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March 24, 2011 at 9:11 AM

2010-11 recap: The Seniors

three seniors.JPG
Photo credit: Seattle Times – Dean Rutz
The past two seasons, Washington’s senior class featured an iconic player who not only gave the Huskies a tremendous lift on the court, but in many ways his last season provided UW with extra motivation.
How many times during the 2008-09 season did we hear coach Lorenzo Romar and the players talk about they wanted to return to the NCAA tournament for Jon Brockman as well as Justin Dentmon.
Last season, Quincy Pondexter, the only senior, and his efforts morphed into the team’s collective goal. “Let’s win it for Quincy,” they would say. That’s not to suggest Pondexter was the only reason Washington advanced to the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 in 2010. But sometimes you draw inspiration from a cause that’s greater than your own. And more than once, Romar and the Huskies would point to Pondexter when the emotional tank was nearing empty.
The 2010-11 seniors were a mixed group of soft-spoken leaders. They weren’t the type to yell and scream at teammates. At least not publicly. From what I’m told, they weren’t big into pre-game or halftime pep talks. That’s not a criticism. Brockman was the same way. The seniors led by example and they were some of the hardest workders on the team.
The 2009 and ’11 teams ended in the same place – the first round of the NCAA tournament – but it feels as if Washington’s three seniors didn’t connect and inspire this team like the past two senior classes. They starred at times throughout the season, but struggled in the February and March.
It will be interesting to see how this group will be remembered. They were a big part of the Husky revival. Before they arrived to Washington, the Huskies missed the postseason and UW went 16-17 when they were freshmen.
Over the next three seasons, Washington won a Pac-10 regular-season title, two conference tournaments and made three NCAA tournament appearances.


holiday raises trophy.JPG
Photo credit: Getty Images – Jeff Gross
Justin Holiday: Voted a co-captain last year, Holiday accepted the challenge of adding to his offensive game. Before the season, he averaged 3.1 points during his career. In three seasons at UW, Holiday had scored in double figures in just seven games taken just 38 three pointers. This season, Holiday scored at least 10 points in the first eight games and had established himself as a knock-down jump shooter. He posted back-to-back 20-point games Portland and at Texas A&M.
While his offensive production soared, defensively Holiday took a step back. Last season, he was a Pac-10 all-defensive choice and would routinely shutdown the opposing team’s to perimeter scorer. That didn’t happen this season. To be far, at times Holiday was assigned to power forwards and surrendered considerable height and size to the opposition. But in three games against Washington State and Klay Thompson, it was obvious Holiday wasn’t the same lock-down defender he was in the past. Thompson torched the Huskies in each game and there was nothing Holiday could do to slow him down. Oddly enough, Holiday posted two of his three double double performances against WSU.
Something happened to Holiday before the regular-season finale series against the Los Angeles schools. He totaled five points against USC and UCLA on 1-for-14 shooting. Holiday suffered a concussion in the first half against the Trojans, which didn’t help him pull out of a late-season tailspin.
In the last seven games, Holiday averaged 5.4 rebounds, but his offense nearly disappeared. He averaged 4.9 points, shot 29 percent (14 of 48) from the field and connected on just 1 of 16 three-pointers.
Coaches say Holiday began pressing and that he wanted to win so badly, he negatively affected his play. I know Holiday tried to correct whatever went wrong with his jump shot. After games he’d go with his dad to one of the auxiliary gyms at Hec Ed and put up hundreds of shots.
In his final UW game, Holiday had more turnovers (three) than field goals (two), rebounds (one) or assists (one). The last turnover was costly, a tipped inbounds pass with 7.4 seconds left while Washington trailed 84-83.
Holiday will participate in the Portsmouth Invitational and is regarded as one of the top seniors in the country. He’ll play a different role as a pro than he did at UW. Romar has often compared him favorable to former Los Angeles Lakers defensive ace Michael Cooper. Holiday projects as a shooting guard or small forward at the next level.
mba smiling.JPG

Photo credit:
Seattle Times – Dean Rutz
Matthew Bryan-Amaning: Perhaps no player was more of a lightening rod than the 6-foot-9 forward. He started the season with a 28-point, 13-rebound performance against McNeese State, but five games later he was on the bench. Romar sat him on the sideline for four games. The reason was never truly specified. Romar wanted to reward center Aziz N’Diaye and felt Bryan-Amaning wasn’t playing to his potential.
At times, Bryan-Amaning was dominant. He crushed UCLA and USC’s big front lines during the LA road trip and won the Pac-10 Player of the Week award. He destroyed Arizona State in both games. In the first meeting, Bryan-Amaning tallied a career-high 30 points.
Stlll his best game came in an 87-86 loss at Arizona. Bryan-Amaning nearly outplayed Wildcats star Derrick Williams, who proved to be the game’s hero. The Washington senior forward finished with 24 points, eight rebounds, a career-high 7 blocks, a carer-high four steals and career-high four assists. It was an amazing performance.
Similar to Holiday, Bryan-Amaning faded four of the final seven games when he failed to score in double figures. He managed just seven points in a loss to UCLA at home. Foul troubles hurt him during the conference tournament and his shooting dipped against Oregon and Arizona.
The foul troubles continued in UW’s NCAA tournament opener when Bryan-Amaning had four points, six rebounds and four fouls.
Against North Carolina’s big front line, Bryan-Amaning played his best game in weeks. He finished with 14 points on 7-for-14 shooting, eight rebounds, two steals and a block.
Bryan-Amaning will play in the Portsmouth Invitational and is considered a middle second-round pick. He’ll play a different role at next level. In the offseason, Bryan-Amaning worked on his perimeter shooting, but to his credit he only took one three-pointer at UW because the Huskies needed him in the post.
Bryan-Amaning finished his career 25th on UW’s all-time scoring list and played in more games (137) than any other Husky. He was
venoy vs unc.JPG
Photo credit: Getty Images – Streeter Lecka

Venoy Overton: Disappointing finish to an otherwise distinguished career for Overton, who started 26 games as a freshman. He was benched as a sophomore to make room for Isaiah Thomas. As a junior Overton couldn’t crack the lineup because another freshman Abdul Gaddy stepped up. Still, he thrived as a backup last season.
His last year at UW was supposed to be more of the same, but the season got off to a disappointing start because Overton struggled to stay healthy. A hamstring injury forced him to miss most of training camp and the exhibition against St. Martin’s.
He was also slowed by a bruised taibone, a hyperextended knee and a shoulder injury. Just when Overton appeared to have regained his form after a stellar game at home against Oregon State, the everything changed later that night.
On Jan. 8 Overton was involved in a incident that led to sexual assault charges and a two-month investigation by Seattle police. He was charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor, a gross misdemeanor and suspended from the Pac-10 tournament.
Overton returned for the NCAA tournament. He helped the Huskies to a win over Georgia and didn’t play much of a role in the North Carolina game until the final seconds. Trailing 86-83 with 5.4 seconds left, Romar put the fate of the team in Overton’s hands. He was supposed to pass to a teammate for a three-pointer, but anticipated a foul and lofted an awkward three-pointer from half court with two seconds on the clock.
After the game, Overton held an interview in the trainer’s room away from teammates in UW’s locker room. He wondered why he played just 12 minutes. He questioned why Romar put the ball in his hands on the next-to-last play. He talked optimistically about turning pro and being able to showcase skills that hadn’t been seen during the past four years.
Romar said Overton has a chance to play professionally because “there’s not many people that can defend the ball like he does.” Overton decreased his turnovers this season and became a better playmaker, but his perimeter shooting has never been a strength. He made 11 of 44 three-pointers (25 percent) as a freshman and 10 of 40 (25 percent) as a senior.
Overton played in 135 games, third most at UW behind Bryan-Amaning and Pondexter. He also ranks fourth on the school’s all-time assists list and tied for ninth in steals.

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, top 25, UCLA

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