Washington Basketball Preview: #12
Overall Rank: #12
Conference Rank: #1 Pacific 10 Conference
2008-09: 26-9, 14-4
2008-09 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Lorenzo Romar (145-81 at Washington, 238-169 overall)
This is a young Washington team, but it may be the most talented in the Pac-10. Coach Lorenzo Romar lost superstar forward Jon Brockman who averaged a double-double last season, but the recruits keep coming in and this group should build on last year’s success. With UCLA expecting to have a somewhat down year, this is the time for Washington to take home its second straight conference title.
Key Losses: F Jon Brockman, G Justin Dentmon
Abdul Gaddy is one of the best recruits in the nation. He has the size, speed and vision to be a great distributor and scorer for the Huskies. The only negative about his game is his outside shooting, but he can still score in bunches and his outside shot will only improve in time. Gaddy is certainly the highlight of this class, but wing C.J. Wilcox and forward Clarence Trent are not bad prospects. The Huskies will also get the services of redshirt freshman Tyreese Breshers who will add some much needed depth under the basket.
Yet, without Brockman, this team will turn its focus to the very talented group on the perimeter. Point guard Isaiah Thomas led the team with 15.5 points and 2.6 assists as a freshman. His turnover numbers were a little high, but with Gaddy by his side, the turnover issues should be a little better this time around. At 5-8, Thomas will be the traditional point guard, but do not be surprised if the 6-3 Gaddy brings the ball up the floor much of the time. But the backcourt has more weapons then Thomas and Gaddy. Venoy Overton is a great defender and Elston Turner could turn into the team’s best three-point shooter and will likely provide a spark off the bench.
Last year Quincy Pondexter played the small forward spot, but he may spend more time at the power forward position this year due to all the talent on the perimeter. Either way, the 6-6 senior will be productive. Last year he averaged 12.1 points and was second on the team in rebounding with 5.9. He may be a little undersized to play the four, but he does not have the outside shooting ability to play the three. That means Coach Romar can move him around based on the competition and circumstance. Darnell Gant will probably start again somewhere. He is not much of a scorer, but Gant is a strong rebounder. He will be pushed by junior Justin Holiday who is a quality defender at either forward spot.
Who to Watch:
The play of Matthew Bryan-Amaning will probably help decide whether or not this team plays big or small. With Pondexter at the small forward spot, the Huskies ranked sixth in the nation in rebounding margin last year. Bryan-Amaning is not going to grab rebounds like Brockman, but he is a capable big man who can score around the basket and hit the glass.
The good news is this team has depth and options. They can play small and play Overton or Turner at the small forward position and move Pondexter to the four when they want to be a quicker team with more scoring options, or they can play big and be nearly as dominating on the glass as they were last season. With those options, Coach Romar will win a lot of games and last year’s freshmen are now experienced sophomores who are ready to become stars in the Pac-10.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Isaiah Thomas, Sophomore, Guard, 15.5 points per game
Abdul Gaddy, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Quincy Pondexter, Senior, Forward, 12.1 points per game
Darnell Gant, Sophomore, Forward, 3.1 points per game
Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Junior, Forward, 6.0 points per game
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