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Husky Men's Basketball

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

November 22, 2007 at 5:11 PM

Kelley sittin’ in

Because of the writer’s strike, Bob Condotta won’t be blogging from the NIT. (Just kidding).
But here are some thoughts heading into Friday’s NIT consolation game between Washington and Syracuse, which will air on ESPN at 1:30 p.m. This is the first time Washington and Syracuse have played in basketball.
One other broadcast note, Mike Gastineau, will do the game on KJR. Regular play-by-play broadcaster Bob Rondeau left New York Friday morning to call Saturday’s Apple Cup. Gastineau also will do the Oklahoma State game on Dec. 1 when the football team is in Hawaii.
Steve Lavin, who is the NIT analyst for ESPN, was an assistant coach with Lorenzo Romar at UCLA when the Bruins won the national championship in Seattle in 1995. His thoughts on Washington head coach Romar’s team:
“I think they played very well (against Texas A&M) except for about a 10 or 12 minute stretch in the second half,” said Lavin. “Unfortunately that was the determing factor in their [79-63] loss. In their zone defense they lost some of the Texas A&M players who got high percentage looks. And then offensively they seemed to lose their way and they didn’t get [Jon] Brockman enough touches. Part of it was A&M’s defense. Brockman doesn’t have to shoot the ball every time, but they have to make a concerted effort to play through him. He’s so unselfish that when the defense collapses, he’ll kick it. And when he’s got single coverage, he’ll go to work.”
In the loss in the NIT semifinal, A&M’s experience and Washington’s youth were apparent. The Huskies (3-1) miss the outside shooting of Ryan Appleby, whose broken right thumb still is in a cast. He is expected to be back in mid-December. Another three-pointer shooter, Adrian Oliver, played only five minutes and is bothered by a sore knee.
“Washington has a lot of new parts and so they’re transitioning early in the season here to find a rhythm and to find the right fit, in terms of their substitution patterns and their offensive and defensive alignments” Lavin said. “But I think the personnel they have is a much better fit for the way Coach Romar wants to play. Defensively with the pressure and offensively looking to push the ball.
“If I was on their staff, I’d be very encouraged at this stage of the season for what the prospects are come conference and the prospects of the postseason tournament. Last year, they never were able to find a comfort level with the way they played. Partly because of the illness of Spencer Hawes and partly because they wanted him to be a factor at both ends of the floor, and that inhibited the way Coach Romar wants to play, which is pushing the tempo more. But I will be very surprised if they don’t wind up as an NCAA tournamment team, if they can avoid injuries and their young players continue to improve. Once they establish a set rotation in terms substitutions, I think they’ll play with a better rhythm across the board.
“This is the time of the year where you explore and determine who’s going to earn those minutes; who you’re going to settle on; who are the best fits for your chemistry. Pete Newell used to say that November and December were for show and March was for dough. That’s changed a little bit now, because you have to build your tournament resume, but you still have to have the big picture in mind in terms of how you build the team. And the only way you can find out about your team is to give your kids minutes so they can either play their way in or play their way out of the rotation. I think eventually Lorenzo will settle on eight or nine kids.”
In the loss to Texas A&M, the Huskies were outrebonded 48-39 and rebounding is a concern for Romar. “Right now Jon [Brockman] is carrying too much of the rebounding load,” Romar said of the junior forward, who had 15 rebounds. “It’s like the players are going about it as if they think Jon is going to get the ball so the rest of us don’t have to go after it that much.”
Sophomore Quincy Pondexter played only 10 minutes in the Wednesday loss and has had trouble getting started this season, averaging only 7.7 points. “He hasn’t had the start he would like,” Romar said. “We’re trying to get him where he’s playing with confidence. Right now he’s just not playing. He’s thinking too much.”
The matchup of the day could be the first meeting of freshmen guards Venoy Overton of Washington and Jonny Flynn of Syracuse. Two summers ago Flynn, along with Spencer Hawes, played for Romar on the U.S. under-18 national team that won the 2006 FIBA Americas championship.
“I loved him playing the point for our team,” Romar said of Flynn. “I liked his competitive spirit. He absolutely could go out and get 25 points, but he also could get the ball to his teammates and play great defense. Most of all I liked his infectious attitude. He had a great disposition about him.
“Venoy,” Romar said, “was outstanding at times [against A&M]. But he’s still growing up and learning the college game.”
Lavin on Overton: “He’s right up there with the top freshman point guards in the country. Based on his performance compared to Flynn’s [against Ohio State], he clearly separted himself. But with freshmen you’re going to have stretches of up and down.

Comments | Topics: top 25, UCLA

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