It’s just an exhibition game, but Thursday marks the sort-of beginning of men’s basketball season for the Washington Huskies. They host Seattle Pacific at 7 p.m. The game will not be televised or broadcast on the radio, so if you want to know what happened, you’ll have to either attend, or just take our word for it.
Anyway, coach Lorenzo Romar, senior point guard Andrew Andrews and freshman guard Dejounte Murray met with reporters for a little while on Tuesday afternoon to preview the start of the season. Here are a few notes and bits of information I found interesting. Though I guess that’s kind of what a note is to begin with, right?
--- Romar said that Marquese Chriss, the 6-foot-9 freshman forward from Sacramento, scored 40 points and grabbed 12 rebounds -- and shot 6-for-7 from beyond the 3-point arc, according to Andrews -- in a recent intrasquad scrimmage.
“No one’s ever had 40 in our intrasquad scrimmage, since we’ve been here,” Romar said.
Chriss fractured his right wrist during practice several weeks ago, though Romar said he’s now wearing just tape on it instead of a cast. Chriss likes this, Romar said, because he can finally shoot with his right hand again.
“He’s shooting it better than when we recruited him. Maybe he got the 40 because he was so excited to finally be able to use his right hand again, because for a month, he couldn’t use it,” Romar said. “... He is playing harder at this stage. I thought it might take him a while. He was talented in high school and he has a tendency to coast, but he’s not coasting as much now.”
Andrews said Chriss is unlike any player the Huskies have had during his career. The closest comparison, he said, was 6-foot-7 forward Darnell Gant, who developed a decent outside shot later in his career.
“I’ve never played with a big that’s been like him,” Andrews said. “The closest would be Darnell Gant, because he could stretch the floor and was a jumper. But as far as putting it on the ground and making plays, I haven’t played with a big here that’s been like that.”
--- The Huskies played a private scrimmage against Saint Mary’s a couple weekends ago. Romar said he thought they got out of it what they wanted, because it showed them how much work they still have ahead of them.
“It pretty much just showed us all of our warts, where they were, and we were able to see them. Hopefully our team was able to see them. It served, I don’t (want) to say as a wakeup call, because I don’t know if everybody thought we had arrived. I don’t think our team is like that. But I think it served as just kind of a mirror, so to speak, so we could really see what we’re about at this point. Our guys came back afterward and realized we still have some work to do, even though there were stretches where we did really well.”
--- Romar named Chriss and Matisse Thybulle as two of the most “impactful” defensive players so far.
--- Rebounding will be “a collective effort,” Romar said. He said he thinks UW’s guards will rebound well, and he said that for a while, Murray was leading the team in rebounding during drills.
--- UW’s Nov. 13 season opener against Texas in Shanghai has a chance to present distractions, Romar said, because the Huskies will be there for a series of activities (some involving the e-commerce mega-company Alibaba) during the week leading up to the game. The emphasis will be focusing on Texas, he said, but he wants to make sure the players enjoy themselves, too, because they’ll be doing things they’ll remember forever.
--- Against SPU, Romar said he simply wants to see how long the team can sustain a high level of effort. If they do that, “the score will take care of itself.”
--- Romar said he doesn’t think Andrews’ transition to point guard is that striking, and compares it to Isaiah Thomas shifting to point guard after Abdul Gaddy tore his ACL in the 2010-11 season.
--- Murray said he’d never lifted weights in his life before he arrived at UW -- other than messing around when he was a little kid -- and didn’t understand at first how it could help him.
But after several weeks of working with strength coach Daniel Shapiro, Murray, who is listed at 6-foot-4 1/2 and 170 pounds, says he can see the difference.
“I feel stronger on the court. Going to the basket, I can take hits and stuff,” Murray said. “Before, I still took hits, because I’m strong -- people were telling me I was skinny and stuff, but I still didn’t let that bother me at all. But I can tell, I look in the mirror sometimes, and I’ve gotten a little bigger.”
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple