Men's Hoops Kicks Off Practice Out Of The Spotlight
Oct. 15, 2011
SEATTLE -- The Huskies officially embarked on their 2011-12 season with a two-and-a-half practice on Friday. While many programs chose to kick off their season with much fanfare and the bright lights of Midnight Madness events, Washington chose to practice in relative anonymity in an empty Alaska Airlines Arena.
The benefits of conducting a private practice as opposed to an open event were clear. The practice was crisp and intense. It was business-like and a lot of productivity was accomplished. The freshmen were able to get acclimated to their first college practice and coaches were able to teach when needed.
Don't get me wrong...Midnight Madness events are fun and can inject a ton of energy to start the season. Dunk contests and 3-point competitions are a spectacle to behold, but as far as simulating the rigors of a practice, there is limited value.
The importance of the fans is not lost on the team though as students and Dawg Pack members will be able to get their first glimpse of the Huskies on Thursday in an event specially catered to them called Dunks and Dinner. Lorenzo Romar is providing dinner for the first 500 students and they will get a chance to see the Huskies scrimmage and show off their dunking arsenal.
So, without the limelight blaring down on the Huskies, Friday's practice felt like a great jumping off point to the season. The Huskies are continuing practice over the weekend with two-a-days on Saturday and one practice on Sunday at Evergreen State College in Olympia.
Here are some observations from Friday:
The Huskies are BIG and FAST
And the Huskies are not sacrificing any speed with their size. Six-foot-eight Martin Breuning ran the court with ease displaying some impressive finishes at the rim. Aziz N'Diaye keeps showing his abilities to break the mold of plodding 7-footers by running up and down the court. Even Brendan Sherrer drew raves from Coach Romar for hustling down the court on the offensive end of the break.
Defense and taking charges are the emphasis
Abdul Gaddy looks like he's back...and better than ever
You better be awake when Tony Wroten has the ball in his hand
Chemistry is not the question, who will be the alpha Dawg could be
The big question is who will be the x-factor down the stretch for Washington. Last year, that guy was Isaiah Thomas and to a certain extent Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Holiday. This year the team's three captains - Darnell Gant, Abdul Gaddy and Scott Suggs - are all great leaders and guys the other 13 can rally around. But, none of them have been asked to or been put in the position to take the big shot or put the team under their wings in tight situations. There are plenty of candidates on the team and players that would relish the opportunity to be THE MAN, but until they do it, you just don't know. As Keith Price is proving for the UW Football team though, sometimes all you need is a chance. Undoubtedly, it will be a fun journey to see who the basketball team's Keith Price will be this year.