Bender's boys blow out Brisbane

The Husky men's basketball team overcame first-half jitters and pulled away from Brisbane, a team from Australia, to the tune of 87-43 in front of 2,362 impressed Husky fans at the exhibition opener at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

Washington outscored the Australians 45-18 in the second half, and the route was on. Once the Huskies got their feet under them and got settled into the game, Brisbane had no answers and Washington showed that killer instinct that's been missing in recent seasons.

"I think Brisbane would have stuck with last year's (Husky) team," said Doug Wrenn. "This year's team can turn it on."

On the night, the Huskies finished an incredible 21-23 from the free throw line, a stark difference from last season's team, which was one of the worst in the country in that category. Freshman Jeffrey Day led the Huskies from the charity stripe, going 7-8 in the game.

"Better free throw shooting helps us immensely," said Washington Head Coach Bob Bender. "I don't know if that is an indication that we will be a better free throw shooting team, but for the first night it is an improvement."

Four Huskies scored in double digits: CJ Massingale (14), Wrenn (12), Grant Leep (11), and David Dixon (10). Dixon also chipped in 11 rebounds for the night, leading the team.

Wrenn made six of his last seven shots and showed glimpses of the talent that the team's been waiting for.

"This is an important step for Doug to get back on the court in an organized setting," said Bender.

Along with his scoring output, Wrenn also grabbed eight rebounds on the night. The Huskies will that all season long to compensate for their lack of height up front. That's a role that Wrenn feels comfortable with.

"I really like to rebound," Wrenn said. "I care more about rebounding than scoring. Rebounding and assists will keep the defense honest with me, and the points will always come."

Bender's starting five included point guard Curtis Allen, shooting guard Josh Barnard, Wrenn at small forward, Leep at power forward, and Dixon at center. Barnard got the start ahead of Massingale, also a Tacoma native.

Complicating matters was the absence of wingman Erroll Knight, who had minor knee surgery earlier in the day, and point guard Will Conroy, who had to miss the game after the NCAA clearinghouse questioned one of his grades from Garfield High School. The Huskies are appealing and hoping to have Conroy back for the next game against Western Washington next Thursday. Without Knight and Conroy, the Huskies were left with 11 very inexperienced, nervous players to take the court.

The nervousness showed early.

In the game's first five minutes, the Huskies came out flat. The slimmed down Dixon, who's lost 30 pounds from last season and is now close to 270 pounds, got the bulk of the looks inside to pace Washington at the outset. But nobody else on the team could manage to put the ball in the bucket, and Brisbane pulled out to a 10-4 lead 5:21 into the game.

Wrenn, the sophomore transfer from the University of Connecticut and 1998 graduate of Seattle's O'Dea High School, showed his nervousness in front of his hometown fans, and it showed. He missed his first five shot attempts and was pressing on the court with the adrenaline pumping, missing all of his shots long.

His first points as a Washington Husky came at the 11:51 mark in the first half on a pure 16-foot jumper.

Massingale, who checked into the game minutes earlier for Barnard, immediately made his presence felt and added an infusion of energy at both ends of the court. His first points came on a fast break layin that gave the Huskies their first lead of the game at 15-14. They'd never look back.

Dixon continued to impress down low with nifty moves in the paint and finished the first half with eight points. Four free throws apiece from Leep and Day, and easy transition points keyed a Husky offensive outburst that pushed them to a 42-25 lead at intermission.

"I am really happy with Dixon, you can really see a difference in his game," said Bender. "The fact that he was pursuing rebounds and loose balls shows you what the change in his body has done for him."

Washington finished the first half 12-13 from the line, the only miss coming on a free throw by Massingale that was halfway down before bouncing out of the cylinder.

Brisbane was led in scoring by guards Scotty Lloyd and Brendan Beak. Lloyd poured in 17 on 6-18 shooting, and Beak finished with 11.

The Husky performance impressed Brisbane, specifically their head coach.

"If they've picked Washington to be at the bottom of the Pac-10, then we're in for a long road trip," said Brisbane Head Coach Rob Scheibner, referring to a recent poll conducted by the media.
Game Notes:

Homecoming: Terik Brown, the brother of Husky graduate assistant Bryan Brown and former Oregon Duck, played for Brisbane. It was a bittersweet return home though. Brown finished the game scoreless in 24 minutes of play.

PT for the Walk-ons: Washington's three walk-on players; Sterling Brown, David Hudson, and Ian Gibbs all got time in the game. Brown played 16 minutes and was used mostly at shooting guard. He had five points in the game and played tough defense. Hudson was instant offense in his seven minutes, scoring seven points on two three pointers and a free throw. His free throw came after he was fouled on a three pointer, completing a four-point play. Gibbs came into the game in the final three minutes, much to the delight of a group of his fans behind the home team bench. The team worked the ball to him in the final minute, but his only attempt skidded off the iron. Top Stories