Three-guard lineup should benefit Washington
• Washington coach Lorenzo Romar is already seeing the benefits of a three-guard lineup that will likely end games for the Huskies.
Romar might have the most difficult backcourt to pressure in the West with Isaiah Thomas, Venoy Overton and newcomer Abdul Gaddy. Romar said he's likely going to bring one of the three guards off the bench to start games, with the possibility that all three could be on the floor to finish.
"They all handle the ball so well, they're pretty quick and feisty, and all good basketball players,'' Romar said. "Whichever one doesn't start is going to be like a starter. They'll all bring something in their own special way. If one of them isn't contributing then we're not a complete team."
AP Photo/Ted S. WarrenIsaiah Thomas averaged 15.5 points per game to lead the Washington Huskies last season.
Thomas led the Huskies in scoring last season with 15.5 points a game. The 5-foot-8 guard from Tacoma is a "fantastic scorer,'' according to Romar.
"He brings that swagger offensively for us and he takes big shots,'' Romar said. "In late-game situations, he's good with the ball, too."
The 5-11 Overton can push the basketball and get the Huskies into an up-tempo game. But his forte is defense.
"He's got to be one of the best on-the-ball defenders in the country,'' Romar said of Overton. "We do agility skills and you can watch his feet and see he might have the quickest feet I've ever seen. He can cause problems on the defensive end.''
Romar said Overton could change the game with his deflections and alter the rhythm of the game defensively.
The Huskies had a point guard in Justin Dentmon last season. So, it was imperative to find a replacement who could coexist with the scoring of Thomas and the defense of Overton. That's where Gaddy has been the perfect playmaker for this team. Gaddy originally committed to Arizona, but the turmoil with the Wildcats put the 6-3 Tacoma native in play.
"He's the purest point guard of the three,'' Romar said. "He's the tallest, too.''
Romar said the Huskies will still start sophomore forward Darnell Gant at one forward and senior Quincy Pondexter at the other. Pondexter, who was on the bronze-medal-winning U.S. World University Games team in Serbia over the summer, has made a commitment to be the rebounder that Jon Brockman was last season for the Huskies. But expecting Pondexter to grab double-figures in boards like Brockman (11.5) might be too much to ask. Still, Romar said Pondexter's leadership is proving to be quite valuable so far in workouts.
Romar isn't apologizing for the schedule. He said the Huskies were a bit worried about the opponent in the Wooden Classic on Dec. 12 but was thrilled when Georgetown signed up to play the Huskies in Anaheim.
Romar said the Huskies had no idea which team they would draw in the Pac-10/Big 12 Challenge; Washington got Texas Tech. And while the game is in Lubbock, the Red Raiders aren't expected to be a contender in the Big 12. If the two leagues were attempting to match potential contenders, they should have pitted Washington against Texas.
Texas A&M has the potential for bubble status and thus should be a quality opponent for the Huskies. Playing Portland in Seattle should be a challenge as well, considering the Pilots beat the Huskies there last season and should be Gonzaga's toughest competitor in the WCC.
So, the Georgetown neutral-site and home Texas A&M and Portland games are probably Washington's best three nonconference games. The one sleeper game on Washington's schedule is the opener on Nov. 13. Wright State is considered to be Butler's toughest challenger in the Horizon League and could be a bit of a thorny team for the Huskies to play to open the season. The rest of the slate: Belmont, Portland State, San Jose State, Montana, Cal State Northridge, San Francisco and Seattle should be wins for the Huskies.
Ultimately, this schedule could see Washington begin Pac-10 play with possibly only one loss overall.
"He's shooting the ball real well and that's not something he was doing last year,'' Sosa said of the sophomore big man. "Everything last year was on the block for him. He's developing a good midrange jump shot.''
Sosa said freshman guard Peyton Siva is "fast" and should give the Cardinals some "good minutes" with fellow guards Jerry Smith and Preston Knowles. Meanwhile, Sosa said forward Terrence Jennings hasn't worked out much because of a sprained ankle but freshman forward Stephan Van Treese has proven to be quite a banger inside; the hope is that he can be the rebounder the Cardinals will need in the absence of Earl Clark and Terrence Williams.
"Losing those two guys, we're going to have to make things up everywhere,'' Sosa said. "The biggest thing will be on defense.''
"The way he's playing right now, his shooting ability, all has improved and he'll be a real threat in the ACC,'' Vasquez said.
He added that forward Landon Milbourne has been a "warrior" in workouts with the way he has sacrificed to become a more efficient player. The key for the Terps may be how freshmen forwards James Padgett (6-foot-8) and Jordan Williams (6-10) develop in the coming weeks. Vasquez needs to continue to be confident that they can finish his passes.
"The one thing they do well is catch the ball,'' Vasquez said. "They can finish. They're working on their strength and to be more explosive. They don't have that killer mentality yet. That will come out of their personality. But they have two big bodies to help us out a lot and score in the paint, get rebounds, set good screens and play an important role for the team."
• Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said having the experience of transfers Ben Hansbrough (Mississippi State) and Scott Martin (Purdue) has made the early-season workouts go smoothly. He said Martin has added 15 "good pounds" through strength training.
"They've played in big games,'' Brey said. "Every SEC coach told me when Ben transferred that he will make big shots."
Brey said senior forward Luke Harangody has shown tremendous leadership in his goal to get the Irish back to the NCAAs after a one-year hiatus.
"We keep telling our guys that we can get one of the bids out of our league,'' Brey said.
Brey said seniors Harangody, Jonathan Peoples and Tory Jackson are focused on winning at least 23 games to become the winningest class in Notre Dame history, breaking the record of 92 games that was set in 1978. Brey was quick to point out that winning 93 games in the Big East is quite a different feat than doing it during the "age of independency" when Notre Dame wasn't in a conference in the 1970s or '80s.
• The Big East decided not to change its tournament format for 2010, a league spokesperson said Friday.
Seeds 9 through 16 will still need to win five games to claim the title and play on the Tuesday of Championship Week at Madison Square Garden in New York. Seeds 5 through 8 will start play on Wednesday and need to win four games to win the title. The top four seeds will continue to get a double-bye into Thursday's quarterfinals. The semifinals and finals remain on a Friday and Saturday schedule.