SEATTLE -- While his teammates dressed for practice, Matthew Bryan-Amaning walked the halls around Washington's basketball court wearing a light blue surgical mask. He carried two bottles of Gatorade in his left hand, a can of sports drink in his right.
"Keep that mask on, man. I don't want that," another student-athlete bellowed Tuesday as he darted past the junior forward and out a nearby door.
The masked man could be the Huskies' mascot right now. The defending Pac-10 champions are too sick to fully begin practicing for the season.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said Tuesday seven of his 12 players, including senior leader Quincy Pondexter, have had the flu since Saturday's first full day of practice.
The Huskies had only seven players for drills at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on Monday and Tuesday, limiting them to 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 drills. The only plus: there's been more individual attention and coaching of the team's two freshmen who don't have the flu, Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox.
Trainers and assistants have spent extra time wiping down the locker room, but there's only so much they can do.
"Every time we see the team, someone else has it," Romar said.
He said this spreading flu is the worst illness he's had on a team since he began coaching in 1992 as an assistant at UCLA.
Sophomore forward Darnell Gant has been the sickest. He called Romar at 2 a.m. Saturday saying he was ill, hours after Washington had a nationally televised "Midnight Madness" in front of an estimated 6,000 fans. Others who have been on the side watching practice: Venoy Overton, Scott Suggs, Clarence Trent and Tyreese Breshers.
Pondexter was back at practice Tuesday.
Suggs and Breshers were also wearing masks Tuesday. Suggs teased healthy Isaiah Thomas with fake coughs as he walked by the guard before Suggs watched practice from the stands, with his mask on.
Romar says none of the players have been diagnosed with the H1N1 strain. He added that if they had to play a game now they could with seven players, some of whom would be ailing. Luckily for Washington, its first game isn't until Nov. 13 against Wright State.
Bryan-Amaning said he's had a fever, headache and lightheadedness.
"Woke up with it Monday morning," Bryan-Amaning said, through the mask.
Behind him, posted on a door, was a notice with these words posted over a stop sign: "Stop!!! Do you have any of these symptoms: Fever AND cough, sore throat, chills, body aches, stuffy or runny nose, headache or fatigue? Contact an athletic trainer immediately and avoid contact with other student athletes."
Thomas, last season's Pac-10 freshman of the year, said he's avoided getting it because "I don't live with those guys."
He and his tired legs can't wait until his teammates get better.
"Definitely," Thomas said, rolling his eyes. "Being at practice and you only got seven players there, no substitutes -- whew!"