Dawgs and Cougs in Must Win Situations

Feb 3, 2010, 8:36 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

Washington faces Arizona in a must win, as almost all of their games will be for the remainder of this year if they are lucky enough to keep winning. Arizona offers up a major question in looking at the rest of this season. Is Washington that much better at home or are the teams that they beat just better match-ups than the ones that blew them out on the road? Oregon beat Washington at home and could that result be more because of the fact that the Ducks have experienced guards that can penetrate and a very talented big man that can cash in when their man rotates?

It will be interesting to see what happens down the road, but if Washington struggles against the Arizona schools, as it did down in the desert and makes it close perhaps even getting a split, I would not be that surprised if they went down to the bay area next week and got a rare sweep. I think that the home crowd will be a difference maker against UCLA, but the USC team that had the big athletes to quiet Quincy Pondexter and make the UW guards look either too small, too young or both just may be able to do it to some degree in Seattle.

Conversely in Oregon, UW could very well be able to only get a split, as they did in Seattle and the mismatch that exists between Pondexter and anyone that the Cougs put on him could be so great that the Dawgs could get another road win there. If all of that happens, UW finishes the year 10-8 in the conference and 20-10 overall. In a normal Pac-10 that would get a team in the big dance, but UW would likely have to at least get to the Pac-10 Tournament Final to have any kind of a chance.

I think that UW could have the home mojo to beat ASU this weekend, but don’t expect the Arizona game to be any kind of blow out, other than perhaps the other type like UW fans saw in the Oregon game. Nic Wise is a bulldog and it just as on fire as Quincy is for the Dawgs. He also is experienced enough to do it on the road.

Derrick Williams is a player that UW does not have, a legitimate low post scorer with a versatile game and plenty of quickness and athleticism. He’s a very likely NBA draft pick, as soon as this June, but there is some talk in NBA circles that he may be a bit small to be a one and done natural NBA PF.

The same type of problems that Quincy had with USC and that he had down in Tucson, could very well be part of the mix at Hec-Ed on Thursday. I know there is good reason to believe that this ‘Zona game will be another Brendan Sherrer, “Dancing’ Dawgs” kind of night, but I feel that it could very easily be that Washington may be getting a bit too confident at home and could be ripe for the picking for a well coached bunch of young, deep and talented ‘Cats.

That “Dancin’ Dawgs” video has been a topic of great discussion and for good reason. It’s very good and entertaining. Both ESPN’s and Rivals’ Dagger Blog made mention of it, but it remains to be seen if the obvious good natured chemistry of the UW team will translate into the serious win streak that it will take to win the Pac-10 or at least come close enough to get into the NCAA tournament.

Teams like Lorenzo Romar’s 1st UW NCAA team that won 12-14 games down the stretch to get in or a senior Brandon Roy’s veteran team that methodically came back from a poor start to finish a close 2nd and continue to the Sweet-16 were not anything more than scary. There was an element of fun, but guys like Will Conroy, Nate Robinson, Bobby Jones and Mike Jensen were very seriously on a mission, at least on the court.

Is this team mean enough and with enough of a killer instinct to finish the season that way? I’m not sure, though I do feel that the potential is there, I just haven’t seen it come together into something as tangible as those teams. Admittedly the addition of Justin Holiday into the mix (from the game at Arizona) could help UW and the home crowd too, but this one could very well be a game in which a slow Husky start could turn into a complete game by the visitors that an inspired come back cannot eclipse, unlike some of Dawgs recent home runaway blow outs.

Montlake Madness’ Josh Anderson, who was mentioned in the ESPN blog post on the “Dancin’ Dawgs”, feels that the game will be close, but that being at home will do it for the Dub.

‘Zona fans don’t seem to believe as I do that their team has a great chance to win on Thursday. This thread on GOAZCats show UA fans to be hopeful, but mostly in the corner that winning at Hec-Ed in unlikely.

The national press is taking notice though of this young ‘Zona team. Andrew Bagnato of the AP gushes about this year’s team being very good despite their youth.

‘Cat Head Coach Sean Miller really did a job in putting this team together in the wake of Lute Olson’s retirement. Just this week he scored another recruit in 2010 combo guard Jordin Mayes.

Mayes is high school team mates with 2010 UW forward recruit Dwayne Polee, who is also looking hard at Arizona.

ASU Banged Up

Stan Holt the USC team manager who was fired for getting a technical foul at Oregon was not the only team manager to screw up in the Pac-10 last Saturday. Senior guard Derek Glasser stepped on a team manager and sprained his ankle. It is not known whether the severity will hold him out of the WSU game in Thursday, let alone hamper his effort at UW on Saturday, but this along with Jamelle McMillan just getting back from injury and having not yet practiced can’t help the Sun Devils. I doubt this manager got fired for being stepped on though.

Though the 17 point beat down at ASU (68-51) may have been more about a 27 point effort by Rihards Kuksiks, which could be augmented by the presence of Holiday, lack of production from both Glasser and McMillan could be even more important. That said it will take a very strong effort to get a win over a mature and efficient ASU club. Ty Abbott scored 17 against the Dawgs and is just off a 29 point career high effort against Stanford, but a poor showing by Jamelle and Derek will also affect his ability to get good looks.

One the other hand, if Glasser toughs it out, McMillan raises it up in front of his home town and UW has a let down after what should be a huge challenge win or lose against ‘Zona, ASU could just gut it out. Like I said earlier, UW had a tough match-up with these guys and all of their problem may not be remedied by being at home.

Venoy Cools It

Venoy Overton has been playing well this season, which has been a very nice development for Washington. Coach Romar spoke about Venoy’s increased ability to change speeds effectively this year on Tuesday.

“I think he’s beginning to learn how to switch gears. There’s a case to be made for someone that is constantly going full speed that you can prepare yourself for that. When you have the speed he has and when you change gears, it’s hard to prepare for that really high gear. He’s done much better at picking his spot. I thought he did a really good job of picking his spots on defense. Sometimes he can reach a little too much and he anticipates steals.”

I liken Venoy’s development this year to that of Quincy last year. In my opinion Q was doing things better early in the year, but did not really start to shine until the game came to him. With Quincy leading the way and Isaiah picking his spots and either following or leading the way depending on what’s there, Venoy has been providing the spark off the bench and along with Holiday doing a solid job of helping to quiet the other team’s biggest guns.

In doing that the offensive side of the game has sort of come to him. Though teams have let him shoot the three to mostly positive results, his much more careful ball handling and game management has allowed others to thrive. At the same time he has been able to “Sneak” his quick aggressive slashing game and nice touch around the basket to produce some pretty formidable scoring numbers quietly.

Romar also remarked that Venoy’s offense has benefited from his new more controlled style, at least for him.

“I don’t think he’s looking maybe to score points as much and it’s ironic. I don’t think he’s looking to score as much and yet he’s scoring more. It’s funny how that works. A lot of times scoring can be like being handcuffed. The harder you try to take them off, the tighter they get. Sometimes scoring is like that.”

Quincy Breaking Records

Pondexter is having a great year and it would also be nice to see it end with his team having success, as I’m sure is most important to him. That said Quincy needs 31 points to tie James Edwards for 6th place all-time on the UW scoring list, 183 to tie Eldridge Recasner for 5th place, 226 to tie Todd MacCulloch at 4th and 257 to tie Houbregs for 3rd place right behind his old team mate Jon Brockman.

With nine games left in the regular season, plus at least one postseason game in the Pac-10 tournament, Pondexter would have to average at the most 25.7 points per game the rest of the way to eclipse Houbregs. It’s possible and it will certainly be nice for UW fans to see him do it in concert with a successful run to success for his team. If you look at the last couple games, he is right there at a rate where he could possibly even threaten Jon, but that will be very hard to do, unless he keeps that red-hot pace and the Dawgs get a couple more post season opportunities.

In all likelihood Quincy will finish as one of the top-5 scorers in UW history, one of the all-time greats and a great candidate for the Husky Hall of Fame. He is not doing as well in the eyes of the national media, very much driven by the perception of the conference and his team that has fallen from the national spotlight. Rivals has him listed as the #6 SF, though this weekend’s performance and especially next weekend’s where he has another chance to go up against the #5 guy in Landry Fields could push him more into the limelight for post-season national honors.

Mid-Season Awards

The Seattle Times Percy Allen and Bud Withers took a shot at giving out hardware for “Mid-Season” Pac-10 awards and a variety of other comments.

I don’t differ with both of them enough to do my own, but I will say that I think that Justin Holiday deserves to be on the All-Defensive Team and that Oregon’s Malcolm Armstead, Michael Dunigan and Tajuan Porter may work their way into the discussion as well.

Husky Recruiting

There have been reports around the internet that 2010 forward Terrence Ross is going to return home to Portland OR in an attempt to right his academic ship after a couple of years at Montrose Christian, an elite hoops factory. According to Rivals he is also now opening up his recruiting and is being looked at by Washington.

2010 UW recruit Terrence Jones severely outclassed UCLA signee Josh Smith on ESPN2 on Tuesday night. In fairness, Josh has been out with an injury and is a very different player than Jones who approaches the game more from the perimeter. Smith was impressive in protecting the rim with 9 blocks despite being out of shape and rebounded well with 11, but Jones was marvelous and looked to be the perfect fit for a Washington team that will need to replace Pondexter.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see the similarities in the type of approach that both T-Jones and QPon bring to the court and I can envision Terrence logging long minutes at both the 3 and 4 spots on next year’s Husky team. Jones could also be a great fit for UCLA in a mix with long athletic players like Tyler Honeycutt, Malcolm Lee (if he’s still there) and bruisers like Smith and Reeves Nelson.

The Seattle Times covered the game, which was defensive struggle with Jones’ team coming out on top 42-39.

Scout reported that 2012 UW wing recruit Jordan Tebbutt has offers from, USC, UCLA, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Portland and Virginia.

Redhawks Soar Past Eagles 68-62

Garrett Lever, son of NBA great Lafayette “Fat” Lever (a contemporary of Washington coaches Lorenzo Romar and Paul Fortier), led the Redhawks who evened their season slate with the Eastern Washington Eagles 68-62 at the Key Arena in Seattle WA on Monday night.

Lever also led Seattle U in scoring with 13 points including 3 big threes. It was a nip and tuck affair, but whenever the Eagles seemed to be surging Lever hit a big shot, usually a three in this defensive struggle. Charles Garcia, who once again was slowed by foul trouble, followed Garrett with 11 points and Aaron Broussard chipped in 10 while leading the Redhawks on the glass with 8 boards.

Former Puget Sounds Area Prep Stars Jeffrey Forbes from Federal Way, Glen Dean from Roosevelt and Bethel’s Brandon Moore led the Eagles respectively with 14, 13 and 10 points. Brandon also nabbed 10 boards. Seattle U next travels to Portland for a 12 Noon (PST) tilt with the PSU Vikings this Sunday.

Cougars Gear Up For Sendek and his ASU Crew

(This WSU preview courtesy of Heath Harshman)

Hoping to not have their first three game losing streak of the season, WSU welcomes Arizona State to Beasley Coliseum Thursday night at 7pm PST (not televised).

The Cougs are sitting at 4-5 in conference play and are coming off of a tough loss away to UW last Saturday. Meanwhile, Arizona State are coming off of a 1-1 weekend at home, losing to Cal but beating Stanford. The Sun Devils are a game ahead of WSU at 5-4 in conference play and will be confident of their chances after the 71-46 whooping they put on Wazzu in Tempe just under a month ago.

The Cougs were down just eight at halftime, but it was poor shooting and poor defense (sound familiar?) that lost it for them in the second half.

No WSU player even hit double digits in points for the game and the entire team could only manage six assists, compared to eleven team turnovers. Arizona State on the other hand was led by junior guard Ty Abbot who scored 17 and grabbed 11 rebounds. Abbot has been scoring consistently all throughout conference play, including scoring 20 and 29 points in last weekend’s games against Cal and Stanford respectively. He was especially deadly from downtown, shooting 12-20 from three point land last weekend.

Freshman Trent Lockett came off of the bench for the Sun Devils in the last meeting, scoring 12 points on an efficient 5-7 shooting from the field. Lockett is also coming of off a good weekend for ASU, scoring 32 points in the games against Cal and Stanford.

Guards Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton were the catalysts for UW last weekend when they blew the game open in the second half, slowing down ASU’s guards Thursday will be key for the Cougs.

The 2-3 zone which was used intermittently throughout the season was the dominant defense of choice for Coach Bone throughout much of Saturday’s loss to UW. It did well for the first half, forcing UW to take tough shots that weren’t falling. But once Thomas and Overton found the holes in the zone, it seemed as though a defensive stop was impossible. Whether Bone decides to go man to man or zone Thursday night, one thing is certain, more consistent effort is needed.

Much like Arizona State, WSU is led by their guards, as far as scoring goes. For the Cougs to get back on track Thursday, Klay Thompson and Reggie Moore will need to play well for the full forty minutes. Another 2-15 from the field from Thompson or eight turnovers from Moore like last Saturday, and it could be a long night for Coach Bone and WSU. It all really depends on which WSU team shows up, the one that was focused and efficient in the first half against UW or the one that gone blown out in the second half by UW and ASU.

Hopefully coming home to the friendly confines of Friel Court will be the boost that the Cougs need to get in good form for the final half of conference play. ASU is also just 2-4 on the road, with their two road wins coming against the Oregon schools in mid January.

More Cougs

Former NBA star Mychal Thompson, father of current WSU lead Coug Klay was on 710-ESPN Seattle’s Kevin Calabro Show on Monday. The two reminisced about his playing days during the “Showtime” era of Laker basketball as well as his son’s development in the Pac-10. This is great stuff from Calabro and Thompson, two NBA vets from both sides of the microphone.

Reggie Moore was mentioned in a discussion of the national Freshman All-American team as someone deserving of honorable mention by Fox Sports Jeff Goodman.

More March Madness

The talk is all over the net about the field of 65 being changed by the NCAA to 96 teams.

SbB (sportsbybrooks.com) came out to say that 96 teams is a done deal.

“Sources at ESPN and inside the administration at a powerhouse NCAA basketball school told me today that the NCAA basketball tournament going to 96 teams is a ‘done deal'”.

Calabro and ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas discussed the pros and cons on his show on 710-ESPN Radio in Seattle on Tuesday.

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