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Husky Men's Basketball

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

October 4, 2007 at 8:28 PM

Scouting the Dawgs

So as noted earlier, I watched the Huskies for an hour or so today, taking in the end of their conditioning work and then a 25-minute open gym run.
Coaches are allowed to work with the players during the conditioning period and the part I saw had a special emphasis on defense, ending with a brutal five-minute drill that consisted mostly of things like defensive steps and slides, diving on the ground, and falling backwards to take charges.
They did it first for about two-and-a-half minutes before coaches told them it wasn’t good enough and they started over. It’s a drill I’m told they began doing this spring after last season as a way to try to improve the team defense.
Joel Smith was the leader of the drill, facing the rest of the players and guiding them through the paces. Joel isn’t an official team captain (Jon Brockman, Tim Morris and Ryan Appleby are) but it’s obvious that as a fourth-year player who turned 23 on Wednesday that he is more than capable of adding a lot of leadership this season.
Didn’t get to see Adrian Oliver at all as he is still sidelined for a few more days while recovering from surgery to fix the broken nose he suffered in Greece, and as I mentioned earlier, Venoy Overton pulled himself out early on complaining of back trouble. Overton did do all the conditioning work.
When Overton went out, Darnell Gant went in to guard Ryan Appleby and that proved to be a mismatch as Appleby hit at least four long-range threes with Gant unable to get out there quickly enough.
As for some general observations:
— The two freshmen who are most likely to help this team are Overton and Matthew Bryan-Amaning (called MBA the rest of the way here to save my typing fingers). Word is Overton has made quite an impression quickly and will definitely play a big role in the backcourt this season. MBA already looks physically ready for D-I ball and runs the court well — he had a quick drive down the baseline for a dunk at one point, the kind of play UW didn’t have a lot last season.
— Gant has some mannerisms that reminded me of Bobby Jones. And he’s aggressive and seemed surprisingly assertive for a true freshmen. But I’m not sure how much he’ll contribute this season as he weighs roughly 210 and needs to get a little bigger to really contribute inside.
— Didn’t see a lot of Justin Holiday, as he wasn’t out there for the scrimmage part, but he also looks like he may need some more time to physically develop before really becoming a big contributor (he’s listed at 180 and like Gant, looks pretty slender out there).
— Everything with Joe Wolfinger has the caveat of “if he can stay healthy.” But he’s stayed healthy to participate fully for about six weeks now, beginning with practices the week before the Greece trip. If they can get 15-20 minutes out of him this season, he’ll make an impact. He got at least three tip-ins while I was watching, as he has good hands and does a nice job of keeping them high to get at balls around the rim. He’s not real fleet of foot, however, and that may mean the team will have to pick its spots to use him. But as of now, he looms as a key contributor this season.
Artem Wallace frankly looked a little out of shape and with MBA and Wolfinger coming on, is in danger of falling behind in the rotation up front pretty quickly.
Justin Dentmon still looks a lot better physically out there, but it’s hard to really judge much about any improvement in his game from this short of time in a pickup situation. But he seems to be assertive on the floor and I don’t see any indications that what happened last year has zapped his confidence much, if any. But I think the jury on how much he has improved has to remain out until the team plays a few games.
— The Huskies will really need Quincy Pondexter to step up and be a big-time scorer this season, and I didn’t see enough today to render a verdict either way on that. But he looked in good shape, and his on- and off-court body language indicated he’s a lot more comfortable out there right now than a year ago.
— Appleby has a close-cropped hairdo these days so he simply looks a little different out there. But his shooting touch remains as solid as ever, something this team will really need this season having lost Phil Nelson and not really gained anyone new whose forte is outside shooting. However, the return of Joel Smith and the addition of Tim Morris should help that. We all know how good of a shooter Smith can be, and Morris has improved greatly on his scoring. And it’s obvious watching this team what a leader Morris is going to be, as well.
Jon Brockman looks steady as ever and will be the ultimate leader of this team on and off the court. He’s been working on his perimeter game this off-season but I didn’t really get to see enough to judge where he is on that.
— As I wrote earlier, the team will begin practice a week from Friday, going out of town for the weekend in sort of a mini-camp to kick things off. So the season’s not that far away.

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