The ability to step up

BOISE, ID - With so many playmakers on Washington's team, it's not surprising senior point guard Will Conroy has been asked to back off his scoring a little bit and distribute the ball on offense. Going into the 2004-2005 season, Conroy had scored 20 or more points five times, including a 32-point outburst against Gonzaga his sophomore year. This year? None. But don't be fooled; Will is more than happy to take the big shot when required.

"Certain players on this team have the ability to make big plays," he said. "And you can see it when the game gets late, their eyes get big. If it's Nate, Brandon, Tre ... I've had my share of big plays down the stretch. No one shies away from a big moment. I think that's what makes this team good. It's easy to find a bunch of guys that don't want to take the last shot. We have a bunch of guys that do want to take it, that don't mind having the blame put on them afterward. I think that shows that we're a confident squad."

Confidence was not lacking in Conroy when he stepped up and buried four second-half three-pointers against Arizona in the finals of the Pac-10 championship in Los Angeles Saturday. With 2:15 left, a play was designed to get Tre Simmons the ball for a look, but Conroy ended up scoring a long-range three-pointer that put the Huskies up for good.

"He passed it back to me and I didn't even look to see where my feet were," said Conroy. "I just let it go. I'll take that shot, it doesn't bother me. I didn't play pickup basketball all summer with all pros on the floor with the game tight at 10-all without taking the game-winning shot."

Confidence was not lacking when Will took control against Oregon late in Eugene and nailed a key bomb from behind the arc to force overtime. The Huskies won that game, and it was done without their normal repertoire of scorers stepping up when the game was on the line.

Such is the quandry faced by Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar. With so many players that can hit a key jumper at any one time - Conroy, Simmons, Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Joel Smith, Mike Jensen and Bobby Jones - the question then becomes; how do you know who the right guy is at the right time?

"It goes on matchups at the time and also how a player has been going that night. Sometimes late a player is in a particular rhythm and you go with that person. I think we know our guys well enough to see it. When we played at Oregon, we were thinking that Tre Simmons has come through, Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Jamaal was as if I forgot (about Conroy), because he's done such a great job of running the team.

"But he hit one shot, and then another. I thought, 'There it is, right there.' When Will gets on a roll like that, we've seen him literally take over games. He can become as big a scorer as anyone. That particular night, that was Will Conroy's ball. He was going to have that ball in his hands and we had no problem with that. So each game presents it's own challenges."

During the second half of the Pac-10 championship game, Romar had no hesitations about Will taking his share of shots. He'd been doing it in summer pickup games with friend and NBA star Jamal Crawford there. "The pros didn't like me taking last shots, but I was like, 'Who cares? It's just pickup,'" said Conroy.

"I've been giving it up all year, so it's not a big deal to me. I don't score near as much as last year, but I'm still getting a lot of notoriety. What I'm doing for the team is big too. The bigger the game is, the bigger I'll play." Top Stories