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Husky Men's Basketball

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

November 26, 2008 at 9:09 AM

The day after

No mourning after this one.
Obviously, a win would have been a lot better, and there could be tournament ramifications down the road — UW has just one chance left to make much of a splash in non-conference play with a game next week against Oklahoma State.
But as Steve Kelley wrote in his column today, there were some bright spots in this one, particularly the play of Jon Brockman and Isaiah Thomas, the two players around whom this team will revolve this season.
There simply seems a lot more reason for optimism today than 24 hours ago.
And as Kelley wrote, the Huskies now return home for the entire month of December, a month when the team should be able to make some real hay in the standings as well as prepare for Pac-10 conference play.
Here’s a look at the rest of the non-conference schedule (which kicks off with a game Saturday against Pacific which is obviously still November).
11/29/08 vs. Pacific Seattle, Wash. 1:00 p.m. PT
12/04/08 vs. Oklahoma State Seattle, Wash. 8:00 p.m. PT
12/06/08 vs. Texas Southern Seattle, Wash. 6:30 p.m. PT
12/14/08 vs. Portland State Seattle, Wash. 5:00 p.m. PT
12/20/08 vs. Eastern Washington Seattle, Wash. 7:00 p.m. PT
12/23/08 vs. Lehigh Seattle, Wash. 3:00 p.m. PT
12/28/08 vs. Montana Seattle, Wash. 12:00 p.m. PT
12/30/08 vs. Morgan State Seattle, Wash. 7:30 p.m. PT
UW will likely be favored to win them all with the possible exception of Oklahoma State, which is 4-0 and already has a big win over what’s probably a pretty good Tulsa team (Tulsa won the CBI last year, if you recall). We’ll know a lot more about the Cowboys after they play Gonzaga on Thursday.
The Portland State game, featuring the return of former Husky coaches or players Ken Bone, Curtis Allen (an assistant at PSU) and Phil Nelson will be interesting, as well. Pacific loomed as a much tougher game before the Tigers suspended three players, including two starters, for an off-court incident. The Tigers were beaten pretty easily by Cal in their opener, which at least will provide for a little comparison for the Huskies.
The rest of the games should be pretty easy wins, including the date with Montana, which has historically been a fairly good program. This, however, doesn’t look like one of its better teams, though there will be some curiosity value in seeing John Stockton’s nephew, Shawn, as well as one-time prospective UW walk-on Jack McGillis and Lake Washington grad Ryan Staudacher, who are all on the Grizzlies’ roster.
I’m sure some will come on and rip that schedule, but it’s worth pointing out that UW has played a pretty representative slate to date — Ken Pomeroy rates it as the toughest in the Pac-10 so far. That rating will drop as December wears on, but it will still probably rate high enough that it shouldn’t be a big factor in anything come March.
Having played a pretty good schedule so far also means that UW’s stats are a little more indicative of what’s really going on than those of teams who have yet to really be tested. Pomeroy’s numbers show some things we’ve all noticed — the Huskies rank pretty low in turnovers, free throws and most of the shooting categories and really high in rebounds (No. 3 in the country in offensive rebounding). It’s obvious they have to start shooting better and throwing the ball away less, and as last night showed, they can be a pretty good team when they do those two things.
One of the more worrisome stats that hasn’t received as much notice is that UW is 313th in defensive turnover percentage — with all that evident athleticism, the Huskies have to start forcing more turnovers. Maybe that will happen with the lineup we saw at the end of the game, which featured Justin Holiday, Darnell Gant and Elston Turner alongside Brockman and Thomas. That seemed like a good defensive group that also allowed for Brockman and Thomas to take center stage offensively. Seemed like the spacing and teamwork was as good with that group as we have seen all season.
Simply put, the Huskies now have to take care of business the next eight games. But if they do, they should be at worst 9-4 entering Pac-10 play, and maybe 10-3, and from there, a 10-8 Pac-10 record would likely be good enough to get back to the NCAA Tournament.
After last night, that seems a lot more doable.

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