Huskies In Maui, plus Pac-10 Round Up

Nov 23, 2010, 12:45 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

Washington beat Virginia in Maui in what turned out to be a tidal wave of threes from Husky shooters. I was stuck under my own tidal wave of better put ice storm of power outages and snow bound frustration. Craig Yamada of Montlake Madness was kind enough to write a great analysis of what happened last night in Maui for us while I was digging my way out.

Washington shot 65% from three point land and dominated in nearly every statistical category. The AP story contains the box score and some great photos, which will give you a better idea as to what happened.

Now comes the big showdown with Kentucky tonight at 6:30PM (PST) on ESPN.

While Washington attempts to prepare for a wickedly talented bunch of Wildcats. I have compiled a few interesting links and comments for you loyal Husky homers.

Husky Huddle

Art Thiel of the Seattle P-I made an observation from the Dawgs blow out win over Eastern Washington.

“Late in the predictable blowout win over Eastern Washington at Hec Ed on Tuesday, Isaiah Thomas, the junior floor leader who knew better, horsed up a couple of shots he had little business taking. For the last couple of minutes, Romar benched him in favor of Venoy Overton.”

In my opinion Art missed the point here. Of course Romar doesn’t allow his kids to get theirs. He never did at UW. This is a given and I don’t mean to beat up on Thiel. It’s just the way it’s been. With Doug Wrenn in his 1st year, which was a complete switch from what Bob Bender had done.

Bender basically allowed Wrenn to freelance. Most ventured that Bender did that because he didn’t have anyone else that could fill it up. That team won 11 games, cementing Bob’s dismissal. Next year, Romar made Wrenn play at the 4 and benched him for freshman Bobby Jones. Lorenzo only won 10 games himself, but that didn’t matter.

No one was bigger than the team. That did not change every year since. Time and time again Romar was not intimidated by star players or egos. With apologies to Art, this is old hat for Lorenzo at this point. he would have no problem sitting Thomas, just as he has no problem letting guys like Thomas and Nate Robinson do crazy things on the court.

Romar let’s players play as long as they know that he doesn’t have time for anything but excellence. Self indulgence and padding stats are not Romar’s business. He has built a program that can land a Pac-10 championship of some sort for the last couple of years and should be right there for the next couple. He did not do that by being intimidated by divas.

UW has a lot of work to do, if they are going to meet the challenges that they face over the next few months. In the next two games of the Maui Classic lies some off the toughest teams in D1. In the last Big-12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series lies two very difficult challenges in a road game with Texas A+M and a home game against a tough veteran Texas Tech team.

Letting every one of the 10 solid players on his team feel like they are important is not a tough chore, the way he has set things up at Washington. If I’ve heard in once I’ve heard it a 1000 times. Romar says, “I don’t decide who plays, the players do”. His players believe that he and his staff know what they are talking about.

Is the UW team and fans weary of ESPN’s tunneled focus on UCLA in it’s west coast coverage? Mike Decourcy of the Sporting News was asked by a reader, if he felt that this is fair and compared it to ESPN’s focus on Brett Favre and the Vikings, despite both being irrelevant in the NFL at this point in the year.

Good analogy by Mike. Though the Bruins aren’t irrelevant in the Pac-10 race, they have a long way to go to prove to me that they are either relevant to the national picture or the a threat to be the top team in the west this season that would warrant such attention from ESPN. Decourcy explains this in terms of sheer ratings numbers and marketing.

“I’m not going to doubt ESPN’s wisdom. They’ve practically built a small country on discerning what draws viewers and retains them. So if they think UCLA is a bigger brand than UW even though the Bruins plunged into a crevice last season, I imagine there’s something to it.”

This is nothing new. The east coast media has always had two to three token west coast teams that they give too much coverage to, while not talking about teams that are doing much more newsworthy things. One of those teams is almost always the Bruins and when you look at ratings numbers in populous SoCal and UCLA’s traditional rep, it makes sense.

I personally feel that Washington plays better as an underdog, so these type of slights only serve to make the Dawgs that much hungrier. The polls this week reflect no change for the Huskies, who stayed at #17 in the AP and #15 in the Coaches poll.

On Wednesday Isaiah Thomas was selected to the Naismith Preseason Top-50 Watch List, which makes sense being that Thomas is headed towards breaking UW’s All-Time scoring record with two seasons close to his first two. It would make sense that his junior and senior years would be better, so barring injury it seems to be very likely that he will accomplish that.

It will be hard for Thomas to win that award, as east coast voters will not likely give him the kind of credit that he is due, but Isaiah should not let that stop him and I’m sure that he doesn’t need me saying that to motivate him. Thomas is a player that plays best when he is dismissed and like his team really plays the game better as an underdog.

The Seattle Times Percy Allen printed the entire Naismith list which includes fellow Pac-10 guys Derrick Williams of ‘Zona and Klay Thompson of WSU.

The Maui Classic is allowing the Dawgs to play in front of the nation early in the year, which in the recent past has not turned out well for UW. Romar described the atmosphere in Maui in the gym, based on a trip there with UCLA in the mid-90’s.

“It is more like a high school arena. You don’t even have a locker room. You have this little glass area that’s above the gym that you wait for the next game in. It will be hot and we’ll be loose once we get to that gym.”

One concern for Washington has been the injury to Overton, who bruised his tailbone against EWU, but reports seem to indicate that Overton will be on the floor when the whistle blows. Romar told the Seattle Times that he expects Venoy back strong for game time.

“He was still hobbling a little bit, but each day it gets much better. I imagine by today he’ll be running pretty good and by tomorrow it will be healed just fine.”

The Dawgs will need their stopper, as this UW team has been horrible in the national limelight early in the year. In Venoy’s freshman year the Dawgs were beaten soundly by Texas A+M 77-63 and Syracuse 91-85 in NYC. A year later the Dawgs were trounced by Kansas 73-54, then at least came close in losing to Florida 86-84.

Last year it was a humiliating 74-66 loss to Georgetown in LA for the Wooden Classic and the embarrassing 99-92 overtime loss to Texas Tech after Husky guard Elston Turner’s missed pair of free throws which would have sealed the win.

Overton was slowed last night against Virginia, though he delivered 4 key assists. It will be essential, for UW to squeeze out a win, that Venoy is on the floor. Hopefully a day of rest will allow him to play his usual inspired game.

Justin Holiday has been publishing a blog for the Maui trip that will continue up through to the end of the tournament for Gohuskies.com.

Holiday noted that the gym felt good to the team in his opinion.

“Another thing, the rims are really soft, so there is going to be a lot of rebounds right around the basket. There is not going to be many long rebounds. That could be to our advantage, depending on who we play and how we crash the boards. I think we’re going to be fine.”

The Dawgs have debuted some new uniforms and will wear shoes designed by Nike, just to be used for this event according to numerous sources.

Rivals assessment of the tournament, like most over the off-season, talked about the 2nd round match-up between UW and Kentucky, even before the fact.

“Wichita State and Connecticut have something to prove in their opener, but there are story lines elsewhere. Kentucky (facing Oklahoma) and Washington (facing Virginia) will be favorites to advance to the second round. Wildcats freshman G Brandon Knight would be tested against Washington’s defense-oriented back court duo of Justin Holiday and Venoy Overton.”

ESPN’s college hoops staff made their picks and 5 of the 8 picked Washington to make the finals then lost to Michigan State.

Eamon Brennan and Joe Lunardi picked Kentucky to advance, while Jay Bilas did not choose, as he will be working the games. Diamond Leung added the comment that he would not be surprised, “If Washington wins fairly easily against a young Kentucky team”.

Former Dawgs in the Spotlight

Spencer Hawes was mentioned by Sports Illustrated in an article about realistic expectations being set for freshmen.

Hawes had a disappointing career at UW for one year in 2006-2007, though he had a few nice moments. Spencer is currently in Philadelphia and seems to be on the way, health permitting, to a solid career as an NBA journeyman big man who can shoot the three.

Another former Dawg big, that many wrote off as a complete bust, has emerged in Slovakia as a very strong post player also with a penchant for perimeter shooting. Joe Wolfinger seems to be a great fit for the Euro game with his size and ability to stretch defenses with his accurate long range jumper.

“Big, strong and skilled. Works hard around the basket and possess the ability to stretch defenses with his shooting range. An unusual post player in the American college game. Shoots like a guard from outside the 3 point line. Averaged 46% inside and 34% outside the arc. Already knows the “International” style of play.”

Wolf left UW to play at the Citadel for his senior year, but it is great to see Joe doing well.

Tex Winter was the Head Coach at Washington for three years in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Between 1968 and 1971 Winter revitalized Husky Hoops with strong recruiting and inspired coaching. He played a system at Washington that he then called the triple post, which later he refined under Phil Jackson in the NBA.

As Jockson’s primary X’s and O’s guy Winters system became the “Triangle” in the NBA and players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neill rode to unbelievable NBA success.

Winter was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday, according to the Kansas City Star.

Jackson spoke at the ceremony and explained that the only reason that Tex has taken so long to be chosen for the Hall is because he never really retired.

“Tex’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame is due to his longevity. He outlived and out coached all his contemporaries. He also was an assistant coach with me for 15 years, which a lot of voters on the Hall of Fame panel considered secondary.”

Pac-12 Round Up

Percy Allen did his Pac-10 Power Rankings on Friday, which really made me shake my head. I realize that Allen must come up with content and weekly features like this are great calendar fillers, but the logic here is way off the charts ridiculous.

It’s hard to know where to start on this one. He names Oregon State last, but in Craig Robinson’s first year the Beavers were 7th in the league, followed by a 6th place finish last year. I think that this year’s Beavers will be improved, though the entire conference will be as well. That’s why I picked them at #6 this year.

OSU lost to a number of very bad teams early in both of the past two years, but put it together in conference play. What is the purpose of a list like this? Allen then ranked Oregon 6th, based on early season wins over some of the worst teams in D1 in Eugene. Am I the only one who thinks this is a joke?

Come on Percy, isn’t there a better weekly feature that you can give us? Allen really knows his hoops and should dump this list.

Husky Digest’s and this blog’s own Jason McCleary did a very nice feature on the other hand for Bleacher Report which previewed the Pac-10 on Saturday.

Jason also picked the Beavers and Ducks 9-10 respectively, but the rest of his list was much more same looking than Percy’s. The perfect illustration of why I feel this way was that McCleary picked Stanford 7th, while Percy put the Cardinal 2nd based on their early season success against the likes of Virginia and San Diego.

WSU Notes

Without starting PG Reggie Moore the Cougs had little trouble handling Idaho in a 88-71 win in Pullman WA on Wednesday night.

Faisal Aden was once again the story with 26 points as he led all scorers. The Cougs also got 23 points out of Klay Thompson on a dismal 7-17 from the field including 2-9 from behind the arc. WSU also got an encouraging 12 points from freshman Patrick Simon and 10 points and 4 blocks from DeAngelo Casto in a game that wasn’t as close as it looked.

The Cougars will play Portland in the Key Arena on Tuesday at 7:30PM (PST). That time was changed from 7PM to accommodate the FSN television broadcast, according to the Seattle P-I. It’s a great chance for local Cougar fans to see this exciting team. Although it goes up against a potential UW/UK match-up real Cougs could I’m sure care less.

Cal Notes

The Bears sent a strong message in it’s first game with an 80-63 win over Cal-State Northridge on Wednesday in Berkeley CA. For Cal it was Jorge Gutierrez with 18 points and 8 assists, followed by Markhuri Ssanders-Frison with 15 points and 10 boards. Harper Kamp also scored 12 and grabbed 7, to go with 2 steals.

The Bears made an even bigger statement on Saturday as they soundly beat the New Mexico Lobos in the pit in Berkeley CA 89-64.

This time Kamp led the way for Cal with 25 points, followed by Gutierrez with 20. Sanders-Frison again led the way on the glass with 9 boards, but he only scored 2 points. Instead freshman guard Gary Franklin made his presence known with 16 points and 4 assists, while back-up guard Brandon Smith led the Bears with 7 assists and added 9 points.

After the win over UNM Kamp was excited about his teams’ surprising performance , at least in the eyes of the “experts”.

“I’m excited. It’s just the first step. That’s what we talked about after the game. We were just excited about how well we played together and how hard we played.”

Cal will continue to attempt to prove their doubters wrong as they meet #20 Temple in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando FL on Thursday at 6PM (PST).

Stanford Notes

The Cardinal, like Cal, also came out with a strong win on Monday night as they took down USD 64-48.

For Stanford it was a balanced effort led by back-ups Andrew Zimmerman and Gabriel Harris with 14 and 12 points each respectively. Junior post Jack Trotter (who started) and freshman guard Anthony Brown had 6 boards a piece to lead the Cardinal, while freshman Josh Huestis came off the bench for two impressive blocks.

The good news for ‘Furd fans continued on Wednesday as highly ranked 2011 guard Chasson Randle signed with Stanford, according to ESPN. As good as things are looking for the Cardinal early, having a major talent like Randle in the back court will really help in 2011-2012.

Stanford beat USD with a weak 1-7 shooting effort from star veteran Jeremy Green, but Green was back in full force on Thursday again in Palo Alto CA with 21 points to lead all scorers in an impressive win over Virginia.

Brown chipped in for 13 points, while again Stanford had a balanced scoring attack with 12 from both Zimmerman and Bellevue WA guard Aaron Bright. It was a reunion of sorts for Bright and UVA’s Joe Harris, as both had played under Coach Jim Marsh for Seattle Friends of Hoop AAU squad.

Freshman post Dwight Powell also contributed an athletic 10 points, while Bright also led his team with 4 assists. Stanford is looking great early, but have not played a high level team yet. It will be interesting to see how this young team reacts to greater adversity.

On Sunday night Stanford again didn’t get much of a challenge, as the Cardinal demolished Arkansas Pine-Bluff in Palo Alto 92-49.

Again it was Green with 21 points, followed by fellow junior Josh Owens with 14 points, 9 boards, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Powell was again strong as a starter with 12 points on 4-6 from the field, while Brown again was heard from with 10 points.

Stanford returns to action on Thursday in the 76 Classic against Murray State on Thursday at 6PM (PST).

USC Notes

The Trojans also joined the Pac-10 parade on Monday night with an 86-73 win over Santa Clara in LA.

The big story for USC was freshman Maurice Jones with 29 points and 5 assists in his second college game. Junior Nikola Vucevic followed with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Bryce Jones kicked in 15 points. USC only played 7 players and will continue to be thin until junior guard Jio Fontan joins the Trojans on December 18th against Kansas.

Coincidentally renowned KU freshman guard Josh Selby will also make his college debut on that date against ‘SC.

USC’s depth was dealt a hard blow when it was announced that senior post Alex Stepheson suffered a fractured hand, though Alex played against Santa Clara with a cast on. According to the LA Times Stepheson will be healed in a week of two from now.

All this good news came tumbling down on Wednesday when USC lost to Rider 77-57 in LA.

Maurice Jones and reserve senior guard Donte Smith co-led the Trojans with 13 points, but it was cold shooting that made a bad game from USC miserable. USC shot .377 from the floor and 1-15 from behind the arc, as Bryce Jones stood out with 2-13 from the floor.

Vucevic had a decent stat line with 9 points and 7 boards, but for 30-minutes that was not enough production for a potential NBA player. Stepheson played 40-minutes with the broken hand and Coach Kevin O’Neill gave him appropriate praise in the LA Times despite the ugly loss.

“I thought Al had an unbelievable performance. To play 40 minutes with a broken hand says a lot a lot about him. He really changed a lot of things in there.”

The Trojans troubles continued on Saturday as USC lost a close one to Bradley 64-63 in Springfield MA, as part of the Hall of Fame Classic.

This time Vucevic got it going with 22 points and 15 boards, but Stepheson took a step backwards with only 2 points and 2 boards in a foul plagued 23-minute performance. This time Maurice Jones hit a wall from the field going 0-10 in 40-minutes, though Bryce bounced back with 13. Smith and Portland OR freshman Garrett Jackson tacked on 12 points a piece.

The Trojans bounced back on Sunday though with an 80-61 win over New Mexico State. This time Bryce was hot going 7-10 from the field and leading all scorers with 21 points. Vucevic followed with 19 points, plus a team leading 7 boards, while senior Marcus Simmons got in the act with 12 points and Jackson added 10 more to the scoring.

USC returns home to face Cal-State Fullerton on Wednesday night at 7:30PM (PST).

UCLA Notes

The Bruins also got a hard fought win on Monday night at home in Westwood CA against Pepperdine 79-69.

Reeves Nelson gutted out the win, always coming up big when the Waves challenged UCLA, with 20 points and 11 boards. Tyler Honeycutt followed with 16 points, though he added an unsightly 5 turnovers. Newcomers freshman Josh Smith from Kent WA and JC Transfer Lazeric Jones also added 13 points a piece.

The Bruins were slowed by the loss of junior guard Malcolm Lee with a sprained ankle early on, but after the game it was announced that x-rays were negative.

UCLA came back strong though on Wednesday with a 57-44 win over Pacific in Westwood CA.

Again it was Nelson with 21-14, while Honeycutt impressed with 15-15. It was a strong effort on the defensive end that gave the Bruins the win, as they held the Tigers to a cold 25% from the field.

On Thursday Montlake Madness did a preview of UCLA, who (like me) they picked as their #3 team in the Pac-10.

Madness’ Craig Yamada, who will be helping me a lot this week with the holiday in covering the Maui Classic, feels that the Bruins will beat UW down in LA once again, but that UW will once again get the win at home. This happens every year it seems between these two teams, but I feel that UW may do better in LA as I doubt they will play as sloppy as last season.

That said, UCLA will be better, so expect another tough game for both teams there at Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins will face Villanova in NYC as part of the Tip-Off Classic on Wednesday night and Lee is listed as questionable, according to ESPN.

ASU Notes

It was surprising that Cal handled New Mexico so easily at home after last year’s conference runner-up ASU was beaten in Albequerque NM 76-62 on Tuesday.

Sophomore guard Trent Lockett was the one bright spot for the Sun Devils with 22 points, as he was the only ASU player in double-figures. Such is the reality in college hoops as a home court advantage makes a huge difference. One thing that always seems to happen is cold-shooting on the road and ASU was frigid going 13-42, if you take away Lockett’s 9-12.

ASU also suffered at the line going 13-23 and only hit 5-21 three-point attempts. One wonders if tricky Herb Sendek may have planned this one as a way to make his high-flying young team well aware of how much work they need to do early.

It worked for Herbie as the Sun Devils bounced back with a 69-66 hard fought win at home in Tempe on Saturday Night.

Again it was Lockett with 19 points leading the way, but this time Trent got help from senior guard Ty Abbott and flashy freshman Kyle Cain with 15 and 14 points respectively. Abbott hit the game winner off a deft feed from Lockett with a 3 with 21-seconds left. ASU will now go to the Great Alaska Shootout to face Houston Baptist on Thursday at 7PM (PST).

The Shootout has really lost steam, as ASU is one of two major-conference teams along with new Head Coach Steve Lavin’s St. John’s Johnnies.

‘Zona Notes

Even more convincingly than USC, Arizona pounded New Mexico State 83-57 on Thursday.

Derrick Williams was dominant with 27 points and 14 rebounds, followed by fellow sophomores Lamont “Momo” Jones and Solomon Hill with 10 points a piece. Junior guard Kyle Fogg played a strong supportive role with 7 assists and 2 steals. Though no other ‘Cat scored in double figures it was a strong team effort by an impressive looking Pac-10 team.

Also on Thursday Montlake Madness did their preview of ‘Zona, while picking them as the #2 team in the Pac-10 going into the season.

Craig Yamada pointed out that the ‘Cats only lose one player, though like Washington’s Quincy Pondexter, Nic Wise was ‘Zona’s go-to-guy. The ‘Cats don’t have as many veterans as UW, but they sure do have talent, which includes one solid senior in Jamelle Horne.

Yamada focused on the ‘Cats’ depth, which I also believe will sustain them thus season to a 2nd place league finish and a return to post-season glory.

It was announced by azstarnet.com on Friday that Arizona will participate in the 2012-2013 Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu HI.

On Sunday Arizona blew out Northern Colorado 93-70, as Williams led a more balanced ‘Cat attack with 15 points. Williams also led ‘Zona with 8 boards, followed by sophomore center Kyryl Natyazhko with 7 rebounds. Fogg and Hill had 11 points a piece followed by 10 for Jones. Natyazhko and surprising freshman guard Jordan Mayes, chipped in 9 points a piece.

Oregon Notes

Talk about six degrees of separation. 5th year senior transfer Jar-R Strowbridge played for a couple of seasons with Nebraska to start his college career that also included Jacksonville State. Kamyron Brown was an Oregon Duck for his first two seasons in D1 ball at Oregon Now Brown is in Nebraska, where Strowbridge got his start.

On Wednesday Kamyron was suspended, according to AP. Cornhusker Coach Doc Sadler gave no reason for the suspension.

On Saturday Oregon lost it’s first game, after three home wins over weak D1 opponents, to former Husky Adrian Oliver and the San Jose State Spartans 75-72.

For Oregon it was Joevan Catron again who led the way with 25 points. Catron has averaged 22 PPG this season thus far, though it was thought as late as Pac-10 media day in late October that he may never be healthy enough to contribute after missing most all last year because of injury.

Joevan, who was a senior last year, was awarded a medical hard-ship year this season. Junior guard Garrett Sim followed with 11 points and junior guard Teondre Williams and sophomore forward E.J. Singler scored 11 a piece.

Oregon now goes against a Texas Southern team Tuesday at 7PM that just beat rival Oregon State in Corvallis on Sunday.

OSU Notes

The Beavers has once again started a season under Coach Robinson with a number of embarrassing losses. One thing you cannot say about Robinson is that he can’t recruit though, as it was announced on Monday that six-foot-nine forward Daniel Gomis has signed a letter of intent with OSU.

Gomis is from the same hoops academy in Senegal as Aziz N’Diaye and played last season in Sun Valley ID. According to the Oregonian, Gomis “will play for prep powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., this season”. According to many Daniel is a great prospect and should help Oregon State, who are already deep with young big guys.

On Wednesday that piece of good news was marred by an 83-80 loss to Seattle U in the Key Arena in Seattle WA.

Though it was nice to see Seattle U get the win over OSU for a second straight year, it had to be frustrating for the Beavers who were looking to avenge the 51-point blow-out in Corvallis. Sophomore Jared Cunningham scored 19 points to lead OSU, followed by senior Calvin Haynes with 18 points.

Senior forward Omari Johnson, who has shown improvement this season for the Beavers, scored 15 points and grabbed 13 boards, while senior guard Lathen Wallace scored 12.

It was a nice idea, but it didn’t turn out so well, at least for the hoops team, as the Beavers honored Native American culture on Sunday night in Corvallis at a ceremony along with the ill-fated game against Texas Southern. For the game the Beavers wore special turquoise-blue uniforms, with orange and black lettering and trim, according to the Oregonian.

It may be a long time before Robinson changes his team colors, as OSU was nipped at home 66-60.

Johnson and Haynes led the Beavs with 13 points a piece, but once again OSU played down to a low end D1 program and fell short.

Up next for the Beavs will be the UNC-Charlotte 49er’s on Wednesday in Corvallis at 7PM.

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Huskies In Maui, plus Pac-10 Round Up