The Huskies and Lobos meet the media for about 30 minutes each this afternoon, in advance of their second-round NCAA tournament match at around 3 p.m. Saturday (CBS).
A few notes worth noting:
Why Gaddy over Overton?Despite Washington’s run to the Pacific-10 Conference tournament title last week and to the second round of the NCAA tournament Saturday, some fans still wonder if coach Lorenzo Romar knows what he’s doing.
Specifically, they wonder why freshman Abdul Gaddy of Tacoma remains the starting point guard despite junior Venoy Overton’s emergence as one of the team’s key contributors on both ends of the court.
Romar was asked about that today, on the eve of Washington’s match with third-seeded New Mexico, when Gaddy is expected to get his 28th start and his 27th in a row.
“We’ve won 13 out of 15, and I think we have a good rhythm,” he said. “I think Venoy Overton comes into the game and gives us a real lift. I also think that this is valuable experience for Abdul Gaddy. … In the big picture, it will be good for him. And in the small picture – right now in the immediate picture – I don’t think it has hurt us.”
On the season, Overton is averaging 8.5 points in an average of 23 minutes per game. Gaddy is averaging 3.9 points in 18.2 minutes per game.
Meanwhile, this week Gaddy also became one of 21 players to accept an invitation to attend training camp for the USA men’s basketball under-18 national team.
Bumps and bruisesUW No. 2 scorer Isaiah Thomas was wearing a new purple protective glove on the left hand he injured more than a month ago at California.
However, neither he nor Romar expect the lingering injury to affect his play Saturday ... any more than it has for the last month.
Meanwhile, New Mexico’s leading scorer, all-Mountain West Conference guard Darington Hobson, took a hard fall Thursday in the Lobos' first-round win over Montana. But on Friday he downplayed the injury to his left wrist and lower back.
“It’s sore,” he said. “It’s tournament time. It’s not going to affect me.”
Matchup problem?New Mexico has lost only four games this season, but two of them came against the same team: San Diego State.
Unfortunately for the Lobos, coach Steve Alford sees Washington as similar to the Aztecs in several ways.
“You’ve got tall, lanky kids that can score inside,” he said. “(UW’s Quincy Pondexter and SDSU’s Billy White play) kind of the same position, kind of the same match-up, kind of the same deal. We know how difficult that was. … So we know what kind of a match-up this is for us, and we’ve got to do the best we can.”
Regions and leaguesWashington and New Mexico have at least one thing in common. Both are looking to move on the East regional, where they hope to uphold the honor of Western basketball.
“There’s always doubters,” Overton said. “Only way you can quiet that is by handling business on the court. We’ve been thinking about that all season.”
“Every time we step on the floor we have something to prove,” Hobson said. “We’re a good team. It’s hard to beat us. … (This) is another day we get to prove ourselves nationally.”
In additional to regional pride, New Mexico also would like to demonstrate that the Mountain West Conference (which sent four teams to the tournament) is up to the quality of the Pac-10 (which sent two).
“I just think our league is progressively getting better year in, year out,” Alford said. “I’ve been impressed with the teams and the coaches in our league, tremendous fan bases, great places to play. … I think our league is making great strides.”
Trent’s tourney timeUW freshman Clarence Trent didn’t appear in first-round game, and he appears to be pretty far down the bench for round two.
However, the hyper-athletic forward from Tacoma says he’s still enjoying his first NCAA tournament experience.
“It feels good,” he said. “I remember when I was younger I never really experienced much of a championship setting or win-or-home. Now that I’m here it’s a great experience. Everybody’s just instructing me and teaching me how to go on.”