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Long Winter Break Means Big Challenges
Release: 12/08/2006
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Dec. 8, 2006

By Justin Chartrey
The Daily

With classes ending today, and finals wrapping up over the next week, everyone will be leaving the UW for the holidays. Well, almost everyone.

While many students will be catching up with friends and family, coach Lorenzo Romar will be assuring his team stays focused and ready with five games on the docket from Dec. 16 until the New Year.

After traveling to Gonzaga tomorrow, the No. 8 Huskies will return back home for three games before kicking off Pac-10 play.

Home fans will likely make an effort for the Dec. 20 match up against No. 9 LSU. Led by Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Louisiana State has started its season 5-1 with its most recent win against No. 6 Texas A&M.

Despite losing Tyrus Thomas to the NBA Draft, the Tigers are a frontrunner in the race for a national title.

Like the Huskies, LSU has beaten the teams that they needed to beat, except for Wichita State -- a tournament squad a year ago.

Washington forward Jon Brockman has said he is looking forward to the challenge of playing Davis, because he wants to play the best. When the two meet up Brockman will get his wish.

The other two home games will pit the Huskies against Portland State and Weber State.

The Vikings (5-4), a member of the Big Sky Conference, have connections to the Huskies. Both coach Ken Bone and assistant Curtis Allen made the UW their home. From 2002-05, Bone was an assistant for Lorenzo Romar, and Allen played for the Huskies from 2000-04.

Weber State (5-4) has had a road similar to Portland State, except that, despite Utah, the Wildcats have yet to play a quality opponent.

On Dec. 22, when the Huskies play Weber State, it will mark the last out-of-conference game until February.

When conference play does start for Washington, it will be away from Seattle against USC and No. 1 UCLA.

The Trojans will be the first Pac-10 opponent for the UW, and should give a good barometer of how ready Romar's team is. In a new arena, and with Gabe Pruitt most likely off academic suspension, the Huskies should be ready for a fast-paced fight.

Coach Tim Floyd has attempted to change the attitude at USC, and it should be a tough game for Washington.

The second game on that road trip will be against the Bruins. Ben Howland's group has picked up where it left off last season -- in the national-championship game -- and sits atop both polls early on.

Pauley Pavilion has always been a tough place to play, but this year it could be the ultimate test for the young Huskies. Romar said that UCLA plays the best defense in the Pac-10, a challenge that his team will need to be ready for.

For Romar, all of the early season scheduling has been an attempt to get Washington to a point to where they can compete in the Pac-10.

"We play in one of the toughest conferences in the country," he said. "Our scheduling philosophy in non-conference is that we want to get a lot of things done."

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