University of Washington

Huskies face final test before Pac-10 Conference season

Any improvements left on the Washington Huskies' to-do list had better be tended to tonight.

The Huskies’ 6 p.m. meeting with Nevada marks their final game before tipping off Pacific-10 Conference play one week from tonight at Southern California.

“(We will work on) more of the same – more of the same approach we had last game against San Francisco,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “The same with this game: We still need to work on our rebounding. We still need to do a good job doing the things with our execution. That’s how we’re going to approach it.”

Through 10 games, the Huskies have outrebounded their opponents by an average of 39.3 to 35.3. However, they have been outrebounded in all three of their losses, by an average of 39.7 to 33.3.

After watching his team get outrebounded by six in a one-point loss at Texas A&M, Romar paired his two tallest players and top two rebounders – 7-foot Aziz N’Diaye and 6-foot-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning – in the starting lineup Saturday against San Francisco. UW won the boards, 40-33, and the game, 80-52.

Despite Nevada’s 3-8 record, the Wolf Pack has outrebounded its opponents this season, and the Huskies believe this game will provide a useful challenge before Pac-10 play.

“Any game is big for us, especially since we haven’t rebounded well in maybe just two games this season,” UW co-captain Isaiah Thomas said. “Any opponent – whatever game it is – is a good test for us, because we do it weekly in practice, but we want to do it against somebody else.”

As for Nevada’s record, Romar makes the case that it could be misleading.

“They have a player who just became eligible, a player who transferred from Duke: Olek Czyz,” Romar said. “He’s a good basketball player. He’s a frontcourt player, and although he is not a point guard, I just remember the difference that Mike Garrity made for USC last year when he joined them. These guys who become eligible at the semester make a difference with their team. He makes them an even better team.”

Meanwhile, the Huskies hope their 7-3 pre-conference record also is misleading.

“The main goal was to go undefeated,” junior Scott Suggs said. “But in our losses and even in our wins, we kind of found out what we need to work on.”

Romar has made sure they understand what that is.

“Offensive execution and rebounding,” Thomas said. “We’ve got to really work on those things before Pac-10 play, because that first game: USC. They’ve got (6-foot-10 forwards Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stevenson). And the next ones, you’ve got (UCLA’s Nelson) Reeves and Josh Smith. So, we’re just working on the little things that we need to work on.”

THOMAS NOMINATED

Thomas was included among 66 candidates for the Bob Cousy Award, presented annually to college basketball’s top point guard.

A 5-foot-9 junior from Tacoma, Thomas was Pac-10 freshman of the year in 2009 and made the all-conference team last season.He also is a nominee for the Wooden and Naismith player of the year awards.

Huskies gameday

NEVADA (3-8) AT WASHINGTON (7-3)

TIPOFF: 6 p.m., Hec Edmundson Pavilion

TV: FSN. Radio: 950-AM.

Series: UW leads, 5-1, including the most recent meeting, a 61-60 win at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on Jan. 22, 1991. The schools will meet again next season in Reno.

Statistical leaders: For Nevada – Mike Story, 13.5 ppg; Dario Hunt, 9.5 rpg; Deonte Burton, 3.6 apg. For UW – Isaiah Thomas, 15 ppg; Matthew Bryan-Amaning, 6 rpg; Venoy Overton, 4.5 apg.

Scouting report: UW coach Lorenzo Romar calls the Wolf Pack young, quick and athletic. Nevada received a boost from the recent eligibility of Olek Czyz, a 6-foot-7 transfer from Duke who has averaged 7.5 points and six rebounds in his first two games with the Wolf Pack. Nevada’s wins have come against Montana, San Francisco State and Portland State – all home games. The Wolf Pack has played one Pacific-10 Conference team this season, losing at home to Arizona State, 78-75. Nevada was picked third in the Western Athletic Conference preseason media poll. The school has accepted an invitation to jump to the Mountain West Conference in 2012. Guard Patrick Nyeko is a 2009 graduate of Seattle Prep.

Next: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 29, at USC, Galen Center, Los Angeles.

Don Ruiz, staff writer

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