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November 4, 2010 at 7:18 AM

Comparing the 2010-11 Huskies to the 2004-05 Huskies

It seems that yesterday’s poll question sparked an interesting debate on Washington’s fifth starter. I was one of the 800 or so – more than 36 percent of the respondents – who voted for Darnell Gant and thought he’d make an ideal starter for several reasons including his experience and size.
But the more I think about it, I’m leaning towards junior guard Scott Suggs.
It’s a crazy premise, but consider this: Perhaps Lorenzo Romar has re-built the most dynamic team he’s ever coached.
Maybe I’m a nuts, but the 2010-11 team bears a strong resemblance to the 2004-05 team that won a school record 29 games and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.
I didn’t recognize the similarities initially, but thanks to e-mails from several Husky fans and a conversation with a member of the ’04-05 team, I could no longer ignore it.
Here’s a breakdown of the two teams.


STARTERS
G – Nate Robinson, 5-9, 180 —– Isaiah Thomas, 5-9, 185
G – Tre Simmons, 6-5, 200 ——- Scott Suggs, 6-6, 195
G – Will Conroy, 6-2, 195 ——— Abdul Gaddy, 6-3, 195
F – Bobby Jones, 6-7, 215 ——- Justin Holiday, 6-6, 185
F – Mike Jensen, 6-8, 250 ——– Matthew Bryan-Amaning, 6-9, 240
FIRST OFF THE BENCH
G – Brandon Roy, 6-6, 210 ——— Venoy Overton, 6-0, 185
F – Jamaal Williams, 6-6, 235 —— Darnell Gant, 6-8, 225
G – Joel Smith, 6-4, 218 ————- C.J. Wilcox, 6-5, 190
C – Hakeem Rollins, 6-7, 245 ——- Aziz N’Diaye, 7-0, 260
DEEP RESERVES
G – Brandon Burmeister, 6-4, 195 – Terrence Ross, 6-6, 190
F – Hans Gasser, 6-9, 230 ———- Desmond Simmons, 6-7, 215
F – Zane Potter, 6-6, 200 ———— Brendan Sherrer, 6-8, 245
G – Alex Johnson, 6-3, 185 ———- Antoine Hosley, 5-10, 185
F – Matt Fletcher, 6-7, 230 ———- Tyreese Breshers, 6-7, 255
Starting backcourt: This comparison is a little eerie. Robinson and Thomas score in different ways, but in many ways they’re very similar because of their height and personalities. Robinson played more minutes than anyone (31.5 average) and he led UW in scoring that season averaging 16.4 points. Thomas is Washington’s best player this season who averaged 16.9 points last season. Conroy deferred the starring role to Robinson and accepted the responsibility of being a pass-first point guard. He tallied 219 assists, which is a UW single-season record. Conroy was a senior that year and Gaddy is a sophomore, but the Huskies would love it if Gaddy came near Conroy’s record-setting performance. The Simmons-Suggs comparison is a bit of a stretch because Simmons was a senior, who averaged double figures points as a junior. After three years, Suggs is still somewhat unproven and it’s asking a lot if he could become UW’s second-leading scorer averaging 16 points and shooting 41.7 percent on treys like Simmons.
Starting front line: Holiday is Jones re-incarnated and it’s quite possible he’ll exceed Jones’ stats (11.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists). Comparing Bryan-Amaning to Jensen isn’t entirely accurate. Jensen could bang in the post defensively, but he also took 57 three-pointers that season. Bryan-Amaning figures to play a more traditional role as a post player. He’s also likely to average more than Jensen’s 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds.
Bench: The Roy-Overton comparison is perhaps the biggest disparity between the groups and that’s not meant as a slight to Overton. He’s an outstanding defensive perimeter, perhaps one of the best in the country. But Roy was an incredible player, even as a junior who was recovering from injury and coming off the bench. And at 6-6, Roy could defend guards and forwards allowing UW to finish games with a four-guard lineup that included Roy, Robinson, Simmons and Conroy. Overton is similar to Roy in the sense that he’s a game-changer and a spark plug off the bench. Gant is taller than Williams and he has more range on his jumper, but it remains to be seen if he’s as tough as Williams. Smith and Rollins rounded out the rotation and seemingly Wilcox and N’Diaye can play similar roles respectively. Smith sank 21 three-pointers, the most for a UW reserve, and Rollins blocked 19 shots, the most on the team.
Deep reserves: Again the comparisons don’t hold entirely true when it comes to Burmeister and Ross. Burmeister was a senior walk-on whereas Ross is the most athletic player on the team and he could land in the NBA someday. Gasser and Simmons share similar traits. Potter and Johnson were walk-ons like Sherrer and Hosley. And Breshers retired from basketball and will not play this season.
Conclusion: Some comparisons are legit and others … not so much. It’s unlikely Romar waited all these years and handpicked players to re-construct a team similar to the greatest one he’s ever coached. But every coach has tendencies, style and favorite players and perhaps on some level – be it conscious or unconscious – Romar has re-created a squad that plays his brand of basketball.
On paper, the 2010-11 team appears to be deeper and Romar seemingly has more options to play various lineups. Still the ’04-05 group (below) had five future NBA players and a three-time All-Star in Roy. And as Williams told me recently, that squad had a hard to define quality that made it special.
“If you would play against my group you’re going to have be ready for a fight,” Williams said. “We had a lot of rough and confident guys. We had that chip on our shoulder all the time like we always felt like we were being shafted and we would go out and try to prove something. No matter what we got, we always felt like it wasn’t good enough.”
TZR_a23thishuskypic13.jpg
Photo credit: Seattle Times – Rod Mar

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs

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