Welcome to Romarville. Where, going into the 2009-10 season, the Washington Husky basketball program is flying high.
At least, so it seems. And why shouldn’t the Huskies have confidence? They’re the defending Pac-10 champions, and even though a lot of the experts think Cal has a legitimate shot at their title, not very many people are expecting a let down.
Despite losing Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon, the Dawgs bring back just as much talent, and bring in just as much talent. Which leads to expectations that are just as good.
Of course, Lorenzo Romar and the huskies have been in this situation before. Coming off of their second consecutive Sweet 16 performance, the Huskies were featured on Sports Illustrated as a Sweet 16 contender, and climbed into the top ten in the polls in 2006-07, before crashing and burning, not even to be selected by the NIT. Even more mediocrity followed, as the Huskies finished below .500 the following season.
The cause was the disappointing freshman class of 2006, where Quincy Pondexter was the only remaining member midway through his Sophomore year.
Ironically, Quincy Pondexter is now the reason that the Huskies will have to ability to put a halt to the rollercoaster that has been Husky basketball in the last ten years, and possibly create a Pac-10 dynasty.
To do so, is much easier said than done.
The Huskies still have a couple questions that need to be answered before we can book our tickets for the Sweet 16.
Should the loss of Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon be overlooked?
Washington lost nearly 30 points to the graduation of their senior leaders, and nearly 12 rebounds a game from Jon Brockman alone which led to Washington being the most dominant rebounding team in the Pac-10.
The scoring is hoped to be replaced in the back court, where with the arrival of Abdul Gaddy, Isaiah Thomas will be moved more into an off guard position, like Dentmon last season, which should lead to increased scoring opportunities, and more numbers.
Perimeter shooting could be an issue as well where Dentmon was the huskies only consistent threat. Either Isaiah Thomas needs to improve in this area or Romar will have to rely on bench contributors such as Elston Turner.
In the paint, the Huskies are hugely depending on the emerging and maturation of Mathew Bryan Amaning. The 6-9 240 pound Brit has shown tons of potential his first two years, where dawg fans hope that his Junior year is much more like the 23 point 12 board performance he had against Portland State without Jon Brockman taking the load off of him.
Compared to most of the conference slate where Amaning wasn’t the factor inside the Huskies had hoped for.
It's not a gimme that the Huskies will not miss these two.
Is Quincy Pondexter going to be ‘The’ guy
When the Washington Huskies needed a basket Jon Brockman willed the ball into the basket. When the Huskies needed to turn the tide, or stop the bleeding, Jon Brockman would not be denied on the boards. When the Huskies needed a leader, Jon Brockman would make his voice heard.
Jon Brockman is now in the NBA, and Lorenzo Romar has made it abundantly clear that this is Quincy Pondexter’s team.
A surprising notion three years ago when Quincy Pondexter was a hot head freshman from Fresno who thought he was one and done material.
Pondexter has the tools. The ability to handle the ball around the perimeter, a shot that gets more consistent each year, and a growing ability to score inside the paint. Last season proved that Pondexter was an improving player.
In all but four Conference games, Pondexter scored in double digits, four times eclipsing the 20 point mark, while the rebounding numbers need to improve heading into this year, six boards a game playing the three spot in Romar’s system isn’t anything to scoff at.
The biggest concern is, when the going gets tough, will Pondexter get the Huskies going tough?
How will the rotation shape out?
With the starting lineup set, Husky fans are dying to know how the rotation will shape out, which Romar has already stated that due to the depth of the team, the Huskies are going with an eight or nine man rotation.
So here’s how I believe it will shake up to be
PG – Venoy Overton
SG - Isaiah Thomas
SF - Quincy Pondexter
PF – Darnell Gant
C – Mathew Bryan-Amaning
First off the bench: PG Abdul Gaddy, F/C Tyreese Breshers,
Second line of reserves: F Justin Holliday, G Elston Turner, F Clarence Trent
To put it lightly, I do not envy the job that Lorenzo Romar has of finding minutes for all of these kids. And there are a plethora of combinations that Romar could use, that we’ll find out what he has in the bag for us this first weekend. And let’s not forget, that it could change up depending on how guys play, and how guys practice as well.
The starting lineup is not a projection, but what Romar has already stated he’s settled for.
Abdul Gaddy coming off the bench is a no brainer. The five star point guard has already been likened to Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy by his coach, but I’m hoping he’s more like Will Conroy in the way he’ll be able to distribute the ball and be able to score when he needs to. His passing and ball handling skills are easily the best on the team.
Tyrese Breshers, the redshirt freshman 6-7 big man, should be the first man that Romar calls off the bench to spell either Gant or Amaning. Romar loves his physicality and his ability to be able to bang inside. He doesn’t necessarily have the height, but like Brockman before him, plays bigger than he is.
Defensively is what he’ll also be able to provide given the dawgs more shot blocking to go along with Amaning. However, coming off a knee injury suffered prior to his freshman year that forced him to redshirt, Breshers won’t be 100 percent until January at the earliest.
This could open up the door a little bit for Clarence Trent and Justin Holiday, both of whom are tweeners between the three and four spots on the court.
Elston Turner would be the second guard off the bench for the obvious reason of his shooting ability. He’s a more athletic Ryan Appleby with the ability to put the ball on the floor and even play inside a little bit.
Left off are sophomore Scott Suggs and Freshman CJ Wilcox. Wilcox will redshirt, and Suggs, is just a victim of too much depth, who should probably just redshirt as well since he didn’t, playing sparingly, last season.
The combinations Romar could use are endless with a rotation of up to ten players. I wouldn’t anticipate any more than nine playing in one night though.
There could be a lot of small line-ups, such as Gaddy, Overton and Thomas all being on the court at the same time. Pondexter playing the four, with even Holiday or Trent at the five. Or Elston Turner coming in to play the three and Pondexter moving inside to the four spot.
As eluded to earlier, I do not envy Romar’s task to divvying out minutes. But, that’s not a bad problem to have.