Huskies gearing up for Pac-10

  • By Mike Allende / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, December 15, 2005 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – The opponents might not want to hear it, but the next two games for the Washington men’s basketball team could be little more than competitive practices as the Huskies begin gearing up for Pacific-10 Conference play.

Washington hosts Eastern Washington at 7 p.m. today at Hec Edmundson Pavilion and Lehigh at 5 p.m. Dec. 23 before opening conference play Dec. 29 at home against Arizona State.

At 8-0, the No. 11 Huskies are off to their best start in 30 years, and carry a national-best and school-record 29-game home winning streak into today’s game.

After a pair of competitive games against Gonzaga and New Mexico, Washington should get back to facing easier competition against Eastern (4-3) and Lehigh (5-6). Last season, the Huskies defeated Eastern 89-56 and are 6-1 all-time against EWU. So, this should give Washington a chance to work on some of the details coach Lorenzo Romar pointed out this week, such as its defensive rotations, boxing out and creating space on offense.

But offense certainly hasn’t been a concern. The Huskies lead the nation in scoring (96.4 points) and scoring margin (plus-26.5) and are shooting 52 percent as a team. In four of the past five games, five players have scored in double figures for Washington.

The hottest Husky has been senior power forward Jamaal Williams, averaging 19.3 points on 57.4 percent shooting in his past four games and 14.9 points and 5.5 rebounds overall. Brandon Roy (16.1), Bobby Jones (13.1) and Jon Brockman (12.3) also are averaging double figures. Jones needs 12 more points to become the 30th player in Washington history to reach 1,000 in his career.

Eastern has won three in a row – against Idaho, Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside – allowing an average of 57.7 points in the victories. For the season, EWU is holding teams to 41 percent shooting and 66.9 points.

Offensively, 6-foot-4 guard Rodney Stuckey has been by far the Eagles’ best player. The former Kentwood star averages 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and leads the team with 15 steals and 12 3-pointers. In the past three games, Stuckey is averaging 24.3 points, and scored 30 against Riverside. The only other EWU player in double figures is 6-5 forward Kellen Williams, who averages 11.9 points as well as 5.1 rebounds.

Eastern’s biggest problem is turnovers. The Eagles average 20.9 a game, 23.3 in the past three games, including 30 against Riverside. That’s not good news, considering EWU is facing a Husky team forcing 23.5 turnovers a game.

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