2003-2004 Washington Huskies Season Wrap – Part II

The Final Four is now set and sadly, the Washington Huskies are not a part of that equation. Amazingly enough, mentioning the Huskies in the same sentence as the Final Four isn't the preposterous notion it would have been two months ago. With spring football right around the corner, (and maybe the sight of Nate Robinson in helmet and pads) the past season will undoubtedly be pushed farther in the back of everybody's minds.

In part one we examined the team as a whole. This time, we will look at the individuals that made that past season a magical one.

Frontcourt/Post

If there was a glaring weakness this team had, it came from the frontcourt. The "three-headed center" of Mike Jensen, Hakeem Rollins, and Anthony Washington held their own at times, but were severely outmatched in some games against bigger and nastier post players.

For the most part, Jensen improved his game as the season progressed. The big guy from Covington, Washington scored in double figures nine times this season for a 7.6 points per game average. He also chipped in with 4.5 rebounds per game.

The biggest knock on Jensen's game is his inconsistency. The same player who had a double-double against Oregon at home with 14 points and 10 rebounds had a nightmare performance against UCLA. Jensen failed to register a single point and grabbed only one rebound in 16 minutes of action against the Bruins for what had to be his worst game of the season.

Mike is one of the better shooters on the team, and in my opinion, one of the better shooters in the country for a guy his size. He has excellent range, as his 41.3 percent three-point shooting suggests. But for him to be more effective, he must use his tremendous strength down low and dominate the basket. He has the potential to average double-doubles every night he takes the floor.

JC transfer Rollins was the first option off the bench. The Mesa, Arizona native averaged 5.5 points and led the team with 38 blocked shots. Some of his blocks were absolutely nasty. Ask Arizona's Channing Frye, who was at the receiving end of three Rollins swats in Tucson.

Rollins' long arms allow him to play taller and bigger than he is. He certainly has the ability to be an offensive force as his JC days show, but Hakeem knows that the defense he brings to the table is what gets him significant minutes on the court.

Then there was Anthony Washington. In the season opener against Portland State, Washington came off the bench to score 14 points and lead the team. That day it looked as if his foot injury was behind him and he would have a breakout season. As time passed, it looked like he wasn't completely able to shake off the injury, and when he did play he was inconsistent.

Contributing only 3.3 points per game and three blocks (the entire season), Washington needs to find his confidence in order for him to push Jensen and Rollins for playing time.

Bobby Jones made the biggest jump in his contributions this season. Known for his excellent defensive prowess, Jones kicked his offense up a notch with 11.2 points per game. He led the team in shooting with a healthy 57 percent field-goal percentage. He showed tremendous hustle and heart every moment he was on the floor and quickly became a fan favorite. Even with his improved offense, Jones was still the pesky defender the Pac-10 elites had to deal with. Oregon's Luke Jackson and Stanford's Josh Childress had frustrating days with Jones defending their every move.

His defense, however, causes too many personal fouls. Jones committed 117 personal fouls and fouled out of 10 games, both tops on the team. The team will need Jones to be on the floor without limiting what he is able to do to opposing players. If he cuts down the fouls, he'll improve his performance.

Even though he is listed at guard, Brandon Roy played like a forward. Given his first full season to run with the team, the former Garfield standout responded with 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He led the team in scoring up until the last game and his rebounding average led the team.

Brandon was also named to the All-District First Team and Honorable Mention All Pac-10. He was a player who routinely filled up the box scores and has "triple-double" ability. Roy was second on the team in assists with 102 assists but he also led the team in turnovers with 83 turnovers. Still, he is thought of as the Husky with the most ‘NBA potential'. Look for him to be counted on to provide more offense in the future.

Hans Gasser, the only scholarship freshman on the team, didn't play much and probably should have red-shirted. Hopefully he will be able to gain some more muscle this off-season to add more depth down low. Zane "Harry" Potter was usually the 11th or 12th man off the bench and had his career highlight with a wicked crossover against Arizona State in Tempe. Way to go Zane! Next season, Jamaal Williams, Zach Johnson and Matt Fletcher will also be in the mix.

Backcourt/Perimeter

What else can be said about Nate Robinson? The media darling shook off an early season slump to become one of college basketball's most exciting players. Robinson took over the team lead in scoring at 13.2 points per game with his 27-point outburst against Alabama-Birmingham in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

‘Nate the Great' was one of the tougher players to guard for the opposition and he could be counted on to be wherever the ball was while he was on the court. Whenever he dove for a loose ball, his football instincts took over. Robinson's hustle allowed him to lead the team with 53 steals.

My three favorite Robinson plays? The first one would have to be his monster ally-oop jam against Arizona at home. The second would have to be his one-handed windmill slam at North Carolina State, and the third would have to be his insane block on the 6-9 T.J. Cummings of UCLA during the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament.

Robinson has the ability to make those around him better. He may not score 20-30 points every night, but his mere presence makes his teammates work harder. I am one of the few people who hopes he sticks with basketball for the rest of his career at Montlake.

It's been stated before, but Co-captain Will Conroy was the heart and soul of the 2003-2004 Washington men's basketball team. Conroy plays with a lot of emotion and sometimes plays like owns the gym. His 12.3 points per game average was third-best on the team, and his 142 assists led the team as well earning the number-two spot on the all-time season records list for dishes.

Conroy takes pride in his assists and his playmaking abilities. He would much rather have a 12 points and nine assists night rather than a 20 points and three assists night. ‘Dubb' also has no fear. When the game is on the line he is usually the one taking it strong to the hoop.

Tre Simmons, the "Zone Killer," provided plenty of highlights of his own. Simmons started at the beginning of the season, but as the season progressed it became clear that he would be most effective as Lorenzo Romar's sixth man. He fit rather nicely into that role, often providing the Washington offense a jolt in the form of numerous three-point baskets.

Simmons began to go off on opposing defenses that gave him enough room to work with. Arizona and Stanford, in particular, felt the wrath of a Simmons trey late in the season. Opposing coaches would yell to the players to let them know that "No.1 is a shooter!" Simmons averaged 10.8 points per game and led the team with 48 shots from downtown, making them at a rate of 40.3 percent.

And then there was Curtis Allen. ‘Captain Curt' had his worst season statistically, but ironically enough was still his best season in four years at the University of Washington. The sight of him being carried off the court after the Huskies beat the number-one Stanford Cardinal was one for the ages. He hadn't done anything against Stanford, yet he was the player carried off, a fitting tribute for a player who endured three miserable, losing seasons in purple and gold.

Allen's statistical contributions will scarcely be missed. The leadership and example he set for younger Huskies will be sorely missed. Lucky for us, he may be sticking around a little bit longer. There are rumors that Allen is considering coaching as a career and a volunteer grad assistant spot at the UW is a great way to get things started.

Brandon Burmeister is an excellent shooter who is a walk-on and saw only mop-up duty last season. He will be a sophomore next year hoping to get increased playing time. Alex Johnson was another walk-on who saw very limited duty. He will be a senior next season.

Right now it looks as if Joel Smith will be the only scholarship freshman guard coming into the program. Smith has drawn rave reviews about his presence on the court and he will have the luxury of coming in and learning from some decent mentors that are already in the program.


2003-2004 Washington Huskies Season Wrap – Part I

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