Nov. 6, 2006
SEATTLE - The Washington men's basketball team begins the 2006-07 season where it finished last year, ranked 17th in the Associated Press poll that was released Monday.
The Huskies are ranked one place ahead of Connecticut, the team that eliminated UW from the 2006 NCAA Tournament with a 98-92 overtime decision in an epic Sweet 16 matchup.
"It is flattering, for sure, that we could be recognized on a national scale as one of the top 17 teams in the country at this point," UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. "It says to me that we've got some potential this year, but potential means you haven't done anything. And that's where we're at. It's flattering, but we know that we have not done anything yet and we've got a long way to go to reach that potential."
Washington is of three Pacific-10 Conference teams in the top-25 and the only ranked school from the Northwest. NCAA runner-up UCLA is listed in the sixth spot and Arizona is 10th.
The Huskies, who posted a 26-7 record in 2006 and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season, were not ranked in last year's preseason poll. They were not included in the top-25, finishing as the highest team in the list of others receiving votes.
UW climbed to as high as No. 7 in 2006, receiving that ranking on Dec. 26. The Huskies completed the season in the No. 17 position, their second straight year in the final AP poll. UW was listed No. 8 in the final 2004-05 rankings.
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Two starters return for the Huskies, sophomore point guard Justin Dentmon and sophomore forward Jon Brockman, a Wooden Award candidate. Both of them were honored last season as members of the All-Pac-10 Freshmen Team.
Nine of the 13 players on UW's active roster are underclassmen, including six freshmen and three sophomores.
"Last year we had four seniors returning, including Brandon Roy who no one knew at the time would be a first-team All-American, and we weren't ranked in the top 25," Romar recalled. "This year with a very, very young team we're picked 17th. It shows that our program is making progress in terms of perception, but we've got to put that perception out on the floor and make it a reality."
The Huskies' schedule features six games against teams ranked in the top-10, including a Feb. 17 road game at No. 4 Pittsburgh and a Dec. 20 home game against No. 5 LSU. The Tigers participated in the 2006 Final Four as did No. 6 UCLA, which the Huskies play twice this season. UW also has two meetings with 10th-ranked Arizona.
"I don't know if we'll get a lot of flak about our schedule this year with four top-10 opponents," remarked Romar. "It's certainly a worthy challenge and we'll see what happens."
Defending national champion Florida topped the AP preseason poll, receiving 63 first-place votes. The Gators are vying to become the first repeat national champion since Duke in 1992.
North Carolina, the 2005 NCAA titlist, received the other nine first-place votes and was ranked second, followed by Kansas, Pittsburgh, LSU and UCLA.
Washington begins the regular season Sunday, hosting the three-day Basketball Travelers Classic, Nov. 12-14. Doubleheaders are scheduled with games at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day.
The four team field includes Pepperdine, Nicholls State and Northern Iowa.
2006-07 Associated Press Preseason Poll
(Nov. 6, 2006)
Rank Team (first place votes) Points
1. Florida (63) 1788
2. North Carolina (9) 1704
3. Kansas 1636
4. Pittsburgh 1407
5. LSU 1399
6. UCLA 1394
7. Ohio State 1391
8. Georgetown 1271
9. Wisconsin 1197
10. Arizona 1157
11. Alabama 1106
12. Duke 1051
13. Texas A&M 868
14. Memphis 811
15. Boston College 772
16. Marquette 554
17. WASHINGTON 487
18. Connecticut 399
19. Creighton 384
20. Syracuse 367
21. Texas 366
22. Kentucky 332
23. Georgia Tech 262
24. Nevada 212
25. Tennessee 203