March 14, 2011

UW a versatile bunch

When breaking down Friday's second-round game in the East Regional between No. 7 seed Washington and No. 10 seed Georgia, one difference immediately jumps out.

Unfortunately for head coach Mark Fox, it doesn't particularly bode well for his Bulldogs (21-11).

While Georgia can count seven players with starts under their respective belts - Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie, Jeremy Price, Chris Barnes, Gerald Robinson Jr., Connor Nolte and Dustin Ware - the Pac-10 tourney champion Huskies under coach Lorenzo Romar goes the other extreme.

Entering Friday's 9:45 p.m. tipoff in Charlotte, Washington (23-10) has started 10 different players over the course of the current campaign, giving Romar the kind of lineup flexibility and versatility the Bulldogs simply do not have.

"We're just kind of looking at matchups," Romar said during a teleconference Monday afternoon.

Take last week's Pac-10 tourney, which saw the coach give 6-6 freshman guard Terrence Ross his first three career starts.

But although Ross averaged 15.7 points per game en route to making the all-tournament team, there's no guarantee he will be in the starting lineup against the Bulldogs.

"We went with the same lineup for three games in the Pac-10 tournament. But like I said, if we had played UCLA (instead of Oregon) in the second game, we would not have gone with that lineup," said Romar, who added that he is still reviewing film of the Bulldogs. "For now, we're just looking at matchups, so it's definitely unique in our situation."

Romar said he's been impressed with what he's seen from the Bulldogs thus far.

"They are a really defensive team and they have some strength inside. The way they defend is a little like Southern Cal. defends, that's who they remind me of," Romar said. "Trey Thompkins, I talked about him yesterday, but it's Jeremy Price who is very physical. Their two 'Bigs' (Thompkins and Price) are strong down there. That's the main thing that jumps out at me, their strength down low and how well they defend."

With that in mind, Georgia's shouldn't be too surprised if Romar goes with 7-foot center Aziz N'Diaye to pair with 6-10 forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who is second on the team in scoring behind Isaiah Thomas with 15.5 points per game.

A junior college transfer from Senegal, N'Diaye has been a dominating presence down low for the Huskies, both with his shot-blocking ability and rebounding as he's averaged 5.6 boards in just 17.2 minutes per game.

Whichever route Romar decides to go, his options are many and that depth could prove detrimental to the depth-challenged Bulldogs, who grew more and more fatigued in the second half of Friday's loss to Alabama in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.

Where Georgia counts just six players with 17 or more minutes per game, Washington counts 10 players with at least 17 minutes with only one player (Thomas) averaging over 30 minutes. Thompkins, Ware, Robinson Jr. and Leslie average at least 31 minutes each for the Bulldogs.

"I can't remember a year, maybe with the exception of our first year and Senior Nights, that once we've gotten into the second half of conference we've changed our lineup," Romar said. "It is definitely unique. I would say with the exception of Isaiah, no one logged unusually long minutes. Guys for the most part have logged 30 minutes or less. Getting up for each game and executing our scouting report is what's made us successful. The last two games, Oregon and Arizona, I think we executed the scout as well as we've done all year and that had a lot to do with concentrating and being dial in."

NOTE: In order to get use to the time change, Romar said his team will leave for Charlotte Tuesday morning. The Bulldogs will drive up from Athens on Wednesday. "Everybody has arranged to get their finals done by today so we can take off and get acclimated to the time change," Romar said. "But the time we're playing (9:45), that's prime time for us and we've played a number of games around that time."

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