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November 14, 2006

Washington pounds resilient Nicholls State

Lorenzo Romar and his pack of young Dawgs delivered a solid answer to a tight zone and bombed the Nicholls State Colonels 102-74, while setting a school record with 17 three point shots on 33 attempts. Leading the way with 5 threes and a team leading 17 points was Brandon Burmeister, the lone walk-on on this squad that has literally no one, who will only be asked to play during garbage time.

From the outset the Huskies were literally dared to shoot from outside by Nicholls State and Justin Dentmon was the first to respond to the challenge. With 4-5 from three and second in the scoring column with 16, Dentmon also once again showed that he is ready to do whatever it takes to win, whether it is beating the press or hitting the open three, forced by a tight zone.

In the two games of this round robin tournament Dentmon has made 7-12 from three point land. "They played off everybody and said shoot. First of all, I feel like man, they were disrespecting us by playing back in a zone. We worked on their zone and we just prepared for it. We feel confidence enough to knock down our threes."

Quincy Pondexter had another dynamic performance and followed with 14 on 6-9 from the field. It was Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes who stole the show last night against Pepperdine, but this time, UW opted to not give too much away, just going with what it was given and taking the open three looks that they were handed by the Colonels.

After about two thirds of the record breaking barrage of treys had already been counted, Nicholls State tried to extend the zone and that's when Brockman took his cue. He found the range on a couple of mid-range shots and was also successful in catching the ball inside and either scoring or drawing the foul and ended up with 12, after not scoring at all in the first half, which was a 56-22 blowout. Jon also led all rebounders with 10.

Spencer gave up the ball while being tripled on his first touch and was basically bottled in throughout his 16 minutes, but there was no reason for him to force the issue, with everything going down so nice from the perimeter. It was probably a nice game for him to build on as he continued to get into a groove with his conditioning and feel for the system with 4 points.

The refreshing thing about this young team is that there are relatively no concerns about scoring averages and starting spots. Wins and getting the acknowledgement of the coaches are the only thing that seems to motivate these Dawgs.

Ryan Appleby and Phillip Nelson both got off the ground with their offensive contributions with 11 and 10 respectively, to round out the double figures scorers. Appleby continues to play good solid defense and make smart, heady plays at key points to enhance his value to the team.

Phil seems to be gaining confidence and with his size and excellent shooting stroke, a confident Nelson is a dangerous thing to opposing teams. If Phil can be counted on to hit that 25 foot shot, that literally no one can block at his height, there's no telling how much help that can give this Washington team's ability to bust down a zone and open things up for Spencer and Jon.

In the 2nd half, Nicholls State took advantage of a Husky team that was taking it easy and ran off numerous run away buckets and easy alley-oop specials. Were it not for the awesome display of the reserves on the offensive end, most notably Burmeister raining down threes, it could have been awkwardly embarrassing.

It irked Romar, though he seemed overall to be pleased with the effort. "I think that the good news is that when we are focused and concentrating we give ourselves a chance to be successful. The bad news is that we haven't learned to concentrate for two halves at this point in the season. It is something that we have to build on and work on."

Burmeister wasn't the only one to have a productive second half. In the glorified 20-minute garbage time slot, Artem set career highs for points with 9 and rebounds with 8. His previous highs were also in "garbage-like" circumstances with 8 points against Loyola Marymount and 7 rebounds against American last season, but his continued effort is worthy of praise. He's showing a bit more confidence as well and looks to be ready to contribute much more this year.

Last night it was Appleby and Nelson who came up with little or nothing to show in the stat sheets and tonight it was not only Hawes who really didn't produce, but also two guys who both have the ability to make people envision NBA and All Pac-10 honors in the crystal ball.

Harvey Perry and Adrian Oliver just never got it untracked, yet both still played key roles in helping the team execute on offense and defense. Perry left the game with 4 fouls, 4 assists, 3 points, 3 rebounds and a couple of dismal shot attempts and 0-2 from the line. It seemed that he was a bit disappointed in his performance, but again, when he was needed to make key plays to set up and support his team mates, he made strong contributions.

It's funny to listen to fans bad rap guys after one game like these guys had tonight and then talk about them as first round picks after performances where they find their groove.

Oliver had an even less notable night with 1 point on 0-6 shooting, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers and 1 steal, but once again made some fine plays setting up team mates, most notably another set-up for an alley-oop flush from the dynamic Pondexter.

But it was Burmeister's night and he made the best of it, shaking off some very bad voodoo from complications sustained after a spinal tap operation to treat extreme migraine headaches that went bad because of complications. He said that there were times this fall where all he could do was lie on the coach for 16 hours a day and then go to bed and sleep for the rest.

Good to see him put in the best game of his career after such a bum trip as that sounded to be. Coach Romar had some nice things to say about him and seems to feel confident using him regularly in the rotation. "If we play Franklin High School or the Los Angeles Lakers, Brandon Burmeister is going to play well. He is just steady and you can always count on him. He played like a senior out there today."

Nicholls State played all 8 players that they had and to their credit, put forth a heart and soul effort. Most of their offense came in the form of breakaways from Aaron Scott, who had 24 points on 9-17 shooting and Adonis Gray who had 29 points on 11-17. I would say more about the individual play of those two, but most of what they did was take what the lazy Washington defenders gave them, which was breakaways due to not getting back on defense in garbage time.

Unimpressive on Washington's part, but not fatal. It could be highly toxic if this Husky team chooses to defend that way against the Northern Iowa Panthers, who literally stomped the Pepperdine Waves in the first game. Romar seems to be aware of this and is likely communicating this to the team. "Tomorrows game will be a challenge we haven't faced yet. The first challenge was yesterday when we played our first game. Tomorrows challenge is that we have to play a good team that knows how to win and they stick with what they are doing."

NIU is a dangerous team that has chemistry, experience, physical and mental maturity and actual talent. It will take a whole new level of effort from this young Washington team to win its third game of this Travelers Tournament, but it will surely be interesting to watch them try.



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