Romar, Huskies Seek To Tame Cougs, Stay in 1st
Feb. 24, 2012
TV: ROOT Sports (Tom Glasgow, Lenny Wilkens & Jen Mueller)
By Gregg Bell
PULLMAN, Wash. - It wouldn't be a Washington-Washington State basketball game - or football matchup, or cheerleading faceoff or debate-club forum, for that matter - without the Huskies getting their usual Pullman greeting.
It's as normal and constant on the Palouse as wind.
Tents full of students were waiting Friday night to snap up courtside spots were up and ringing the outside of Beasley Coliseum as the Huskies' team bus pulled up. People in crimson and gray massed outside the bus - how do they always know what time UW always practices here? -- as it stopped at the arena's back, garage entrance for an evening workout.
"What time are you guys done with practice?" a beefy arena security guard asked near the end of it. "Because we need to staff when you leave, with all the people that are going to be out there for you."
Two hours after the Huskies arrived they emerged from the arena. This time the heckling came from a walkway above the garage tunnel.
"____ the Huskies!"
"You are going down!"
UW coach Lorenzo Romar turned and looked up to the calls. And he smiled. He raised both arms and extended them in a playful manner. Then he essentially charmed the hecklers. By the end, the same fans who were shouting colorfully at the Dawgs minutes earlier were saying "Good luck, coach."
The black curtains that have covered the upper sections around Beasley Coliseum for much of this Cougars season were off Friday night in anticipation of the 11,671-seat building being filled -- as it usually is when the Dawgs are in town.
Can Romar and his Huskies tame more Cougs Saturday like they did on Friday night?
"If they seat 11,000 over there, it seems like 10,000 of them are students," Romar said before his Dawgs (19-8, 12-3 Pac-12) to try to tied with California atop the conference at eighth-place Washington State (14-13, 6-9) Saturday at 5 p.m.
"They'll be there at 12. They'll be taunting us when we get there. And it just doesn't stop from there," said Romar, who is 4-5 in Pullman as Washington's coach. "It will be a rowdy, raucous atmosphere. That's what it's been like when we've gone there before.
"It's a hard place to play. They are going to come out very aggressive."
The 274th meeting of UW and WSU in men's basketball is on ROOT Sports television in the Northwest, the Washington IMG College radio network and here on GoHuskies.com with another exclusive chat with play by play, analysis and images from courtside.
The Cougs have more than loud voices. They have Brock Motum, the leading scorer through 15 conference games at 20.7 points per night. Romar calls the versatile, 6-foot-10 forward "the most improved player in the Pac-12," one who can shoot the 3-pointer, score on the drive and "single-handedly keep you in the game."
The Cougars have taken it to the Huskies early in each of their recent meetings. That includes Jan. 15 at Alaska Airlines Arena, when it took Terrence Ross exploding for 26 of his career-high 30 points in a wild second half to rally Washington to a 75-65 victory.
Motum scored 17 points in 32 minutes that afternoon, as the Cougars led by 10 before Ross brought the Huskies back.
The Huskies must also defend against the potentially explosive outside shooting of freshman DaVonte Lacy. The cousin of former Husky Isaiah Thomas is WSU's most prolific 3-point shooter; his 132 3-pointers attempted are nearly twice more than any other Cougar. Lacy's deep shots after entering the first meeting this season between these rivals helped push WSU into the lead.
On offense, the Huskies must solve the many defensive looks from former UW assistant Ken Bone. Zone, man, traps - the Cougars are likely to do all that and more Saturday.
The job to decipher all the looks and get Washington into the right places amid all the bedlam will again fall on Abdul Gaddy.
Don't measure Gaddy's effectiveness Saturday - or over the rest of this season, for that matter -- by his shooting or his points. The junior point guard is third in the Pac-12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at better than 2.3 to 1. Gaddy is so indispensible Romar has kept him on the floor for an average of 33.6 minutes per game this season, seventh-most in the Pac-12 - even with Gaddy 13 months removed from reconstructive knee surgery.
Aziz N'Diaye will again play with a brace protecting his sprained left wrist. Romar says the team doesn't believe the 7-foot center can aggravate the injury by playing, though it remains painful when he tries to cushion falls with that arm.
C.J. Wilcox will again play Saturday without practicing fully all week. X-rays this week showed the bone is meshing well in the stress fracture on his upper left leg, so the sophomore sharpshooter will stay on the program he's had for the last month: Playing after only taking jumpers on the side during practices.
The young Huskies, with two first-time starters and two second-year starters, lost their first five games away from Seattle this season. They have won four of five since.
Washington finishes the regular season at WSU, then at USC and at UCLA next weekend. Then it's the Pac-12 tournament at Staples Center in Los Angeles March 7-10.
"You ask me, `Have we turned the corner on the road yet?'" Romar said. "We are going to get tested, for sure."
QUICK JUMPERS: Romar and his assistants will wear gray buttons with the words "ON THE LINE" during Saturday's game to raise prostate cancer awareness. The Black Coaches & Administrators (BCA) and the ON THE LINE national prostate cancer education campaign have teamed during Black History Month to raise awareness of prostate cancer among African-American men. This week, nearly 100 Division-I, African-American head coaches will be wearing blue bow ties and/or "On the Line" buttons during their games to show their support. Prostate cancer has affected many in the college basketball community, including Minnesota coach Tubby Smith, former Notre Dame coach and ESPN analyst Digger Phelps, St. John's Steve Lavin, Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. ON THE LINE says one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, making prostate cancer more prevalent than breast cancer. African-American men are at greater risk among ethnic groups -- one in five will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. ... Word is 40-some members of UW's Dawg Pack student section are making the five-hour drive over to Saturday's game.