Roy ready to be a leader

Four years ago, Washington guard/forward Brandon Roy came to Montlake as a high school player worthy NBA consideration. He flirted with declaring himself eligible for the draft, but ended up enrolling in school and hasn't looked back since. This season, the quiet star from Garfield is the leader of a group of players who may be even more talented than the team he played on last season.

Even if they might more gifted than their predecessors they certainly aren't as talkative as those who have moved on.

"It's just straight basketball," a laughing Roy told after a recent workout. "There isn't a lot of arguing or talking. It's just good clean basketball. I miss it, but I have plans to talk it up a little bit soon."

Missing from the court are three players who were the face of Husky basketball for the past two years: Will Conroy, Tre Simmons and Nate Robinson.

"It's weird. They all had strong personalities, especially somebody like Nate, who is always making you feel his presence," an understated Roy said. "Will is like your captain and your leader and he was always talking and getting guys together. With Tre you miss his movement and his shot."

In their place are bigger players who, while they don't have the experience the other three took with them, may make this team even more physical than they have been in recent years. Freshman PF Jon Brockman, who brings with him a rep as a bruising player who won't take guff from anyone, has been one of the players to catch Roy's eye.

"All I can say is that kid is a beast," Roy said with raised eyebrows. "We expect big things from him right away. He's just an animal on the boards"

Roy has even had the unenviable pleasure of accepting some of Brockman's abuse. "I caught (an elbow) in the chest and one in the jaw, so I know what it feels like. He's an intimidating player."

Center Joe Wolfinger - the least heralded player in last year's recruiting class, power forward Artem Wallace and shooting guard Harvey Perry are three more players Roy says fans and opponents will need to keep an eye on.

"(Wolfinger) is improving a lot faster than we thought he would," Roy said. "The first day he was a little nervous and tentative, but now he's going at it hard. If he keeps playing like this we're going to expect big things from him. He's got a really soft touch and hopefully he keeps improving on the inside and banging guys.

"(Perry) is a tough guy. He also reminds me of Bobby Jones. He doesn't do a whole lot of talking he just plays tough and he can guard any position from one through four. The kid's tough and he's good at everything. He's going to be good for us this year.

"Artem's coming along really well. He had a back injury at the beginning of the summer so now he's just playing through it, but he's a pretty good kid too. He's very active and very athletic."

One other departed cog from the 2004 Huskies is former assistant coach Ken Bone, who left the Huskies for the head coaching job at Portland State University.

"I haven't noticed (Bone's absence) much yet," Roy said and then continued, "but you kind of start feeling his presence here when the season starts and we start going over new offensive things and things like that. I'm sure we'll start feeling the effects of that soon."

Roy's junior season was marred by a knee injury that caused him to miss five games and parts of two others. Now fully recovered, Roy says he's ready to be the player this team needs him to be.

"Health-wise I'm feeling good," he said happily. "This is the best I've felt in a long time. The other day I was jumping around, dunking, shooting and having fun.

"This offseason I've done a lot of shooting. I've done a lot of shooting drills and ball-handling because the coaches want the ball in my hands more this year."

Finally, with team leaders like Robinson and Conroy gone, Roy now knows his role on this team. "I'd definitely say it's my team," a confident Roy said. "I'd say it's me and (Jones') team.

"I'm just excited about this season."

Husky basketball fans are right there with you, Brandon.

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