After a disappointing season last year, Lorenzo Romar has his troops ready for a new season. The UW basketball team is hungry for an NCAA tournament berth.
They finally have the right personnel in place including a perennial All-American candidate, Jon Brockman and a star freshman in Isaiah Thomas. Here are five games that Brockman and his teammates will have to win to make March Madness a reality:
November 24th against the Kansas Jayhawks (CBE Classic): This will be the first true test for this Husky team. The defending champs lose just about every player that played significant minutes last year.
However, the talent that is filling in provides little drop off. The Jayhawks match up surprisingly well with the Huskies. One battle that will be fun to watch will be between Brockman, who weighs 255-pounds and Quintrill Thomas, who weighs 240-pounds. This game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.
The Huskies need a win here to insure a high seed when March rolls around.
December 4thagainst the Oklahoma State Cowboys HOME: Besides the Kansas game, Oklahoma State is the only other significant non-conference foe the Huskies will face. This game will be extremely entertaining because of the anticipated high-pace styles employed by both teams.
A new head coach for the Cowboys, Travis Ford, has promised to push the ball more and play more pressure defense. This game also promises to be a big game for Brockman, who will be going against a forward-less Cowboy team who will probably only start one forward, opting for a four-guard lineup.
If the Huskies can beat Oklahoma State, then it will prove that the Huskies' athleticism is the real deal.
January 3rd at Washington State Cougars: It’s not so much that the Cougars will be a tough team, but it’s more because the Huskies haven’t beaten the Cougars since 2005. The Cougars have won the last seven meetings between the two teams.
However, this time around the Huskies will be the favorites, with the Cougars returning only two starters from last season.
The winner of this game will be determined by which team is able to impose its’ style on the other team. I have a feeling that the Huskies’ athleticism and up-tempo style will win over the solid defensive prowess of the Cougars.
With this game being the first Pac-10 game, it will be vital for the Huskies to start off on the right foot to kick off a tough conference schedule.
January 31st at Arizona State Sun Devils: This season, the Sun Devils are expected to be the second best team in the Pac-10 to UCLA. The Sun Devils will return one of the top players in the conference, James Harden, who will be competing with Brockman for conference player of the year honors. Along with Harden, Jeff Pendegraph, a senior forward will provide concerns for the Husky defense.
This will be a tough game for the Huskies to pull out, but if they win here, they’re destined for big things come March.
February 19th at UCLA Bruins: Easily the top team in the conference, this game will be the second of the series between the Huskies and the Bruins. Of course both games are crucial, but the road game is even more important as the Dawgs have struggled to win against ranked foes on the road. Alfred Aboya and James Keefe are the only experienced returning players from last year's UCLA team.
However Jrue Holiday, a freshman, will be the player to watch. Jrue is the brother of current Husky player, Justin Holiday. Will Romar use Justin to guard his little brother? If so, Jrue will have to beat the Huskies who will not only be attacking him out on the court, but also be waging a mental war at the same time in little Jrue’s head.