Washington basketball coach Lorenzo Romar can project with some certainty how well his team will shoot Saturday (1 p.m.) in the 18th-ranked Huskies’ season opener against McNeese State at Hec Ed.
He has shooters, more than any team in his nine years at the school, and they can fill it up. If one guy doesn’t have it working, another one will. It’s might be bold to say, but this team will score in abundance this season. Maybe it won’t out-score everyone but it’s going to be a prolific, collective effort.
What Romar doesn’t know is how the team will rebound. It’s something that he can’t quantify because he said it’s all about desire.
We’ve got to do a better job on the boards. That’s our biggest concern,” said Romar during Tuesday’s news conference. This is going to be a collective effort all year long but we have to have a group that’s committed.
Poor rebounding is something that will hinder us from being the best team we can be.”
The Huskies return four starters and 63.6 percent of their offense from last season’s Sweet 16 team. But Jon Brockman (two years ago) and Quincy Pondexter (last year) have taken their games and their rebounding instincts to the pro level. Someone has to step up. Or as Romar would prefer, everyone has to step up.
Junior college recruit, 7-foot Aziz N’Diaye, should be among those ready to pounce on every ball. Romar would like to see how well N’Diaye and 6-9 senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning play on the floor together.
However, they were only together briefly, less than two minutes, last Saturday in the team’s exhibition opener against Division II St. Martin’s. N’Diaye played just 11 minutes before fouling out.
Romar said, every one of those fouls could have been avoided.
(Bryan-Amaning) averaged 7 ½ rebounds over 14-game stretch last year…that shows he can get it done. (Freshman guard) Terrence Ross also has that mindset.”
That mindset needs to spread across the roster.
He preaches to us all the time that rebounding is about heart and desire,” said 6-6 junior forward Scott Suggs. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are. It’s about desire. We have to crash a little harder and get into our positions, rebounding-wise.”
Suggs earned a starting spot in last Saturday’s game because of his consistent play and scoring ability in practice. Against St. Martin’s, he scored 11 points including hitting three of four three-pointers in 22 minutes. But Romar said, I don’t know about the future. I don’t know if we can go that small.”
Romar’s preference would be starting 6-8 junior forward Darnell Gant. But Gant has been dealing with a strained left groin and may not be ready for extended play against McNeese.
Even though (Gant) hasn’t shown that he’s been a consistent, really good rebounder (averaging 3.3 rpg last season), Romar said, his experience, his familiarity with the team, he can help give us something we don’t have right now. He’s a taller body.”
St. Martin’s served as a warning for the Huskies, as they were out-rebounded 42-32 by the smaller St. Martin’s team. UW won the game handily, 97-76, primarily because the Huskies shot 54 percent from the floor, including converting 10 of 17 three-point attempts.
Rebounding is nothing you can work on, it’s about attitude,” said 5-9 junior guard Isaiah Thomas. If five guys in the game have that attitude then you become a good rebounding team. It’s about grit and going and getting the ball.
Senior guard Venoy Overton, one of the nation’s best defensive players, has been cleared to run at full speed this week for the first time since his Sept. 14 left hamstring injury. Romar said he could see some action Saturday.