Huskies Head To Stanford Seeking 101-Year-Old Mark
Jan. 12, 2013
By Gregg Bell
SEATTLE - How long has it been since the Huskies began a men's basketball conference season with three consecutive road games and won them all?
Since the Titanic sank. Since the South Pole was discovered, Fenway Park opened and Arizona was admitted into the Union as our 48th state.
Yes, you all remember how great 1912 was. Heck, who didn't like the Ottoman Empire? (Well, maybe not the Italians. They invaded the Ottomans that year).
Yet winning three straight on the road to begin the conference season is the feat UW (10-5, 2-0 Pac-12) can equal for the first time in 101 years if it beats Stanford (10-6, 1-2) Saturday night at Maples Pavilion at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Network/ROOT Sports, the Washington IMG radio network and here again on GoHuskies.com with another exclusive game chat from courtside.
The Huskies are already the first team to get two road wins inside the Pac-12 this season. This is the fourth time in 11 seasons under coach Lorenzo Romar they have started 2-0 in the conference.
They made it to 3-0 in 2005, en route to a school record-tying 29 wins, UW's first No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and a Sweet 16 appearance. They got to 4-0 in the league in 2011, on the way to the Pac-10 tournament title, the third of the four straight league regular-season or tournaments titles they are defending now, and to the third round of the NCAAs.
Of course, all that won't add up to a can of Alpo if the Dawgs don't continue Saturday what's been their key so far this month.
"We are starting to realize we have to guard, and that is becoming our identity," Romar said after leading scorer C.J. Wilcox and co-captain Scott Suggs took turns hounding Cal's 21-points-per-game scorer Allen Crabbe into his first single-digit scoring night in 21 games in Wednesday's resounding win in Berkeley.
That was four days after Desmond Simmons limited Washington State's all-conference scorer Brock Motum to two put-back baskets in the first half. Only a late flurry got Motum to 15 points last weekend, four below his average, as UW won in Pullman.
"That wasn't our identity earlier in the season," Romar, who is 2-7 at Maples Pavilion, said of defense.
The challenge for that identity Saturday is that, unlike at WSU and at Cal, the Huskies can't focus on corralling just one or two Stanford scorers. Romar noted Friday before the team's second arrival in the Bay Area in four days that any of the five Cardinal starters can go off at any time.
"Particularly dangerous offensively," is how Romar described the team UW last saw last March when the Cardinal won the first semifinal of the National Invitation Tournament in New York's Madison Square Garden over Massachusetts. That was minutes before the Huskies took the floor for an eventual overtime loss to Minnesota in the other NIT semifinal.
Aaron Bright, a 5-foot-11 junior from the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, was injured earlier this season but broke out with 21 points Wednesday as Stanford rallied late to beat Washington State at home 78-67. Chasson Randle, a 6-1 sophomore, averages 13.3 points. Romar still remembers the 27 Randle had in one half at last spring's Pac-12 tournament.
"And they aren't even their leading scorer," Romar said.
That would be 6-10 Dwight Powell, who had his fourth double-double this season with 16 points and 11 rebounds against WSU.
Josh Huestis, at 6-7, almost averages a double-double with 9.2 points and a team-best 9.1 rebounds per game.
"And John Gage (a 6-10 junior from Vashon Island, Wash.) never seems to miss a shot," Romar said.
"It's a little tougher to game plan for them because across the board we might not match up as well with them."
Huskies point guard Abdul Gaddy has a four-inch height advantage on the quick Bright. Wilcox and Suggs have four and five inches, respectively, on Randle. Aziz N'Diaye, who is coming off his sixth double-double this season after 12 points, 12 rebounds plus four blocks at Cal, will be banging with Powell.
It would help Washington if officials call Saturday's game in a way similar to Wednesday's at Cal. Those officials let the Huskies scrap and get all into the Bears with the body and some hands for most of the game. The result: Cal was manhandled while getting out-rebounded 48-33.