For Huskies, it's Time to Rebound

With the City of Seattle desperate for some sports success, the first performance of the Washington basketball team came up painfully short. Their play on the road at Portland was sloppy and pre-game jitters were apparent. The team has to recover quickly with a tough Cleveland State team coming into town Tuesday.

"It was definitely a wake up call, losing that first game on the road to the University of Portland," said freshman guard Isaiah Thomas. "But we're back at it and have our heads up high and we're looking forward to tomorrow's game."

Losing an opening game could have long lasting effects on some younger players if they let it, and it's up to the leadership on the team can get the guys back on track.

"I think our guys for the most part are pretty resilient. They bounced back yesterday and had a good practice," senior forward Jon Brockman told Dawgman.com on Monday. "We just have to learn from this (loss). It was our first game. It's not 10 games in a row, but we'll be at our tenth game before we know it. If we continue to let that happen we're going to be in a lot of trouble."

Injuries left some players limited and mostly watching from the bench, feeling frustrated with the inability to contribute.

"Words can't even explain (how frustrated I was)," said sophomore forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who was out with a left ankle injury. "I was at the time telling (UW Head) coach (Lorenzo Romar), ‘Let me just play'. But obviously I couldn't, and me not being 100 percent is not going to help the team right now."

"It was definitely frustrating for us. We had way too many turnovers, like 20 something. It was sloppy play and bad shot selection, we really didn't play like ourselves," said senior center Artem Wallace. "We're hoping it was because it was the first game and everybody was a little jittery. Hopefully we'll be able to get out of it and come out and perform like we know we can."

Another limiting factor for the team against Portland was foul trouble. The team had a total of 26 personal fouls. One player who was severely limited because of fouls was Isaiah Thomas, who only played 15 minutes.

"It was difficult knowing I was in foul trouble," said Thomas. "I couldn't help my team being on the bench. I knew if I was in there I could do a lot to help my team and hopefully get the win."

Not many people expected the team would already need to rebound from a tough loss after the first game of the season. With a strong senior class and a talented freshman class, expectations are higher than ever, and the team needs to gel quickly in order to improve.

"There's nobody pointing a finger, everybody is coming together. We realize it was a team loss, it wasn't some individual's fault," said Wallace. "We're all willing to make sacrifices and do something for the benefit of the team and not for the benefit of ourselves."

"I believe there were spurts in there that game were we did play well together," said Romar. "To open the game, first game on the road, we didn't do a very good job of handling that. There was a stretch in the first half we turned the ball over five or six times."

After a slow start plagued with turnovers, the team started to find their groove against the Pilots. "We realized who butters are bread, we got it to Jon Brockman," said Romar. "We came back, made the game close by half time. Second half came out the same way. Came back took the led but didn't finish it well. When we stopped turning the ball over we immediately started playing better basketball on both sides of the floor."

The Cleveland State Vikings will be a hard second test for this Husky team. They have already beaten Oakland this season while only shooting 35 percent from the field and 16 percent from the 3-point line on 25 attempts. This team has the capability to score in bunches, and it will interesting to see how the Huskies' defense reacts. One thing is for sure; the team and the coaches aren't underestimating them.

"They are supposed to be a lot better (than Portland). They're picked to win their conference and supposed to go pretty far in the (NCAA) tournament from what I've heard," said freshman guard Elston Turner.

One player who Romar is warning his team about is J'Nathan Bullock. The 6-foot-5 senior forward was a first-team All-Horizon League pick last year and has started in 70 consecutive games for the Vikings. "He's powerful and strong for a guy his height," Romar said of Bullock. "He'll punish you inside, and if you try to put a bigger man on him he'll just go around you. He's a very tough matchup."

With the aftermath at the Chiles Center starting to clear, a better Washington team needs to emerge to beat the Vikings. The keys will be on the Huskies' focus and playing their game, not their opponents. "I think our guys are now really focused. I think our attention to what is important is at a high level," said Romar.

For the early going, it appears the hoop dawgs are going to have to ride Brockman's back until all the younger guys find their roles on the team.


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