Jan. 5, 2011
|Oregon-Washington Game Coverage|
|TV:FSN-TV||Radio: Washington ISP Sports Network (950 AM-Seattle)|
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - It's not just that Terrence Ross is emerging as a most willing shooter on the never-shy Huskies.
Heck, Ross let one go last weekend at UCLA from about the lap of coach Ben Howland, who was sitting on the opposing bench.
"Yeah," Ross said with a chuckle when asked if that jumper was far even for him.
It's also how quickly he's willing to let it fly. Often, the ball barely touches his hands before it goes up. And it's often his first possession of the game when it does.
And, wait, he's a freshman?
"Oh, he doesn't have any problems shooting," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar deadpanned, with a wry smile.
You might think UW's new guy from Portland's Jefferson High School, who saved the Huskies in their Pac-10 opener at USC last week with a career-best 18 points, will be gunning more than ever Thursday at 5:30 p.m. That's when the 23rd-ranked Dawgs (10-3, 2-0 Pac-10) host Oregon (7-7, 0-2), a team that Ross says was on his list of potential colleges before he realized Romar's green-light style was best for him.
But Ross says he has no particular feelings one way or the other for the Ducks. They just happen to be his next opponent.
"I don't think there's that much special with Oregon," that state's Class 5A high school player of the year as a sophomore in 2008 says of his first game against the Ducks since he left Jeff High.
After all, he considered Villanova and Kentucky more than Oregon before choosing UW.
That choice is working out OK. His conference debut for the Huskies sure was special.
The Dawgs, who also host Oregon State (7-6, 2-0) Saturday afternoon, looked lost early on last Wednesday at USC. They were committing fouls and turnovers in the halfcourt against the rugged Trojans and losing 16-4.
"We weren't doing anything right," Romar said.
Then Ross came in - and immediately starting firing. It was as if the ceiling to the opulent Galen Center opened, and the dark sky above began raining 3-pointers from the freshman.
From 22 feet out top. From one wing. From the other. Ross made three of his first four 3-point tries. His final one, with 1:03 left in the first half, put Washington ahead for the first time at 28-26 and capped the Huskies' game-changing, 24-10 run.
Rescued from a blowout, the Huskies got nine more points from Ross after the break before he fouled out early in overtime. Venoy Overton and Matthew Bryan-Amaning took over from there, and Washington got a huge win.
"The only other time I remember a freshman doing that in his first road game was Isaiah Thomas, at Washington State," Romar said of Jan. 3, 2009, when Thomas scored 19 points and assisted on all but two of his team's first 17 points in his Pac-10 road debut.
"I mean, (Ross) hit three 3's in the first half, when we were out of sorts."
Two days later, Ross was still shooting away in UW's victory at UCLA. The gunning freshman was a key throughout the impressively gritty trip to Los Angeles , which showed the rest of the conference these running Dawgs can win alley fights, too.
To Ross, it was a long time coming. The former high school star had to keep reminding himself to let UW games come to him early in the season, when he would come off the bench and have the urge to make huge splashes right away.
"Yeah, it was a big step for me," he said of his breakout at USC. "And I think I handled it well."
Now, Romar is drawing up plays for the 6-foot-6 Ross down low, using him as a post player against smaller guards . That is just about every one who tries to defend him.
Look for Ross to do more of it against Oregon Thursday. The Ducks don't have a guard on their roster taller than 6-4. Their tallest recent starter has been 6-6, 245-pound forward Joevan Catron.
"I'm long. There aren't too many other guards who are as tall as I am," Ross said. "I mean, I'll just do whatever I have to do to get a bucket."
Asked about the green light Romar gives to most of his shooters, Ross smiles and calls it "a privilege."
"A lot of guys (at other schools) tell me their freshman and their sophomore years they didn't have a green light," Ross said. "I don't want to take advantage of it too much, then have it taken away. But I definitely like it."
No chance of it being taken away. Romar leaves his shooters alone, saying he doesn't want them looking toward the bench in worry for a reaction to each missed shot.
That approach, and most else, has been going Washington's way early in the conference season -- unlike last year when the Huskies began Pac-10 play 1-4 before rallying late.
"It's fascinating in sports to me. You win a couple, it seems you've never lost. You lose one, and it seems like you've never won," Romar said.
"Years we've had so slow starts, you hear, `Maybe we should shut down our program.' And at the end of the year, `For sure, you are going to the Final Four,'" the coach deadpanned. "You can't get caught up in that. You have to be caught in, did we get better today? ... String some of those together, so it becomes a habit.
"That's what we need to be concerned about."