Huskies spread the wealth in win

SEATTLE - Playing everyone available, Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar was able to tinker with lineups, play with chemistry, and create valuable experience for his newest stable of young playmakers. And Isaiah Thomas took advantage of every opportunity, leading five Huskies in double-digits.

The Washington Huskies rode an 11-0 run at the end of the first half to an easy 105-85 win over Western Washington in front of 7836 fans at Bank of America Arena on a rainy Thursday night. And Thomas, the freshman guard from University Place, Wash. - by way of South Kent School in Connecticut - had a stunning debut with 27 points, two rebounds and three assists.

"He did a nice job," Romar said of Thomas' night.

"At first I was anxious to get out here," Thomas said. "Once the tip off came out it was normal. The lights were on and it was time to perform."

Balance and opportunity was the name of this exhibition game: Nine of the 11 Huskies scored; 10 came away with rebounds; 10 players had assists and seven different Dawgs had at least one steal. And even though it won't count against the Huskies' win-loss totals for the 2008-2009 season, Romar used it as a valuable learning tool for those players at the beginning of their Husky careers. And he will have plenty of examples to choose from when the team goes through their film study.

"You don't want to expect it, but you can tolerate it if you have a lot of guys in there and it's hard to get a rhythm," Romar said of the Huskies' 20 turnovers. "Sometimes that's more the problem than anything else. But you want to make sure your effort and focus is at a high level for 40 minutes."

All eleven available players saw time early and often against the Vikings, who were outmatched from the start. The Huskies ran out to a 10-2 lead, punctuated by a Thomas jumper. He didn't stop until he led UW in scoring the first half with 12 as the home team took a commanding 50-27 lead into halftime.

"When players have the ability to score and they are playing to win, I don't try to say a whole lot," Romar said of Thomas. "Just let them play. The worse thing you can do to a scorer is coach him too much, take his initiative away. And you have to live with the mistakes, but the good will outweigh the bad."

Senior guard Justin Dentmon added 18 points for UW, his final points coming via a three-pointer with 5:02 left to give the Huskies a 94-65 lead. Dentmon finished the night 4-6 from deep.

"He played within himself," Romar said of Dentmon. "And when he's playing with Venoy and Isaiah, those guys allow him to roam and be the player that he is."

With the outcome never in doubt, the Vikings outscored the Huskies 20-11, including a game-ending five-straight three-point baskets. Overall the Vikings shot 62 percent (13-21) from three.

UW Senior forward Jon Brockman added 14, junior forward Quincy Pondexter tallied 13 and sophomore forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning chipped in 12 for the Huskies. Brockman also muscled his way to a career-tying 18 rebounds. He also roped in 18 in a win over Utah last year. Overall Washington out-rebounded the Vikings 54-33.

The Huskies, depite the strong scoring effort, still have a lot to work on. "We were a little negligent with our passing sometimes and sometimes made the wrong decision - shot when we shouldn't and passed when we should've shot," Romar said. "Those things should get ironed out later. It was good for us to finally get out there on the floor. I think we're further along (than last year). I thought we played very good defense in spurts, but there were too many spurts when we relaxed and we can't do that next Saturday when we play at Portland.

"As we go and settle into our rotation, I think we'll be pleased that there's not a big drop-off. Coming off the bench, Venoy (Overton) played a very good basketball game. Defensively he might have been our best player. He was very active on the defensive end and settled us down when we had a couple of lulls. He gave us a big lift."

"I thought we played like 30 minutes of great basketball," Brockman added. "There were times when we were playing that and I thought we looked unbelievable. We were just working on the defensive end. Guys wer moving, guys were talking. Then all of a sudden, it would go dead and guys wouldn't be getting back on defense. But for the most part I thought we played a pretty good ball game."

Free throws, also a big concern from last year, showed some improvement. Overall, the Huskies were 20-29 (.690) from the stripe, up over 10 percent from last year. Washington was 16-19 in their opener last year against Seattle Pacific before sliding into free throw limbo. "We did a decent job," Romar said of their effort from the line. "We need to stay at least there. If we can shoot near 70 percent as a team, it will help our cause tremendously."

With nearly everyone now in the pool, it's time to venture down into the deep end known as the regular season. The Huskies will encounter their first road opener in the Romar era as they travel to the University of Portland a week from Saturday. Romar said until then, the team will focus on defense and rebounding as they prepare for the Pilots. "At times, shot selection was questionable," he said. "And there were too many unforced errors. In the first half I thought we did a nice job with the exception of about three minutes. In the second half we let our guard down. 58 (second-half WWU) points is way too many.

"We need guys that can defend and rebound. That's what important right now."

Notes:
In the crowd: Abdul Gaddy and Tony Wroten, Jr. were at the game.

M.A.S.H unit: Artem Wallace and Tyreese Breshers were the only two Huskies to not play Thursday night. Romar said that Wallace will be fine after coming back from a knee injury. Breshers is working into the rotation, but his status is a little more unclear.
Statistics:
Points: Thomas 27, Dentmon 18, Brockman 14, Pondexter 13, Bryan-Amaning 12, Overton 7, Wolfinger 7, Gant 4, Turner 3
Rebounds: Brockman 18, Pondexter 8, Turner 6, Gant 5, Dentmon 4, Wolfinger 4, Holiday 3, Thomas 2, Bryan-Amaning 2, Suggs 1
Assists: Turner 3, Thomas 3, Overton 2, Dentmon 2, Brockman 2, Suggs 1, Wolfinger 1, Bryan-Amaning 1, Pondexter 1, Holiday 1
Steals: Dentmon 3, Overton 2, Brockman 1, Thomas 1, Bryan-Amaning 1, Holiday 1, Turner 1
Blocks: Holiday 3, Bryan-Amaning 2, Gant 1, Dentmon 1


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