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Husky Men's Basketball

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August 25, 2007 at 2:02 PM

Husky practice overview

Had a chance to watch the Huskies practice Friday afternoon and it was a fun one to see.
With just a couple of days left until UW leaves for Greece, the team held a scrimmage using international rules against a pretty formidable team of mostly former Huskies — Brandon Roy, Will Conroy, Jamaal Williams, Donald Watts and UW assistant Cameron Dollar.
I actually saw only the second half of the game, and it was 39-28 for the Roy-led team at halftime. The Huskies came back to tie it at 55 early in the fourth quarter before Roy keyed another run with a couple of three-pointers (I can’t believe anyone ever really thought his outside shooting would be a weakness at the NBA level) to give his team the lead for good. The “old guys” ended up winning 78-71.
Only eight of the current Huskies played when I was watching as Artem Wallace sat out, though I think it was due to his hamstring injury and not the fact that he won’t be making the trip to Greece due to passport problems.
Quincy Pondexter, who has been struggling with some knee soreness of late, also played limited minutes and didn’t do much while I was watching.
But Joe Wolfinger did play about eight minutes or so, a good sign as he apparently played 30 minutes of a scrimmage on Thursday. That he was able to play significant minutes back-to-back days is a good sign for his recovery.
And he’ll definitely make a difference if he can get healthy. I didn’t keep complete stats, but he had at least four rebounds while I was watching, including a rebound-putback for a basket over Roy. Wolfinger won’t win any races for getting up-and-down the court, but he was doing a nice job rebounding, keeping his hands held high and seeming to know where to go with outlet passes, or immediately putting it back up on the offensive side. He also is a definite presence on defense.
I was impressed by Justin Dentmon, whose body change is evident and has been noted here and elsewhere before. But he also seemed more in control of things, not forcing as much stuff on offense. That said, he also scored six points in the late going on some smart moves to the hoop, once passing up a three-pointer to drive passt Watts and get fouled.
Joel Smith and Tim Morris played quite a bit — guess that’s dumb to say when there are only eight players — and it is apparent they could make a big difference next season, especially on the defensive end. Each will give the Huskies a bigger and more physical and athletic presence on the perimeter this season.
I talked to each of them for a while, and Smith said his foot gets sore at times but isn’t hampering his ability to play.
Smith made a nice play at the end of the third quarter, stepping inside of Dollar to make a jumper as the buzzer went off.
Word around the team is that Adrian Oliver has been one of the more improved players during these practices, especially with his outside shooting. “He’s more assertive,” said one observer.
I saw evidence of that in the time I watched, though Oliver was a little off-target during the half I saw and was probably 1-4 or so.
Jon Brockman did about what you’d expect, banging inside and getting some points around the bucket while also stepping out for one about 12-foot jumper at one point, while also sporting some new facial hair.
Ryan Appleby, who has had a little back issue, didn’t seem to play as much as he might have normally, but did make a nice move to hit about a 10-footer at one point.
One negative was some late-game sloppiness as the Huskies twice threw the ball out-of-bounds simply trying to get it in late in the game. But again, that was pretty top-flight competition they were going against. Roy seemed to be taking it pretty seriously, getting in an animated conversation with Jamaal Williams at one point when it was obvious Williams hadn’t done what Roy wanted him to do on a certain play.
It was a good warmup for Roy, who will head to Portland for some early training camp work next week.
CONROY SPEAKS: Speaking of beginning a new season, I talked for a little while afterward with Conroy, who said he leaves Monday for his new gig playing in the Italian League, where he will play with Vitrus Bologna.
Conroy said he decided to take a guaranteed six-figure deal to spend eight months playing in the Italian League rather than another season of trying to make it in the NBA, where he didn’t have a guaranteed contract.
Conroy had previously resisted going overseas, saying he thought it was better for his NBA future to stay in this country and play in the NBA Developmental League. But he also said it was time to get some guaranteed money.
Conroy said that doesn’t mean he’s giving up on the NBA, saying he thinks the Italian League “is a good avenue for getting back to the league. If I go do there what I was doing in the D-League they say I’ll get a guaranteed contract to come back here someday,” he said.
Conroy said the decision took some long thought, adding that “I’m a little nervous, I ain’t going to lie about that. It’s a long way.”
As for the Huskies, Conroy said “they’re going to be okay. Once they get it going and start believing in one another, they’ll be all right.”
He said he was particularly impressed by Morris, saying “he brings a lot of toughness to them” and that he thought Dentmon will bounce back from last year. “His teammates looked like they were believing in him,” he said.
Williams is also apparently headed overseas to play, as well.



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