Washington Huskies Basketball Finds Themselves in a Once Familiar Spot

Will MossContributor IJanuary 28, 2009

The rebuilding of Arizona after losing a legend of a coach in Lute Olson, James Harden taking the stage as scoring king, what could Mike Montgomery do in Cal, could the Beavers possibly be as bad as last year, fall of Stanford, fab freshman in UCLA, and Demar DeRozan a.k.a. the new OJ Mayo in USC.

The Pac 10 was filled with headlines entering the 2009 season, so it is understanding that you miss little things like let's say Isaiah Thomas. Not the Isiah Thomas, but it is understanding if you get the two confused just watching them play.

I doubt even Washington knew what they were getting, considering he was behind three other freshman entering the season due to academic reasons. They did not even know he was going to be allowed to play for a while.

But he did not care, he studied up and nailed his ACT, it was all only more motivation for the underdog. Standing at only 5-foot-8 he is always battling people underestimating him. That goes double for the Huskies team, which went 16-16 last season and losing in the first round of the CBI.

In the start of this season it looked like they were doomed to repeat, starting 2-3 but playing a good game versus No. 18 Florida.

Combining their athleticism with a stingy defense is leading the Pac 10 with a 6-1 conference record. Their only loss came in triple overtime, in which Washington led for all but one of the game's 55 minutes to a good Cal team.

You have to give credit to the Huskies leading scorer and distributor; Isaiah is averaging 16 points and dishing out almost three assists per game, but you can not forget about the leading rebounder.

Jon Brackman is averaging just under 11 rebounds per game, including out rebounding the mighty Kansas forward Cole Aldrich 19 rebounds to Cole’s nine. He helped beat both USC and UCLA with a combined 21 rebounds in the two games.

            Quickness is also a major key with Venoy Overton, Justin Dentmon, and Isaiah Thomas leading the way. Together they held Jrue Holliday to 8 points and Darren Collison to 12 on a combined 34 percent shooting from the field and 1 for 8 behind the arc. Not only can they defend but they can score, oh can they score. Averaging 44 percent of the teams 78 points they are the main reason for the Huskies offensive success. 

            "Being ranked among the Top 25 is certainly a compliment to where our program is right now," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. "It is really unfortunate that a Top 25 ranking in mid-January doesn't guarantee us a place in the NCAA Tournament in March.  "Of course, where we finish is more important to our program than where we stand right now. But overall, the recognition is a positive thing."

            After slowly dropping since their sweet sixteen appearance in 2005 Romar, who played basketball for the University of Washington from 1978 to 1980, is ready to get his team back up. They were in the Top 25 after being out for the last two years. He has them playing good basketball doing really good staying in games and finishing them off. During their 7 conference games Washington has outscored opponents 47-31 in the last two minutes of the games. Not only that but during their latest 13-wins-out-of-14-games-streak they have outscored opponents by 114 points during the second half.

They step up to the free throw line poised and confident, just like coach taught them. They have been taught to win and now that they have the taste of it they want nothing more.

"I wouldn't say we're back. It's a new beginning," the Huskies' surging senior guard Justin Dentmon said. "We are starting a new legacy."

"(It's) fun, but it comes with a lot of responsibility as well," Brockman said of being ranked again. "That puts a lot of responsibility on us. But it's better than the alternative."

With new confidence along with the talent from some good recruiting classes, it all looks like the Huskies will be dancing come tourney for the first time since 2006. Can someone say sleeper team?