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December 22, 2008Tuesday's game against Lehigh (7-3) was cancelled due to the snow. It was the last game before the players went to their homes for Christmas. Head coach Lorenzo Romar and the team are obviously disappointed.
"It was very disappointing because you are prepared to play, you are prepared to take your exam so to speak after practicing," explained Romar. "But it was not feasible for Lehigh to get here form New Jersey. It just didn't work out because of the weather and we will try to reschedule the game. We don't know when, but we are back at work at we practiced today and will prepare for Montana on Sunday."
"It is definitely a let down that tomorrow night's game was postponed," explained Jon Brockman. "As players, games are what we train for, what we practice so hard for. So, it isn't a good feeling to know that the game isn't going to take place. But, I am glad that the Lehigh team is safe. Obviously there are travel issues and it is better that they are safe than trying to travel all the way across the country. I'm glad the coaches haven't entirely canceled the game and that they are trying to reschedule it. Maybe it will work in our favor since we won't be distracted with the holiday break coming up. Guys will be able to relax a bit, enjoy the time with their families and get ready for Montana. Thankfully, we don't have too long before we play again.''
Romar doesn't think they will get the game played before the first of the year even though he would like to. In fact, rescheduling the game may have to take place during conference play.
"We could possibly do it [re-schedule] during conference play and right now we are looking at both of our schedules to see what will work."
Romar hopes to play the game because every win counts when trying to get into the NCAA Tournament.
"Every game that you play is an exam of sorts and you use them to see where you are. If you are fortunate enough to get a victory that is another win to help your hopes of an NCAA Tournament birth."
Lehigh made every attempt to get to Seattle, but the weather made it impossible.
"They actually got on the plane and took off," said Romar. "They were in the air for two hours headed to Seattle and had to turn around because Sea-Tac did not have the necessary equipment to allow them to land safely."
Conference play is right around the corner as the Huskies will travel to Pullman and take on Washington State Jan. 3. Romar likes the progress his team has made and thinks they are almost ready for the heart of their schedule.
"I think we have really made progress from a month ago," said Romar. "I like what the team is doing and I like direction we are headed. We are no where near a finished product but I like where we are headed. We have less then two weeks to go before we open up [conference play] so we need to get better."
"The things we are getting better at continue to get better at them. Continue to get better on the defense end, continue to share the basketball and take care of it. We need to play 40 minutes of solid basketball and that is where we want to be at."
Washington has improved in many of the areas that haunted them last season and early on this season. They are shooting much better at the free throw line and they are turning the ball over less. But Romar knows that much more work needs to be done.
"Our rebounding has been slipping a bit. We were dominant early and haven't been as dominant lately. We need to do a better job of boxing out. We may not have a glaring weakness, but one thing that may catch up to us and bite us is turnovers. We only had 13 the other night, but maybe that should have been a game where we should have committed seven turnovers. We still need to take care of those two areas."
Washington had one disappointing loss when they dropped the season opener to Portland 74-80. Romar said he would obviously like to have the Portland game back, but he also acknowledged that it was a wake up call and may have motivated his team to work harder.
"As it has turned out everyone has their attention on becoming the best team we can be."
The Huskies will return to practice on Jan. 26.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning has been playing out of his mind the last three games. The 6-foot-9 sophomore is showing signs that he will become the dominating player everyone thought he could be. Against Texas Souther he had 18 points and five rebounds, against Portland State he poured in 23 points and had 12 rebounds, and last game against Eastern Washington he had nine points and a team high seven rebounds despite only playing 15 minutes. Is Romar concerned about getting MBA more minutes?
"The thing with Matt is that he only played 15 minutes, had the game been closer he would have played more and I'm sure he would have scored more points. When Matt is playing you will notice he's around the action a lot."
Romar thinks MBA is right on track to become a star.
"He's more assertive all the way around and one thing about freshman is that they always become sophomores. Not everyone can be Michael Beasley in their freshman year, or O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless or Kevin Love. It takes some another year or maybe even two or three more years. He is more aggressive and his experience this summer has given him more confidence. I think he has a better understanding of what it takes to succeed at this level."
"When Matthew's playing you can't just focus on one guy. Your not going to leave Jon Brockman all alone so it allows him to play one-on-one on the block. If you double him, that leaves Jon loose on the other side for the offensive boards. When those two are together it definitely puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses. When Darnel [Gant] is in there he also puts some pressure on defenses because there is a threat of him knocking down the outside shot."
Before the year began everyone assumed that Bryan-Amaning would start alongside of Brockman in the post. However an injury slowed his progress towards the end of the off season and Darnell Gant got the starting nod to begin the season. Romar liked what he saw and the rotation has stuck. But with MBA playing as well as he has, could he be moved back into the starting lineup?
"I did not want to sound like this is the best things since sliced bread having Jon and Darnel in there and not Matthew. At this point it's not a bad thing to have Matthew coming off the bench. Down the road come conference play I don't know what will happen. Jon and Matthew starting together may be the best thing for us. But in all, when those three are rotating they both get to play. I go back to when Jamal Williams, Brandon Roy, and Tre Simmons would come off the bench - they all played - it was just a matter of who got their name called first. Even Spencer Hawes came off the bench for a stint as a freshman and he still played a bunch of minutes. The starting thing is not as important as making sure he plays. Matthew and Darnell each played 15 minutes last game so it's not that big of a deal to me."
Tyreese Breshers came to Washington as the No. 75 ranked player in the nation by Rivals.com and was going to have a shot at contributing right out of the gate. A shin injury has hampered his progress and he's still not ready for action yet.
"The shin injury isn't the issue as much as the patella tendon healing up and also his quad muscle hasn't gotten strong enough to support that yet. Once the quad muscle is stronger then he will be fine. But he had to go through the patella tendon to insert the rod."
Brockman is still recovering from an ankle injury despite playing 23 minutes against Eastern Washington. Even though he wanted to play Tuesday's game against Lehigh, Romar thinks it could be a blessing for the Husky big man.
"That is a positive because he's not yet a 100 percent. He can definitely rest and hopefully by sunday he is 100 percent."
Brockman agrees he's still not back all the way, but playing that many minutes also didn't hurt him even more which is a positive sign.
"My ankle feels a lot better," said Brockman. "It is still a little swollen so I just need to do the things necessary to get the swelling out and get it strengthened. I haven't taken any steps backward in terms of how it feels, so that is a good sign. I'm just trying to take it day-by-day, do what the trainers ask me to do and get it back into full strength. Maybe this break will help me do that.''
Because of the bad weather there is a possibility not every player will make it home for Christmas. Not to worry as coach Romar has opened his house to those in need of a Holiday meal.
"I hope none of them [end up at his house] because that would mean they haven't gotten home. But with the weather conditions like they are now it's not a slam dunk that they will get home. But they definitely know that they are more then welcome [at our house]."
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