Post-game player quotes - New Mexico

Jamaal Williams was a happy man in the Washington locker room after he helped the Huskies to an 81-71 win over New Mexico in the opening game of the Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif. Saturday. His move from Albuquerque to Seattle was vindicated by 22 points, six rebounds and three steals against his former team. And it wasn't just coincidence. He asked for this game - and he got it.

As Williams was holding the ball, time expired. And with that, a chapter in the book of his life. "Oh yeah, I wanted to close the chapter. No more New Mexico," Williams said after the game.

"I was very excited to get a chance to play against them. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, because this is my senior season. Me personally, I was just excited to close the chapter on the whole New Mexico thing, and now it's time to move on with the University of Washington and have a great senior season and finish up well."

And of course, while he is friends with some of the Lobo players, he didn't expect the rest of the New Mexico contingent to welcome him with open arms.

"I expected it the whole time," he said. "I left there, and some people when I left had a hard time expecting it…thought that I had betrayed the program and things like that. I expected the whole thing…I knew they were going to boo me, they were going to yell stuff at me, but it doesn't matter. Obviously we were in the Sweet 16, so we had success, so them yelling didn't have an affect on me."

And while the 22 points were the thing most people would point to, Williams was just as happy with another statistic - no turnovers. So while the rest of his teammates were having trouble holding onto the rock, Jamaal was rock-solid.

"Obviously it's a big deal," he said of his zero turnover effort. "Sometimes I get doubled and I tend to throw the ball away a couple times, not really being prepared. My mind is usually set on scoring first. Turnovers are a big deal and I have to become sure-handed with the ball. That was a big thing tonight, no turnovers."

"Jamaal is a scoring machine," added Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar. "Anybody that knows Jamal knows that he can put points on the board. He has turned it over a few times this year, but he is a very smart basketball player as well, and they covered him with one guy for the most part. I thought he was smart and patient. He didn't try to do anything that he couldn't do. He ended up having a really good game."

But maybe his best game?

"No, it was definitely one of my better performances," Williams said. "But if you asked me that right now, I would have to say last week against Gonzaga was my best game."

Against the Bulldogs, Williams had similar numbers - 22 points and seven rebounds. "It was definitely a propelling win," added senior guard Brandon Roy. "I remember my sophomore year we were 3-0 when we played them and they whooped us and we lost three games after that. The next year we can in off the Great Alaska Shootout Championship and they beat us and it kind of put a damper on us.

"But this year to finally beat them I think will really propel our season. People saw how well they played in the Maui Classic, and everyone knew that they were a really good team, and we beat one Gonzaga's best teams. It's a great feeling. And now, people are starting to give us the credit now. Like I said, we just got to keep going off that momentum."

Being on the road for the first time, did this game against the Lobos present added pressure for Williams - even moreso because it was against his former team?

"No, not at all," he said, matter-of-factly. "I looked at it as win (if) you play well plus. "If I didn't play well and we win, still a plus. "All that I wanted to do is win, I didn't care about my performance at all. I ended up having to play well, but all I wanted was the win."

"I think this was a learning experience," added Roy. "This was our first game away from home and you've got to give them some credit, they made shots in the second half. We were playing the same defense in the first half. In the second half they were knocking down some contested baskets. They made more threes, where in the first half they didn't make any. We've gotta give them credit, they played better. I'm just happy to pull that one out."

Romar looked to Roy, Williams and Bobby Jones to carry the Huskies during a very rocky second-half stretch and that's what they did. They kept their composure.

"Well, we're a veteran team, so coach knew, get the ball to Brandon and me on the post and draw fouls," said Williams. "Just basically play more aggressive by trying to get the ball inside and attack that way instead of trying to sit out and shoot jumpers. Take open jumpers, but focus on trying to get the ball inside and going at them. We got some and-ones and some easy layups and things like that, so being that we were veterans we just wanted to do that and stay poised."

"I sensed that they were making a run and we were kind of off-balance offensively," said Roy. "The important thing is to be aggressive. Not always just score, but to make plays. I think there were chances where I could make plays and then there were chances where I could score. The important thing is guys like Hans (Gasser) came in, he was ready to play, he hadn't played that much in the first half. He got out there ready to go and he knocked down some big shots. "As long as they do that, when I go to the basket and guys help, they know I'm gonna give it to them. It was just me wanting to make plays and trying to keep that lead."

It's been tougher than normal for Washington, because they don't have their full compliment of front-line players. Mike Jensen is expected back for the Lehigh game, which is right before Christmas. "That's a thing that we expected coming into the season," Roy said. "We knew that Mike was going to be out until December. We knew that with him being out it would give a lot of our younger guys experience, give Jon Brockman a chance to play a lot of games and start and play a lot of minutes. We expect Hans or Artem Wallace to give us big help each night. One night it's Artem doing it, the next night it's Hans.

"We think it's great for our team in the future because when Mike gets back our bench will be even deeper."

But in the meantime, the players are basking in the glow of being undefeated, something they want to take advantage of while it's still around.

"Last year we had a great season, but we didn't start off 8-0," said Roy. "Someone said that this was our best start and I thought that last year was. I remember we lost like the fourth game of the year. This means a lot. The important thing is that we didn't want to have a great start and then drop off in Pac-10 play. We're just tying to stay focused and play one game at a time. Right now we've got two games back at the home court before we enter Pac-10 play, so we've got two and a half weeks to get ready."

And be rest assured - Pac-10 play will be decidedly different than what the Huskies have seen so far this year - save Gonzaga and New Mexico. But Roy feels the level of play has benefitted Washington in ways that will help them down the road.

"It's been a really nice non-league schedule, 'cause we have some ten of eleven games at home," he said. "I think that's really good because we have a lot of young players. Last year we had a veteran team and we wanted to play everybody. It was like bring Duke, bring Connecticut, and we're ready to go.

"But this year, we did a good job of making the schedule where our young guys can get games and get confidence. "You start to get confidence and then in a game where it's tough, you got the mentality like, 'Come you guys, we can win this game!'. And we haven't lost. Our young guys are getting confidence and our older guys are doing a good job of trying to lead.

"We're getting some recognition, but along with recognition we've got to get better. Now teams are going to be like, 'We play the #12 team in the country, we've gotta try to knock them off'. Things we were doing in the past is what teams are going to be doing to us, so we've got to do a good job a trying to get better." Top Stories