Coach Lorenzo Romar already has a hunch on 60 percent of his starting lineup for the coming Washington Huskies men’s basketball season, even before the first practice Friday.
Pencil in Wooden Award-candidate guard Isaiah Thomas of Tacoma alongside senior forwards Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Holiday.
“I would think those guys going into camp would be the ones that would start off as starters,” Romar said. “And again -- I repeat -- that means absolutely nothing if we come out here the first day and a guy is getting outplayed. It doesn’t mean anyone’s starting. But going into it, you would think that those guys would have the edge.”
After that, almost anything can happen.
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At media day today, Romar said he believes he has the most athletic roster of his nine seasons at UW, and one of the most experienced and versatile.
Back from the 26-10 Sweet 16 team of a season ago are guards Abdul Gaddy of Tacoma, Venoy Overton and Scott Suggs, along with redshirt freshman C.J. Wilcox and true freshman Terrence Ross. At forward, junior Darnell Gant is joined by freshman forward Desmond Simmons. And towering over them all is 7-foot, 260-pound newcomer Aziz N’Diaye, a sophomore from Senegal by way of the College of Southern Idaho.
That roster, Romar said, offers options.
“There are so many different lineups we could put out on the floor,” he said. “We could go big: We could start Aziz and Matthew. We could go small: We could start Matthew and Justin Holiday up front and put three smaller guys. We could start a small guard with two big wings. There are just so many different looks we could have.”
The process of identifying the best lineup will begin this weekend away from any glitter of Midnight Madness: three days of closed practices in Lacey.
Then the team returns to the UW campus for three weeks of practices leading up to the exhibition game Nov. 6 against St. Martin’s. That will be followed by another week of practice before the regular-season opener Nov. 13 against McNeese State.
Romar said he’s interested in settling his rotation earlier this season – if possible – because a series of heavy-hitting opponents await at the Maui Invitational on Nov. 22, 23 and 24.
“That’s kind of the granddaddy of all tournaments,” he said. “Everyone gets to watch it every year, and we’re a participant in it. … I know that in a tournament like that – such a prestigious tournament – it brings a lot of excitement to our guys.”
Key dates for 2010-11 UW men’s basketballFriday: Practice begins.Nov. 6: Exhibition vs. St. Martin’sNov. 13: Season opener vs. McNeese StateNov. 22-24: Maui InvitationalDec. 4: Big 12 Hardwood series vs. Texas TechDec. 11: Big 12 Hardwood series at Texas A&MDec. 29: Pac-10 opener at USCJan. 30: At Washington StateFeb. 22: At Seattle UniversityFeb. 27: Vs. Washington StateMarch 9-12: Pac-10 tournament in Los AngelesMarch 13: Selection Sunday.