2008-09 Washington Basketball Preview: #38
Overall Rank: #38
Conference Rank: #5 Pac-10
2007-08: 16-17, 7-11, 8th
2007-08 postseason: CBI
And Washington’s rebuilding process is officially over…well at least it should be. After a couple poor seasons, the Huskies and Coach Lorenzo Romar finally have the talent to compete in the Pac-10. But there are questions in the backcourt that need answers if UW expects to be in the NCAA Tournament come March.
Ryan Appleby, Tim Morris and Joel Smith started a combined 62 games last year. Appleby is the biggest loss of them as he averaged 11.2 points per game. His scoring might be able to be replaced, but he was also the only player to average more than one three-pointer per game last year. And Appleby hit three per game. Replacing that outside shooting is the biggest concern for the Huskies heading into the 2008-2009 campaign.
It will be the freshmen who have to pick up a majority of the outside shooting left behind by Appleby. Elston Turner, Scott Suggs and Isaiah Thomas should be able to fill that role. Turner is a good scorer who can fill in at both backcourt positions and should play an important role off the bench as a freshman. Suggs’ 6-6 frame gives him the versatility to play the shooting guard or small forward spot and, like Turner, will be forced into action as a freshman due to a lack of other options. Thomas is the prized recruit for the Huskies. The 5-8 guard, not so cleverly nicknamed Zeke, could be the starting point guard sooner or later. He is a solid defender, a good scorer and a mature leader on the floor. The frontcourt will find some depth from redshirt freshman Darnell Gant and incoming freshman Tyreese Breshers. Breeshers, a 6-7, 255 pound forward, is a good scorer in the paint, but the Huskies will not need to ask him to do much this season.
Who to Watch:
That is because there is already a ton of talent in the frontcourt. Few players in the nation are as talented as Jon Brockman. The 6-7 forward tallied a team high 17.8 points and 11.6 rebounds per contest last season. As a senior, those numbers could get even better. Brockman reached double digit scoring in every single game last year and his consistency is something this team really needs. Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Artem Wallace and Joe Wolfinger will man the spot beside Brockman and give him a little rest when necessary. Wallace earned most of the starts last year, but the Huskies are hoping Bryan Amaning has a breakout season. The 6-9 big man from London, England showed plenty of promise as a freshman and still has a long way to go to reach his full potential. Big things were expected from Quincy Pondexter after he averaged 10.7 points per game as a freshman. His sophomore season was not bad by any means, but his scoring was inconsistent. As an upperclassman the Huskies need him to be much more efficient on the offensive end of the floor.
Justin Dentmon and Venoy Overton are the only two returning guards. Dentmon is a good slasher and can handle the ball. However, he lost his starting job to Overton early last year. Overton did a decent job running the show, but his shooting was horrible. On the year he shot just 33.8 percent from the floor. If Overton does not improve, Thomas might do to him what he did to Dentmon eight games into last season. But no matter who starts, Dentmon and Overton will both have to provide leadership in the backcourt and play a big role in the scoring department. If there is no legitimate and consistent scoring threat on the perimeter, the opposition can double Brockman and the Washington offense, and their hopes for an NCAA Tournament, will end before it even begins.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Venoy Overton, Sophomore, Guard, 4.9 points per game
Justin Dentmon, Senior, Guard, 9.8 points per game
Quincy Pondexter, Junior, Forward, 9.9 points per game
Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Sophomore, Forward, 4.2 points per game
Jon Brockman, Senior, Forward, 17.8 points per game