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Washington Huskies: First Look

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I know there are number of folks who are already looking ahead to the top-5 matchup against Washington State on Saturday. We will not have any of that here. It will be foolish for Ben Ball warriors to look ahead to Saturday's game because if they are not focused and ready, they will get burned against a very talented Washington Huskies team coached of course by former Bruin assistant Lorenzo Romar.

Huskies are coming off a tough home loss against the Cougars. The game was close and the difference per John at Washington Husky Sports:

Tough loss for Washington tonight in a game they led most of the night. In the end the Cougars veteran presence led to win which went down to the last minute of the game. The difference was simply foul shots, and clutch shooting and defense during the last two minutes of the game. This is going to be one of those games the Huskies will look back at during the season and know that they gave it away.
More from Nathan Ware of Seattlepi.com:
There are no moral victories but Saturday night's loss to WSU in hoops proved to me that the UW squad is making progress. A month ago, this team would have lost that game by a much wider margin. I was impressed with our defense and the efficiency of our offense for most of the game.

Of course, they missed too many free throws and had crucial breakdowns on offense and defense at the worst possible times but - if you read between the lines - the improvement is there to see. Compare Saturday's performance to the way the team played against Oklahoma State or Long Beach State earlier in the season and you'll understand what I'm referring to.

Coach Romar doesn't have a true point guard in his starting lineup right now. However, Venoy Overton played some valuable minutes in the first half when the Huskies put a nice run on the Cougars. Romar went with Justin Dentmon for most of the second half and he had four crucial turnovers.

Now, the Huskies go out on the road and play the LA schools. It's too early to call these "must-win-games" but it would be dire to come out of this series with an 0-3 conference record.

The biggest question in my mind right now is: was Tim Morris's stellar performance against the Cougs an anomaly or a breakthrough game that will lead to big things?
Tim Morris is a senior guard who transferred from Stanford. Nathan was referring to his season high 16 points against the Cougs. Other roster notes from Sportsline.com:
Junior power forward Jon Brockman continues to be a beast for the Huskies, but Washington State made life difficult, nonetheless. Brockman had 14 points and 17 rebounds against the Cougars for his ninth double-double of the season. But he shot just 6 for 18 from the field, often defended by 6-10, 270-pound Aron Baynes. [...]

--Senior sharpshooter Ryan Appleby, who averaged 19 points in his first three games after returning from a broken thumb, has scored at a 6.8 points-per-game clip in four games since then. He shot 2 for 8 and scored six points vs. the defense of WSU's lengthy Kyle Weaver.
Also from the same link here their rotation:
PLAYER ROTATION
Usual Starters -- F Jon Brockman, C Artem Wallace, G Joel Smith, G Tim Morris, G Ryan Appleby. Key Subs -- F Quincy Pondexter; G Justin Dentmon, G Venoy Overton.
On paper our front court of Love, Luc, AA2 and Mata-Real should overwhelm and exhaust Brockman and Wallace. However, as mentioned already we can't take these guys lightly and look ahead. The front court of Brockman-Wallace have been holding steady around the boards as the Huskies lead the league in offensive rebounds averaging 15.21 boards a game. Specifically Brockman has been an absolute beast as he is top-5 in the conference in both scoring and rebounding (18.4/11.4). [See Pac-10 stats] So Love and co will have their work cut out for them. And we can imagine Love is going to be a little fired up going up against another elite big man following his last two games the monster front courts of Stanford and Cal.

Also on paper we should have the edge with DC, RW, and JS in the back court. But those three cannot get stagnant with their defense because the Huskies are explosive enough to blow us up. The Huskies are coming into this game as the third highest scoring offense (76.3 pts) in the Pac-10 (behind Oregon and Cal). [See Pac-10 stats]. They are also leading the conference in 3 pt FG percentages (.408). Appleby is shooting 51.1% from behind the arc. Morris who as referenced above had a good game against the Cougars is shooting 47.4% from the three point line. [See Pac-10 stats] It will be up to our guards to lock these guys up to make sure Appleby and co don't get any open looks and put the kind of on ball pressure we saw from our back court D in the Bay Area.

We will have more on the Huskies later. But once again I will reiterate it will be foolish to look past these guys. Last time our team took those guys lightly, they got burned in Seattle. I am sure Coach Howland will be reminding our boys of those memories and hopefully get them focused and ready for Thursday night.

By the way does anyone thing Coach Neuheisel will be formally introduced to the UCLA fans at Pauley on Thursday night? I have a feeling we may see that. So if you are heading over to this game, make sure you have your cameras ready to go.

GO BRUINS.