First, the injury update:
Ryan Appleby said he tweaked his back while making a pass to Justin Dentmon late in the first half — it’s officially classified as back spasms. He said he suffered the same injury this summer before the team went to Greece and he was fine in four-five days. He said he got some medication even earlier this time, so he’s hoping he’ll recover more quickly.
“Hopefully it’s not as bad this time,” he said. “The real test is when you wake up in the morning. If I wake up and I’m good, hopefully I will be all right in a couple of days.”
Appleby strained to bend over to sign some autographs afterward. But the official word is that no one is overly worried about it and they expect him to be fine for UW’s next game next Saturday at LSU. That’s one Appleby doesn’t want to miss as he has a well-known admiration for LSU legend Pete Maravich.
Dentmon, meanwhile, left the game at the end with cramps, but should also be fine. He’s battled leg cramps throughout his UW career, leaving a game around this time a year ago with the same problem.
— AS FOR THE GAME, some good, some bad. UW coach Lorenzo Romar wasn’t too impressed, saying “I didn’t think we made a big step today. I don’t think we improved defensively tonight. I thought there were times where we did a really good job and forced them to turn the ball over and take bad shots, but I didn’t think tonight was one where we can look back and say ‘hey, we made another huge step.’ I don’t think that was the case.”
Indeed, UW had 17 turnovers and didn’t have a great shooting night other than three-pointers. UW was 9-17 on threes but 16-37 inside the arc and 21-34 on free throws.
Take out Jon Brockman’s typically solid 8-12 and the rest of the Huskies were 8-25 inside the arc.
But the three-pointers won the game for UW as Venoy Overton had a career-best shooting night going 5-5 overall and 4-4 on threes, while Dentmon was 2-3 on threes and Joel Smith 2-4.
The Huskies needed all of that with Appleby limited to just 17 minutes. In fact, he was getting few opportunities to shoot before he was hurt as the Matadors went with a box-and-one defense on him, meaning one player follows him around while the rest play a zone. “I thought our guys did a very good job of that,” said CSUN coach Bobby Braswell. Appleby had just one shot all game, a wild three-pointer that missed badly.
But otherwise, Braswell likewise wasn’t too impressed with his team, saying “I thought our guys did not play the greatest. Maybe about a C-plus or a B-minus. We can play better. We just need some guys stepping up and playing. When you’re on the road, victory favors the team that makes the fewest mistakes. You can’t make the kind of mistakes we made. When we cut the lead down to two (42-40 with 17 minutes left) got the crowd out of the game and then turned the ball over three times, that was the game right there.” Officially, CSUN lost two turnovers and missed two shots in that stretch, but you get the point. CSUN several times had a chance to really put UW on its heels, but either botched it, or watched as the Huskies hit a big shot.
The biggest shot of the night might have been the three-pointer by Tim Morris with 7:09 left after CSUN had just cut the lead to four at 58-54. Morris’ shot sparked a 13-1 run that put the game away.
The biggest positive was probably the play of Overton and Dentmon, each resigned to the bench of late but each obviously reacting just fine to that. They were a combined 10-12 shooting with six assists and only two turnovers.
A FEW OTHER OBSERVATIONS:
— The nine-man rotation appears to be taking shape as Justin Holiday and Joe Wolfinger each got in for only two minutes at the end of the game. For now, they appear to be the odd men out, though each has shown enough to likely at least earn some playing time when matchups are favorable.
— Quincy Pondexter had another head-scratcher of a game, going 1-5 with two points in 15 minutes. He’s now down to an average of 8.8 points per game, and 23.3 minutes per game, and shooting 43.4 percent from the field — none of which indicate the hoped-for breakout season is coming. He averaged 10.7 points and 23.9 minutes last year and shot 49.8 percent.
— Artem Wallace played only nine minutes but the Huskies went small for much of this game as CSUN had a lot of mid-size athletic players on the floor for much of the game. As Dentmon said later “I told Venoy it was a game of guards because their posts reminded me of big guards. They could play and dribble and shoot the ball. So it was going to be an uptempo game.”
— UW will practice this morning, then take the next two days off before returning on the night of the 26th for another practice to begin preparations for the game at LSU on Dec. 29.
— Someboday asked about the refs — that was just a regular Pac-10 crew headed up by Dave Libbey, who is one of the more veteran refs in the conference. For what it’s worth, UW had a 34-11 free throw advantage (and CSUN didn’t really foul a lot at the end)
— Pretty strange day in the Pac-10 with Oregon losing at Oakland (the Michigan school that is in the Summit Conference) and Utah winning at Cal, a result that will help the Huskies a bit.
First, the injury update:
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.