Young Dawgs ride Waves to season-opening win

With five different Washington players scheduled to not only make their collegiate debuts but play significant minutes, no one could blame some of the Washington players if they were a little antsy. Lucky for Lorenzo Romar and the No. 17 Huskies, there were no first game jitters.

The young pups of the most highly acclaimed freshmen class in Husky history played like saavy veterans as they led Washington to a 99-91 victory over Pepperdine to kick-off the regular season and the Basketball Travelers Classic at Bank of America Arena Sunday night.

The Huskies were led by Wooden Award candidate Jon Brockman, who was looking to redeem himself after a less-than-flattering preseason game against St. Martins. The big sophomore team captain from Snohomish showed renewed energy and enthusiasm, netting his fifth career double-double with a career-high 25 points and tied a career-high with 12 rebounds.

"I was able to stay out of foul trouble and get into a groove," said Brockman. "It feels good to be a leader. It's one of those things that coach told me that I kind of have to put on my shoulder."

Washington (1-0) jumped out to a 16-2 lead to start the game behind the early hot hands of Quincy Pondexter, who was the only freshman to start the game. Washington's full-court pressure defense held the Wave to without a field goal for the first five minutes of the game, and forced the Waves to turn the ball over 23 times.

Romar's crew led from the tip to the final buzzer. The Waves (0-1), led by Jason Walberg's 18 points, never really got close to the big lead, but the Huskies were giving them every opportunity with the 24 turnovers they gave up.

"We got a little relaxed offensively, we let our guard down a little bit and tried some experimental passes and didn't finish the plays," said Romar. "(Pepperdine) hung in there and kept creeping back and they took advantage of it so give them a lot of credit."

Freshmen sensation Spencer Hawes, who was coming off a scope to remove a loose particle from his knee, was the first player off the bench in the first half and also started the second half. The multi-talented center displayed a soft touch and great court awareness with no-look passes from down low, many of them to Brockman, and he nailed several turn-around jumpers on his way to 12 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four blocks, including a couple that brought the near-capacity crowd to their feet.

"I think when you watch him play, it's kind of hard to keep him on the bench," said Romar with a smile when asked about Hawes.

Brockman, who was a teammate of Hawes' during their AAU days agreed.

"It was fun playing with that big, lanky seven-footer out there," he said. "It opens so much stuff up, it's amazing. He's such a great passer and he just puts it in your hands so all I had to do was finish tonight. We kind of have a feel for each other and get the ball into each other's hands."

"I think we built that chemistry playing with each other for so long," Hawes said. "I think the chemistry shows out there on the court."

Pondexter also made a big impact by scoring 21 points and seven rebounds in a stellar debut. The rest of the freshmen - Adrian Oliver, Phil Nelson and redshirt freshmen Harvey Perry - all made their debuts and played significant minutes. The four true freshmen combined for 45 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists.

"I am proud of our guys," said Romar. "We made some mistakes and we don't undertsand yet how to close a game but thosea are things that you learn and develop. Our guys did a lot of good things tonight."
More on Hawes: "I thought it was kinda indicitive of a first game," Hawes said of his first minutes of his college career. "It takes a little bit to get into the flow, but once I got that first bucket and first assisst, I think it'll go from there. There was one time in the first half I got tired, but I think overall, I felt pretty good out there. I was having fun out there and kind of living the moment. I've been watching the team for so long and felt it was about time to go out there and play the game."

Thomas to Prep School: Isaiah Thomas was in attendance, sitting behing the Washington bench. Thomas was one of the more highly touted recruits for the 2007 class, but did not sign a letter of intent last week due to pending academic issues. According to the Seattle Times, Thomas plans on leaving Curtis High School to attend the South Kent School in South Kent, Conn., the same prep school 2007 UW signee Matthew Bryan-Amaning attends.
Washington Statistics:
Points: Brockman 25, Pondexter 21, Dentmon 13, Hawes 12, Oliver 9, Gasser 6, Perry 6, Nelson 3, Burmeister 2, Wallace 2
Rebounds: Brockman 12, Pondexter 7, Hawes 5, Nelson 5, Dentmon 4, Wallace 4, Oliver 3, Gasser 2, Perry 1
Assists: Hawes 7, Oliver 4, Dentmon 3, Appleby 3, Pondexter 3, Brockman 2, Burmeister 1
Blocks: Hawes 4, Nelson 1, Perry 1, Pondexter 1
Steals: Pondexter 1, Brockman 1, Appleby 1, Perry 1, Nelson 1

Attendance: 10,000 (announced) Top Stories