New Dawg picks up old tricks

Heading into the start of the season, the shooting guard position will likely feature the hottest position battle on the court. Modesto, Calif. freshman Adrian Oliver appears to be the frontrunner to earn a starting nod, most likely alongside returning guard Justin Dentmon. Here's what he had to say about his new home with the Dawgs and about starting the season.

"Words can't really explain what I'm feeling right now," Oliver said Thursday, one day before Husky Hoopla - a UW basketball extravaganza that's free to the public after the WSU-UW volleyball game at Bank of America Arena. "I've been waiting for this for about a year and a half. I was so excited that It was hard playing my senior year knowing that I was coming here. Playing college basketball was something that I always dreamed of as a child, and now that I'm finally here I can't wait to go out and prove myself."

As one of the lesser-known recruits from coach Romar's stellar 2006 class, Oliver seems to be enjoying hanging back in the shadows while guys like Spencer Hawes and Quincy Pondexter garner the bulk of the attention. He isn't any less eager to prove himself on the court though.

"I definitely see myself as starter material," Oliver said. "I see myself as an all-around good player. Not someone who does one thing very well, but is versatile and someone who can get the job done, listens and will do anything Coach Romar needs me to do.

"If I start, great, but if not, Romar knows what he's doing and I totally trust him."

Oliver also benefited from some fairly lofty competition over the summer, with former Huskies Nate Robinson and Will Conroy turning up for regular 'runs', as well as New York Knick star and Seattle native Jamal Crawford.

"I learned a lot from them," said Oliver. "I won't really play against anyone better than Jamal. He's one of the craftiest guys I've ever seen and I told him over and over again not to take it easy on me, to go hard at me and he said he liked my attitude. He went hard at me, and sometimes, he busted my butt and killed me, and other days I came back at him. He said that if I work hard like this during the season that I'm going to see a lot of minutes and really help my team.

"As for Will, he really helped me learn how to run the team and how to read my players and how they react to certain things. They (Nate and Will) continually told me that our freshmen class better do well because they don't want to see the program slip from what they built. We owe those guys everything. They built it up to what it is today and I respect every one of those guys for it. We've got to win for this team, this school and this town and for the guys who graduated and want to see their school do well."

And that's not to say that he hasn't already benefited from his new teammates as well. Oliver clashed regularly with Justin Dentmon, Ryan Appleby, Harvey Perry and Tim Morris. He also built some great friendships, as well as fierce rivalries with his teammates.

"Justin and I are really close so we go at each other pretty hard during the day and whoever does better does the trash talking at night," Oliver said. "The chemistry between us means a lot because I thought it was going to take a while to get used to the team; used to how the guys played, but the older guys who have been here have been a huge help. Telling us backdoor here or there, the coaches are going to want you to do this or it's been easy for the freshmen.

"For us young guys, we've played so much already that it feels like we've already played four years together."

As for his on court relationship with Dentmon, he had this to say of his potential backcourt mate.

"By far I mesh the best with Justin on court," Oliver said. "Every open gym we play on the same team we don't lose. He knows where I'm going to be on a back door and I know when to move without the ball because I know he'll find me. It takes a lot of pressure off him because I can bring the ball down the court so he can play the two, and I know he's comfortable with it."

Not that Dentmon was the only teammate Oliver feels great chemistry with.

"Quincy (Pondexter) and I are roommates so we spend the most time together and we're really close friends," said Oliver. "Good friends off the court will eventually lead to success on the court."

It's hard to find fault with that kind of logic.

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