TEN REASONS FOR HUSKY BASKETBALL FANS TO BE THANKFUL
Photo credit: Cliff DesPeaux
10. Venoy Overton’s pressure man-to-man defense
There’s no better ballhawk in college basketball. Overton (above) can change a game without scoring a point, which is a rare trait.
9. Enes Kanter
You can’t have a countdown list on Thanksgiving without including the Turkish basketball star, who verbally committed to Washington this week.
8. Football season is winding down
Washington is still – and probably always will be – a football school, but the university’s only other revenue-generating sport has struggled once again and the basketball team will soon dominate the UW sports scene for the next four months.
7. It’s a down year in the Pac-10
Can you say re-peat? If the non-conference games are an indicator, the Huskies are poised to make it two in a row as conference champions.
6. The Dawg Pack
Always entertaining. Thoughtful. Funny. And loud. My favorite chant: “Left, right, left, right … left … right …left, right, left, right …SIT DOWN!!!”
5. The tradition
From Hec Edmundson to Jon Brockman, Washington has rich basketball tradition that began in 1896.
4. Isaiah Thomas.
If he’s hitting his three-pointer, he’s impossible to defend. His quickness and shot-making creativity are second to none.
3. Quincy Pondexter.
Thank goodness he didn’t leave with the rest of the famed Class of 2006 because it looks like he’s going to be rewarded with a monster season.
2. Lorenzo Romar
When he returned to Montlake in 2003, it took him a year before making Husky basketball relevant again.
1. The future is bright
The Huskies are talking about the Final Four as a possible destination this season and with freshman Abdul Gaddy (below) and Kanter onboard, it’s not crazy to think they’ll contend for a national championship in the near future if the program continues to grow.
Photo credit: Jim Bates
— The Huskies took Sunday and Monday off and returned to practice Tuesday. The team worked out Wednesday and will practice today and Friday at 9 a.m. Not sure if there’s a workout Saturday. It’s listed as TBA on the practice schedule.
WEDNESDAY’S POLL RESULTS:
— When asked if you could choose just one big man, 45 percent of 3,708 respondents chose Kanter (1,656 votes), 36 percent picked Jefferson High (Ore.) star Terrence Jones (1,343 votes) and Kentwood High star Josh Smith (655 votes) received 18 percent of the votes.
Because I’ve been asked, I’ll reveal my vote: Smith. My reasoning is simple. I was impressed with Smith after watching a handful of his games and I haven’t seen Jones and Kanter for myself. I hear good things about them and I’ve watched YouTube clips, but I’ve got to reserve critical judgment until watching them play a complete game against quality competition. A vote for them is a vote for UW’s scouting prowess and the hype machine of recruiting services.
As for Smith, say what you want about him, you can’t deny the kid is a beast when motivated. And let’s face it, size matters in basketball and he’s the biggest of the three if you believe Kanter is 6-9. Of course there’s exceptions. Like for instance, you’re choosing between Sam Bowie and Michael Jordan or Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. But in most cases related to hoops, if everything else is equal, take the taller guy.
Plus there’s not many talented 6-10 high school centers who want to play in the post. That’s a rarity these days. You can say he doesn’t fit in Romar’s system, but I say Romar is smart enough to figure out how to use one of the best big men in the nation if he had him.
And finally, Don James taught all of us the value of closing the state borders when it comes to recruits. Sooner or later, Romar has got to convince the local kids that playing for the Huskies is just as good and more likely a better experience than going to UCLA, Texas or Louisville.
AROUND THE PAC-10:
— Washington State was the only conference team to notch a win yesterday, claiming an easy 87-68 victory over Alaska-Anchorage in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout. Klay Thompson led the Cougars with 25 points.
— Arizona State fell from the ranks of the undefeated after a 64-53 defeat to No. 9 Duke in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals.
— After pulling off an upset yesterday against Virginia, Stanford pushed No. 5 Kentucky into overtime before falling 73-65 in the in the championship game of the Cancun Challenge.
— Arizona couldn’t push it’s win streak to two games, losing 84-72 to No. 24 Vanderbilt in the the fifth-place game of the Maui Invitational last night. The Wildcats were 1-2 in the three-day tournament and fell to 3-2 overall.
MORE THANKSGIVING DAY LINKS:
— UCLA re-instated Nikola Dragovic who was arrested and charged last week with felony assault. The senior forward will play when the Bruins face Portland in the 76 Classic tonight. Dragovic missed two games because of a team suspension.
— ESPN updated it’s top 25 team recruiting rankings on its pay site Tuesday and Washington didn’t make the cut. UCLA came in at No. 11, Stanford 16 and Cal 23. Memphis is No. 1.
— Mike DeCourcy at the Sporting News writes this year’s Gonzaga Bulldogs are tougher than previous teams.
TODAY’S PAC-10 GAME:
— UCLA vs. Portland (ESPN2, 5 p.m.)
My pick: Portland.