Nov. 1, 2006
The challenge for Romar, now in his fifth season, is how the team will react with almost a completely new cast of characters.
"Jon has responded quite well," Romar said. "He is more aggressive in all aspects, leadership, offensively and defensively. He has made up in his mind that he is going to help this ball club."
In Dentmon, Romar has a player who is unafraid of having the ball in the last minute with the game on the line.
Those two spots on the roster are as set as they can be, but for the rest of the starting lineup, everything is up in the air. Due to the rash of injuries that hit the team in the months prior to preseason practice, Romar has had little chance to feel out his rotation.
"We have a variety of guys who could potentially score for us and begin to step up," he said. We are going to go with the five guys who will give us the best chance to win. It's not always the guy who's doing the great dunks, but who is going to help you win."
Romar will definitely be calling on all four of his incoming freshmen to play a role; he says that all of them have earned the right to be in the rotation.
First and foremost comes center Spencer Hawes. Washington's top recruit is progressing quickly from the minor surgery that kept him out of the first few weeks of practice, and he will have a major impact on the team and its success.
"The presence he has and his reputation gives him a real sweet opportunity to do something great this year," Brockman said.
The 7-foot freshman has his own goals of being all-conference and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, but he said that first and foremost, his main goal is to win. Without the guidance of the departed senior class, this year's team will have to gel and come together quickly.
"We want to keep up the tradition and the success we've had," Ryan Appleby said. "There is a little pressure there to keep winning." For Romar there is little doubt that this is a team ready to play and win together.
"We have really good chemistry," Romar said. "The guys like each other and we have a lot of diff erent combinations of guys who can play together."
That kind of closeness could prove invaluable to this team. Unlike last year, when pundits criticized the lack of quality opposition in the non-conference schedule, Washington has some big games outside Pac-10 play.
LSU, Gonzaga and Pittsburgh highlight a non-conference docket that could help the Huskies find their identity quickly. Tat is something Brockman, the team captain, thinks could help them on the way to what he hopes is a fourth straight tournament appearance.