#10 Washington Pursues Pac-10 Basketball Title
March 1, 2005
THURSDAY, MARCH 3 --
#10 Washington at California; 7:30 p.m. PST
Haas Pavilion (11,877); Berkeley, Calif. - FSN TV
Husky Sports Radio Network / KJR (AM 950) in Puget Sound Area
SATURDAY, MARCH 5 --
#10 Washington at Stanford; 1:00 p.m. PST
Maples Pavilion (7,233); Palo Alto, Calif. - CBS TV
Husky Sports Radio Network / KJR (AM 950) in Puget Sound Area
The 10th-ranked Washington Huskies (23-4, 13-3) hope history repeats itself as they embark on their regular-season ending, two-game road trip to the Bay Area. Twenty years ago, Washington clinched its last Pac-10 championship with two wins in the Bay Area. That 1985 season also marked the last time the Huskies swept the Bay Area road trip, giving them a conference co-title along with USC. UW can secure at least a share of the conference title with two wins this week, beginning Thursday, Mar. 3 at California (12-14, 5-11). Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley for the game that will be televised live on FSN. The Huskies' 81-67 win earlier this season in Seattle gave them a 70-69 edge in the all-time series that dates back to 1916. On Saturday, Mar. 5, UW concludes its regular-season slate at third-place Stanford (16-10, 10-6). Tip-off is 1 p.m. at newly renovated Maples Pavilion for the game that airs on CBS. The Cardinal won 13 of the last 16 meetings with UW, including 11 straight home victories. The Huskies' last win at Stanford came in 1993. UW's 13-3 mark is its best 16-game record in conference play since the 1984 team was 13-3. Overall, the Huskies have their best record in 52 years, dating to the 1953 squad that started the season 25-2 en route to the school's only Final Four appearance. Only two teams in the 103-year history of UW basketball had a better 27-game record than the current 23-4.
Washington is in second place in the Pac-10 standings, 1/2-game behind Arizona. UW is vying for its first conference championship since tying for back-to-back Pac-10 titles in 1984 (Oregon State) and 1985 (USC). The last time UW won a conference title outright was in 1952-53 when the Huskies won the Northern Division crown and swept California in a best-of-three playoff en route to the school's only Final Four appearance.
If Arizona and Washington finish with matching conference records, they will be declared Pac-10 co-champions and a tiebreaker format will determine the No. 1 seed for next week's Pac-10 Tournament. Since they split the season series, the top seed goes to the team that had a better record against the team that finishes third in the final standings.
Twenty Washington men's basketball games will be televised live this season, including Thursday's game at California that airs on FSN at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Barry Tompkins and Dan Belluomini provide the commentary.
Thursday's UW-California game airs on the Husky Radio Network. The game will be broadcast on flagship station KJR (AM 950) throughout the Puget Sound area. Bob Rondeau calls the action with color commentary from Jason Hamilton.
Player of the Week
Senior guard Tre Simmons, who averaged 26.5 points to lead Washington to a home sweep of the Arizona schools, was named the Pac-10 men's basketball Player of the Week Monday (Feb. 28). A product of Seattle's Garfield High School, Simmons hit 11-of-17 shots from 3-point range (65%) last week. He tied his career high with 29 points against Arizona State and had 24 versus No. 9 Arizona. Simmons is the second Husky to win the Pac-10 honor this season, joining Nate Robinson (Nov. 29).
Senior Will Conroy became the 29th 1,000-point scorer in school history Feb. 10 and his current career total of 1,044 ranks 28th. Teammate Nate Robinson ranks 20th among all-time Huskies with 1,150 career points. Robinson is vying to become the first player to lead UW in scoring over three straight seasons since Eldridge Recasner from 1988-90. Robinson led the Huskies with a 13.0-point average in 2003 and 13.2 in 2004.
Washington was victorious in its opening four games for the first time since the start of the 1998-99 campaign, capped by a 79-76 victory over No. 19 Alabama (Nov. 27) in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout. The Huskies, who also defeated Utah and Oklahoma in Anchorage, were declared ESPN.com's national Team of the Week on Nov. 29. UW won nine consecutive games from Dec. 5-Jan. 6, including a 68-64 win over then No. 12 North Carolina State.
Home Sweet Home
Washington plays all of its home games in 77-year-old Bank of America Arena at Edmundson Pavilion. The Huskies have won 791 games in the Pavilion since it opened on Dec. 27, 1927, more victories than any other school in its current arena. Washington finished the 2005 Seattle schedule with a 15-0 record, the 11th undefeated home mark in school history and the first since the 1984 squad went 12-0. The Huskies' current 22-game home winning streak is the sixth longest in school history and the 16-game Pac-10 home winning streak is a school record. The pavilion underwent a 19-month renovation from March of 1999 to November of 2000. The interior was completely redesigned while the building's exterior went unchanged. Despite an increased seating capacity from 7,900 to approximately 10,000, the arena features a more intimate, basketball-only configuration.
Washington sold out 10 of its 15 home games this season, including all nine Pac-10 contests. That is six more sellouts than the previous single-season record of four established in 1999. UW's total home attendance of 148,201 is the highest in school history, surpassing the 1953 squad's record of 147,959. The final 2005 home attendance average of 9,880 is the second-highest in school history, trailing only the mark of 9,954 from 1953.
The California Series
> Washington won the last two meetings to claim a 70-69 edge in the all-time series. UW's win total includes a California victory in 1995 that was later forfeited.
> Prior to the Huskies' last two wins, Cal had won seven of the previous eight meetings.
> Washington has not swept a season series from the Golden Bears since 1999.
> Cal owns a 44-24 advantage against Washington over games played in the Bay Area.
> Ninth-year California Coach Ben Braun has a 10-7 record against the Huskies.
> Third-year UW Coach Lorenzo Romar has a 3-4 record against Cal. Romar's Saint Louis squad lost to the Bears during the 2001-02 season after winning in 2000-01.
The Last Meeting
#13 UW 81, California 67 (Dec. 31, 2004/Seattle)
Tre Simmons scored 18 points, including five straight that capped 13th-ranked Washington's decisive surge in an 81-67 win over California at Bank of America Arena. The Huskies (11-1, 1-0) won their Pac-10 opener for the first time since 2000. UW held California scoreless for the opening three minutes and led by as many as 16 points en route to a 41-32 halftime advantage. The Golden Bears (7-4, 0-1) rallied to claim a three-point lead on three occasions, the last on a basket by Marquise Kately with 9:35 remaining. UW regained control with a run of 10 consecutive points that resulted in a 70-61 lead with 4:56 left to play. Simmons had a pair of free throws and a three-point play to finish the run. UW's full-court pressure defense forced 26 turnovers. Bobby Jones had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Huskies. Richard Midgley paced the Bears with 18 points and Kately had 15.
Defense is the Difference
The Huskies' offense has been extremely consistent with only five points difference between their output in wins and losses. Defense has keyed Washington's victories. UW has a 21-0 record when holding its foes under 90 points. The four opponents that defeated the Huskies averaged 93.8 points, over 24 more than the 69.4 points the Huskies surrendered in their 23 wins. Washington has a 20-0 record when holding opponents to 50 percent or less shooting from the field. UW limited foes to 43.4 percent accuracy in wins, a figure that vaults to 55.7 percent in the four losses.
Washington's recent run of success can be traced to the players buying into the team concept and sharing the ball. The Huskies rank second nationally with 19.4 assists per game (trailing only North Carolina's 20.4). Will Conroy (6.4) and Nate Robinson (5.0) rank first and third, respectively, among Pac-10 assist leaders. Their totals rank No. 1 and No. 6 among all-time UW single-season assisters. Several Huskies are capable of putting up huge statistical numbers. Three players posted a 30-point game at UW (Conroy, Robinson, Brandon Roy), but none have done it this season. Nine Huskies have registered a double-figure scoring game this year, seven have led the team in scoring during at least one game and five have posted a 20-point game.
Senior point guard Will Conroy entered this week ranked No. 21 nationally and currently leads the Pac-10 with 6.38 assists per game. That figure is ahead of the school-record pace of 5.8 that led to the previous single-season record 163 assists for Chester Dorsey in 1976. Conroy has distributed 166 assists this season to become the first player in UW history to post three 100-assist seasons. He delivered 142 assists in 2004 and 108 in 2003. Conroy ranked fifth among Pac-10 playmakers in 2004 with 4.58 assists per game. As a team, the Huskies are averaging 19.4 assists per game, their best mark since the 1976 squad averaged 22.6 en route to a school-record total of 632. Washington leads the Pac-10 and ranks No. 2 nationally in assists per game behind only North Carolina (20.4).
Conroy has distributed 462 career assists, including a career-high 13 twice this season. He had 13 assists against Loyola Marymount (Dec. 12) and Sacred Heart (Dec. 22). That tied for the fourth-best single-game performance in school history. Rafael Stone established the UW record of 16 assists in 1970. Conroy currently ranks No. 2 among all-time Husky playmakers and needs four more assists to tie Chester Dorsey's (1974-77) school record of 466. Only five other Huskies have posted back-to-back 100-assist seasons and Conroy is the first to reach the century mark three times.
The Huskies' 23-win total is their highest since the 1984 squad finished 24-7 and won a co-Pac-10 title en route to the Sweet 16 ... Will Conroy has already distributed a school single-season record 166 assists. His 462 career assists are four shy of the Washington career record of 466 established by Chester Dorsey from 1974-77 ... UW has 13 Pac-10 wins, the most since the 1986 squad won 13. The last Husky team with more Pac-10 wins was the 1984 Pac-10 co-championship squad with 15 ... The Huskies have a 20-0 record in games when they hold their opponent to 50-percent or less field goal shooting and are 18-0 when committing fewer turnovers than their foes ... Junior forward Mike Jensen won the opening tip for Washington in 18 of the 26 games in which he jumped center this season ... On Feb. 10, the Huskies were whistled for a school-record 36 fouls at Oregon which attempted 54 free throws, five more than any UW opponent ever ... UW has a 9-0 record when scoring 90 or more points and a 20-0 mark when holding opponents under 90 points ... Washington leads the Pac-10 with 86.9 points per game, 7.3 more than the No. 2 team, Arizona at 79.6 ... Will Conroy (6.4) and Nate Robinson (5.0) rank first and third, respectively among Pac-10 assist leaders. Conroy has 166 assists and Robinson has 136. They are the fifth pair of Huskies to reach the 100-assist plateau during the same season, joining a list that includes Conroy (142) and Brandon Roy (102) in 200.
Washington built a double-digit lead at some point in 15 of 16 Pac-10 games. UW's largest lead Feb. 13 at Oregon State was seven points ... The Beaver's 90-73 (17 point) win Feb. 13 marked the Huskies' biggest defeat, eclipsing the 99-87 (12 point) loss at Gonzaga on Dec. 1 ... UW's 108-68 home victory over Oregon State on Jan. 15 marked the highest point total ever against a Pac-10 opponent and the 40-point differential was the Huskies' second largest against a Pac-10 foe, trailing only a 45-point victory (86-41) over Washington State on Mar. 3, 1951.
Washington's offense scored 100 points four times this season, matching he 1972 and 1975 Husky teams for the most 100-point outings in a season. The Huskies amassed an unprecedented combined total of 224 in back-to-back games against Sacred Heart (Dec. 22) and Houston (Dec. 24). UW entered this week ranked second nationally, scoring at an 86.9-point clip. North Carolina opened the week leading the NCAA at 89.7 points per game.
Four players are averaging double-figure points for Washington. A fifth (Jamaal Williams) has a 9.9-point scoring average and a sixth (Will Conroy) averages 9.6 points. An unprecedented eight Huskies tallied double-figure points in the win over Sacred Heart (Dec. 22). Seven different players have led UW in scoring during a game this season and five turned in a 20-point performance. UW boasted a balanced offense last season with five players averaging double-figure points. All five returned this season. Previously, the last time five Huskies had finished a season in double figures was the 1975 campaign.
UW's Last Game
#14 UW 93, #9 Arizona 85 (Feb. 26, 2005/Seattle)
Nate Robinson scored nine of his 22 points inside the final four minutes of 14th-ranked Washington's 93-85 triumph over No. 9 Arizona at Bank of America Arena. The Huskies (23-4, 13-3) prevented Arizona (24-5, 14-3) from clinching the Pac-10 title with their fourth win in the last five meetings with the Wildcats. Tre Simmons scored UW's first nine points, hitting the first three of his five 3-pointers. The Huskies used a late nine-point run to take a 42-35 halftime advantage. The lead grew to as many as 13 points before Arizona drew within 75-74 on a Mustafa Shakur 3-pointer with 4:45 left to play. UW's Brandon Roy scored a basket and Robinson followed with a 3-pointer off a saved loose ball from Hakeem Rollins to push the lead back to six. Rollins later had a critical put back off a desperation 3-point attempt at the end of a shot clock and UW hit 7-of-8 free throws to secure the win. Channing Frye amassed a career-high 30 points on 13-of-15 shooting while Hassan Adams scored 18. Salim Stoudamire scored 15 points, but shot just 5-of-15 from the field, including 4-of-12 from 3-point range. The Huskies shot 57 percent from the field (34-60). They hit 11-of-24 treys after making 13-of-34 in Tucson. The Wildcats shot 5-of-11 from the free throw line where they made 38-of-48 attempts in their earlier win over UW.
The Huskies are jumping on opponents early, outscoring them by a combined 261 points (1131-870) in the first half. The average halftime advantage is 42-32 for UW which built a double-digit lead in 15 of 16 Pac-10 games. In the second half, Washington is outscoring foes by a smaller 107-point count (1200-1093). The Huskies stifled opposing offenses early in several games. They held Oregon State scoreless for the opening 2:28, Arizona for 1:53, Washington State for 2:16, Oregon for 3:54, USC for 5:30, Stanford for 1:59, California for 3:02 and Houston for 6:53. UW trailed at halftime just four times, by one point at Gonzaga, one point against North Carolina State, four points at Oregon and seven points at Oregon State.
Washington, which is averaging 86.9 points per game, entered this week ranked No. 2 in the nation in scoring. The Huskies averaged 82.0 points per game last season, their highest scoring output since the 1972 squad finished with a school record 84.8-point average. UW finished the 2004 season ranked second among Pac-10 teams and No. 6 among NCAA Division I teams in team scoring average.Title Talk: The Huskies' triumph at the 2004 Great Alaska Shootout marked their first tournament championship since November of 1998 when they beat Georgia Tech for the Big Island Invitational title in Hilo, Hi.
UW features a bevy of sharpshooters who combine to average 6.96 treys per game. That is ahead of the pace of last season's squad that accumulated a school-record 201 treys at a 6.5-per-game clip. Seven Huskies have had multiple 3-point games this season, including Tre Simmons who has three six-trey efforts to his credit; against Oregon State (Jan. 15), USC (Feb. 3) and Arizona State (Feb. 24). Nate Robinson has one five-trey performance; against Utah (Nov. 25). UW is shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 38.7 percent on 3-pointers.
Washington reached the 100-point plateau in four games, tying the single-season school record established in 1972 and 1975. UW's 108-point effort against Oregon State (Jan. 15) marked its highest total against a Pac-10 opponent. The 114-point outburst against Sacred Heart (Dec. 22) tied for the fourth-highest total in school history and was the most points scored by a UW team since 1991. That was followed by a 110-point performance against Houston (Dec. 24), giving UW a school-record for points in consecutive games with 224. Washington netted 100 points at Loyola Marymount (Dec. 12). The Huskies have reached the 100-point mark seven times during Coach Lorenzo Romar's three seasons. Romar's seven 100-point outings are more than UW accumulated in the previous 27 seasons combined. Only Marv Harshman, who team's posted 14 such efforts from 1972-85, coached more 100-point games for the Huskies than Romar. UW's 100-point NCAA Tournament outburst against UAB (Mar. 19, 2004) was its highest scoring total in a postseason game. The Huskies reached the 100-point plateau three times last season. The 103-99 overtime decision at Oregon State (Jan. 17, 2004) matched the highest total ever for UW in an enemy arena.
High School Reunion
Every time the Huskies take the floor it amounts to a reunion of alums from Seattle's Garfield High School. Three former prep teammates are listed on the UW roster; seniors Will Conroy and Tre Simmons along with junior Brandon Roy. Last year UW had four former Garfield players, including Anthony Washington who transferred to Portland State prior to the 2004-05 season. A Garfield grad led or tied UW in scoring during 19 games in 2004. Their Garfield team also featured recent USC guard Roydell Smiley and Isaiah Stanback, a quarterback on the Husky football team.
Coming off an appearance in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, Washington was ranked in the preseason polls for the first time in six years, opening at No. 22 in the Associated Press poll and No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Huskies rose four spots to No. 10 in this week's AP poll and are also No. 10 in the ESPN rankings. UW spent two weeks earlier this season (Jan. 17 & 24) at the No. 10 spot, it's first top-10 appearances since Dec. 18, 1984. This year marked the Huskies' first mention in the preseason rankings since November of 1998 when they were coming off a berth in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. That was only the second time UW appeared in the preseason national rankings since 1985. The Huskies opened the 1998-99 campaign ranked No. 14 in both the coaches' and AP polls. They remained ranked for five weeks before dropping out of the polls after being ranked No. 22 on Dec. 7, 1998. That was UW's last appearance in the polls until this season. That five-week run also marked UW's only national ranking since Jan. 1, 1985. Five opponents on the UW schedule are currently ranked in the Associated Press poll; No. 11 Arizona, No. 12 Gonzaga, No. 16 Utah, No. 20 Oklahoma and No. 21 Alabama.
Romar on the Rankings
'I hear coaches ranked No. 1 say that what counts is where you are ranked at the end of the season. I agree with that part, but a lot of times coaches that say that are ranked every year,' Washington coach Lorenzo Romar explains. 'We have not been ranked since we've been here, so that would be a compliment to our program at this point. It shows that things are moving in the right direction.'
Junior Brandon Roy is an all-around talent who was named to the National Basketball Writer's Association all-district team in 2004. Roy ranks third among Pac-10 players in field goal percentage (56.4%), 15th in scoring (13.2) and 15th in rebounding (5.4). He posted a pair of recent double-doubles with 20 points and 13 rebounds against UCLA (Feb. 5) and 18 points and 10 rebounds at Oregon (Feb. 10). He has three career double-doubles. Roy led all scorers with 23 points in UW's 2005 season opener against Seattle Pacific on Nov. 19 and scored 25 points in the win over Utah (Nov. 25). The 6-6 swingman received the March 1, 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Week award after leading UW to a sweep in the state of Arizona. The last time the Huskies had a road sweep in Arizona was during January of 1984, six months before Roy was born. He led the 2004 Huskies in rebounds (5.3 rpg) and was second in scoring (12.9 ppg). Roy's career-high of 30 points came Feb. 7, 2004 at UCLA. At Houston on Dec. 20 Roy became the first player in UW history to lead the team in the five major statistics during a single game. Roy amassed 19 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot. Roy played 13 games with two starts in 2003, averaging 6.1 points per game. Roy applied for the 2002 NBA Draft out of high school, but did not attend any pre-draft camps and withdrew his application prior to the draft.
Junior Brandon Roy played in the last 10 games and 15 of the last 19 outings after returning from surgery. He made a triumphant return Dec. 19, scoring 10 points in 18 minutes as a reserve in a win over North Carolina State. Roy, who missed the previous five games, returned a week earlier than expected. He underwent arthroscopic surgery Nov. 30 to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee and was projected to miss from four to six weeks. The 6-foot-6 guard suffered the knee injury Nov. 26 in the first half of the Huskies' victory over Oklahoma.
Washington is one of just six participants from the 2004 NCAA Tournament that return all five starters in 2005. Also returning its entire starting lineup from last year are Illinois, Michigan State, North Carolina, Syracuse and Wake Forest.
Washington has started five different lineups. Thursday's projected unit started 22 of the last 24 games, featuring two seniors (Will Conroy, Tre Simmons) and three juniors (Mike Jensen, Bobby Jones, Nate Robinson). Robinson is the only player to start every game. The experienced lineup is in stark contrast to the last two seasons when there were no regular senior starters and few juniors. Last year, the Huskies implemented six unique lineups and Mike Jensen and Brandon Roy were the only players to start every game.
Junior forward Bobby Jones was questionable for the Feb. 10 game at Oregon while battling a fever and sore throat. Despite the illness he played 20 minutes off the bench, scoring 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting. Jones was named to the Great Alaska Shootout all-tournament team. He has five career double-doubles, two this season. He amassed 13 points and 10 rebounds at Arizona (Jan. 27) and 14 points and a career-high 14 rebounds against Sacred Heart (Dec. 22). Jones has dramatically improved his long-distance shooting, hitting 18-of-42 shots from 3-point range this season. Last year, he hit just 1-of-8 treys after making 4-of-20 in 2003. Jones is the league's 13th-leading rebounder with 5.6 boards per game. In 2003, Jones ranked No. 7 on the team with 5.7 points per game. He nearly doubled that total to 11.2 points in 2004.
There is no 'y' in his first name, but he is known for hitting the trey. Senior Tre Simmons made a 3-pointer in 23 of 25 games this season and has 13 multiple trey outings. Simmons was named the Feb. 28 Pac-10 Player of the Week after leading UW to a home sweep of the Arizona schools. He leads the team with 63 treys this season and is No. 5 among Pac-10 players with a 43.4-percent 3-point accuracy. Simmons hit six 3-pointers against Oregon State (Jan. 15), six against USC (Feb. 3), six against Arizona State (Feb. 24) and five against both San Diego State (Dec. 7) and Arizona (Feb. 26). He led all Washington scorers 11 times. Simmons is the Huskies' leading scorer (17.0) and third-leading rebounder (5.0), ranking No. 5 and No. 19, respectively among Pac-10 players. He topped all Huskies in rebounds during a team-high 10 games. Simmons registered his only double-double on Jan. 13 against Oregon with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Simmons ranked eighth among Pac-10 players in 3-point percentage in 2004, hitting 40 percent (48-119) of his attempts beyond the arc.
Nate the Great
High-flying Nate Robinson is Washington's second leading scorer with a 16.3-point average that ranks sixth among Pac-10 players. The 5-foot-9 Robinson ranks No. 3 among Pac-10 players with 5.0 assists per game and leads UW with 46 steals. He distributed a career-high eight assists in a win over Oklahoma (Nov. 26) and matched that figure at Gonzaga (Dec. 1). Robinson has posted 11 games of 20 or more points after reaching the 20-point plateau five times all of last season. He was named the Nov. 29 Pac-10 Player of the Week after being voted the Most Outstanding Player of the Great Alaska Shootout where he led all UW scorers against Utah (29) and Oklahoma (19). Robinson garnered first-team All-Pac-10 accolades in 2004. He should be in line for even more honors in 2005. Robinson is a Wooden Award nominee and received All-America acclaim in several preseason publications. He led UW and ranked 13th among Pac-10 players in 2004 with 13.2 points per game. Robinson was third among the conference leaders in steals (53) and free throw accuracy (85.3%). He amassed a career-high 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting and added five rebounds and five steals during UW's 96-83 home win over No. 9 Arizona on Jan. 29. That effort helped him receive the Feb. 2 Pac-10 Player of the Week award. The 5-9 guard tallied 23 of his 25 points after halftime at Oregon State (Jan. 17), including a 3-pointer inside the final second that forced overtime in UW's 103-99 win. Robinson led all scorers with 27 points in the 2004 NCAA Tournament game against UAB. In his first season, Robinson was named to the 2003 All-Pac-10 Freshman Team after leading the Huskies with a 13.0-point scoring average. He joined the basketball team after competing as a freshman in 2002 on the Husky football team. Robinson played in all 13 football games, including the Sun Bowl, and started the final six at cornerback.
Nate Robinson applied to be eligible for the 2004 NBA Draft after his sophomore season, but withdrew on June 17 to preserve his collegiate eligibility. Before withdrawing, he attended the pre-draft camp in Chicago from June 8-10 where he was evaluated by NBA scouts and general managers from whom he received feedback. At the pre-draft camp, Robinson had a 22-point performance on the first day. It was the highest single-game output by any of the 59 participants during the three-day sessions.
The pivotal point in Washington's 2004 season came Jan. 17 in Corvallis, Ore. The Huskies were 0-5 in Pac-10 play and trailed Oregon State 70-54 with six minutes remaining. They rallied with Nate Robinson hitting a 3-pointer at the end of regulation and won 103-99 in overtime. That ignited a string of five consecutive victories that ended Feb. 7 at UCLA. The five-game winning streak against Pac-10 opponents was the longest for the Huskies since 1999.
Last year marked the Huskies' biggest turnaround in an NCAA Tournament season. They had a 5-8 record before winning 14 of their final 18 games. UW opened 0-5 in Pac-10 play before winning 12 of its final 13 conference games, vaulting from last place to second. Only twice before did a postseason-bound UW team have a losing record at any point in the season. The 1984 and 1986 teams started the season with 1-2 records before maintaining winning ledgers the rest of the way.
Junior forward Jamaal Williams has paid immediate dividends in his first season as a Husky. He red-shirted last year after transferring from New Mexico. Williams' 6-foot-5 frame belies that fact that he is a sensational interior scorer. He leads all Pac-10 players by converting 57.5 percent of his shots from the field, including a 9-for-10 effort against USC (Feb. 3). Williams tallied 21 points in only 16 minutes off the bench against the Trojans. That was the third 20-point game for the Corona, Calif. native who prepped at Centennial High School. Williams ranks fifth among Huskies with an 9.9-point scoring average.
Wait 'til Next Year
A pair of Huskies are not competing in games this year, waiting until next season until they are eligible. Ryan Appleby, a 6-2 guard is red-shirting this season after transferring from Florida. He played 23 games as a freshman for the Gators, scoring 24 points with 27 assists. Appleby was a 2003 first-team all-state selection at Stanwood (Wash.) High School. Freshman Zach Johnson came to UW from Natomas High School in Sacramento, Calif. where he averaged 14.9 points and 10.0 rebounds as a junior in 2003. Johnson is red-shirting this season while rehabilitating from surgeries on both knees last year.
Producing Point Guards
UW point guards Will Conroy (Garfield HS) and Nate Robinson (Rainier Beach HS) both hail from the city of Seattle. The Emerald City has produced some jewels on the hardwood, a legacy of point guards that is highlighted by former Arizona standout Jason Terry and Michigan's Jamal Crawford. Aaron Brooks (Franklin HS) is currently starting at the point at Oregon. Other prominent point guards from the state of Washington include Husky sophomore Ryan Appleby (Stanwood) who will red-shirt after transferring from Florida, Gonzaga's John Stockton (Spokane) and Dan Dickau (Prairie) and Oregon's Luke Ridnour (Blaine).