Thank god for Justin Dentmon.
After the last two seasons, who would have ever thought that any Husky fan would make a statement like that. Despite the fact that he faced foul trouble throughout the game, Dentmon as able to stick the UCLA Bruins for 16 points (in 17 minutes) and 2 steals to spark another Husky victory. Lorenzo Romar spoke highly of Dentmon after the game in his press conference saying that he has “never been more proud of a player.”
In some funny way, I feel the exact same as Romar. One reason why I love seeing guys stick around for four years is that you truly see them evolve as a player. Not only physically, but mentally as well. Compare film of Dentmon from last year and Dentmon from this year and you have a completely different player. Romar also said that right now Justin is playing at the level of an All Conference player; and it is hard to disagree with him on that. But that’s another article for another day.
This 86-75 victory will most definitely put the Huskies into the next Top-25; how high in the poll is the only question that remains. Beating the Bruins in this type of fashion will do nothing but good things for the Huskies. If anything they showed that they have the ability of beating what was the most praised team in the Pac-10 at the beginning of the year handily. Never would I have been able to predict that a team that lost to Portland would be atop the Pac-10 standings.
Isaiah Thomas continued to prove he is the top freshman in the conference, scoring 24 points and igniting the Huskies in the second half which would lead to victory. His three second half three pointers are what really got the team moving, as well as his excellent read to find Justin Holiday in the corner for a buzzer beating three at the end of the first half to pull the Huskies to within one.
It’s a beautiful sight to see Isaiah already making a significant footprint in the Pac-10 when after this season we are likely to have him for another three seasons. Talk about a program changer.
One more round of applause has to go to Jon Brockman, who after a dreadful game against USC, went for 18 points on a very efficient 5-8 night. To further prove he had forgotten about the game on Thursday, he was able to convert 8-10 free throws. His defense on Alfred Aboya was crucial to allow the Huskies to dominate in the paint.
While I give player of the game to Dentmon, all three Husky guards may deserve MVP. Along with Isaiah and Dentmon, Venoy Overton was ruthless in driving to the rim and drawing fouls. This would lead to 43 attempts to the charity stripe compared to UCLA’s 15.
While many UCLA fans complained this was because of Dave Libbey, it was quite obvious during the game that the foul calls were warranted. Ben Howland even echoed everything I’m saying in his press conference. If anything, Libbey and his crew thought that Quincy Pondexter has lethal hands because of how many hand checks they called on him. There was a point where three consecutive fouls were called on Q in a very short sequence.
Overall it was an incredible game. I didn’t think the Huskies would end up winning so convincingly seeing as how back-and-forth it was till halfway through the second half, but that demonstrates how different of a Husky team this is compared to the last two seasons.
Up next is a road trip to the Arizona schools. Should be an interesting week as the media begin to take a closer look at this first place team.