Lorenzo Romar was the toast of the town when he came back to his old school to lead UW back into the NCAA tournament. That success was followed by Washington bringing in some big time recruiting classes. Those big time classes have not translated into success yet because Washington has been near the bottom of the conference and out of the tournament the last two years.
The Husky perimeter play has just sucked on offense and defense the last two years. Despite UW having a strong front line during that time period the guards weren't able to keep opposing teams from packing it inside. What Washington has this year that it didn't have last year is experience and balance where you need it to win in this conference.
PG Venoy Overton is another year older and another year wiser after learning on the job on how to run the point in one of the nations toughest conferences. Rather than being teamed up with the one dimensional Ryan Appleby he will be running the court with scoring and assist demon Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas is the most exciting addition to the basketball team since Nate Robinson. The two players are very similar. Thomas is the better shooter coming in while Nate was extremely quick and physical with his football player body. Both are kids of limited stature size wise who make it up with a great verticle jump and quickness.
Justin Dentmon returns for his senior season and it looks like he has been in a mission to be in the best shape of his life. Expect Dentmon to provide solid minutes in addition to Overton and Thomas. The Dawgs also add guards Elston Turner from Los Angeles and Scott Suggs from St. Louis to the roster which increases the overall depth and raises the talent level in the back court. Husky WR Devin Aguilar will join the team in December.
At forward All American candidate Jon Brockman returns for his senior season with hopes of finishing his career in the NCAA tournament. Brockman is a rock on the inside and he should flourish this season with the distraction of Thomas on the outside. With Brockman inside Washinton doesn't need to worry about rebounds and defense.
Flanking Brockman will be Quincy Pondexter. Quincey was a pretty heralded recruit and we are all waiting for him to put it together an entire season. Once againt he improved play out on the perimeter should open up his game on offense.
Matthew-Bryan Amaning is a talented sophomore the Huskies hope blossoms in his second season. Sideline observers during the summer and fall report that this kid is ready to do some damage this season.
Justin Holiday got his feet wet last year and gained the notice of the coaches because he played solid defense. Holiday is competing for an expanded role this year.
The Huskies add power forwards Darnell Gant and Tyreese Breshers to the mix on the frontline in 2008. Early reports on all the frosh have been good so far.
Artem Wallace returns to do his poor man's Jon Brockman immitation. Artem is coming off a serious knee injury so it will be interesting to see how much time he gets early.
Joe Wolfinger is an interesting seven footer to have on the roster because despite being so tall he is a three point shot artist. I think he is an interesting piece to add to the frontline at times. He has been telling people that he is going to more of a factor on defense and in rebounding this season.
According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times:
The Huskies are still practicing with just 10 players, however, as senior Artem Wallace (offseason knee surgery), redshirt freshman forward Darnell Gant (offseason sports hernia surgery) and true freshman forward Tyreese Breshers (shin) remain sidelined.
Romar said Wallace could be practicing by the end of this week and Gant by the end of next week. But Breshers' return is further away.
I think the outlook is bright for the Huskies in 2008-2009 and I predict an upper division finish in the Pac 10 this season. The jump up in the standings is all predicated on improved guard play around the perimeter. Thomas and Overton are a major upgrade in quickness in talent. Thomas has the ability to take over a game and I think you may see that happen in the closed scrimmage against Wyoming.
Up front the Huskies are talented and experienced. It all starts with Jon Brockman who will benefit greatly from the improved ball handling and passing. Pondexter and Amaning need to take their games to the next level for Washington to be able to go deep into the tournament this year.
Did I say tournament?
I fully expect this Washington team to go as far as the Sweet Sixteen next March. I think everyone is going to really enjoy the show that Thomas and Brockman are going to put on this season as the Huskies return to the style of play of the Roy/Robinson era.