UW held its men's basketball media day today, and there's no doubt that the Huskies are thinking big. Not just defend-our-Pac-10-title big. But bigger. In fact: biggest.
“I’m trying to help the team go as far as we can, try to make the Final Four, and hopefully win the national championship,” said newcomer point guard Abdul Gaddy, of Tacoma and Bellarmine Prep.
The freshman wasn't the only one talking that way, and coach Lorenzo Romar showed no interest in discouraging such talk.
“If our work ethic reflects what we say, then I think it’s great that our team has a high self-esteem at this point,” he said. “I don’t think we’re an arrogant, cocky team. But if we’re willing to go out and bust our tails like we expect to go out and do something special, then I’m not going to tell our guys that they’re crazy.”
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The Huskies’ confidence is built on a number of factors:
*Three starters and eight players return from the team that went 26-9 last season and 14-4 in the Pac-10.
*Those returning players represent 61 percent of the scoring and 64 percent of the rebounding from last season.
*Senior forward Quincy Pondexter bloomed into a force in the NCAA tournament. Then he spent his off-season contributing 7.9 points over 18 minutes per game in helping Team USA to a bronze medal at the World University Games.
*A highly regarded freshman class of Gaddy, the McDonald’s All-American point guard; Clarence Trent, an athletic forward from Gig Harbor; and C.J. Wilcox, a sharp-shooting guard from Utah. The returning depth at guard is expected to help the Huskies overcome the loss of Justin Dentmon, who departed after four seasons. But there may be no replacing forward Jon Brockman, the school’s career rebounding leader and No. 2 scorer who is now with the Sacramento Kings of the NBA.
“You don’t replace Jon Brockman,” Romar said. “… We’ll do it a little differently. We have a quick front line. The thing that we’ll miss the most is Jon’s intensity every day that just always raised everyone else’s level of intensity.”
Romar said Pondexter has grown into an effective leader. And he believes a low-post physical presence can be provided by Tyreese Breshers, who is ready to make his UW debut after missing last season with leg problems.
Breshers now says he feels well enough to play immediately.
That leaves junior guard Justin Holiday as the only player significantly limited at the start of camp. He underwent hernia surgery during the off-season, has begun shooting free throws and is expected to be available for full work within a couple of week.
The team begins practices Friday with a public event at Hec Ed (see post below). Romar said he believes two-fifths of his starting lineup is set: Pondexter and sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas of Tacoma