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December 8, 2009

Weekly fast break

SEATTLE - Tuesday's press conference centered around the upcoming game with No. 15-ranked Georgetown.

"Georgetown will be the best team we've played at this point," coach Lorenzo Romar said.

Romar racked his mind but couldn't think of a team similar to the tall, physical Hoyas in the Pac-10 because of one reason.

"Monroe is so versatile because he can put the ball on the court and make plays for himself and others," he said. "Those that can do that are usually difficult covers and you don't usually find that."

So far this season, the 6-11 sophomore has led Georgetown to a 6-0 record by scoring 13.8 points and grabbing 10 boards per game.
While coming in undersized with the Hoyas - losing almost two inches at each starting position - Romar pointed to focusing on finishing when attacking the basket.

"If you are able to break through their first line of defense, their back line will make it difficult to score at the rim."

And the need to play better defense than the previous two games where the Dawgs allowed 99 and 76 points.

"On the offensive end, they've got a great mix of capable scorers," Romar said about the four players averaging in double digits.

Georgetown is the middle of a difficult stretch for the Dawgs, along with Portland and Texas Tech.

"This particular stretch coming up, we do have opponents - you know, Portland was in the top 25, Texas Tech is currently in the top 25 and the team before us right now Georgetown is in the top 25 - I think we'll be challenged as much as we have this year."

TURNING ELSTON INTO A DEFENDER:

Despite a slow start by many of the Huskies' scorers, Romar said that Elston Turner's defense has been the reason why he's seen a couple of starts so far this season.

"He's been aggressive on the offensive end, but at the same time, he's put forth a good effort on the defensive end," he said. "I thought last year he was a decent defender and maybe this year he was a little behind that way, but has he began to catch up, he began to play better defensively."

Not talking specifically about one-on-one defense, Romar meant Turner's grasp of team defense.

"He's such a smart defender and he really understands what we're trying to do."

Turner averaged 13.5 points, connecting on a trio of three-pointers and finding a mid-range game. The 6-4 sophomore is one of a number of new developments in Romar's rotation, which he is hoping to shore up within the next week. But, with so many interchangeable parts, he's finding it difficult to make a decision.

"It's so close, probably from eight to 11 is so close, and if C.J. Wilcox were not red-shirting, he's be right there as well,"

ROMAR AND JOHN WOODEN

Known as one of the more talkative coaches, Romar had to contain himself when speaking about the importance of John Wooden in his life and to basketball.

A Los Angeles native, Romar spoke of his first encounter with the legendary UCLA coach.

"I took a visit here coming out of junior college, to Washington and I was confused a little bit, but I kind of knew what I wanted to do. As I get off the plane and walk toward baggage claim, I saw this little man," he said. "I looked at him and said, I bet he can give me some advice. I caught up with him and he said, 'If you have a chance to play for Marv Harshman, you can't pass that up.'"

After playing at Washington, Romar worked as an assistant at UCLA with Wooden, saying he was one of the greatest men he ever met.

"As remarkable a coach as he was, if you spend enough time with him, you forget about what he did on the court," he said.

Quincy Pondexter, also a California native, also said that he hopes Wooden is healthy enough for a visit this weekend.

"I hope he's there and it'd be even better if he knew my name," he said.

GADDY GETTING IT:

Highly touted freshman Abdul Gaddy is beginning to show the promise that Romar and many have seen in him all along with 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting against Cal State Northridge.

"It's just a matter of time," Romar said. "I think Abdul's struggles were maybe for a good reason."

Romar spoke of Gaddy's perfectionist tenancies getting in the way of just relaxing and letting instincts take over.

"He wants to be so perfect in all areas that he has been really thinking out there. I think now he's not thinking, he's reacting in the right way without thinking because habits have begun to form," he said. "His mind is getting clearer, and the clearer his mind gets, the better he's going to play."

Quincy Pondexter, who took more than a year to adjust to the college game and live up to his enormous potential, talked about how difficult it was to make that adjustment, and sees Gaddy going through the same thing.

"It's hard, when you're in high school, you play with the college guys in the summertime and you might be just as good as them, but you're not used to playing this type of basketball," he said. "Whether it's guys taking charges or guys defending you to your weaknesses - but when it clicks for him, the sky is the limit."

Romar was amazed at how important doing the right thing was for Gaddy.

"I don't want anything given to me. Leave me alone, I'm going to get this right. I want to get this right," Romar illustrated Gaddy's attitude. "Players with his stature nowadays, a lot of time want favors."

ON LOCKER AND THE 96 TEAM EXPANSION IDEA:

It seems like everybody is wondering what UW quarterback Jake Locker's decision for next year will be, even Romar.

"All I want to say to Jake is please stay, man. It is so much fun to watch you play," he said. "That's the only advice I want to give him."

Also, Romar said he wasn't in favor of the NCAA pondering an expansion from 65 teams to 96 in the NCAA tournament.

"I've never been a fan of that," he said. "I didn't like it when they broke up the American and National League either, I guess I'm old-fashioned that way."

He said it was important to change it from 32 to 65 teams, but that's enough.

PONDEXTER IN TIGHTS?

While Quincy Pondexter is enjoying the best season of his career - averaging 20 points and 9.6 rebounds - he might show off his best moves this season in a pair of tights.

As announced last week, the senior forward will take a number Dec. 23 off to play the part of the grandfather at Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker.

"I don't know what to expect," he said with a smile. "I just heard I have to do a quick dance with this little girl. There isn't too much background on that, I just hope it's a ton of fun."

Pondexter, who had one of his best performances in a loss against Texas Tech, scoring 31 points with five rebounds and three steals, will be called upon to carry his share of the load against another difficult opponent in Georgetown on Saturday. The Huskies play three more games between now and his dancing debut, with a game against Texas A&M the night before going on stage.

Other athletes, such as Gary Payton and Vin Baker have dawned the leotard and sprang to life during the party scene in Act I.

"I'm just Quincy Pondexter from Fresno, California, so it was a big shock to me to be asked," he said.
Although it is an honor, it doesn't come without consequences.

"Our trainers have made a couple of jokes about it - they've photoshopped a couple of photos of me in a tutu, but it's not going to be that sort ballet, it's going to be more masculine," he said.

Pondexter said he hasn't seen the Nutcracker before, but has started watching it on YouTube.com for the past week.


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