Holiday Wrap Up
The difficult story of Derrick Roland added a troubling note to the great UW win over the Aggies. It seems as if Roland is about as upbeat as one could expect after such a gruesome tumble. The medical staff at Harborview Hospital was able to successfully operate on him and send the senior guard home for Christmas, “With a rod and three screws in his leg”.
Once home he was, “Greeted by more than 40 family members, friends and Texas A+M fans when he landed at Easterwood Airport in the afternoon”.Before he left town though Roland was visited by Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar, assistant Raphael Chillious and senior Quincy Pondexter. The UW Athletic Department published a way for fans to send Derrick a get well note.
As the Huskies gear up for their Pac-10 opener against the Oregon State Beavers this Thursday Night at 7PM, the Dawgs have the highest RPI in the Pac-10 and are #8 in the nation in that ratings system.
Washington is also the highest ranked team in either of the major polls, which both came out today. This week the Dawgs were at #16 in the ESPN/USA Today poll and at #17 in the AP poll.
Despite all of these accolades and expert calculations ESPN’s Andy Katz barely mentions Washington in his Pac-10 preview going into league play last Wednesday, except to say that, “Prior to Dec. 22, Washington hadn’t beaten anyone of note” and that “Cal and Washington are the most likely” to go dancing.
All of the excitement seems to be focused on the surging USC Trojans, but I feel that Washington has a distinct advantage over Kevin O’Neill’s team. Despite the fact that they are very good and very experienced, USC has two guards in seniors Mike Gerrity and Dwight Lewis. Washington has three point guards and two shooting guards.
I think that the UW will run teams like USC down and win games by attrition with clubs like the Trojans and others most specifically UCLA and possibly even WSU who are low on guards.
My concern in regards to the Dawgs is the front court and luckily other than USC and maybe UCLA and Oregon, there is no one out there with much in the front court to exploit that possible weak spot for the Dawgs. The Ducks and the Beavers have proven little so far this year, but going into the season I felt that these two teams, other than Cal had the most depth.
Oregon has yet to get its top two veterans Tajuan Porter and Joevan Catron back from injury and their return could be much like it has been for Cal who got back their big gun in Theo Robertson and have looked 100% better.
Oregon State has not had a huge amount of trouble with injuries, but the disappointing loss to academic troubles of elite freshman prospect Roberto Nelson has slowed their roll a bit. OSU will be a very tough test for the Dawgs on New Year’s Eve, if UW doesn’t bring their A-game.
The B-game that played down to opponents through out the non-conference slate is not going to beat a Beaver team that is hungry to gain back its lost mojo, since the magic turnaround of last season. I also expect some big surprises from the Ducks, as Ernie Kent knows that his job depends on a good showing this year and the Pac-10 is really his last chance to make an impression. A win over the Huskies in Seattle might do it all by itself.
ESPN Blogger Diamond Leung questions whether UW is ready to defend it’s out right championship of last season. One factor for UW that is almost unanimously acknowledged as a positive is the Q factor. Quincy was featured by Fox’s Jeff Goodman and the only thing that the draft experts are arguing about when it comes to Pondexter is how high in the 1st round he will be selected.
Quincy seems to be taking this in stride, claiming to be much more nervous over his brief cameo in the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s annual production of the “Nutcracker” than his last run at the Pac-10 championship.
Meanwhile, as UW looks to have a potential Pac-10 Player of the Year in Pondexter, last year’s Pac-10 POY, and former Husky Jon Brockman is capturing the hearts and minds of the NBA. The Everett Herald did an in depth feature on Jon’s exploits in the league and people all over have been talking about the rookie as a player to be reckoned with at the highest level in basketball.
Husky Recruiting Corner
Class of 2010 superstar Terence Jones had a great first couple of games in the Les Schwab Challenge with his Jefferson High Democrats from Portland OR last night. According to ESPN Jones was the standout player in the tourney along with 2010 forward Kyle Wiltjer, another Portland OR post that Washington is watching. ESPN had plenty to say about both players but gave some advice to Jones.
“If Jones, one of the nation’s top unsigned seniors, can continue to develop a post game (a jump hook would be nice) he will be a nightmare match-up at the next level a year from now.”
Another Husky recruit 2010 forward Dwayne Polee is also at the event which is taking place in Liberty High School in Hillsboro, OR on Dec. 26-30.
I have a little more to say about the awesome WSU/LSU game that was the same night as the UW/Texas A+M battle. Time restrictions due to holiday commitments prevented me from commenting at greater length back then. Klay Thompson was the star when he sunk the free throws to go up 4 late in the overtime session and almost the goat when he got called for a charge with the Cougs up two with 8 seconds to go in OT.
Because Ken Bone has a defensive guy like Capers who got his hand up in the face of Bo Spencer, the Cougs walked away with a huge win. I was also impressed by Seattle’s Aaron Dotson, as I always have been, despite a tough stat line of 11 points and 5 PF’s in 38 minutes. He showed a well rounded game for a freshman and I expect good things from him this year in the SEC.
His game is well suited for that league, which is considerably down, other than Kentucky and a few others. Bert Klasey at Mynorthwest.com’s Cougar Blog feels that the Cougs have not proven anything, “In the Clutch”. I’m not so sure about that, as they have only lost two road games to very high level teams and impressed me greatly against LSU among others.
I’m starting to believe in this WSU Hoops team and so is Bone, who stated after the game “I think they’ve grown to be a confident group, a group that believes in themselves and believes in their teammates”.
Reggie Moore played all 45 minutes of the game, while Klay played 44. Sophomore starting forward Abe Lodwick is one of the Cougs gunning to be that 5th starter and so far, at least when the names are called he has filled that role. The Cougars will be challenged in Pullman on New Years Eve at 3:30PM as they start conference play against the Ducks.
The Bend Bulletin did this nice feature on Lodwick, who seems to be the back-up to Nikola Koprivica, though he is in fact the starter. Both play an important role though, as the “Glue” guy and Nik provides an additional plus by providing scoring off the bench.
Next year there will be so many big time foreign players in the state that you could probably make a decent team up, if you brought in a couple of guards. Between Elias Harris (who could be gone to the NBA), Robert Sacre, Mangisto Arop, Kelly Olynyk and Bol Kong from Gonzaga, Enes Kanter and Matthew Bryan-Amaning from UW and Brock Motum from WSU.
That is a talented front court with a couple of great wings on the side. The Spokesman-Review did a nice piece on what it is like for foreign kids around the holidays, as it interviewed Motum and Koprivica.
Seattle U lost a close one on the road to Denver last Tuesday night, falling to 6-7 for the year. Charles Garcia was back on top of the scoring column with 23 points, followed by Chris Gweth with 18, Cervante Burrell with 13 and Alex Jones with 11. Aaron Broussard led the Redhawks on the boards with 8 to go with his 8 points.
Seattle U held the lead for the majority of the second half, but a late Denver three by Andrew Hooper with 1.2 seconds remaining closed out an 84-83 victory.
Seattle U travels to LA for its next game against Loyola Marymount of the WCC. The Lions are improved this year and should pose a stiff challenge at 7PM this Wednesday. The Redhawks return to the Key Arena to face the Harvard Crimson, coached by former Duke star guard Tommy Amaker.
Harvard is making solid in roads with Amaker on the recruiting trail and on the court and this should be a very interesting game.
Zags Dominate the Battle of Spokane
Gonzaga beat Eastern Washington badly 94-52 as Elias Harris scored 22 points and fellow foreign freshman Mangisto Arop contributed 6 assists to go with his 10 points. Three more Zags scored in double figures in the route as Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray chipped in 11, while lanky Kelly Olynyk also scored 10.
The Zags dominated the Eagles and it couldn’t come at a better time, as the Bulldogs needed to get back in the saddle after its embarrassing loss to Duke in NYC.
Pac-10 Round Up
Cal beat low major Utah Valley convincingly at Haas Pavilion 85-51 Monday in the first round of the Golden Bears Classic. The Bears will face Stanford in Pac-10 play in Haas next Saturday at 4PM (PST), but first must play UC Santa Barbara in the championship game of the event Tuesday. The big three of Patrick Christopher, Jerome Randle and Theo Robertson led the way with 18, 16 and 13 points respectively.
Oregon sent a message that they are starting to thaw out of the deep freeze that losing Porter and Catron has caused for the Ducks. Tonight they beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 73-53 in Eugene OR with Michael Dunigan leading the way with 26 points in 28 minutes. Tajuan Porter made his presence knows off the bench for now with 15 points in 25 minutes, while Malcolm Armstead played 36 minutes scoring 14 points and logging 8 assists.
Things could change for the Ducks fast if Porter and Catron come back strong. Unfortunately Joevan is still a mystery while Tajuan is apparently almost fuller recovered. According to Doug Haller who publishes the Sun Devil blog for azcentral.com in regards to Catron, “There’s no timetable for his return”.
We are hearing he’ll be back, but how effective he will be when he is back remains to be seen. Oregon starts Pac-10 play next against the WSU Cougars in Pullman on New Years Eve at 3:30PM (PST).
UCLA beat low major Delaware State and not in the most convincing fashion on Sunday night in LA 66-49. Reeves Nelson scored a career-high 21 points and has adeptly filled the role of UCLA’s top post player after the departure of Drew Gordon, but again it was inconsistent guard play from Jerime Anderson that slowed the Bruins roll.
Anderson had a decent 1st half, but came out coughing it up and choking on his shots in the 2nd half. He finished with 6 assists, 6 steals and 6 turnovers to go with his 4 points and to call his performance this year mediocre would be charitable at best.
Nikola Dragovic also played mezzo mezzo at best and finished with 11 points on 4-9 shooting with 4 turnovers. Freshman Tyler Honeycutt was a bright spot for the Bruins with 11 points on 5-7 from the field, but the lack of solid guard play was very clear.
Help is on the way for Ben Howland though, as he received a recruiting commit from Lazeric Jones, a top JC point guard prospect. Jones also considered Wisconsin, according to the LA Times David Wharton.
The word on the street though is that Malcolm Lee would like to go to the NBA after this season and with Mike Roll graduating that leaves only Jerime and his 6-6-6 game last night to give an idea as to how bad things could get before they start getting better in Westwood. The Bruins begin Pac-10 play next against ASU on New Years Eve at 1:30PM (PST).
OSU put together a cohesive performance against the Fresno State Bulldogs, beating them last Wednesday 73-65 in Corvallis. Fresno is a team that does not have great depth at guard and the Beavs used their superior depth in the back court to wear down the Bulldogs.
Fresno does have some NBA level talent in the front court however in Paul George and Greg Smith, but OSU was able to slow them down enough to stay in control of the game for the most part. Calvin Haynes was the story as he tied a career high with 25 points to lead Oregon State who face Washington to begin Pac-10 play on New Years Eve at 7PM (PST).
ASU beat USC Upstate last Wednesday 61-52. It was a good tune-up for their Pac-10 opener against UCLA this Thursday afternoon. Ty Abbott scored his season-high of 15 points and Jamelle McMillan also added 15. Center Eric Boateng was in foul trouble, so Taylor Rohde scored a career-high 12 points in 25 minutes.
Coach Herb Sendek has decided to go with experience to execute his grind it out system. After being featured early in the year, freshman guard Trent Lockett only played 8 minutes, while fellow star frosh Victor Rudd did not play. Besides the 8 minutes in which Lockett scored 2 points only upper classmen played, the lone exception being the sophomore Rohde.
The Sun Devils were not too happy as they were tested at times by USC Upstate, but at least Sendek had one more opportunity to teach before having to begin conference play.
‘Zona needed a coast to coast buzzer beater lay in by Nic Wise to edge NC State in Tucson, but the ‘Cats and their go-to guy got it done for the 74-76 win last Wednesday. The ‘Cats were led by Derrick Williams with 24 points, followed by Wise with 18, Jamelle Horne with 12 and Solomon Hill with 11.
It was a quality win for Arizona, who met BYU tonight at McKale before heading to LA to open up Pac-10 play against a rejuvenated USC team. The Cougars are a veteran team and beat this extremely young ‘Zona team like a drum 99-69, as should the Trojans who have won 6 straight and are also manned well by upper classmen. Derrick Williams led the ‘Cats, but on the other end BYU Cougar guard Jimmer Fredette scored a school-record 49 points.
Winning at USC has to be looked at by fickle ‘Cats fans as capturing lightning in a bottle, despite their exciting home win against NCSU.
USC has really turned it around with the addition of PG Mike Gerrity and PF Leonard Washington to the line-up. The Trojans are the toast of the college basketball world having beaten Tennessee, St. Mary’s and UNLV in less than a week.
Though Gerrity is the main reason, as the Trojans now have someone to run the offense, as well as a new top offensive threat, but Washington brings dynamite athleticism and toughness to an already outstanding front line by this year’s Pac-10 standards.
Andy Katz named Gerrity Player of the Week in his column today, while Eamonn Brennan, who seems to have changed teams from Yahoo to ESPN, shares his amazement as to how good the men of Troy appear to be. The Pac-10 also named Gerrity their official Player of the Week today.
This past double digit win over the Running Rebels was perhaps the most impressive, as this time it was Marcus Johnson who led the way with 19 points and 9 boards. Dwight Lewis followed with 14, while Gerrity added 13 while playing all 40 minutes.
What was perhaps most impressive about the play of USC was the defense as the Trojans held all but sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield to single digits. Bellfield scored 17, but UNLV was clearly dominated in this game from the start. This same UNLV team has had many impressive wins this year and it really looks as if USC at least has a team that can compete for an NCAA berth.
USC will host Arizona at 4PM (PST) on New Years Eve to begin Pac-10 play for both teams..
Hardcore Hoops Notes
One new feature that real hoops junkies may find a great breakthrough is XOS technology. If you go to the college basketball scoreboard on ESPN.com and look in the boxes of the individual games you may see the letters XOS in the upper right of that individual box.
If there is one there you can usually go to that school’s official web site and watch the game live on the net. Just thought that I should mention this for those who do not know what XOS means.