Oct. 28, 2009
In the second preview of the upcoming Husky basketball season, GoHuskies.com looks at the Washington frontline.
The Husky frontcourt will definitely miss Jon Brockman - you can't simply snap your fingers and replace his rebounding, toughness and leadership. Add in the loss of Wallace and Wolfinger, and that is a huge chunk of the team's size exiting out the door.
But, Romar is not in complete mourning. In fact, he is pretty confident the talent and strength down low shouldn't drop off as drastically as it may seem.
"You don't replace Jon Brockman," said Romar of the UW's all-time leading rebounder and second all-time leading scorer. "We'll do it a little differently. We have a quick front line. The thing we'll miss the most is Jon's intensity everyday and the way he raised everyone else's level of intensity. I think guys are willing to go in, bust their tails and replace Jon in a different type of way."
Senior Quincy Pondexter is all that remains left from a four-man 2006 freshman class. He will be asked to put the team on his experienced shoulders and lead them in his final campaign. Towards the end of last season, he already showed signs that he was ready for a larger role.
Pondexter led the Huskies in the NCAA Tournament with 21.5 points per game and scored in double-figures in 13 of the final 14 contests, including six games with 20 or more points. He also was a beast on the boards, getting almost six rebounds per game throughout the season. This past summer he represented Team USA at the World University Games and averaged 7.9 ppg and 18 minutes.
Darnell Gant also returns up front. He started 34 games as a redshirt freshman and averaged 3.4 ppg and 3.1 rpg. Expect those numbers to increase in his second year as he has not only gained more muscle in the off-season, but more confidence. The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Gant has the ability to beat his opponent both facing up from the outside and down low on the blocks.
Another frontcourt player that is expected to increase his production is junior Matthew Bryan-Amaning. He is the tallest Husky on the roster at 6-foot-9, yet MBA (as he is known by others) has shown the ability to push the ball up the court on the dribble. He can also use his 7-foot-4 wingspan to clog the middle and swat away shots. In his lone start where he replaced an injured Brockman against eventual NCAA Tournament team Portland State, MBA scored 23 points and had 12 rebounds.
Junior Justin Holiday is the other forward on the roster that has valuable playing experience. Holiday is a very athletic and active player that is deceptively long. He does not light up the stat sheet night in and night out, but when he is on the floor good things seem to happen - whether he is causing a turnover, grabbing a big rebound or hitting the timely shot. He has been slowed in the fall while recovering from hernia surgery.
A pair of freshmen round out the frontcourt roster: redshirt Tyreese Breshers and Tacoma's Clarence Trent. Breshers is returning from knee and shin injuries that forced him to watch last season from the sidelines. He brings a Brockman-like physique down low but is more impressive in his ability to raise up off the floor. It may take Breshers awhile to get into playing shape, but once he gets accustomed to the college game, the coaching staff has high expectations for him.
Trent is an intriguing freshman prospect for the Huskies. He is another high-energy type player that displays phenomenal athleticism. He can knock down the short jumper and will be a force in the up-and-down tempo, but is still working on his offensive range. Trent should become a fan favorite with his array of dunks and boundless energy.
Yes. Washington has to replace two All-Pac-10 players. But, what is quickly being learned is that this year's squad may be the deepest and most talented from top to bottom in team history. The fight for playing time could be one of the toughest battles in Romar's eight years at Washington. Once all that sorts out, the one sure thing is that Husky fans are in for an exciting ride in 2009-10.