January 15, 2013 at 1:08 PM
Is Washington the best team in the Pac-12?
There was difference of opinion on today’s Pac-12 coaches conference call when it came to Washington.
The Huskies are 11-5 and tied for second in the Pac-12 with No. 21 Oregon at 3-0. The Ducks are 14-2 overall.
No. 24 UCLA (14-3) leads sits at the top of the conference with a 4-0 record while No. 7 Arizona (15-1) is tied with Arizona State (14-3) in fourth place.
The Bruins are riding a nine-game winning streak, but coach Ben Howland believes UW is the best team in the Pac-12 right now. The Huskies have won nine of the past 11 games, including three Pac-12 road games.
“Washington is playing great right now,” he said. “Washington to me is leading the league. They have three wins and they’re all on the road.”
California got throttled 62-47 at home by Washington, however, Golden Bears coach Mike Montgomery isn’t convinced the Huskies are the top team in the league.
“They got three road breakthroughs, but it remains to be seen whether those road breakthroughs are against the premier teams,” he said. “They still got to play the better teams, I think, in the league. They came in and surprised us with their physicality and really just played harder than us. Kind of got us backed off. So it remains to be seen. I don’t know if they’re a top 3 team, but they’ve got three road breakthroughs and that’s pretty good.”
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins also raved about the Huskies, particularly center Aziz N’Diaye.
“He impacts on both ends,” Dawkins said. “When he’s in the lane, he takes up the entire lane. He’s long. He’s athletic. He’s mobile. And then on the offensive end, not only does he set good screens and good picks, it’s like a double screen when he sets one trying to get through it. But also his ability to rebound the ball. His offensive rebounds are big plays, they’re momentum plays. They miss a shot and then all of a sudden he has his hands on the ball. He tips it. He keeps it alive. He comes up with it.
“He’s really improved. Watching that young man from last year to this year. I see a lot of growth in his game. He really helps them.”