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Husky Men's Basketball

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

February 3, 2009 at 9:38 AM

Grading the Huskies

The midway point of the Pac-10 season offers a convenient reason for assessing the Huskies. I decided to do it by looking at each player, and offering a mid-term grade.
JUSTIN DENTMON: The senior seems a lock for the Pac-10’s new Most Improved Player award, and also a candidate for not only inclusion on the 10-man All-Pac-10 First Team, but also Player of the Year honors. He bought completely into his shift in responsibilities, worked on his shooting all off-season, and then immediately began proving right those who reported that he was as impressive as anyone in the offseason workouts. And he’s not just hitting jumpers, but also getting into the lane, especially during Pac-10 play. And contrary to his reputation the last few years, he’s also proven to be as clutch as any UW player hitting big shot after big shot late in games this season. The defense has also been good. We’ll see if he can keep going at this rate the second half — teams may start having to adjust how they play the Huskies. But right now, few in the country are playing better. GRADE: A.
ISAIAH THOMAS: The freshman guard has been everything he was billed to be, and then some. I continue to get come complaints that he shoots too much for a point guard. That misses the, uh, point that the Huskies like all their guards to be versatile and they don’t pigeonhole their guards with such clear designations. They want Thomas being aggressive offensively when it’s there, and hard to argue with how it’s going. He’s still going to be prone to some erratic games, but he’s been far more controlled than many would have thought. GRADE: A.
JON BROCKMAN: A sprained ankle in December has helped result in a few less-than-stellar offensive games. He’s also getting more defensive attention than ever — which, of course, has helped open things up for the guards at the expense of his own stats. I’d still argue that he’s the MVP of the Huskies for all that be does offensively, defensively and on the boards. But you can’t argue that his shooting numbers (48 percent in conference play) aren’t quite where he’d like them to be. GRADE: A-minus.
QUINCY PONDEXTER: He continues to be an enigma in the eyes of fans for his inconsistent offensive game. And it may just be time to accept that he may never be the dynamic scorer that his HS recruiting rankings suggested. But he’s a major reason UW’s rebounding is the best in the conference, and he’s also playing solid defense. He also seems completely accepting of his role in keeping with a team whose chemistry is unquestionably better this year than it has been since 2006. GRADE: B.
DARNELL GANT: The redshirt frosh doesn’t put up big numbers, but coaches like his defense and unselfishness. He’s playing a role similar to Mike Jensen, the role player in a starting lineup filled with scorers. If he can start hitting that mid-range jumper with more consistency he’ll really take a step up in value. GRADE: B.
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: The sophomore appeared destined for stardom when he had some big games in the non-conference season. Pac-10 play has been a little more sobering as he’s scored just 11 points in the last three games, hitting just 4-15 shots. But worth noting he’s also battled some nagging injuries all season, starting with the hip-ankle deal at the start of the season and now a toe. He’s definitely taken a step forward from last year, but he seems capable of more. GRADE: C-plus.
VENOY OVERTON: He’s not a starter this year, which might suggest to some he’s fallen back a bit. But his acceptance of that defensive-stopper role off the bench is again a testament to the chemistry that has helped this team improve this season. His shooting (37 percent) is his biggest area of improvement, but he showed some signs of life with two big three-pointers against USC. But due to his role in the perimeter defense, he’s a player whose on-court value is much greater than the stats might indicate. GRADE: B-plus.
ELSTON TURNER: An ankle injury in December slowed his progress. But when healthy of late he’s shown his shooting ability, hitting 4-7 three-pointers on the Arizona trip and providing some needed firepower off the bench. And proof of his heady play? He has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team at 1.43. GRADE: B-plus.
JUSTIN HOLIDAY: Becoming exactly the player everyone envisioned — a defensive stopper, tenacious rebounder and opportunistic scorer. Offensive game is obviously where he needs to improve. But he’s smart about it — he actually has the best FG percentage on the team at 57.1 percent due largely to knowing his role and taking only what’s there. GRADE: A-minus.
JOE WOLFINGER: Junior big man had some chances early in the season to create a role for himself but sadly couldn’t do it, hitting only 2-11 three-pointers, his specialty. And now with the shift to a smaller, more athletic lineup, he’s buried deep on the bench, having played only five minutes in Pac-10 games. No choice but to wonder if he might consider other options after this season. GRADE: C-minus.
ARTEM WALLACE: Fell behind early in the season while still recovering from a knee injury suffered last year, and like Wolfinger, lost his chance to create a role when the team’s emphasis shifted. Has been on the court for only 12 minutes during Pac-10 play. But seems to be accepting his fate with good cheer, which shouldn’t be overlooked. GRADE: C.
SCOTT SUGGS: Many expected more out of the player who was Mr. Basketball in the state of Missouri last season. But even in the summer the word was that he might need more time to mature physically before making an impact, and that has come to fruition as he has simply looked physically overmatched at times. Has been on the court for just 10 minutes in Pac-10 play. We’ll need to wait a year to really assess where he is. GRADE: Incomplete.
TYREESE BRESHERS: Redshirting after a slow recovery from off-season shin surgery. GRADE: Incomplete.

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