Naturally, the guys who cover UW basketball for the various area papers chat among ourselves a bit. Last week we started talking about what the Huskies might be like next season. Opinions varied from a team potentially better than this one, to a team that won't make the NCAA tournament.
I took a bit of a look at the topic in our Sunday paper.
With the departure of Brandon Roy, Jamaal Williams, Bobby Jones, Mike Jensen and Zane Potter, here's how the UW roster looks now.
2006-07 Huskies (height, class next season)
Guards: Justin Dentmon (5-11, so.), Ryan Appleby (6-2, jr.), Joel Smith (6-4, jr.), Harvey Perry (6-4, r. fr.), Adrian Oliver (6-3, fr.), Brandon Burmeister (6-4, sr.).
Forwards: Jon Brockman (6-7, so.), Quincy Pondexter (6-7, fr.) Phil Nelson (6-8, fr.), Hans Gasser, (6-9, sr.).
Centers: Spencer Hawes (6-11, fr.), Artem Wallace (6-8, so.), Joe Wolfinger (7-0, r.fr.), Zach Johnson (injured, status uncertain).
If I had to guess right now, I'd figure a starting lineup of Dentmon, Brockman, Hawes, Pondexter and Perry. I'd key roles off the bench going to Appleby, Oliver and Smith in the backcourt and Wallace, Wolfinger in the front court, with maybe Nelson in the old Tre Simmons role.
That's a lot of youth, which sometimes is just fine (UCLA), and sometimes isn't quite ready (Oregon).
Obviously, UW's ultimate record – and therefore tournament chances – will also be influnced by their opponents. As of now, the non-conference schedule is sketchy. We do know of two major challenges: Gonzaga at Spokane and LSU at Hec Ed. The Huskies also are looking get into another early season tournament – perhaps even hosting again. But whatever tournament it is, is likely to have a field more like the weaker BCA classic of last season, rather than the tougher Alaska shootout of the season before.
In conference, UCLA is probably going to be everyone's pick to win the conference and perhaps the national title. I think Oregon could finally break through. USC should be ready to make a charge. California also could be a conference contender if Leon Powe returns, and an also-ran if not. Even young, I think the Huskies should be as good as anyone else in the conference. Which – to me – means NCAA bubble team.