Well, we got another big game today for men's basketball. After a tough game against the Cougars on Thursday, Cal hopes to build off of its modest 2 game winning streak against UW. People anticipated that UW would be the #1 Pac10 team this year. They won the Pac10 last year. Even though they lost Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon, they still had a bunch of great players, like Isaiah Thomas, who was named Pac10 Freshman of the Year last year.
However, they are currently sitting at 2-3, tied for last place in the conference. Odd. Nonetheless, this team is still as dangerous as ever. They might miss the inside presence of Brockman, but they have shooters galore. If their shooters get hot, they can definitely put up points. Vote in the poll and after the jump, read up on the Huskies. GO BEARS!
UW was viewed as one of the best teams of the Pac10, coming off of their Pac10 championship last year. This game was supposed to be about two of the best 2 teams in the Pac10. As much as Cal fans wail that their team has looked poor so far, UW has held up its end of the bargain even less!
Washington (11-5, 2-3) lost consecutive league games by double-digit margins to Oregon, Arizona State and Arizona before it put defensive force Justin Holiday into the starting lineup for the first time in the junior's career.
He led a 33-point demolition of Stanford on Thursday night, providing tenacity Washington had lacked for weeks.
"It was kind of a new beginning," said Pondexter, who had 27 points and 10 rebounds against the Cardinal.
Saturday's matchup between the top two scoring teams in the Pac-10 is the game the Huskies had circled before the season. The Bears are expected to be the biggest threat to Washington repeating as conference champions. The team of veteran shooters led by seniors Patrick Christopher, Jerome Randle and Theo Robertson has beaten the Huskies three consecutive times.
But now that Washington has gotten off to a rocky start in league play, all Huskies games have circles around them.
"In the beginning of the season, we looked forward to playing this game," said Pondexter, who is fourth in the conference averaging 20 points per game - just behind Randle's 20.4. "But as this season has gone on, we've really got to take it one step at a time. ... We've got to be ready. We will be ready."
UW just slaughtered Stanford, thanks to energy from junior defensive star Justin Holiday:
Holiday, who is 6-foot-6, hounded Landry Fields, Stanford's leading scorer, into missing seven of 12 shots Thursday. He also brought energy the Huskies had lacked since before Christmas, when they were the conference's only ranked team. He will likely defend Cal's Christopher or Robertson, or both.
Holiday called the start a "dream come true."
"We had to come out and make a statement," Holiday said, "otherwise, we stay down in the standings, at the bottom of the Pac-10."
That's the thing about the season so far in this beaten-down conference. A couple of wins can send a team from last to first. And vice versa.
Isaiah Thomas is a sophmore star to watch out for on Saturday along with Quincy Pondexter:
-- With his family watching from the front row in the Dawg Pack section, Quincy Pondexter (above) bounced back from a pair of subpar outings. In most games, he'd be the star after finishing with 27 points on 13-for-16 shooting and 10 rebounds, both game highs. Pondexter had more offensive rebounds (7) than any Cardinal had rebounds. He also sank two three-pointers, blocked three shots and dished out two assists.
The main problem during their recent 3 game losing streak? Lack of an inside presence (sounds familiar?):
During UW’s three-game losing streak, the three-headed inside trio of Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Darnell Gant and Tyreese Breshers have combined for just 25 points and 21 rebounds.
"I have confidence in them," guard Isaiah Thomas said this week when asked about the Huskies’ post play. "I’m going to steady praise them. They’re our bigs, and we’re going to go as far as they take us.
The UW frontcourt hasn’t carried the Huskies very far in recent weeks. A team that was ranked as high as 14th in the country has fallen to the bottom of the Pac-10 standings heading into tonight’s home game against Stanford (8-7, 2-1). And the lack of an inside presence has been a big reason why.
"We have to get better that way," a somewhat baffled Lorenzo Romar said this week. "Sometimes things like that work like an antibiotic, (they) take a while to get kicked in. Maybe it’s a gradual process. Maybe it happens right away."
Bryan-Amaning has been so ineffective that he lost his starting job to Breshers. But the redshirt freshman hasn’t been a whole lot more productive when teaming with Gant in the starting lineup. No one from that trio has scored more than five points or had more than three rebounds in any of the Huskies’ past three games.
Things have gotten so bad that Romar has been using a lot of four-guard lineups in recent games.
"At this point — it shouldn’t be the case — sometimes we’re better off rebounding" with four guards on the floor, Romar said.
As a testament to how much the Huskies have struggled on the boards, the 5-foot-7 Thomas was UW’s leading rebounder in the loss to Arizona. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Huskies 40-23 in that game, while UW also got out-rebounded in the losses to ASU (39-29) and Oregon (35-31).
Keep an eye out for new player, Abdul Gaddy, a shoot-first point guard:
Dime: How do you think your backcourt mate, Isaiah and you will match up in the Pac-10?
AG: I think we’ll be good together. I’m coming in trying to make his job easier. You know, he’s going to be a scorer, so is Quincy, so I’m here to make both of their jobs’ easier. Especially for him (Thomas) cause he’s so little, but he’s a scorer you know – he’s a great scorer at that – and I’m here to help him.
So, there you go. Some recent news and a look into some of the UW players Cal will have to deal with. GO BEARS!