Jan. 12, 2011
|Washington at Stanford Game Coverage|
|TV:None||Radio: Washington ISP Sports Network (950 AM-Seattle)|
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - This Huskies season that's turned streaky is about to enter a place that's been freaky - at least for UW.
"For us, Maples Pavilion has kind of been like a long time ago what Boston Garden was for the Celtics against the Lakers - when they said the leprechaun was knocking balls off the rim and stuff like that," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said before his 17th-ranked team (12-3, 4-0 Pac-10) was to leave late Wednesday for Thursday's 7 p.m. game at Stanford (9-5, 2-1).
"We've had some strange things happen to us down there at Stanford, and come up short many times."
The Huskies are wins Thursday and then Sunday night at California away from going 6-0 in the conference for the first time since 1984. Washington has won 11 straight against the Pac-10, the longest streak since the league took its current form in 1978.
The Dawgs have also won a team-record six consecutive conference games on the road, and six in a row overall against Stanford. That is UW's longest streak against the Cardinal since 1974-77.
All that will be tested Thursday at Maples Pavilion in a matchup of the Pac-10's highest-scoring team (89 points per game) in Washington against the league's stingiest defense. Stanford is allowing just 60 points per game.
Romar said Tuesday he expects all players to be in uniform and that he will use the same starting five as he did in last weekend's blowouts of Oregon and Oregon State: Aziz N'Diaye and Matthew Bryan-Amaning inside, Justin Holiday on the wing and Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton as the guards.
There is no television coverage - the Pac-10's television schedule has Oregon's grand opening of Matthew Knight Arena against USC on at 7:30 Thursday night. But the Stanford game will be live on radio on the Washington IMG Sports Network. And here on GoHuskies.com we will have a live game chat, live stats and streaming audio. Last season, Washington won for just the second time in 17 years at Maples.
Stanford is 7-0 this season inside the 42-year-old, 7,200-seat bandbox, and 47-11 in there dating to 2007.
Last year's was a milestone win for Washington. UW was winless last season on the road, and Stanford was undefeated at home, until the Huskies won on The Farm 78-61 last Feb. 13.
Over the years the Dawgs have lost huge - by 45 points in 2002 - and also in overtime (four times) inside Maples, which on the outside has the sunken, flat-roof and rectangle look of UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, another house of past UW horrors that opened in the 1960s.
The defeat that really made Maples seem haunted to the Huskies came in 2006. Up by three with 2.1 seconds remaining, Justin Dentmon fouled Stanford's Chris Hernandez as he was attempting a 3-point shot on an inbounds play. Hernandez made all three free throws, and the Cardinal then won in overtime.
At the time, Romar called that turn of events "unheard of."
Now, he knows anything's possible inside Maples Pavilion.
"It's kind of closed in, everybody is right on top of you there," Romar said with a sigh. "It's a smaller gym. It gets really loud.
"But over the years, they have also had some pretty good teams, too. So that contributed to it."
This is the second consecutive season that Washington's trip to the Bay Area is its first road swing since a buoying trip to Los Angeles.
Last year, Romar said a one-point loss to UCLA at Pauley was the first time the Huskies gained confidence and played well away from home. Then they beat Stanford at Maples, and haven't lost on the road in the conference since - including in Los Angeles at last March's Pac-10 tournament.
UW won its two grittiest games of this season at USC and UCLA two weeks ago. The Huskies overcame a 12-point deficit to win an alley fight in overtime against the Trojans, behind wondrous shooting from freshman Terrence Ross. Two days later, on New Year's Eve, Thomas and Bryan-Amaning put on a show as UW withstood its 17-point lead dwindling to four before putting away the Bruins. It was only the third road sweep of the L.A. teams in school history.
There's one more reason for the Huskies to think that perhaps their scary past inside Maples is behind them: Their coach says the renovation of the place in 2004-05 took away one of Stanford's many advantages it had enjoyed in the original building.
"The floor does not shake," Romar said with a chuckle.