It was ugly at times, but ultimately a good win for Washington, which finished homecoming week for ex-Huskies with an 80-70 victory against San Jose State and Adrian Oliver.
This game was all about a pair of former teammates, Quincy Pondexter and Oliver who staged a a mini-duel in front of 8,155 at Edmundson Pavilion.
Oliver, who scored a game-high 32 points, won the battle while Pondexter got 30 points and 15 rebounds, both career highs, and the win.
We’ll keep the analysis short so we can get to recapping the real story behind the Pondexter-Oliver rift.
— Tyreese Breshers was the big winner among the reserves. We talked about how the third scorer was going to rotate a lot this season and tonight it was Breshers, who had 12 points and seven rebounds. He showed no ill effects from suffering a dislocated right middle finger last Saturday. Breshers played 20 minutes, which is about his limit right now.
Breshers also had the funniest line in the post-game press conference. When asked about the game, he said: “I feel the game was called a little soft. Every time I was at the free throw line, they were talking about don’t push your guy under the rim. I was like, why did I go to the weight room for?”
— Clarence Trent was also another big winner off the bench. The freshman doesn’t really have a role, but it’s obvious he plays hard, plays fast and has a good feel when he ‘s on the court. Anybody who snags four offensive rebounds is going to play. Trent was also the only Husky who blocked a shot.
— And Abdul Gaddy had his best game as a Husky even though he was 1 for 6 on field goals. He found holes in SJSU’s 2-3 zone and finished with a game-high seven assists and no turnovers.
— Because of UW’s deep bench, the Huskies won’t necessarily struggle when three starters (Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Darnell Gant and Venoy Overton) combine for six points and four rebounds. Overton had more fouls (five) than points (2), assists (three) and rebounds (none). He was handcuffed by a quick whistle from officials, who called 51 fouls.
— The refs even gave a technical foul to coach Lorenzo Romar, who admitted afterward he deserved the T for demonstratively protesting a charging call on Pondexter.
— Gant is finding his minutes shrinking – he played nine tonight – because he’s not rebounding and playing defense. He’s been the first starter to leave the court recently when Romar goes to a smaller lineup.
— Scott Suggs got five minutes in the first half to see if he still had the hot hand and played just one minute after halftime.
— Isaiah Thomas struggled to find any offensive rhythm and missed nine of 13 shots on a night when he scored 16 points. The Spartans gave him the three-pointer and he missed 5 of 7 behind the arc.
— It was good to see Elston Turner knock down a couple of three-pointers. Maybe he’s breaking out of his slump.
AND NOW THE BACK STORY BEHIND THE PONDEXTER-OLIVER FEUD:
Turns out Pondexter held an old grudge against Oliver, his former roommate who was the third member of the famed Class of 2006 that left Washington. Spencer Hawes left first and declared for the NBA. Then Phil Nelson transferred to Portland State. Finally Oliver left December 2007. And Pondexter was alone.
During his post-game press conference, Pondexter gave some insights into what he was feeling at the time.
(Did you talk to Oliver?) “I didn’t talk to him nearly as much as I talked to Phil. Adrian got what he wanted. He’s at a school where he can score as many points as he wants, but I’d rather be here where I’m at. We’re winning games. He got 32. I got the win. I’m happy.
(Are you not as close to him as you are with Phil?) “I can answer that question now. No. We didn’t leave on such good terms when he left. It just happened you know.”
(Were you disappointed when he left?) “I was disappointed the whole class left, starting with Spencer. I thought if Spencer came back and our team was back again working hard a full summer and knowing what the college game was like we would have been fine. We won 19 games that year as only being 18-year-old kids. We could have done so much more that year. We were a game or two away from winning 20 games and going to the tournament I believed that year. It was a heartbreaking year for me to see everyone go. And everyone is in their different situation now, the situation that they picked and the situation that they wanted deep down inside so I can’t complain.”
(Have you told Oliver how upset you are at him?) “No. I didn’t talk to Adrian from when he left that December – he left our apartment. I didn’t talk to him the few weeks when he was staying there and I didn’t talk to him until two months ago. It happens. He’s in his situation and I’m in my situation.
(His decision to leave was the reason for the bad terms?) “I felt stranded. You know? Not only did he leave me as a teammate, he left me as a friend. He left me with the rent. He left everything. That was the last person that I was close to and it was really tough my sophomore year because people bond to people that are in their recruiting class. You come in together. You guys are friends. That’s how it was and our team wasn’t as close. And I was kind of alone a lot of times. That next year, just bonded with Jon (Brockman) more. Got the whole team together more and it really helped us.”
(Why did you reach our to Adrian a few months ago?) “He called me. It’s a funny story. There was a rumor going around that I got married. And he called and I was in my car driving and I thought I saw a 206 area code number, but I didn’t see the number and I just got a new phone. So I answered it and he was like please don’t say you got married. And I was like, first of all who is this I don’t know? And I looked at the phone again and I saw it was a 209 area code where he’s from and he was like it’s AO. I was like, man if I had known it was you, I wouldn’t have answered probably. We talked. We just said whatever happened in the past, is the past. He’s in his situation. I’m in my situation. We caught up and we’re good. I’m proud of him. He did a terrific job tonight.”
Photo credits: AP PHOTO – Joe Nicholson