It’s Finally That Time Of The Year

I’ve been waiting for this. Since last years loss to West Virginia, I’ve been waiting. Since the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named committed, I have waited, and since he decommitted,  I have angrily waited. Tony Wroten’s announcement quelled that anger. And now the season is finally starting.

In a little over 48 hours, Washington kicks off it’s season with an exhibition game against Saint Mary’s, and I can’t contain myself.

For the last five years or so, the Washington Men’s Basketball program has been the lone bright spot for me, in a Seattle sports scene that is struggling to say the least.

The Mariners haven’t been worth a damn since 2001, neither has the Husky Football team. Our NBA basketball team was robbed from us by the f*ckin devil himself. The Seahawks gave me some great moments in the mid 2000’s, but I just didn’t seem to form a connection with the Matt Hasselbeck’s, Darrel Jackson’s, and Marcus Trufant’s of the world like I did the Brandon Roy’s, Will Conroy’s, Bobby Jones’, Nate Robinson’s, and Jon Brockman’s.

Something about Husky Basketball just gets me. It used to be Husky Football that really got me going, understandably the last decade has made me gravitate more to Husky Hoops. It’s Hec Ed, it’s the Dawg Pack, it’s the roster loaded with local talent, it’s coach Romar, it’s everything about the program that gets me.

It was the 2003-2004 Husky team that really got me hooked, and then the next year, we all remember, was the magical #1 seed year.

I’m not going to say this team could be a #1 seed, that might be a tad far fetched, but this years team has a chance to be special. The similarities between them and the 04-05 team are scary. Check out Percy Allen’s blog on the Seattle Times, he compares the entire roster from both teams, it’s pretty astonishing.

That Huskies team of 04-05 went to the Great Alaska Shootout and beat 3 top-25 caliber teams to put them on the map. This years Huskies goes down to the Maui Invitational and has the chance to do the same thing.

We’re going to know, early on, what kind of team this is, and I can’t wait. Go Dawgs!

Video of the Week – 11/1

This week marks the beginning of the Husky Basketball season. They open with an exhibition game against Saint Martins, Saturday at 5pm. To get us ready for the season I present to you the Husky Hoops version of One Shining Moment. Enjoy!

2010-2011 Husky Hoops Preview

With the first official practice of the season tipping off at 5pm today at Hec Ed, it’s time to start talking Husky Hoops. Last year the Dawgs closed out the season with a bang, finishing with a 14-3 record over their final 17 games, winning the PAc-10 Tournament, and advancing to the Sweet 16 as an 11 seed, where they were ousted by a Final 4 team in West Virginia.

Key Losses

F – Quincy Pondexter (19.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg)

The leading scorer and rebounder on last years team is now with the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets. Last year Q-Pon reigned supreme in Montlake. He was a go-to-guy in the half court offense and cleaned the offensive glass time after time. The rest of the team needs to pick up the slack and improve their half court scoring ability.

G – Elston Turner (5.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg)

Three point specialist, he was one of the keys to the late season run the Dawgs put on. In six games during the PAc-10 and NCAA tournaments, he hit double digit scoring figures three times and shot 50% from deep.

F – Tyreese Breshers (3.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg)

Baby Barkley as I like to call him, provided the husky with a shot blocking presence down low and a wide body that wasn’t afraid to lay the lumber, racking up one personal foul for every 4 minutes of court time. Sadly, a medical condition has forced him into retirement. He is still part of the team but will not play again in a Husky uniform.

F – Clarence Trent (1.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg)

Played sparingly last season, but when he did he made you remember. Well, I guess I only remember two instances, the dunk against SU as time was running out and we had a 60 point lead (I wonder what his new teammates will have to say about that), and the baseline, 180 windmill as time expired against Portland. Our good friend Cameron Dollar brought Trent over to Seattle U for this upcoming season. When he first announced he was transferring, I don’t think any of us minded because it was clearing the way for you-know-who (a topic we’re sure to touch on some other time), but now I wouldn’t mind having another big on the squad.

Key Additions

G – Terrence Ross (6’6″, 180; Jefferson High, Portland, OR)

Talented, athletic guard out of Portland, who didn’t play high school basketball last year. He played at Jefferson High School in Portland as a Freshman and Sophomore before transferring to Montrose Christian in Maryland his Junior year, only to transfer back to Jefferson last February. Once he returned to Jefferson he didn’t receive clearance to play for the team, meaning his last game action was at Montrose Christian. He was named Oregon’s 5A State Player of the Year as a Sophomore. Ross is an excellent athlete and complements it with an excellent outside shot. He has received lavish praise from UW players in the last few weeks. Matthew Bryan-Amaning called him the best offensive rebounder on the team. When Isaiah Thomas was asked about him he gave a synopsis of just two words, “NBA player”.

C – Aziz N’Diaye (7’o, 260; Dakar, Senegal)

First off, how good does that look…7’0″, 260, Center. Hallelujah, When is the last time UW had a legitimate Center? Ok, Spencer Hawes, but before that? I can’t think of one. Anyways, Aziz spent his last two years at the College of Southern Idaho.  He redshirted last year due to a knee injury, giving him three more years of eligibility. One of Aziz’s strengths coaches have pointed out, is his ability to run the floor, even going as far to say it’s not a surprise to see him beat guards down the court. He ran the mile in 5:20 while wearing a protective mask which made it harder to breathe. In case you don’t know if that is a good mile time, for a 7 foot, 260 pound man, that is unbelievable. His game could be described as raw. He has natural ability that needs to be polished. Look for him to make much more of an impact on the defensive end than the offensive this year.

F – Desmond Simmons (6’7″, 215; Salesian High, Vallejo, CA)

With the Simmons, Romar has added a winner. He left Salesian High School as their all-time leader in wins by a student-athlete. He is a long, athletic forward that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Players and coaches alike have admired his hustle and nose for the ball since he arrived to Montlake this summer. They’ve said he’s the first one to dive to the ground for a loose ball and just makes the little plays that don’t show up in the stat sheet, but are crucial in winning games. Romar has used the comparison of Bobby Jones with Simmons on occasion, and many of the current players have said his game has similarities to Justin Holiday.

G – Antoine Hosley (6’0″, 180; Jefferson High, Portland, OR)

Hosley is a walk-on new to the team this year. A teammate and friend of Ross’ at Jefferson High, Hosley was originally announced he would be playing basketball at a school in San Bernardino. A few weeks later he informed Ross he’d changed his mind and would be joining him at UW. Hosley is a scrappy point-guard, with a great motor. He doesn’t back down from a challenge and should be a great guy to have in practice.

The Returnees

G – Isaiah Thomas, Jr.  (16.9 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.9 rpg) 2010 1st Team All PAC-10

So many times I have flip-flopped on my opinion of Isaiah Thomas. Much of last year, I would argue with my friends that the Huskies would be a better team without Isaiah. That’s right I said it, and I don’t know that I have ever backed down from that statement… until today. Isaiah changed at the end of last season, he became a playmaker instead of a scorer. The PAC-10 tournament was a display of brilliance on his part, so much so that from the stands in the Staples Center I found myself returning the “salute” every chance I got. I might hate when he takes a certain shot, or misses an open player, but god damn do I love Isaiah Thomas. IT’s his team this year, lets see where he can take IT.

G – Abdul Gaddy, So. (3.9 ppg, 2.3 apg)

Abdul Gaddy is a great basketball player. He had a stinker of a year last year and we all know it, we don’t need to dwell on it. He was behind two veteran guards (yes he started but you all know what I mean) and so mistakes weren’t forgiven easily because there was that experience behind him. Also understand he is as pure a point-guard as they come, meaning he is best when he has the ball and he runs the offense. With UW’s offensive scheme being thrust upon a 17 year old, there was a huge learning curve and Abdul needed to change his game to fit that. He needed to learn how to play off the ball at times. Lets see what he’s learned and hope he makes big strides in year 2.

G – Venoy Overton, Sr. (8.5 ppg, 3.1 apg, 1.4 stl) 2010 1st Team All PAC-10 Defense

I can imagine few things in life that would be more annoying than being given a basketball, and challenged to dribble from baseline to baseline against Venoy Overton. I wouldn’t want to. He’s ruthless, he’ll harass you, your daddy, and your grandma, rob you blind, and talk shit as he’s doing it.  It’s Mr. Venoy Overton’s Annoying Pest-orium, or how about just Annoyverton. Ehhh, we’ll work on that. With him it is go go go until you can’t go no mo. He scares me half to death sometimes, every time he is pushing the ball up court I find myself thinking “no, no, no, slow down…” and then”YES!!” he makes something out of nothing. I would like to see a little more control out of his game this year, same intensity, but smarter.

G – Scott Suggs, Jr. (4.7 ppg, 1.2 rpg)

Scott Suggs aka Scottro, former winner of Missouri’s title of Mr. Basketball, emerged last year as a 3-point threat. It was a welcomed surprise. I don’t think many of us knew what to expect out of Suggs last year, but I think he provided us with more than we could have asked for. This year he will need to take another step forward, at a position that all of the sudden seems crowded with the arrival of Terrence Ross and the unveiling of C.J. Wilcox. Suggs has said he spent a lot of time in the off-season working on his mid-range game and attacking the basket. I’d say he is one of the candidates for the last starting spot, along with Aziz and Darnell Gant.

G – C.J. Wilcox, Fr.

Does anyone else have the sneaking suspicion that C.J. Wilcox is some kind of mythical figure. Oh, you mean you never heard of C.J. Wilcox, the Greek God of the three point shot. He took the throne from Ray Allen after he made 2,445 consecutive. Many have challenged the throne since, and with a quick flick of the wrist, one by one, Wilcox disposed of them. In my head, that’s how good of a shooter I have made C.J. Wilcox out to be. All that comes out of Husky camp is that he is the best shooter anyone has ever played with, played against, seen, heard of. Still, he hasn’t played a game yet, and the anticipation is killing us all.

F – Justin Holiday, Sr. (5.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg) 2010 1st Team All PAC-10 Defense

It’s been happening to the Huskies the last couple years, a Senior steps up their game to unprecedented new levels. Two years ago it was Justin Dentmon, last year it was Quincy Pondexter, and this year it WILL be Justin Holiday. In case you missed that, Justin Holiday WILL be off the hook this year.  My guy J-Hola makes everyday a Holiday. Somehow, some way he will make plays to help you win the game. Holiday’s stats will look something like this. 10.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.5 stl, 1.0 blk. If there was fantasy PAC-10 basketball league he’d be Shawn Marion of the mid 2000’s. This year’s team slogan “Everyday’s a Holiday”.

F – Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Sr. (8.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.5 blk)

There are two of them. There are some similarities between the two. They both have a beautiful array of post moves, the drop step, spin move, up and under. It’s all there, catch the ball in the post, analyze the position the defender’s in, and effectively execute one of those beautiful post moves, to find  a clear lane to the basket. Now let’s see what distinguishes one from the other. First there is Matthew Bryan-Amaning. After he makes his move and finds himself at the hoop he throws up some kind of quick flick, herky-jerky layup with crazy spin on it. Some go in and some dance around the rim and fall out, and you think to yourself, Why? The dude is 6’9″ and has a chest similar to that of Superman, show us what you got son. And then there is MBA. This is the player who, after he makes his move and has an open lane to the rim, takes advantage. He takes off so quick, so fast, so powerfully, defenders cant comprehend what is happening. We want to see MBA all the time. When he gets it at the rim like that, bang out, give ’em a nut job straight to the face, look down at ’em and in that British accent ask ’em how they taste. That’s what we saw at the end of last year and that’s what we will see this year.

F – Darnell Gant, Jr. (2.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg)

Darnell Gant is a stand up guy. He is funny, easy to coach, hardworking, and a great teammate. He will do whatever it takes to help the team win, whether that is starting every game, or being an emotional leader, playing a few minutes here and there, off the bench. Darnell worked as hard as anyone on his game this summer, and initial reports are good. Many players and coaches have said he is the most improved player coming into the season. Specifically the range on his jump-shot, saying he is comfortable knocking down threes. Mike Jensen anyone? I’m not so worried about his shooting ability, as his ability to rebound and defend in the post. We need him down there at a position that is thin, and with foul trouble during games, could get even thinner.

F- Brendan Sherrer, Jr. (Career record of 10-0 in games which he appears)

The University of Washington’s very own human victory cigar. Check out that stat up there, that’s right Brendan Sherrer has never lost a game in which he has played as a Washington Husky. And we all know how big of a crowd favorite he is. Could we possibly be witnessing the birth of the brightest star on Montlake since, dare I say, Zane Potter. You’re right, too soon. One thing I’m sure we can all agree on, let’s hope we see a lot of Brendan Sherrer this year.

Season Outlook

The Huskies are looking to win the PAC-10 regular season title for the second time in three years, and I think it is fair to say, they are the early favorites in what many see as rebuilding, unpredictable PAC-10.

The key to the season is this next month before the season even begins. Too many times have we seen Lorenzo Romar fiddle with lineups and rotations months into the season, only to figure it out in mid-winter and make a run late.

  • 2006: Started PAC-10 play 5-5, proceeded to go on and win our last 8 conference games.
  • 2007: Started PAC-10 play 1-6, by then, it was too late to even make a late run.
  • 2009: Lost to Portland, Kansas, and Florida in the first two weeks of the season.
  • 2010: We all remember last year. Romar found a lineup that worked in mid-February and it was all gravy from there.

Romar has realized this and has made it his top priority to find a lineup and rotation he likes, and stick to it. He can’t continue playing everyone that is under scholarship, you can’t be successful rotating that many players. Realistically I think we can expect 9-10 guys to be in a regular rotation. Who will that rotation be? Who knows, but hopefully that can be determined in the next month, and not a month into the season.

The great thing about this team is how diverse it can be. If we need to go big we can have Aziz, MBA, and Holiday on the floor at the same time. When we want to go small, Holiday can play the 4, leaving Suggs, Ross, or Wilcox to play the third guard. This team is going to run circles around people. Other teams are going to dread playing us. If we can make a statement early in Maui, we could be in for one hell of a ride.

So now onto the prediction…

I think this team can be good, very good. And they have the potential to be great. To me it depends on the maturation of Abdul Gaddy and his ability to use his supreme vision and passing ability in the half court. We will have no troubles scoring, but when our break slows down and we really need a basket, can we get a good shot? I think so, and there is no reason that you shouldn’t see the Huskies back in the Sweet 16 in 2011.

Record: 21-7 (13-5) 1st Place in the PAC-10

Distraught over the unveiling of the new Harry the Husky

Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 7 pm Pacific Standard Time, an important member of the University of Washington community, the symbol of Washington athletics, 2003 Capital One National Mascot of the Year finalist, ceased to exist. The Harry the Husky we all knew and loved is no more. And this impostor you see to the left has invaded the Seattle mascot scene.

The most upsetting part of this for me was, somehow I missed the memo this was happening. I logged onto Facebook and my roommate, a Duck fan at that, had posted this atrocious photograph on my wall. I gave it a quick glance and passed it off as some photo-shopped snafu from one of our hated rivals to the south. I was beside myself when he proceeded to post the link to the UW press release announcing the change. How could I have missed this, I like to think I follow Husky athletics as close as anyone, and somehow I was out of the loop. I guess the jokes on me, and for your information, I am not taking it too well.

In all seriousness  though, I adamantly dislike this version of  Harry. I usually tend to gravitate towards the mascots that have a cartoony, Disneyland-like look to them. Yes I just made a “Disneyland-like” reference, pretty gay I know, just shows how thrown off I am by this whole thing. The goofier looking the better, I don’t want my mascot to have a human feel to it. The University wants to make a transition to a more current, hip, young image and I get that, but I don’t need to like it.

But enough of my thoughts. What do you guys think of this new Harry the Husky? Faggy Imposter or a kick-ass replacement that was overdue? Let me hear it.