Dollar prepares for the Desert

Washington and Arizona will decide temporary Pac-10 supremacy tomorrow night when the Huskies pay a visit to McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona, to take on the co-leaders of the league in their house. Washington hopes to improve on their 16-2 record, 6-1 in Pac-10 games thus far.

Assistant Coach Cameron Dollar talked about this week's practices in preparation for the 16-3 (6-1 in conference) team from Tucson.

"You know what? It is and it isn't. Our guys are mature enough to know that they have to come out ready to play every night," Dollar told when asked if this week was any different for his squad.

"They have done a good job all year at that, but there is added excitement this week knowing that it's Arizona. But we're not practicing any different. We know it will be a high impact, high profile game."

Arizona is ready to stop the current Husky winning streak over them at three, as they dropped both regular season clashes as well as the Pac-10 tournament match up with the Huskies last year.

Washington will get perhaps their most dynamic player back at full speed in junior swingman Brandon Roy. Roy came back against North Carolina State but has since rested his knee in hopes of regaining some offensive explosiveness in his legs. Dollar admits that could it take a while for the team chemistry to click on all cylinders after such a prolonged absence. "Yes, it takes time. He'll have to play through it, but as he plays more, he'll get it back. He'll be fine," said Dollar of Roy.

Tre Simmons has been arguably the Huskies MVP through the first half of the season. It comes as a surprise to some Husky fans, but not the coaching staff. "I'm not surprised at all. He was like that in junior college. We always thought he was that kind of player, he just needed time and space to show what he really had," said Dollar of the 6-6 shooting phenom from Garfield.

Of his Husky squad, he says, "I think these guys are ready for tomorrow. If nothing else, I know they'll play their hardest, and then we'll let the chips fall where they may."

Cameron was on a national championship team at UCLA not too long ago. Does the coach believe that a young Mr. Dollar, in his prime, could've fit in on this Husky team? "I think I could've helped out," said Dollar with a laugh. "I was always into doing anything you could do to help your team win. Winning was always my thing, and when that's the case, you do whatever you can to fit in."

When asked to compare this current Husky squad to the UCLA one that won the championship in Dollar's senior season, he measures them pretty tightly. "In some ways, it's close. You're talking about a UCLA team that had seven or eight NBA players that were either drafted or played in the league. I'm not sure we're all the way there yet with the numbers, but we're close," said Dollar.

The biggest area of improvement that the Huskies appear to have made over last season is in the mental toughness department. "Yep. That is one area where we are making strides and getting better every year. We're getting tougher and more mentally focused and alert," admits Dollar.

"When we embark on a stretch where we play seven games out of 11 on the road, that will show us where we are in that regard. You have to find a way to get it done on the road. Stay tuned for this next stretch of games. It will tell you a lot about us."

Update on Zach Johnson. Freshman center Zach Johnson, a 6-8 275 pound bruising center from California who is redshirting, is making good progress on the rehabilitation of his knee. "He's almost back practicing with us. Rehab is going well, but he's not able to go full tilt just yet," said Dollar.
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