Roy embraces new role

Brandon Roy has come a long ways from the 2002 Class 4A championships. He was the man for the Garfield Bulldogs, leading the tourney in scoring at 25.5 points a game. In 2004, he's only averaging half that many points in his role as a guard for the Washington Huskies, but the 6-5 sophomore still leads his team when it comes to putting the ball in the hole.

So what has changed? With Garfield, Roy was the unquestioned star, the 'go-to' guy. And when he signed a letter of intent to play basketball for the University of Washington in 2001, things weren't expected to change. Arizona and Gonzaga were just two of many teams interested in focusing their offensive output around the slashing Roy.

Brandon can play inside out. He can throw it down from three. His rebounding is underrated. In short - he's a player that can do it all. Lorenzo Romar, head coach for Washington, has another term he likes to use for players of Brandon's ability.

"He's like a provider," Romar said. "He's kind of a distributor, and he does what's needed. He has the talent to help out in every way, and we don't have a lot of providers on our team. Like with Luke Jackson, he was able to step up and did a phenomenal job of defending him. And there's the assists, double-digit rebounds and then he goes out and scores 30 against UCLA. He's so good at seeing how the game is flowing and helps out where he can."

Roy has just recently come to grips with the understanding of just how important the rest of his game is to the overall success of the Huskies. Scoring is fine, but Brandon is getting as much joy from dishing the rock or bringing down a clutch board that he's totally and unabashedly bought into Romar's system. It wasn't always that way, but trust has a funny way of changing things.

"I used to be on the bench asking coach to get back in, because I was uncomfortable being on the bench down 5. But now if I go to the bench down 5, I feel just as good if the second line is in there because they are very productive. I just trust everyone on the team. If Coach says Nate is taking the last shot, I'm fine with that. If he says Will takes it, I'm fine with that. I just trust my teammates, each and everyone of them.

"Earlier in the year, I would have wanted to take the last shot, and maybe Nate would feel he deserved to take the last shot. Now we trust our coaching a lot more. We're all comfortable now with the shots we're taking and it's bringing wins and that's the most important thing."

But Romar doesn't want Roy to forget what got him to this point. He is, first and foremost, a scorer. "He's got to be more aggressive, but you hesitate telling him that because he's done so many good things for our team," Lorenzo said. "And there's only one time where I told him he needed to be more aggressive, and that was this last game against Stanford. And I've been on teams that were so selfish you thought about taking shots because you knew you'd never get the ball back, but with him it's the opposite end of the spectrum."

Roy points to a popular jumping-on spot in the season for the Huskies' remarkable turnaround. "I think what triggered that is the Oregon State game," he said. "People recognize the shot that Nate hit, but a lot of things happened in that game. Tre (Simmons) hit a big shot, Mike (Jensen) made a big shot, Bobby (Jones) made a steal, I had a couple of points in overtime - we just recognized that it's going to take a team effort to win at the Pac-10 level. We're going to need all the guys on this roster to win. Oregon State showed that if we all come and bring it we can win games at the Pac-10 level."

Now it's on to post-season play, a thought that was a pipe-dream a month ago. Now that dream has become reality, with the Huskies playing Alabama-Birmingham in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament Friday in Columbus, Ohio.

"It's exciting," Brandon said when asked about playing a new team like UAB. "It's like the beginning of the season, where you're playing teams you're not very familiar with. We're excited to play them. We don't know a lot about them, but they don't know a lot about us."

One thing UW knows about head coach Mike Anderson and the Blazers' style of play - they love to attack defensively and cause a truckload of turnovers, a catalyst for their fast-break offense. "I think we respond well to it," Roy said about UAB's full-court pressure. "We like the up-tempo pace and I've heard they have a deep bench, so it'll be fun to see which bench wins this game. We're going to go out and play hard and I'm sure they are going to match that too."

To a certain extent, the UAB game won't be a lot different than the last fifteen games the Huskies have played. "We've been the underdog throughout this whole season," said Roy. "People haven't expected much from us. Going into the tournament, we're still the underdog. We have Kentucky and Gonzaga in our region, so we're going to keep playing hard and playing like we've got nothing to lose.

"As the season wound down, we needed to win just about every big game we played in. Going to the Pac-10 tournament, we had to keep winning just to make sure we got into the NCAA tournament, and now it's lose or go home. I think playing so many 'loser out' games is going to help us going into the NCAA tournament."

And make no mistake about it - Brandon Roy and the Washington Huskies are not content with just stepping on the dance floor. They want to stay until closing time. "We'll keep doing what we're doing, but we think there's another level we can take it up to," he said.

And Roy will provide the same way he has all season - any way possible. Top Stories