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January 19, 2011Could you imagine Arizona's Derrick Williams in the Washington Huskies' frontcourt?
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar doesn't like to think about it.
"He was definitely on our radar, and he decided to go somewhere else after we took someone else," Romar said of the Wildcats' star from La Mirada, Calif.
That someone else was Clarence Trent, who played for the Huskies last season before transferring to Seattle University.
"I didn't know Derrick Williams would be doing what he's doing now," Romar said.
Williams, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound sophomore forward, is one of the Pacific-10 Conference's biggest stars.
He holds something in common with two of Washington's top two players, Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
They are the three recipients of Pac-10 player of the week honors during conference play so far this season. And all three will also take center stage in Seattle on Thursday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion for a huge matchup between the Wildcats and Huskies for the right to be alone atop the Pac-10.
The Huskies come home fresh off a big win in Berkley, Calif., where they played one of their most complete games of the season, led by Thomas and Bryan-Amaning.
Arizona is off to a hot start in conference play as well and has just one conference loss like the Huskies. The Wildcats are led by Williams, a who is averaging 20.8 points and eight rebounds per game in conference play.
Romar knows that stopping him will be a formidable task for the Huskies because Williams does it all.
"He's shooting 70 percent from the 3-point stripe," Romar said. "He can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket. He's very, very good at drawing fouls. We know how athletic he is, period, but around the rim, he is so explosive."
The task of guarding Williams will be on either 6-9 Bryan-Amaning or 7-foot sophomore Aziz N'Diaye.
If Romar goes with Bryan-Amaning, there is a worry that it may take away from his offense, which has been huge for the Huskies lately. He is averaging 17.6 points per game in Pac-10 play. His only non-double-digit scoring game was also the Huskies' only conference loss, to Stanford, last week.
"We're just going to go out there knowing he is a great talent but force him to play into his weaknesses," Bryan-Amaning said.
Bryan-Amaning added that Williams did not have very good games last season when they played. Williams, the Pac-10 freshman of the year, had only 15 points and 11 rebounds combined in two games against Washington.
The Huskies' other option is to put N'Diaye on Williams, but that could be a problem because N'Diaye has struggled with foul trouble. That plays right into Williams' style of drawing fouls and making his free throws.
Romar said that it didn't really matter who is going to guard Williams.
"There is a worry regardless of who you put on him," Romar said. "Whoever we decide to put on him we need to be ready for plan B, plan C, even D or E."
Romar compared Williams to Ike Diogu, the former Arizona State forward.
"We defend Ike and it doesn't seem like he takes many shots," Romar said. "He turns the ball over a couple of times, and at halftime you say 'Good, he's not killing us.' Well then, he has 16 points. Derrick is a lot like that."
Williams was recruited by the Huskies, but Romar looked as if he didn't want to think about the fact that he went to Arizona instead.
One consolation is that Romar has his own post player who is playing at a high level, Bryan-Amaning.
"He is really focused right now," Romar said. "He's close to getting his degree and in all areas I see him being focused."
Bryan-Amaning has help this season that he hasn't had in the past with fellow big man N'Diaye, who Romar said is "taking a lot of the blows from Matthew."
The Huskies' two big men have their work cut out for them trying to control Williams, or at the very least, not letting him take over the game like he's done several times already this season.
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