Defensive Length and Speed Still Carrying UW

Here we are with a week to go in the season and in first place and in control of our own destiny. A win over Seattle U and then the Cougars, wrap up the Pac-10 title outright and then get ready for the dance. What's not to like about this, Husky fans? Washington basketball has totally replaced my need for the NBA. We have a fun team to watch.

They are oh so quick on defense and pound the boards like jumping jacks. They seem like all arms and legs on defense, playing the passing lanes, denying the entry, screening off, and appear relentless when it comes to rebounding.

They scramble and fight all the way to the end of games. It's called finishing and that's precisely what they are doing. They are finishing games off when they have to by making their free throws and playing their ball hawking defense. The mix of their top nine players also gives them great flexibility in match-ups.

Could you believe them playing Justin Dentmon on Chase Buttinger during the Arizona game? They got away with it, and with the exception of a couple of post-up plays, Justin basically denied him the ball. That left Venoy Overton and Isaiah Thomas to handle UA guard Nic Wise, and they did so with some great help from Justin Holiday and Darnell Gant, with their long arms and quick feet.

That continues to be the key to this team: Their defensive pressure on the ball and the flexibility of Overton and Holiday off the bench really allows Coach Romar to play all kinds of assortments on defense. Overton changes the game when he comes on the floor. He is the most disruptive player in the conference and he does it on the defensive end. When he has the ball in his hands he becomes a speed dynamo and totally changes the pace of the game from fast to ultra-fast.

Gant does a really good job by being so long and quick. Together with Matthew Bryan-Amaning, they give the Huskies two interchangeable players to spell off senior forward Jon Brockman in the post.

Right now the Huskies are getting away with playing a 6-foot-7 center, but then I'll always remember Wes Unseld and Charles Barkley and neither was as tall as Brockman, and both were incredible inside players. Brockman is strong enough to handle himself in the post, but how he will do against the kid from Connecticut or the one at North Carolina if they go that far? They are certainly bigger but he might be broader and plays so well with his elbows up that he plays even wider than he is.

Basically Brockman takes up space and is quick to set his feet and is so strong that he gets away with his lack of height or jumping ability with his strong hands and constant awareness of position.

I admit that Jon Brockman is my favorite Husky basketball player of all time. And I mean all of them - going back to Bruno Boin, Doug Smart and the great Bob Houbregs. Brockman is just my kind of basketball player. I get carried away so much that most of the time I'm just watching him and not even seeing the ball except as to how he is reacting to it. It will be squarely on his broad shoulders just how far this team can go into the tournament.

That is why this week is so important. Win two and then win two in the Pac -10 tourney and you will get at least a 3-4 seed in the tournament. Sweep out and you could get up to a 2 seed. With the win over the Redhawks, one step is out of the way.

The Huskies can do it if they can keep up the pressure on defense and continue to attack on offense: Go to the glass, get fouled, go to the line and sink the foul shots. It's a simple formula. Play defense first, then transition, then roll into the offense when you need it.

But right now? Beat the Cougars and see what happens.


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