on his perimeter game. If he can really develop more confidence in his outside shot, it will obviously make him just that much more valuable.
Joel Smith and Joe Wolfinger weren’t there, and neither were the other three incoming frosh, so I don’t have any updates on them.
— Overall, I get the sense this could be a tighter, more determined team than it was a year ago. That’s not to cast any aspersions on Hawes, and there’s no question UW would be better if he stayed. But I also think that his departure will allow for more players to step into bigger roles, something they figure to embrace enthusiastically. Hawes was a dominant presence on last year’s team, both in talent and in personality. But I think the fact that he was hurt early on, missing the first month with a knee injury, then hurt and sick at mid-season, never really allowed for all of that to come through as well as it could have. At the same time, I think a lot of players deferred to Hawes and weren’t necessarily ready for those games when Hawes wasn’t able to carry the load. This year, I think there will be a clearer designation of roles and style of play from the start, and that should help this team.
— What I also think will help are the lower expectations greeting this team. The Huskies aren’t likely to be picked in the upper division of the Pac-10 by too many people heading into next season — though this from CBSSportsline is a notable exception — and that underdog tag could suit this team well. “We’re going to be a lot tougher team next year,” is the way Brockman put it. “We would have been if Spencer had stayed. But we’re going to be tougher. We won’t have to rely on young guys as much as we did this year.”

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