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Husky Men's Basketball

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

February 28, 2009 at 8:01 PM

Saturday night wrapup

So they’d better beat the Cougars if they want it all to themselves.
As I’m writing this, UCLA is wrapping up beating the Cal Bears and staying within a game-and-a-half of the Huskies.
And with only home games left against Oregon State and Oregon, odds are UCLA wins both, which means the Huskies will have to beat the Cougars to win the Pac-10 title all by themselves.
With today’s play now complete, here are the standings:
UW 13-4
UCLA 11-5
ASU 10-6
Cal 10-6
Arizona 8-8
WSU 8-9
OSU 7-8
USC 7-9
Stanford 5-11
Oregon 1-14
UCLA will actually be done with conference play by the time UW plays again, hosting Oregon State on Thursday and then Oregon on Saturday at 12:30, so the Huskies will know what they have to do before they tip off against the Cougars. But UCLA will be heavily favored to win both games.
What’s also still in doubt is whether UW would be the No. 1 seed were it to fall into a tie — UW was swept by Cal, UCLA by ASU, while UW swept ASU and UCLA swept Cal. So lots still undecided. Unless UW beats WSU, which will decide it all.
But the Cougars don’t figure to be an easy mark, having won three in a row against UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State. You may not like the Cougars, but you have to like the drama they have created by turning it on here at the end of the season.
As for the rest of the standings, USC would be the most-talented eighth place team in the history of the Pac-10 if the Trojans finish there. If UW holds on to the top spot and USC finishes eighth, that would likely be Washington’s opponent in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament. I can tell you few of the Huskies would feel all that comfortable about that.
But there’s lots to be done first, including a game Tuesday against Seattle U.
As at least one of you noticed, I’m now in Phoenix, being asked to fill in on Mariners coverage for a few days while Geoff Baker takes a little break. So Percy Allen will be the main man on the UW beat for a few days, though I will fill in with a few of my regular features, such as my picks and my AP Top 25. I’ll be back in time for the WSU game and back on the beat for the tournaments that will follow. When the trip was planned, there was no Seattle U game and the thought was I wouldn’t miss any UW action.
But having to catch a flight to Phoenix after the game today is why I didn’t file much afterward. Interestingly, I was on the same flight down with Arizona, which was flying to Phoenix and then busing to Tucson. There wasn’t much teeth-gnashing on the flight. Mostly, a lot of watching of DVDs and sleeping for what is the longest trip in the Pac-10 — getting to Pullman from Arizona and then to Seattle and then back in the span of four days.
Maybe the most interesting site was Jordan Hill doing a few tests of his injured ankle — he sat in a row up front and had his ankle in ice. But otherwise, it wasn’t much different from any other flight I’ve taken.
As for my sidebar today, I focused on the matchup of Venoy Overton and Nic Wise.
Arizona coach Russ Pennell — who sat two rows in front of me in my flight down here — told me later that the biggest difference in the Huskies this year is on defense.
“I think overall they are a better defensive team,” Pennell said. “That is where they have made their real improvement. I think two things — I think the leadership of Isaiah Thomas, even though he is a freshmen he brings them a different dimension. And they have made a full-out commitment to the defensive end. Lorenzo has always had good defensive teams but he has depth this year that he can play full-court and wear you down.”
Here are some more notes and quotes from today:
— Hill said later he wanted back in the game after hearing the crowd roaring while he was in the locker room testing his ankle. I asked him if he shot himself up or anything and he said no. Sounds as if he will be back for Arizona’s games next weekend. What he did say is that he loves playing against Jon Brockman: “He’s a beast, man. He’s a really good postman, a really good player, and I respect him a lot.”
— Hill said the atmosphere was a lot of fun, which also made him want to get back in the game. “I just love playing basketball so I tried not to let anything affect me,”
— One more from Hill. He said the injury was a definite factor after he came back. “I tried not to let it affect me but it did. I kept feeling it every time I cut or tried to jump.”
— I let Percy handle most of the UW stuff today, but I did talk for a while to Overton about his defense on Wise, which I thought was a key to the game. “I tried to take him out of the game, just tried to limit his touches and make someone else bring the ball up the court.”
— Wise scored 29 on UW in Tucson and I asked Overton the difference between here and there. “Definitely the crowd was a big reason. We play well at home, we are a tough team to beat in this building, so that helped a lot.”
— One person close to the team told me later they thought Overton was the second-most valuable player on the team the last two weeks after Brockman, and hard to disagree. He had eight points, six rebounds and three steals in 28 minutes along with harassing Wise all over the place.
— And don’t overlook the contribution of Elston Turner. He’s beginning to shake off that ankle injury and played 12 key minutes today with six points — including what was a big three when UW was down 10 in the second half — along with two aassists and two rebounds.
— Not sure what the deal is with IT’s free throws of late, but he was 7-11 from the field, which overshadowed all else. He had 13 points in the second half.
— This was a nice bounceback weekend for Matthew Bryan-Amaning, wasn’t it? As someone I spoke with afterward said, this seemed to indicate it’s more about how MBA handles things mentally than anything physically. He had two pretty good games going against Jeff Pendergraph and Jordan Hill. If he can get anything done againnst those guys, he should be able to do it against just about anybody in college basketball.
— Finally, I’m wondering what you thought of the in-game chat. Not sure how much more we can do that this year, but maybe going forward, so I’m curious your thoughts on the chat versus the regular game thread.
All for now.

Comments | Topics: top 25, UCLA

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