Oct. 17, 2009
By Christian Caple
He speaks with the assurance and maturity expected of a senior starter, but Quincy Pondexter acknowledges that things haven't always been easy.
Like the first time he walked into the cafeteria in the village where he stayed in Serbia while playing for the USA team at the World University Games.
"I remember the first day we got there, they had like this green paste," Pondexter remembered fondly at the UW's media day on Wednesday. "And it was supposed to be spinach, so I had no idea what it was. I knew I wasn't eating it. I was looking for the quickest Americanized food I could find."
Husky fans are expecting Pondexter's play to be much easier to stomach than, well, whatever it was he decided to eat in Serbia.
And there hasn't been a UW team with as many expectations since perhaps 2006, when the Huskies entered the season as the No. 13 team in the country, only to miss out on the NCAA tournament.
Pondexter was a freshman that season. And after struggling through his first two years, he began to find his groove last season -- especially in the NCAA tournament, where he scored 43 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in two games -- and will be expected to fill the leadership void left by former forward Jon Brockman.
"It's one of those situations where it's like, man, you're it now," Pondexter said. "You're head of the throne. You've killed the leader, whoever's there. It's like one of those movies. You're at the head of the throne now, so we lose or we win with you."
He says he's been training with former UW guard Ryan Appleby, primarily sharpening a spotty jump shot that was probably the weakest part of Pondexter's game during his first three seasons.
His teammates are beginning to look to him in the same way they looked to Brockman, as well. Isaiah Thomas, who claimed last year's Pac-10 Freshman of the Year award, said Pondexter seems ready to make the final imprint on his UW legacy.
"You've seen what he did at the end of the season last year, and I think that he's going to play like that all year this year," Thomas said. "He's been in this program three years, and it's the last year, and I feel like he'll go out with a bang."
Said Romar: "Right now, he's playing at a high, high level. And again, you shouldn't be surprised because in the NCAA tournament, he was the best player on the floor in both games. He was very consistent. Quincy is not only able to take big shots for us, but he's been able to make big shots for us. He became someone that we can just count on. He could be good."
Washington begins its season with an exhibition game against Central Washington on Nov. 4.