Huskies looking to rebound

After a 30-point drubbing at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson last Saturday, Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar and his young team are faced with the cold, hard reality of their team's fading NCAA tournament chances.

"We have two ways we can look at it," explained Romar. "The first way it to say that we did a poor job and throw in the towel. The other way is to see that we've won three out of the last four games and we have five of seven games coming up at home."

Remaining optimistic, Romar shared the following;

"I know how I'm looking at it, and I haven't seen any reason to think that our guys aren't looking at it that way too. We need to work hard and continue to compete on the court."

Enter the California Golden Bears, battered by injuries and losers of their last three, and possibly just what the doctor ordered to restore the Huskies' sagging confidence.

Washington enters the game Thursday night a different team at home, holding a 3-1 conference record at Hec Ed, and with five of their final seve games coming at home, all is not lost for the Huskies. But first, Washington must find an answer for Cal's fabulous freshman Ryan Anderson, averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds a game, frontrunner for PAC 10 freshman of the year honors - the same player who dropped 18 points and 14 boards on the Dawgs in an overtime loss in Berkeley.

"They outscrapped us," said Romar frankly when asked about that last game between Washington and Cal. "They had 18 second-chance points against us."

Romar liked what he saw out of Anderson. "I was very impressed with him," he said. "At one point he was 4-14 from the field, but as a freshman, found a way to help his team win with winning hustle plays."

On his team's chances to come out victorious he added, "You can't judge this team by what they do on the road with what they do at home. They've been a different team."

Romar also took a moment to talk about some of the areas he has been pleased with this season, and post play was front and center.

"They've done a nice job for us all year long," he explained. "It's also been refreshing to see Artem Wallace go in and have the kind of game that he had against Arizona.

"He (Wallace) is gaining confidence and showing that he belongs in the rotation," he shared, expanding on Wallace's increased role on the court of late. "So that's been a silver lining."

Romar was more solemn when he announced that Junior wing Joel Smith was done for the year, a casualty of a broken foot, one that has been surgically repaired but has lingered due to re-injury a couple of months back.

"He's going to redshirt, he is not 100 percent," Romar explained, obviously disappointed in not having Smith's experience and energy. "If he would have been able to come back sooner, he would have loved to play. He just felt like, when he comes back healthy he wants to be at 100 percent.

"What it means is that we'll have him for two more years," he observed, looking at the bright side. "He looked good at practice. He brings a great level of enthusiasm, maturity and energy that's been evident the last couple of days. Right away he brought energy, toughness, maturity and enthusiasm."

Regaining his endurance though, is going to take some time, and his defensive aptitude is sorely missed. "His strength, athleticism and experience all helps to match up against some good perimeter players," Romar said of Smith. "Of course he wore down after a little while, but he gave us a presence immediately. If we would have had him, he would have been a tremendous help."

Would having Smith's veteran charisma in the lineup meant anything this year, especially during clutch situations that have overwhelmed some of the team's younger players? We'll never know.


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