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Husky Men's Basketball

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

July 17, 2008 at 12:04 PM

A mid-summer’s review

As mentioned a few days ago, I watched the Huskies during one of their informal workouts on Monday.
I don’t think it was one of their better days — a little sloppy at times — and I always caution against reading too much into one of these. That said, here are a few thoughts and observations:
— As mentioned Monday, Joe Wolfinger, Artem Wallace and Tryeese Breshers remain out with injuries, so just 10 players played. One was Jon Brockman, coming back from ankle surgery and nowhere near 100 percent yet.
— I’d heard reports that Matthew Bryan-Amaning looks like a much better player, and what I saw bore that out. He was really aggressive in the post, admittedly working against a less-than-100-percent Brockman, and also showed a lot of overall skills not always evident last season. He ended one game — they typically play to 10 — by dribbling up court and then pulling up and making a three-pointer (not something you would see often, if ever, in a game, but indicative of why the coaches rave about his potential).
I talked with him for a little while afterward and he said he feels stronger than last season, having added 5-6 pounds over the off-season and said he weighs “235-240 pounds with no shoes on.” He added that “I feel a lot stronger and I’m able to do stuff easier now,” he said. “I’ve just been in the weight room a lot.”
He also said a season working against Brockman has helped his post moves. “One thing people don’t understand about Jon is how fast he is,” Bryan-Amaning said. He also said he’s been working on his jumper and thinks that will become more of a weapon for him next season. “It’s a lot more consistent,” he said.
MBA will be leaving next week to play for Great Britain’s U-20 team in the European Championships, and then will return to England for more workouts and tryouts with that team, which is beginning preparations for the 2012 Olympics in London. He could be gone until the end of September.
— I wrote about Isaiah Thomas’ potential impact today (see post below) and the addition of Thomas, Scott Suggs and Elston Turner definitely changes the complexion of the team’s offense. There’s no question the team will run more now. “You have to have athletes to run up and down the floor and we’ve definitely added some high-level athletes,” Brockman said.
— Turner has impressed teammates with his shot-making ability. “He can really shoot it,” said guard Justin Dentmon. At one point, Turner curled off a screen about 22-feet away, caught, popped and swished, looking downright Appleby-esque. But I was also impressed with his mid-range game. He hit several runners, maybe 8-10 feet away or so, and seems to have a more-developed all-around game than maybe his reputation as a shooter would indicate. He also seems an able defender.
— Suggs, listed at 6-6, 190, does look like he could use a little more bulk. Thomas, who is Suggs’ roommate this summer, said “the only thing he’s missing is strength and that will come.” Dentmon said Suggs is “real athletic” while Bryan-Amaning said Suggs is “real smooth” and that “he can get out and shoot it, too.”
— Dentmon frankly might have been the most productive player on the floor the day I watched, making a bevy of long-range jumpers and all kinds of plays on defense. He once just ripped the ball right out of Thomas’ hands. I asked Dentmon if he’s motivated by the influx of new guards, which could obviously threaten his playing time. “It’s definitely a personal challenge,” he said. “That’s why I’m trying to push myself and just work hard.” Dentmon said he’s not really any bigger than he was a year ago but thinks he’s in even better shape. “I’m just trying to really push these guys and get them on the same page,” he said. “It would be horrible not to make it to the tournament for a third straight time.”
Venoy Overton is working on his offensive game this summer and I saw some glimpses of that, though on this day, there were a few extra players there (Phil Nelson, etc., as alluded to earlier) and he simply wasn’t on the floor a lot while I was watching. But it sounds as if Thomas and Overton are beginning to form a good relationship on and off the floor and Thomas said he thinks the two could play together well even if their size might seem a defensive disadvantage. “I think we can play together a lot,” Thomas said. “Will (Conroy) and Nate (Robinson) were small guards but they were getting after it and being fast. Me and him having that swagger we have, it will be hard for a lot of teams to stop us.”
Quincy Pondexter is wearing a beard (“just something different for the summer,” he said, adding he had a “Rick Ross-Kimbo Slice thing going on.”) Pondexter appears to be working on his perimeter game — he spent a fair share of time bringing the ball up the court — and he had some nice moves in transition. Frankly, Pondexter always looks good in these kinds of things, but we all know the real test for him will come on the floor next season.
Darnell Gant definitely adds a long and athletic presence out there and he runs the floor well. He may still need some more bulk (he’s listed at 6-8, 210) to really make a consistent impact down low.
Justin Holiday wasn’t super noticeable on the day I watched but part of that might have been my interest in watching the new guards. I’ll try to focus more on him next time.
All for now.

Comments | Topics: Scott Suggs

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