Nov. 3, 2006
Oliver scored 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting in only 18 minutes and the Huskies opened their exhibition season with a 108-74 victory over Division II Saint Martin's on Friday night.
Romar used nine players and the 6-foot-3 Oliver delighted the crowd with his versatile game. With 9:53 left, Oliver went around a defender on the left wing with a deft spin move, drove 15 feet down the baseline and made a reverse layup to put the Huskies ahead 80-58.
When Oliver fouled out with 9:09 on the clock, the Huskies led 82-58 and the crowd gave him a big ovation.
Oliver, from Modesto, Calif., was considered the third-best player in Washington's new recruiting class behind 7-foot center Spencer Hawes and 6-6 forward Quincy Pondexter, but the Huskies' coaches have raved about his versatile game.
"I'm not surprised,'' said Pondexter of Oliver's performance. "That's the kind of player Adrian is.''
"I thought Adrian was very good,'' Romar said. ``He was not only good offensively but he attacked the glass. He was so focused out there.''
Oliver said he picked Washington over Kentucky _ and coach Tubby Smith _ because he felt closer to Romar. California was among his final three college choices.
"It's special,'' Oliver said of this season's Washington recruiting class. Oliver and Pondexter are roomates on the UW campus.
"He can jump out of the building,'' Oliver said of Pondexter's game. Pondexter had 18 points and 13 rebounds in his Huskies' debut, with 14 points and nine rebounds in the second half.
Oliver said he had no personal goals for his first season, but he has team goals.
"The Pac-10 championship and going further than the Sweet Sixteen,'' he said. ``It seems like we've been stuck on the Sweet Sixteen the past couple of years.''
Washington has been eliminated in the third round of the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons.
Ryan Appleby, a junior guard, also scored 20 points, while sophomore guard Jake Linton led Saint Martin's with 15 points.
Saint Martin's was close at halftime, trailing only 46-39 behind 11 points by Linton. The Huskies scored seven of the last nine points of the first half after the Saints closed to within 39-37 on two free throws by Stephon Harris.
The Saints led 11-9 with 3:34 gone before Washington went on an 8-0 run.
The Huskies pulled away in the second half, jumping out to a 75-54 lead with 8:16 gone. They outscored the Saints 62-35 in the second half.
Saint Martin's coach Keith Gilbert thanked Romar for the opportunity to play the Huskies and added, ``The Huskies are going to have a very great team. There is no question about that.''
Washington, picked to finish third in the Pac-10 this season after three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, played without Hawes, a McDonald's All-American in high school.
Hawes, from Seattle Prep, sat on the bench in his uniform, but didn't play because he's recovering from Oct. 11 arthroscopic surgery to remove a small particle from his right knee. Romar expects Hawes to be ready to play in Washington's Nov. 12 regular-season opener against Pepperdine.
Saint Martin's, an NCAA Division II program from Lacey, was 7-20 last season.