Oct. 25, 2008
SEATTLE - The University of Washington men's basketball team concluded its first full week of practice this weekend with an intra-squad scrimmage on Friday and a Saturday morning workout prior to the Husky football team's game against Notre Dame.
The Huskies have conducted a total of nine practice sessions since they officially opened on Friday, Oct. 17. UW moved off-campus for its first four practices of the preseason, taking the team to Lacey, Wash. for a training camp on the campus of Saint Martin's University. After taking off Monday, the team practiced once a day throughout the week.
"I thought the first week went well," said Lorenzo Romar, in his seventh season at Washington and the Pac-10's second-longest tenured head men's basketball coach. "We had a lot of energy. We practiced hard and, by the end of the week, I thought the guys were really starting to come together. I'd say we had a successful first week.
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This afternoon, the Huskies will be in the parking lots and at the tailgate parties prior to the Washington game against Notre Dame. The players will be greeting fans, passing out schedule cards and promoting the upcoming season.
"Our athletic department is one big team," said Romar. "Our players and staff enjoy every opportunity to support the other teams and to visit with Husky fans. This is a great opportunity for us to promote our upcoming season as well as to see many of the people who support our program."
Senior forward Artem Wallace (Toledo, Wash.) underwent knee surgery last spring after suffering a serious injury in the first minute of Washington's final game of the season - against Valparaiso in the inaugural CBI postseason tournament.
The team's second-most experienced interior player, along with fellow preseason All-America Jon Brockman (Snohomish, Wash.), Wallace spent the offseason conducting rehabilitation and regaining his fitness.
"I'm really happy to be out there again, playing five-on-five" said Wallace, who despite his 6'-9", 250-pound frame is one of the team's top finishers in the annual preseason mile run. "I'm pretty much all the way back. I played in the scrimmage yesterday and I have no limitations. I stayed here all summer in rehab and I did a lot of extra conditioning so I think that helped put me in a position to be ready once practice began.
"I really also have to give a lot of credit to our strength and conditioning and training staffs. They did a great job in putting me on a program that gave me a chance to be ready. They are awesome."
Redshirt freshman Darnell Gant (Los Angeles), who underwent surgery on a sports hernia prior to the beginning of practice, returned to practice on a limited basis during the middle of the week and is expected to be cleared for full participation this week.
With four true freshmen, in addition to Gant, one of the storylines heading into the season was how quickly the new players can integrate into the Husky system.
"We are bonding together as a team and the freshmen are really catching on quickly," said Wallace. "They are getting the ideas and the concepts and really holding their own. They have really added a positive, hard-working attitude to our team and I think they all have a chance to make an impact this year."
Washington opens the season with an exhibition contest on Thursday, Nov. 6 with a 7 p.m. tipoff against Western Washington University in Bank of America Arena. Following its Nov. 15 road opener at Portland, the Huskies host Cleveland State on Nov. 18 and Florida International on Nov. 20 in the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic.