Husky Men Tip Off Tour of Greece with a Victory
Aug. 30, 2007
THESSALONIKI, Greece -- Three players who sat on the sidelines last season were very much a part of the action Thursday.
All eight players scored during the second quarter when the Washington men's basketball team took the lead for good en route to a 93-81 victory over Ment Thessalonki in the first of five games on their tour of Greece.
Morris sat out last season after transferring from Stanford. The senior guard tallied 10 points and nine rebounds.
A two-year letterman, Smith was an injury red-shirt last year. He had seven points and seven rebounds in his return to a Husky uniform. Smith had a resounding dunk in the game's final minute that drew cheers from the small crowd.
Wolfinger amassed 17 points and six rebounds. He hit back-to-back 3-point baskets in the third quarter.
Wolfinger has been injured the last two seasons. His only previous game action for UW was a scoreless, 10-minute stint in an exhibition against St. Martin's on Nov. 6, 2005. Wolfinger didn't go scoreless for long in Greece.
He dropped in the game's first points 44 seconds into the contest with a 14-foot jumper from the right side. Ment responded with seven straight points to start a 17-5 run. Athanasios Karidas converted four consecutive free throws, putting the Greek squad ahead 17-7 with 3:05 left in the first quarter.
The Huskies scored the next eight points, including four from junior point guard Justin Dentmon. Ment's Dimitrios Despos hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give his team a 20-15 margin after the first quarter.
UW registered a 30-18 scoring advantage in the second quarter and tallied the first nine points. The Huskies trailed 38-36 before registering the final nine points before halftime.
Sophomore guard Adrian Oliver's jumper with 59 seconds left in the second quarter put UW ahead for good. Joel Smith followed with a 3-pointer and Dentmon finished a fast break with a layup with three seconds remaining that netted the Huskies a 45-38 halftime lead.
'It was just a matter of playing through the beginning of the game,' said Romar. 'We haven't done this before, traveling this far for a foreign tour. Once the guys went up and down a few times, we settled down and were able to pressure the basketball.'
UW extended its lead to as many as 20 points during the third quarter, settling on a 73-55 advantage entering the final period. Wolfinger scored nine points in the third quarter and Jon Brockman added six of his team-high 20. The junior forward also contributed 10 rebounds, leading a 42-27 UW dominance of the boards.
Ment used a slew of fourth-quarter free throws and two 3-pointers to draw within 89-81 with 0:50 left to play. Brockman scored the game's final four points to turn back the Greek rally.
The game was played in Ment Gym, the home of the Huskies opponents who play in the second division of the Greek Professional League. The small arena was extremely hot, nearly 90 degrees, and muggy. After the game UW players wrung out their soaking wet uniforms, leaving large pools of moisture.
The humid conditions were of more concern to Wolfinger than any nerves he might display after two years away from competitive basketball.
'I felt real good out there, but it felt really hot. I've never played in a gym that hot before,' said Wolfinger who missed his first four 3-pointers before connecting on the final two.
'I concentrated more and I got open more,' he explained about his late-game success. 'They left me open. I wasn't forcing it as much and if I was open, I would take my time and shoot it.'
The game was played under international rules, including a format of four 10-minute quarters rather than the two 20-minutes halves used in NCAA games. The 3-point line was a 20-feet, 6-inch arc.
Also, a 24-second clock was implemented rather than the 35-second timing the Huskies use during collegiate play. The quicker shot clock didn't seem to bother UW. In fact, the only shot-clock violation was whistled on the Greek squad.
'The shot clock is something that we talked about in practice,' Romar explained. 'The way we play, the shot clock doesn't affect us much.'
Romar was relieved to have the tour's first game out of the way.
'This game is the one I feared the most, not because of who we played, but how we would play with the travel and jet-lag,' he said. 'Most of these guys have not played in international play at all, so this is all new to them.
'We're looking to see how the team will come out tomorrow night.'
Washington plays another Greek professional team on Friday. The Huskies remain in Thessalonika to meet Iraklis.