Not sure why I’m calling this a Mailbag post. (Who uses mailbags anymore besides postal workers?) An Inbox post seems more appropriate. But I digress. You had questions and I’ve got answers.
Question: How does Justin Holiday fit in? Do you see him as a “team” guy and a guy that is always going to hustle all over the court? I would be more than happy to hear you say yes to both!
Answer: Yes and Yes. Holiday is a team guy. I know we’ve been talking about the rotations this week and wondering who gets squeezed out. I saw a few of you had Holiday as the 12th man. Wow. I don’t know how the rotation will shake out, but I would be surprised if Holiday isn’t in the 6-9 mix because he’s arguably UW’s best wing defender. And let’s not forget that first and foremost Lorenzo Romar is a defensive-minded coach.
Remember, it was Holiday who was the defensive stopper in the triple overtime loss at Cal last season. He had the big block in the second OT. UW’s coaching staff instructed Holiday to work on a mid-range jump shot this summer and we’ll find out if he’s been able to improve it in the past five months.
Q: Is Abdul Gaddy’s outside shot as bad as it appeared in high school all star game(s) on TV?
A: Probably not. Keep in mind, those were all-star games and you can’t draw many relevant observations from all-star games because they’re basically glorified pick-up games. Still, the weakest parts of Gaddy’s game (I can’t believe I’m writing this about a 17-year-old kid) is his defense and perimeter shooting. And because he’s so young, there’s plenty of room for improvement. I talked to Gaddy last week and he knows Pac-10 vets are going to sag off of him and give him the open jumper early on and he said he’s anxious to take whatever the defense gives.
Q: Is open-gym open to anyone?
A: It’s really not open to the public for viewing, but I suppose legally there’s nothing anyone can do to stop folks from watching because they’re pick-up games. It’s called open-gym because the Huskies play with guys from the NBA, other schools, etc. Practices are closed when UW coaches are instructing players.
Q: Is Darnell Gant as ripped as he looks in the team photo?
A: Oh yeah. I mentioned this in Thursday’s Matthew Bryan-Amaning interview, Gant is ripped. MBA said Gant is around 230 pounds. He was listed at 210 last year.
Q: Has Scott Suggs developed as a player, because he came in much hyped, and seemed not to really get it last year. I don’t know if it was the mental or physical part of the game, but I’m hoping he can get it together this year.
A: Many within the program are comparing Suggs to Quincy Pondexter, which could be a stretch. Pondexter had high accolades as a recruit, but struggled a bit as a freshman if you consider averaging nearly 10 points struggling. Suggs is in a tough spot. He’s a 6-6 wing and UW is loaded at that position. Whenever I ask about him, UW coaches say he has to continue to work hard. I haven’t seen him play a whole lot, but I think he has to distinguish himself either as a scorer, shooter or a shut-down defender.
Q: A few years ago, the Huskies signed a guy out of California (might have been Sacramento) who everybody else had given up recruiting because he’d had knee surgery. Coach Romar signed him anyway. He enrolled, but then he had more knee surgeries and never suited up for a game. Eventually he left the team. His first name might have been Charles or it might have been Zachary. Do you know whatever happened to him?
A: You’re thinking of Zach Johnson. He transfered to Chaminade University in Hawaii where he played in 16 games last season and averaged 1.8 points.
Q. I’d like to know: first, the story on Josh Smith’s recruiting. I hear he’s leaning to UCLA then cancels his early Sept visit there and was seen last Saturday with the UW men’s bball team at the UW vs USC game. The other thing I am curious about is when you are going to put out a Pac-10 preseason bball poll with a small breakdown for each team.
A: The rumor mill on Smith says its UCLA or UW. I was told he’s visiting UCLA in October and may not do a formal visit with Washington because he knows the school, players and coaches so well. Yes, he was at last week’s game. And yes, he hangs out with UW players. But being friends with guys on the team doesn’t necessarily mean UW has an advantage in recruiting him. (See: Peyton Siva and Avery Bradley) Local recruits leave the state. It happens.
But a UW player told me Smith really enjoyed last week’s big win over USC. And players were telling him the euphoria that engulfed Husky Stadium is what it’s like to win a big game for your state school. We could look back on that 16-13 win as a pivotal moment not just for the football team, but for Husky hoops as well.
As for the preseason poll, look for that in early October.
Q: What has Raphael Chillious been up to? As far as I understand we hired him for his recruiting prowess, and yet I have yet to see his name attached to a single recruit while I read about Romar, (Paul) Fortier at tournaments, at the SC game with Josh Smith etc…).
A: He took the job five months ago, so give Coach Chillious a little time. At least a full year to make a meaningful impact in recruiting. Washington had already targeted its big recruits (Desmond Simmons, Terrance Jones and Smith) when Chillious came on board. Look for him to be more of a factor with the 2011 and ’12 class.