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February 21, 2010

Pondexter shines in final home game

The Huskies (8-7, 18-9 overall) defeated the UCLA Bruins (7-7, 12-14 overall), 97-68, Saturday night at Hec Ed.

The Least You Should Know:

On his senior night, Quincy Pondexter paced the Huskies early, scoring 10 of the Dawgs' first 14 points, as the team built a lead over the Bruins that they'd never relinquish.

Pondexter finished with 20 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two assists on his big night.

In front of a national TV audience on ESPN, the Huskies dominated the game in every way and looked like one of the better teams in the country. But, the ESPN broadcast team seemed to believe, as most fans now do, that the Huskies will have to win the Pac-10 Tournament to advance to the Big Dance in March.

Analysis and Observation:

Great to hear the ESPN guys talking about Quincy as a future NBA player. Q-Pon has gone from questionable as an NBA Draft prospect to projected first-round pick.

Coach has deservedly taken some heat for the Huskies falling short of expectations so far this season. But two years in a row, Romar will send guys to the NBA who were far from sure things at the start of their college careers. The team's result is how he will (and should) be judged, but LoRo's ability as a talent developer shouldn't be overlooked.

Almost on cue, given that it was senior night, the Huskies' three juniors (Justin Holiday - 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists, one steal; Matthew Bryan-Amaning - 12 points, five rebounds, three steals; Venoy Overton - seven points, two assists, two steals) all had impressive games.

The ESPN guys brought this up because it was so obvious: Isaiah Thomas's demeanor and energy on the court got so much better after he started scoring. Along with the typical early Quincy jumper in the first minute or two of most games, I'd like to see the Dawgs try to get Isaiah going right at the outset. Thomas finished with 17 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Is it possible that Matthew Bryan-Amaning is just coming out of a three-year long cold streak? The adjustments he's made are so slight -- less dribbling in the post, taking an extra second to make a decision, moving toward the basket when he shoots -- but MBA looks like a completely different player.

When Tyreese Breshers can avoid picking up a foul-per-minute, he looks good. Tonight was a good omen for next year when he'll play a more prominent role, particularly if he can get into better shape. (In truth, it's really closer to a foul for every three-and-a-half minutes he plays -- by far the worst ratio on the team.)

It's all about winning the Pac-10 Tournament at this point, and why not UW? When the Dawgs play their best, like they did tonight, there's no one in the conference they can't beat.

I know he's got to improve his shooting, but tell me it's not possible that Justin Holiday is a 12-13 point-per-game scorer next season.

When Elston Turner and Scott Suggs are feeling it, you know it's going well for the Dawgs.

Up about 20, there was no need for Abdul Gaddy to let the ball roll to midcourt before picking it up at the end of the first half. Not a big deal, but sometimes it looks like he's and actor playing the part of a point guard instead of a basketball player just navigating the game. He had a couple of nice passes, but Abdul was the only Husky to have anything resembling a tough night, finishing with zero points, four assists and six turnovers.

So, now Romar has got to coach these next few games in a way that best prepares the Dawgs for the conference tournament. How about a little experimentation so we can add a little something to the toolbelt before we get down to LA? I'd like to see the Huskies zone up a bit. I'd like to see us press. And, I'd like to see how we look with two guards, Q-Pon, MBA and Tyreese on the floor together. Even if it turns out not to work, shouldn't we try to have something to pull out that other teams haven't seen before.

Looking ahead to seeding for the conference tournament: in order to avoid a potential matchup with Cal in the semifinals, the Dawgs are going to need to reach third place in the conference (or fall to sixth). If the tournament started today, the Dawgs would play Arizona in the 4 vs. 5 game.

Next up, a trip to Pullman next Saturday. The Dawgs get a chance to build up some road momentum against Wazzu, and then the Oregon schools, before their season-on-the-line appearance in the Pac-10 Tournament, beginning on March 10 in LA.


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