By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Reunion week continues for the University of Washington men’s basketball team today.
Four days after welcoming former UW assistant Cameron Dollar and his Seattle University team to campus — and giving the Redhawks a 47-point tail-kicking — the Huskies will see another one of Lorenzo Romar’s ex-employees when Ken Bone is in town for this afternoon’s game against rival Washington State.
If Romar has his way, Bone will be leaving with the same feeling that Dollar had Tuesday night.
Not that he’s banking on that.
“The plan is to play to our potential,” Romar said diplomatically when asked about that possibility this week. “If we play to our potential, we hope everything goes right.”
The Apple Cup rivalry adds another chapter this afternoon, when the black-clad Huskies (13-7 overall, 3-5 Pac-10) host a WSU team coached by a former Romar assistant. Bone has been back to UW as an opposing coach before — he spent the past four seasons at Portland State — but never while wearing the hated Crimson and Gray.
“I don’t think it will be a whole lot different,” said Bone, whose brother Len is the boys basketball coach at Snohomish High School. “It’s a different uniform, a different school. It’s just like at Portland State: I’ll just try to go in there and come out ahead.”
Bone, who was head coach at Seattle Pacific for 12 years before joining Romar’s UW staff for a three-year stint from 2002 through 2005, has the Cougars (14-6, 4-4) off to a surprisingly hot start. Even after winning 10 of 12 non-conference games, Bone warned reporters that his Cougars weren’t ready to contend for a Pac-10 title.
Yet WSU is part of a five-way tie for third place, trailing Pac-10 leaders Cal by just two games as the season reaches its midway point.
“We’re a little more competitive than I thought we would be,” Bone said earlier this week.
While the Bone reunion makes for a nice story, the Huskies are more excited about another return today. Sophomore Isaiah Thomas, who missed Tuesday’s rout because of a stomach virus, is expected back for today’s game.
“You have your second-leading scorer back and the returning freshman of the year, so it gives you added firepower,” Romar said.
Without Thomas, the Huskies put up the most points of the Romar era in a 123-76 win over SU. They didn’t need his 17.6 points per game on that night, but Romar doesn’t want to go into another game without the sophomore guard.
“We played Cal and Stanford the week before (the Seattle U. game), and Isaiah helped us in those games,” Romar said, referring to back-to-back blowout wins against the Bay Area schools.
Thomas practiced Thursday and Friday but wasn’t 100 percent as of Friday afternoon.
“I haven’t eaten in like three days,” he said. “I practiced (Thursday) and was a little winded, but I’ll put that aside to get this win (against WSU).”
Asked how he came down with the illness, Thomas joked that teammate Venoy Overton put something in his Gatorade so that he could get the start. Overton scored 20 points and added eight assists as a starter Tuesday, but he’ll return to the bench for opening tip-off today.
“I don’t think he’s ever cherished not starting,” Romar said of Overton. “But he will come out and play hard because he’s a team guy.”
Amid all the familiarity, the Huskies will look a little different today. They will be wearing black uniforms for the first time as part of Blackout Saturday, a fundraiser for cancer research.
If the black uniforms don’t result in another home win?
“They might become practice jerseys,” Romar said.