Today is the day… its finally back.
College basketball, the best time of the year, is back in full swing today for Seattle as our Washington Huskies tip off against Wright State at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
For many people, including myself, the stretch from the end of the championship game till the second week in November can never come soon enough. With the way the Huskies played last season, Seattle is buzzing with the potential of the Huskies which only made the wait that much more excruciating.
This could be a special season for the Huskies and Lorenzo Romar; maybe the most special season in school history.
The Backbone: The Backcourt
Venoy Overton: Overton was named the somewhat surprising starter last week ahead of super freshman Abdul Gaddy, a true testament to the strength of the backcourt for the Huskies. Starting Overton may be controversial because of Gaddy’s natural talents, but make no mistake that Romar really can do no wrong with a starting combination of either Overton, Gaddy, and Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. The Huskies will rely on Overton to provide his now nationally famous defensive tenacity (one of the best moments from last season was Overton challenging Mississippi Sate’s Dee Bost after an inbounds pass with his typical swagger) to help control the many great guards in the Pac-10. His strength offensively is driving the basketball to the basket, but if Overton can develop a consistent jump shot then Gaddy may not start this season. Its a great problem to have.
Isaiah Thomas: Thomas will be expected to be the primary scorer for the Huskies, that has been apparent since he first committed to the Huskies way back in 2006. By the end of the year he should be in conisderation for Pac-10 Player of the Year, some All-American lists, and the leading player for one of the top two teams in the conference. But what could make Thomas’ special and the Huskies is if he could become consistent with the three ball. This is much more important now that it is known that C.J. Wilcox will redshirt, but important overall as outside shooting will probably be a weakness for the team.
Abdul Gaddy: I have praised Gaddy non stop throughout the offseason, he’s a special player. Having the opportunity to watch him play on so many occasions allowed me to appreciate his game, maybe too much as I have built him up to a superstar status on this blog. But he has a bright, bright future for the Huskies. He’s the vital piece for Romar to build a national championship team because he’s a guard with unique abilities in passing and scoring. Gaddy is among the best in the country as a guard in the qualities already, and if he stays on campus for three years he could be a first team All-American. Romar may have made the right choice in letting him season a bit on the bench as he continues to adjust to the college game, but coming off the bench the Huskies will not skip a beat in game management, they have one of the best in the country checking in.
Scott Suggs: Suggs is perhaps the most intriguing player on the roster because we did not see him play much last season and many praised him for his performance in camp this season. Coming in last season he had the buzz of being the top rated incoming recruit for the Huskies, but saw the least amount of playing time. Now he should see a dramatic increase in playing time with the departure of Justin Dentmon and redshirt of Wilcox. Suggs is one of the top shooters on the team and will be looked upon to provide an outside threat for a team largely built for driving to the basket. Its difficult to project him just because of how little we were able to see him play, but if he finds his identity on a team stocked with talent, Suggs could develop into one of the most important players coming off the bench this season.
Elston Turner: Like Suggs, Turner will be expected to provide outside shooting for a team in desperate need of exactly that. Suggs and Turner are related to one another as how one another performs could determine how much the other plays. However with the redshirt of Wilcox, it could mean that both play significant roles while someone else falls out of the rotation. Turner was perhaps the most intriguing freshman from last year because of the potential he flashed; if he puts it together he could be starting for the team next season. For now Turner needs to make sure he shoots lights out and take pressure off of Thomas and the big men in the paint.
C.J. Wilcox: Redshirt
The Providers: Small Forwards
Quincy Pondexter: Along with Thomas, Pondexter will be expected to be the leader of the team. After two frustrating seasons Pondexter was able to break out and have a huge impact on the Huskies Pac-10 championship last season. Often he was the best player on the floor for Washington, arguably winning the final USC game last season all by himself. The big shoes for Pondexter to fill will be rebounding in place of Jon Brockman. Replacing Brockman completely by himself will be impossible, but improving off of last season’s 5.9 per game is important for Washington to advance further than last season’s second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. What Pondexter offers is known, consistency. Every night he should be among the leaders in scoring and rebounding and perhaps the most important piece on the team.
Justin Holiday: Along with Pondexter we know what we will be getting from Holiday, which is great on the ball defense. Anything more that Holiday can add offensively is a bonus, but we have seen over the past few years that Romar trusts Holiday guarding the opponents top offensive player. With how much Romar preaches defense Holiday will most likely be in the rotation, and he will be expected to provide that same great defense.
Clarence Trent: Trent will most likely be watching the majority of the season of the bench. But we saw what he offers during the exhibition game: insane athleticism and hustle. There will be moments when Romar will put him in to get some momentum going in Washington’s favor.
The X-Factor: The Frontcourt
Matthew Bryan-Amaning: MBA is this season’s biggest question mark because of his potential and now being placed into the starting lineup. For his two seasons in Montlake, MBA has shown flashes of being a great post player for the Huskies. So far he has yet to completely take ahold of that potential, but if he puts it together this season paired with the rest of the team this could be a Final Four season. All MBA needs to do is establish some post scoring to keep pressure off the guards and be a force rebounding. Next year with the departure of Pondexter there will be more of a need for MBA to be one of the leaders of the team, bur right now he needs to step up and fill in the stat sheet when needed.
Darnell Gant: Much like Holiday the primary focus for Gant will be continuing his defense. If MBA can hold down the post scoring then there wont be as much pressure on Gant to improve on last season’s average. However it is important for Gant to become more offensively reliable because of the departure of Brockman, perhaps drifting ten feet out for a jumper.
Tyreese Breshers: The one guy who could come in and be another Brockman type player, and Romar recruited him to Washington. Breshers has the same body type, style of play, and athleticism to make him a special player for the Huskies. In the exhibition he was the best player on the floor when put into the game, and even now he is still not 100% healed from his shin injury last season. Breshers could have a big impact on the team and be a key building block for the future.
Projected Regular Season Record: 24-6
Projected NCAA Tournament Run: Sweet Sixteen
The projected standings in the Pac-10 will be continued to be released over the non-conference schedule until the start of Pac-10 play.