Dec. 2, 2009
By Matt Winter
This Thursday, the 10th-ranked Washington Huskies face their most trying test of the season when they travel to Lubbock, Texas, to battle the 7-0 Texas Tech Red Raiders as a part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. The 5-0 Huskies have played all of their games at home this season, and will miss that home-court advantage that has helped them win by an average of 18.6 points.
Time: 4:00pm PT
Radio: ISP Sports Network
Sirius 121, XM 194
Despite the change of setting, the players are treating it just like another game.
"We just gotta get ready and play the way we know how to play. We've been practicing a lot on defense," says freshman point guard Abdul Gaddy, who will play in his first-ever college game away from Hec Ed. "We just have to go down there and transfer it on the road."
The Red Raiders, led by coach Pat Knight (son of Bob Knight), won't make it easy when the Dawgs come to town. Like the Huskies, this will be their toughest game to date, but Tech has already taken down a Pac-10 school when they beat Oregon State 64-60 on Nov. 15. The Raiders' margin of victory is 16.4 points and they are 6-0 when playing at home.
"They're sound offensively, they are disciplined offensively," Romar says of Knight's squad. "They're going to pressure you, they're going to bother you, they're tenacious defensively."
Texas Tech prefers to play man-to-man defense and push the ball up the court, so Thursday could be a shoot out. And, the Huskies may get a break from the zone defense, which they struggled to crack for the first time on Sunday in a narrow victory and sub-par performance against Montana. The Huskies shot just 30.8% in the 63-59 win, their least impressive performance of the season up to this point.
"We shot 30 percent and were able to overcome a 12-point deficit in the second half and win, I think we can draw from that later--that we were down in a tough situation when things weren't going right, and pulled out a victory," says Romar.
Montana's zone was impressive against the Huskies, and combined with their inability to shoot, the UW offense stalled. Isaiah Thomas (20.6 ppg) scored 13 points on 5-16 shooting, and Quincy Pondexter (20.6 ppg) scored seven on 2-10 shooting. However, the Huskies' game plan didn't change. Struggling on the offensive end, they turned up the intensity on defense and came clawing back.
"We learned that if we stick to playing Husky basketball and getting stops on the defensive end, then that's going to keep us in every game we play in," said Pondexter.
Romar was impressed with the ability of the other players to step up.
"I think that Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter getting 13 and seven points, respectively were lessons for us that if our big guns aren't necessarily scoring a lot that we have a chance to win the game."
It's that type of versatility that will make this team flourish down the road. Now boasting a top 10 national ranking, the Huskies can expect to be targets wherever they go.
"I think we're targeted every time we play, especially being a top-10 team," says Pondexter, "and especially a team like Texas Tech, who's really good."
Being 7-0 and unranked, the Red Raiders are searching for that big win to catapult them into the national spotlight. Ranked at No. 10 in the country, the Huskies could very well be that win.
"If we're fortunate enough to continue to be successful that is something we are going to have to get used to," Romar said.