Utah-UW Notes and Quotes

Here's notes and quotes from Washington's 78-71 win on Thanksgiving Thursday over Utah in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage. Included quotes are from head coaches Lorenzo Romar and Ray Giacoletti, as well as UW guard Nate Robinson.

UW vs. Utah Game Notes:
The Huskies and Utes have only played each other 9 times before the first round of the 2004 Great Alaska Shootout, with Utah holding a slight edge in the series (5-4). UW would even see a familiar face on the other side of the court, Ray Giacoletti, who worked under Bob Bender as an assistant coach.

Washington has previously appeared in three other Great Alaska Shootouts, '82 (3rd), '86 (6th) and as recently as ‘99 (5th). This is only the second appearance for the Runnin' Utes, who last traveled to Anchorage in 1988 and finished 6th. This year, the teams are playing with experimental NCAA rules, including a wider key (1 ½ feet wider on both sides) and a deeper three-point line, which has been moved 9 inches behind the current line.

6,667 fans turned out for the tourney post-turkey dinner, filling up three-quarters of the 8,700-capacity Sullivan Arena. Though the UW cheer squad was unable to travel to Anchorage for the tourney, the Dawgs had an honorary squad from local Bartlett High School supporting them from the sidelines.

Playing fast defense early on in the contest, the Dawgs were determined to avoid the fate of several ranked teams that have entered the tourney in the top-25 only to fall to an unranked opponent, including last year's tournament where No. 2 Duke lost to Purdue in the championship game.

Nate Robinson did his best to psych-out defender Marc Jackson early on in the first half. He told him, "You can't defend me," and promptly hit a two-pointer from just inside the "new" three-point arc. After hitting a three-pointer near the 8:30 mark, he mused, "I'm having a field day out here!" He created a turnover seconds later, giving the Huskies another field goal opportunity. He hit his fifth trey and shouted, "He can shoot! He can shoot!"

Clearly, Robinson wasn't all talk as he led the Huskies with 20 points in the first half (7-9 FG, 5-6 3-point FG), putting on a show for several NBA scouts who were in attendance.

Robinson was voted player of the game.

The Utes turned it up in the second half, finally getting the ball to Australian center Andrew Bogut, who was held to 6 points in the first half. He helped lead the way with 23 points and 12 rebounds, and shot a perfect 7-7 from field goal range. The Huskies' foul trouble in the second half also helped bring Utah back into the game, giving them 30 attempts from the line (UW had 13 attempts).

Post-game Quotes:
Utah Coach Ray Giacoletti:
On Washington's defensive pressure: "We tried to reincarnate their pressure in practice this past week, but there's no way you can put your team through something like that. As great as they are getting out and guarding the ball and getting up into people. We dug ourselves a hole initially, but once we settled down a bit we got into a flow and did a better job the second half at getting Andrew [Bogut] the basketball. We tried to mix our defenses up, but they stepped up and knocked big shots down."

On Nate Robinson: "Where do you start? We tried to mix defenses up on misses and mades to maybe get them a little off-kilter, but every time we went zone he got a clean look and was able to knock down shots. This is the third year in a row that I've played Washington, and he was not a very good shooter three years ago. He's worked his butt off to become a pretty damn good shooter, and the ball looks pretty clean every time it comes off his hands."

On simulating Washington's defense in practice: "It's impossible to simulate unless you have those types of athletes. I'd be hard pressed to think of a more athletic team or one that buys in and loves playing defense in the rest of the country. I'm not making excuses, but I can't think of somebody that is going to get out and guard they way they do. The pressure is so great where we can't get into sets. We had scripted the first three plays tonight, and we couldn't get into all three of them – the third one being a basket cut. We couldn't get the ball swung to where it needed to go."

UW Coach Lorenzo Romar:
On Utah: "That's not a fun team to open up against in this tournament. They work the ball. They play at a certain pace to where they're going to dictate offensively what kind of shots they're going to get. Our only hope tonight was to try to pressure them as much as we could and not allow them to move the ball around the horn at will. That's a good basketball team."

"That was a team that you almost felt was going to come back. That's a program that's learning an entirely new system, but you can see that the pieces are in place. They're a tough-minded group."

On Nate Robinson: "Give Nate a lot of credit. His decisions were better, and he was a better shooter – I think we saw both tonight. One or two years ago, Nate probably would have continued to try to shoot and force the issue. Obviously, they clamped down and didn't give him as many open looks, and he didn't force anything. He played within himself. Then down the stretch, when we needed a bucket, he turned it on again; great players are able to do that. He picked his spots, and when there were openings he was able to come through for us."

On Utah's Andrew Bogut: "We're talking about one of the top two or three big men in the country. Once he got going in the second half, I thought we were able to see what he's capable of doing, and that's without a whole lot of touches. He was just very efficient."

Nate Robinson:
On playing aggressively: "Coach said I was on fire a little bit, so he decided a couple plays would come my way. Pretty much, I was just trying to get everybody involved. I want everybody to feed off my energy."

On Washington being recognized for offense more than defense: "We work so much harder on defense than offense. Coach says if you work harder on defense, offense is going to be 10-times easier. That's what we try to do. We try to work hard on defense to get the other team winded and keep breaking them down. Coach says basketball is not a sprint, it's a marathon. We're so used to playing up-tempo defense that it's natural for us."

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