Huskies don't need snub for motivation

SEATTLE - Does Quincy Pondexter hold a grudge? Does a Golden Bear do his thing in the woods? Actually, the younger Pondexter would have taken the announcement of Jerome Randle as the 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year as a serious snub, but the older, wiser Pondexter has already moved on. It doesn't mean his teammates have, however.

"I didn't like 'em, because Quincy Pondexter didn't get Player of the Year," Washington guard Isaiah Thomas said Tuesday when asked about the league's post-season awards. "And he deserved it. And I feel for him, because he's done everything he possibly could for this team. You've seen it. He had an exceptional year. It's a blessing for me to be first-team Pac-10 and for my other teammates to get awards - but that one really hurt.

"It's called Player of the Year, not Team of the Year. And I feel like Quincy Pondexter was the best individual player in this conference."

You won't get any argument from Lorenzo Romar, who was lobbying for Randle and Pondexter to share the award. "And that is no slight to Jerome Randle," Romar said Tuesday. "I just feel like maybe it should have been a co (Player of the Year). But it wasn't like Cal won the league and Randle was just one of their contributors. He had a heck of a year. He really did. We were first-hand witnesses to it. I just think Quincy Pondexter is having a phenomenal season up to this point. I was surprised he wasn't in it."

Looking on the outside, it appears the Pac-10 took the easy road - picking the best player off the top team. "If that's the standard, then maybe Jon (Brockman) should have been co-MVP with James Harden last year," Romar noted.

He's got a point. But in the end, none of it will matter starting Wednesday at the Pac-10 Tournament, as the Huskies will have their backs to the wall. In talking to the players Tuesday, there's no doubt they will use Pondexter's snub as motivation. "It's more fuel to our fire," Thomas said. "I told Quincy, it's motivation. You still have people doubting you out here, so you have to show them who is the real Pac-10 Player of the Year. Big ups to Jerome Randle, no disrespect…I'm just feeling for my teammate."

The players love their teammates, and they know how hard Quincy's worked," added Romar. "Guys have a lot of pride."

Pondexter was saying all the right things Tuesday, deferring to Randle and talking about the news meant little in the bigger picture. "I can't hold a grudge against the conference that made me what I am," he would say.

But he has a long memory. Go back to when he was at San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, playing alongside the Lopez twins. Up for inclusion on the west team for the McDonald's All-American game in 2006, yet he was passed over for players he felt he was better than at the time; guys like James Keefe, who would wind up at UCLA, or Demond 'Tweety' Carter, who ended up at Baylor.

Pondexter, who admitted he ate the same McDonalds breakfast every day in high school, gave it up the day he was snubbed. And it took an act of serious desperation for him to ever eat McDonalds again. Fast forward three years to the World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia, where Pondexter was playing as a member of the US national team. He couldn't eat the cafeteria food, basically describing it as inedible. For the first two days he was there, it was nothing but bread and water.

"It was like fasting," he said. At the same time, his teammates had already availed themselves of the next closest food option - a McDonalds down the street.

"It was either death or McDonalds," Pondexter said. "I ended up going with McDonalds."

His head coach maintains there will be no fasting, or fast food, required when the Huskies show up for this week's Pac-10 Tournament at the Staples Center. They will not need an award snub as motivation. "We're in a dogfight to make it to the NCAA Tournament," he said, matter-of-factly. "If that isn't enough motivation, we shouldn't be playing. At this point, the entire season is on the line."

Pondexter remembers what happened two years ago. "That was a tough day for us," he said. "I remember we were all dressed for practice, and we all watched the (NCAA) Selection Show at our own homes. When we got to practice, the NIT Selection Show had just come on. We were waiting to find out where we were going to be playing, and our names were nowhere on there. I remember coach saying, 'It's over.' A few guys had to go home and reflect; a few others stayed and shot. It was such a somber day for our team. We don't want that feeling ever again.

"We want to make the tournament."


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