January 15, 2009

Hoops preview: Washington

Bad news for the Ducks. They face the Huskies next and that very talented team is coming off a tough loss to the Cal Bears on Saturday. So there's no way Washington's going to come out flat. A year after struggling to replace a center drafted in the first round by the NBA and the NBA's rookie of the year in Brandon Roy, Coach Lorenzo Romar has the Huskies winning consistently again. This time they're doing it by out rebounding, out hustling and out scrapping most of the teams they play. All that hard work is reflected in the team pulling down 11 more rebounds per game than its opponents.

So let's play this forward. Oregon had better make its shots because they're probably not going to win the rebounding battle. And while Oregon made a point to get the ball into the paint in the first half on Saturday, Ducks still continue to take suspect shots with a lot of time on the clock. If that doesn't change, I wouldn't expect the results to. As Oregon's shots ricochet off rims like pinballs in an arcade, Oregon's young players have often decided they can shoot their way to victory, even on courts they've never played on, against teams with superior talent, and despite all the factual evidence that an 0-4 conference record apparently doesn't provide.

Like ASU who suited up guard James Harden last Saturday, Washington's led by a guy who's capable of taking over the game all by himself, albeit in a completely different way. He's senior John Brockman who could be in the NBA right now sitting at the end of someone's bench. Instead, the 6' 9", 260lb. brute is back to wreak havoc in the Pac 10.

Brockman's tossing in over 16 a game, dragging down over 10 rebounds and creating havoc on the glass with nearly every possession. And he's got teammates who get a lot of other things done. Freshman Isaiah Thomas, seniors Josh Dentmon and Quincy Pondexter are all scoring about 10 points a game or more, and the Huskies are grabbing, get this, 15 offensive rebounds a game.

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