Yes, the Huskies have won two straight road games. But the experience of those two games does little to prepare them for what they will face today.
From my story in today’s paper …
Even coach Lorenzo Romar, who has refused to downplay the two road wins over the Pacific-12 Conference dregs, knows that his team is in for its toughest test away from Alaska Airlines Arena.
Tougher than Duke in Madison Square Garden.
With ESPN’s College Gameday on hand, and Arizona fans planning a “white out” celebration, the sellout atmosphere figures to be electric.
“This group has not played in anything like what we are going to play in (today),” Romar said. “It remains to be seen how we will respond.”
The Duke and Marquette games in New York weren’t played in front of full crowds, and against Duke, Washington had a large contingent of fans.
“Against Duke it was like 50-50,” freshman Tony Wroten said of the crowd ratio. “This is going to be like 90-10, if 10.”
How about St. Louis?
“St. Louis was a great environment, but the place was three-quarters full,” Romar said.
In the road win against Utah, Washington played in front of a crowd of less than 5,000 fans, and they also had a healthy smattering of UW fans.
That won’t be the case today.
There will be close to 15,000 fans – most of them clad in white shirts and unfriendly.
“A real player comes and looks at this place, and says: ‘Yep, this is just how I like it here. This is about as good as it gets. Let’s go play,’” Romar said.
But not all players have that mentality. Some shine and some shrink in these situations.
“That’s sports, man,” Romar said. “It happens at all levels to all different types of players. You love seeing those players that come out in these types of games and you see them swelling up in front of everybody – they aren’t backing down at all.”
One player who doesn’t have any plans of backing down is Wroten, who was a mixture of giddiness and intensity when talking about the magnitude of the matchup.
“It’s going to be a crazy,” he said. “I live for moments like this. You just have to be ready to come play and hopefully keep the crowd out of it.”
Wroten can’t understand why somebody wouldn’t want to play in a packed house on national television.
“Some people live for this, and some people run away from this,” he said. “I feel like if you are in college basketball, you got to live for this, you got to be ready. You know its going to be crazy. It’s going to be hard, but you have to do what you have to do.”
Colorado at UCLA, 1 p.m.
Not sure why this game isn’t on TV since its the best of the three. But that’s the ROOT world we live in.
- Chris Foster writes about UCLA’s guards getting some extra rest against Utah, and possibly Colorado. Here’s Peter Yoon’s game preview from ESPN LA
- Ryan Thorburn writes about Colorado facing a much tougher test against UCLA. The story also has some video.
Washington State at Arizona State, 3 p.m. RTNW/FSAZ
- According to Christian Caple, Faisal Aden will not play today for the Cougars.
- Doug Haller writes about the improved play of sophomore Jordan Bachynski
Utah at USC, 8 p.m. Prime Ticket
- USC’s issues with injuries continue as talented young sophomore DeWayne Dedmon was lost for the season because of a knee injury.
- The Utes are still looking for that elusive first road win.