The Huskies men’s basketball team carries an unbeaten Pac-12 record (3-0) into tonight’s game against 18th-ranked Arizona at McKale Center (6 p.m. PT, FOX Sports 1). I will be there. Right now, I am here, and I have links.
--- Here is our advance of the game in today’s newspaper, with some thoughts from Will Conroy about the significance of Washington beating Arizona when he was a player in the mid-2000s. An excerpt:
Ask Will Conroy for his favorite memory of playing basketball against the University of Arizona, and it’s hard for him to pick one. He has a few.
His Washington Huskies career coincided with the rise of the UW program and the renaissance they enjoyed early in the tenure of coach Lorenzo Romar. Beating Arizona, Conroy said, was a big part of that. And the Huskies did it three times during his junior season in 2003-04, which culminated with the first of three consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament.
The first win came at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, highlighted by Nate Robinson’s alley-oop dunk. The second came at McKale Center, the first for the Huskies in that building since 1996. Then UW beat Arizona in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals.
“That gave our guys a lot of confidence,” Romar recalled this week, “because of the respect that our guys had for Arizona’s program.”
Each win, Conroy said, enhanced the Huskies’ relevance as a threat in the conference.
So Thursday’s 6 p.m. game against the 18th-ranked Wildcats at McKale Center might feel like a similar opportunity, with the Huskies (11-4, 3-0 in Pac-12) riding a three-game winning streak to begin Pac-12 play.
They’ve won some games, sure. But if they could beat Arizona, at Arizona …
“It’s very similar to what we are now,” said Conroy, now in his first season as a UW assistant coach. “Everybody, they look at us right now, and they see our three wins, and they’re saying, ‘yeah, well, we don’t know. We still don’t know.’ And that’s how it was before we played them (in 2004). … And then we beat Arizona here (in Seattle), so it kind of woke everybody up, like, we might be for real.”
--- Some big news at the NCAA level on Wednesday -- the date for underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft has been pushed back to late May, 10 days after the end of the NBA draft combine. The early entry deadline used to be in early April, so prospects will now have more time to consider their options. Additionally, underclassmen will be allowed to enter and withdraw their names from the draft multiple times before the final deadline without penalty, and will be allowed to attend the NBA draft combine and try out for one NBA team per year.
--- Here is Percy Allen’s preview of the game, focusing on UW’s new mantra this season.
--- USC continued its impressive start to Pac-12 play with an 89-75 win at UCLA. The Trojans are 15-3 overall and 4-1 in league play.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple