Nov. 4, 2005
By C.J. Bowles
SEATTLE - And you thought that the starting quarterback controversy at Washington was limited to the gridiron.
There is a little more than a week until the Huskies tip-off their 2005-06 season against Morgan State at the BCA Classic at Bank of America Arena. That time frame doesn't have head coach Lorenzo Romar worried about naming a starter at point guard though.
How can he be so laid back about the situation? The Huskies' fourth-year coach cites experience.
"I don't know if we have a point guard," said the coach of his offensive scheme. "We have guards that get a lot of play. Will Conroy had the ball in his hand quite a bit, but there's certain times in the game Nate (Robinson) had the ball quite a bit and there's certain times in the game Brandon (Roy) had the ball quite a bit. You'll probably see more of the same this year."
The difference between this year and last is that Romar had the luxury of rotating the three aforementioned veterans at the point a season ago. Now, Roy is joined by sophomore transfer Ryan Appleby and true freshman Justin Dentmon to form UW's likely ball-handling trio.
While much is known about Roy, the two newcomers deserve an introduction.
A 2003 graduate of Stanwood High School (Stanwood, Wash.), Appleby played in 23 games for the Florida Gators in 2003-04 before transferring to Washington. He spent last season as a member of the Huskies practice squad while red-shirting to fulfill the NCAA's transfer requirements.
Did the year of practice help Appleby understand Romar's system better in preparation for his Husky debut?
"Definitely," he answered. "I feel better playing defense and running the offense. I feel like I'm a lot more familiar with it and I know a lot more of what's going on.
"In certain situations last year, it would be, `Well, should I do this or do that?' This year, I just know what's going on."
A lifelong point guard, Appleby may also find himself playing alongside Roy or Dentmon as UW's shooting guard. The main reason is Romar feels he is the team's best spot-up long range shooter. It is a great title to own, especially when comparisons to Simmons are drawn, but it is a difficult role to play while also coordinating the offense.
Appleby is open to playing either guard position.
"Whatever it takes for us to win," he explained. "If they need me to spot up and shoot so that teams can't play the zone or double-up on Brandon (Roy) or play the zone on Jamaal (Williams), that's fine with me."
An unselfish statement from a guy who considers his passing ability his best strength followed by his ability to hit open jumpers. Of course, after sitting out for a year, Appleby is just anxious to get back on the court.
"It's been awhile since I got to be in a uniform and play, so I'm expecting to go out there and have some fun."
And then there's Dentmon.
Sunday marks his first taste of collegiate basketball, but that doesn't mean his experience is limited to high school. The 5-foot-11 ball-handler played with the Winchendon School (Mass.) last year. That team plays in the same league as the prep school that Husky sophomore Joel Smith attended before joining UW a season ago with much success.
Dentmon admits that he still has some work to do in learning Washington's system and bringing his play to the level he would like. He cites his on-the-ball defense and overall conditioning as focus points for improvement.
"My strength at the position is my ball-handling, pushing the tempo and my ability to score," explained Dentmon. "I'm so used to scoring that it feels unusual for me to give the ball to the post. I'd say that's one of my weaknesses also."
Dentmon does hold one intangible over Appleby and that is his ability to win and perform at his best in the spotlight.
In his senior season at Carbondale High School (Carbondale, Ill.), he led his team to a third-place finish in the Illinois state tournament. Dentmon was his team's leading scorer by posting 78 points in three games (26 ppg). The next-closest scorer in the tournament finished with 54 points.
The competition for the starting spot begins Sunday and no matter who gets the call, both new players can't wait for the season to begin.
"I'm excited," exclaimed Dentmon to echo Appleby's thoughts about Sunday. "I haven't talked to any of the experienced players yet, but I'm going to talk to them this week. From what they've told me, it's wild. They say it's rowdy and it gives you a big adrenaline rush."