Caught up with Washington senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning and junior Isaiah Thomas who worked out for the Portland Trail Blazers this morning.
I’ll post interviews from them and Portland coach Nate McMillan later, but wanted to pass along Thomas’ thoughts on next season’s UW team.
He said the biggest challenge for the Huskies is identifying a player to step up and assume the leadership role on a team that lost three seniors (Justin Holiday, Venoy Overton, Bryan-Amaning) and Thomas, who led UW in scoring and assists.
(If you can be impartial for a bit, how will Washington fare next season?) “I feel like they’ll do good. They might start off slow because they’re young and new guys are coming in. In my three years, at the end we always played our best basketball. That’s just consistent with Coach (Lorenzo) Romar.
“But they got talent. They lost me, Matt, Holiday and Venoy, but their wings might be the top wings in the country. They can definitely shoot the ball. And once Tony (Wroten Jr.) gets accustomed to what Coach Romar wants and Abdul Gaddy comes back, they’ll be alright. UCLA will be good. They have a lot of players coming in, but UW I know with Coach Romar and those guys, they’re going to be pretty good.
(There appears to be leadership void. How does that get resolved?) “That’s the biggest thing. They don’t know who their leader is right now. That’s the biggest thing. Once they find that leader and somebody that they can always go to and look at for examples not just on the court, but off the court that’s when they’ll be their best. Abdul Gaddy. He’s the leader. He’s really not a talkative leader, but he’s older now so things have got to change. He knows that most likely it is his team now. He’ll be a junior and once he comes back from his knee injury guys will look at him to lead. But they got a lot of guys.
“Darnell Gant is a great guy and a great inspirational leader and an energy guy. Since I’ve been there, he’s been the energy guy that Coach Romar always looks to. And they got to just come together as one. Everybody can be a leader on that team. You don’t have to have just one single guy. But that’s the biggest thing is I think they need to figure out and find out. And if they do, they’ll be alright.”
(How does that get settled because what we’re talking about is alpha-dog battles? Is it an unspoken thing? Is it who shows up first for practice or does it happen off the court?) “They’ll figure it out. That comes in 7 a.m. weights. Running hills. Doing all of that. With the University of Washington, the group has always been close. We’re always chilling at somebody’s house. We’re always together. That’s because of Coach Romar. That’s because of Matt Ludwig, the strength coach. But whoever is that guy who steps up and lead, they’re going to follow. Once they find that leader, they’ll be OK.”
MONDAY AFTERNOON LINKS:
— More on soon-to-be Husky Martin Breunig. It seems former UW greats Detlef Schrempf and Chris Welp influenced his decision. It also appears as if assistant Paul Fortier deserves credit for securing the 6-8 German forward.
— Informative interview by Montlake Madness who sat down with UW freshman Terrence Ross.
— Who says rotating the site of conference tournament championships can’t work. The Big Ten is doing it. Maybe the Pac-12 will consider following their lead.