An Inside Look into the Washington Huskies

On Saturday, the Arizona State Sun Devils will face the Washington Huskies. While the maroon and gold's 2007-08 campaign has been a roller coaster, it has been a season of persistent discontent in Seattle. Nathan Ware, the editor if the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's DwagBlawg, talked to the Devils Digest about the ASU's next opponent.

DevilsDigest: At 15-12, 6-8 Pac-10 has this season been a disappointment for Washington or is it merely just a season of rebuilding and transition?

Nathan Ware: It's definitely been a disappointment. Prior to the season, UW fans didn't have any delusions about this being a great year but UW is on its way to a sub-.500 season which is worse than people expected. With expectations being raised after consecutive Sweet 16 appearances, that's not "acceptable" anymore. The flaws of this team are issues that many expected to be cured in the off-season through good coaching and recruiting.

DD: Are the fans growing restless in Seattle amid the success down in Pullman the last couple of years?

NW: It really doesn't have anything to do with WSU. Ultimately, it's about getting to the NCAA tournament and this will likely be the second consecutive season where UW will completely miss postseason play (with possible exception of the CBI – College Basketball Invitational). Obviously, that's disappointing for everyone.

DD: Tell us what the strengths and weaknesses are on this year's team.

NW: There's really only one strength for UW and that's Jon Brockman. He's a beast and the only player that you can count on game-to-game. The most remarkable thing is that opposing teams know UW is a one-man team and they still can't stop Brockman. The weaknesses are many, i.e. bad outside shooting from the 2 and 3 positions, free throw shooting that is bad at a historic level, poor point guard play, lack of effort defensively, etc.

DD: Will Jon Brockman truly stay his senior year and not bolt to the NBA at the end of the season?

NW: Yeah, Brockman is a rock star in Seattle. He's from a smaller town about 40 minutes away from UW and he's loved by the locals. NBA draftniks don't think he's a top pick at this point but if he stays another season he might be next year. It's money in the bank for him to stick around and raise his stock similar to how Brandon Roy did in his senior campaign.

DD: Who have been the pleasant surprises and disappointments on this team?

NW: The disappointments - like I mentioned earlier-are that this is a terrible shooting team and a poor defensive team but you can't pin that on one player. They've all been bad at times. Even Brockman. It's an adventure when he shoots free throws. The problems on defense are strange because Romar traditionally emphasizes aggressive defense. The one player that UW fans complain about the most is Quincy Pondexter. He's loaded with raw talent but he's tentative, lacks confidence, and doesn't assert his talent. If he ever puts it all together, he'll be a great player but he's been frustrating to watch most of this season.

The pleasant surprises would be the play of freshman Matthew Bryan-Amaning - who is a power forward/center that has shown great skills - and freshman Venoy Overton, who has shown signs that he's the point guard of the future. Both players need to get some experience to work out the kinks in their game. DD: With Washington's record being what it is do they have much to play for this season aside from an NIT bid?

NW: Hello, CBI. Aside from that, the Huskies would need to go on a major winning streak to even get a phone call from the NIT committee.

DD: What does the immediate future hold for the Huskies in terms of recruiting classes and underclassmen on the team?

NW: Recruiting has been interesting for UW. Romar's had a couple of highly touted classes the past couple of years that haven't lived up to the billing. By all accounts, Romar has compiled a good class this year. The major issue is that the Seattle area has another collection of highly acclaimed high school players coming up in the next couple of years similar to the group that emerged at the beginning of the decade (Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, etc). Tony Wroten, Abdul Gaddy, Josh Smith, and Peyton Siva are a few names from a group of players that are gathering national attention.

For example, Wroten is widely considered to be the best freshman in the country, Siva is a scoring guard that the Huskies desperately need, and Smith could be the next great UW big man. Romar has to get the majority of these players to come to UW. If he does, the program will get out of this mini-slump.

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