Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar wasn’t about to anoint the Huskies for anything beyond what they are, an 11-5 team with a 3-0 conference record.
“It’s a whole different ball game (Wednesday),” Romar said. “We have to continue to try and improve and not rest on the fact that we’ve won three games here.”
Even other coaches in the Pac-12 don’t know what to make of Washington. Tuesday is the conference call with conference coaches and is also the day media meets with Romar. On the call, UCLA coach Ben Howland was talking about the conference as a whole, and voluntarily had this to say about Washington:
“Washington is playing great right now,” Howland said. “Washington, to me, is leading the league. They have three wins and they’re all on the road.”
One of those wins was a rather easy one over Mike Montgomery’s Cal team, 62-47, last week. Montgomery was impressed, but also did an impressive thing: in one statement, he questioned Washington’s success and the ability of his own team.
“They’ve got really good players, it’s not like they don’t have players,” Montgomery said. “They’re not bad. They have three road breakthroughs, but it remains to be seen if those road breakthroughs are against the premier teams. They still have got to play the better teams in the league.
“It remains to be seen. I don’t know if they’re a top-three team, but they have three road breakthroughs, that’s pretty good.”
He has a fair point. It appears Washington State, Cal, and Stanford, a combined 3-8 in conference, are going to be members of the lower half of the conference. The flip side, road wins in the conference are enormous, even if it is against the lower teams.
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins also talked about Aziz N’Diaye’s influence on the floor.
“He impacts on both ends,” Dawkins said. “When he’s in the lane, he takes up the entire lane. He’s long. He’s athletic. He’s mobile. And then on the offensive end, not only does he set good screens and good picks, it’s like a double screen when he sets one trying to get through it. But also his ability to rebound the ball. His offensive rebounds are big plays, they’re momentum plays. They miss a shot and then all of a sudden he has his hands on the ball. He tips it. He keeps it alive. He comes up with it.
“He’s really improved. Watching that young man from last year to this year. I see a lot of growth in his game. He really helps them.”
N’Diaye leads the conference in offensive rebounds.
This week Washington will receive stern tests from Colorado and Utah. The Buffs will be a grumpy bunch after losing three of four. Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar full expects Colorado to come “ready to get stuff done” during Wednesday night’s game.
More notes, quotes and thoughts from Tuesday:
> Romar said the team’s chemistry is very good and one play in particular against Stanford was representative of that. He said Desmond Simmons ran with C.J. Wilcox on a break and set a pick for Wilcox then motioned for the pass to go to UW’s leading shooter. It did and Wilcox hit a 3. Romar said the team accepting its roles has been a big breakthrough.
> Romar also mentioned the Seattle U and UConn games as places where Washington took significant steps so far this season.
> C.J. Wilcox said he has a side bet with Aziz N’Diaye about who will lead the team in blocks this season. Wilcox is narrowly in front 22-21 at this point.
> Romar pumped both arms when asked how the team’s health is.
> It’s a small sample size, but Washington is second during conference play in field-goal percentage defense (37.9 percent).
> ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has his second Bracketology out. Washington isn’t mentioned, but Stanford oddly, is listed in the “next four out.”