An Inside Look at the Washington Huskies

The way the Huskies see it, all the pressure they faced while fighting their way into the NCAA Tournament merely prepared them for what's to come.

   UW opens NCAA Tournament play with a West Regional matchup against Marquette in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday. The Huskies got into the field with a No. 11 seed.

   Washington (24-9) won its final seven games, including a sweep of three games in the Pac-10 tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA field.

   This team took longer to come around than anyone envisioned, especially given that most of the roster returned from a year ago. UW briefly occupied last place in the Pac-10 in January and didn't win its first road game until Feb. 13.

   The Huskies were considered very much on the "bubble" until taking down Pac-10 regular-season champ Cal 79-74 in the league's tournament final.

   "The anxiety that you may have as a team, knowing that you're one and done, is something that's been going on with our team for quite a while," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "The stakes haven't been as high as they're going to be now."

   The Huskies could have come unglued. Instead, they found the elusive stuff that binds a team.

   "Guys came together," Romar said. "Guys believed. Guys became more of a team. ... With the group that we have, guys just stuck together. Guys stepped up. Roles became defined and a team was born."

   Sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas, named MVP of the Pac-10 tournament, could hardly put into words how proud he was of his teammates.

   "Like I said before, we all we got," he said. "This is what we did. Nobody else did this for us, but us and the coaching staff."

 

NOTES, QUOTES

   --The Huskies have won seven straight games and 12 of 14 entering the NCAA Tournament.

   --Washington beat Stanford 79-64 in the Pac-10 semifinals despite missing 19 of its first 22 shots from the field. Even so, the Huskies led 11-8 after that stretch ended with 8:20 left in the first half.

   COACH: Lorenzo Romar, eighth year at Washington, sixth year in NCAA Tournament.

   KEYS TO VICTORY: The Huskies thrive when the pace gets going, the faster the better. They are deep and athletic and love to make the game a scramble, allowing them to run out in transition for easy baskets. Senior F Quincy Pondexter has 30-point capability and has improved his game in the half court. Sophomore G Isaiah Thomas is an excellent penetrator and 3-point shooter. The Huskies will need to get something from junior C Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who will have a size advantage against Marquette.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "We told each other, 'If we handle business, we don't need a committee to determine is we're good enough. We'll be automatically in.'" -- UW senior Quincy Pondexter, on his approach to the Pac-10 tournament final against Cal.

 

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

   SCOUTING REPORT: Washington doesn't want to play a huge team in a half-court game -- so it likes its matchup against Marquette. The Huskies don't even mind if the game gets a little sloppy, as long as happens with the gas pedal to the floor. UW utilizes its depth to stay fresh and is capable of sudden, game-changing scoring bursts. Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas routinely chalk up 20-point performances, and the rest of the Huskies have settled nicely into complementary roles. If this team is allowed to dictate tempo, it can be a handful.

   GAME REVIEW:

   Washington 59, Oregon State 52 (Pac-10 tournament quarterfinals)

   Washington 79, Stanford 64 (Pac-10 tournament semifinals)

   Washington 79, Cal 75 (Pac-10 tournament championship game)

   GAME PREVIEW:

   vs. Marquette, Thursday, March 18, NCAA Tournament, West Regional first round, San Jose, Calif.

   ROSTER REPORT:

   --Senior F Quincy Pondexter, voted to the All-Pac-10 first team, scored 18 points in Washington's 79-75 win over Cal in the Pac-10 tournament final. It was the 83rd double-figure scoring game of his career. Pondexter's 1,743 career points are tied for fourth all-time at UW.

   --Sophomore G Isaiah Thomas had 16 points against Cal and became the Huskies' first MVP of the Pac-10 tournament.

   --Junior G Venoy Overton, the club's sixth man, had 10 points, five rebounds and two assists against Cal.


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