News and Notes - 11/29

College basketball in the state of Washington has come a long ways from "It's pronounced Gone-ZAG-uh." That phrase, spoken with with conviction by former Gonzaga head coach Don Monson during the 1999 NCAA basketball tournament, brought to the fore a team few outside the Northwest had even heard of.

"I love that quote," Lorenzo Romar said Tuesday. "No one has got it twisted since then. Now, everyone knows about Gonzaga and I think it's great for the state. If we can continue to do well, and I think Washington State will do well, it just makes the state a good place to play basketball. Gonzaga has a lot to do with that."

The Washington Huskies (4-0, 0-0) are trying to do something about that, and a win over the Bulldogs (3-1, 0-0) Wednesday night in Spokane would go a long ways toward achieving that end.

"We've got to be ready to fight, ready to play hard, ready to have fun, ready to show the world what we can do," Nate Robinson said. Robinson was named this week's Pac-10 Player of the Week for his play during the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage this past weekend. Robinson led the Huskies in scoring, averaging 21.3 points per contest, leading UW to the championship over Utah, Oklahoma and Alabama.

"He obviously deserves it," Romar said of Robinson's P-10 award. "He's done that before. When the lights come on and it's a big game, he always rises to the occasion. And that was a big-time tournament, viewed by everyone in the country."

Washington, although they played their last three games away from the friendly environs of Bank of America Arena, will face their first stern road test in 48 hours. They will be playing a Gonzaga team Romar called 'upset hornets', upset because they suffered a resounding loss to Illinois this past weekend on the road. "They are going to make it even more of a battle probably than it would have been," said Romar. "They have a lot of pride in their program and they are going to do whatever it takes not to let that happen (again)."

"They just came out and jumped on 'em from the gate," Robinson said, when asked for his take on the GU-UI game. "That's what you've got to do with good teams, jump on 'em from the beginning. Like coach says, to stop a bully from bullying you, you've got to hit 'em first. That's what we've got to do, we've got to hit them first."

The Huskies will be hitting the road without one of their most-important players. Brandon Roy suffered a partially torn meniscus in UW's GAS semifinal win over Oklahoma. Roy actually came out of the game in the first half, went to the lockerroom, taped up and then came back for the final minute of play before intermission.

Then it was over.

"I guess I landed funny on my knee," Roy said Monday. "I didn't want to be a hero. We've got a deep bench and we all trust in each other. I'm disappointed, but it could be worse. If I recover fast enough it could be shorter than that (4-6 weeks). It felt like like something I did at the end of my junior year and I was back in two, two-and-a-half weeks. And that was without any college trainers or anything like that. I recover fast."

Roy will have surgery tomorrow and then rehab begins. "It's going to be tough, but it's a lot more fun when the team is playing well," he said.

"It's not the greatest news," Romar said of Roy's injury. "We talked about it at the beginning of the year, about trying to remain healthy, and Brandon is such a contributor to this team that it's a setback not having him able to play. But it's not serious, but it has to be dealt with. We anticipate him coming back with him being as good as new.

"He's a strong kid, he's been injured and has bounced back. Our guys are resilient and they are fighters and they will pick up the slack."

Movin' on up: UW moved up to 14th in the AP poll Monday, and up to number 16 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. "It's cool, but I don't believe in rankings," Robinson said when asked about the polls. "I'd rather not have 'em. I just want to play and show people what e can do in the NCAA tournament and the Pac-10 tournament."

"I'd be lying if I sat here and told you it didn't matter," added Romar. "It's a compliment to our program. There's a lot of excitement, but we've only played four games. It's a long season."

Bulldog hangover: Gonzaga really took it to the Huskies one year ago, winning by 24. "They were the first team to really expose us," Romar said, harkening back to a rough patch his team had last winter. "We were up by about 8 with 7 minutes left in the half, and then they just took over. And then when we went on the road and played Wyoming and Houston, it became apparent that we just weren't playing good basketball."

"They had guys like Blake Stepp and (Cory) Violette and they knew how to play," added Robinson. "Now we're a veteran team, so it's different now. We've got to be focused and ready. We need to bring it like we did in Alaska, bring that same intensity. As long as we do that, we'll be a good team."

On the road again: The Gonzaga game marks the toughest true out-of-conference road test for the Huskies this season. Robinson is looking forward to the reception he's sure to get. "It makes you want to win all that much more," he said. "We take it personally. When they are cheering, we think they are cheering for us. It's fun. It's part of life, it's part of basketball. That's the way it is.

"Every game is like a championship game to us."

Playing in the trees: With Gonzaga's Ronny Turiaf, J.P. Batista and Sean Mallon, the Bulldogs will be the fourth consecutive UW opponent that will most likely be in the NCAA tournament and 4th with a big inside presence. "In terms of preparation, all those teams had big front lines and we were able to out-rebound two of those (three) teams," said Romar. "I don't think we are going to be in awe of them."

Will Power: UW point guard Will Conroy scored 32 points in an overtime loss to the Bulldogs two years ago. Is he ready for another big game in Spokane? He was the Huskies' leading scorer Saturday night against Alabama. Top Stories