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December 29, 2008The Washington Huskies (8-3, 0-0 Pac-10) will close out their non-conference schedule Tuesday when they welcome in Morgan State (5-7, 1-0 MEAC) to the Bank of America Arena. This will be the Huskies last chance to fine tune things before their Pac-10 opener against Washington State. However, it's not Cougars on the mind of Lorenzo Romar but instead Bears. Romar didn't even want to comment on their upcoming game against a Cougar team who has beaten them seven straight times because he knows they will have their hands full with Morgan State.
The Bears won 22 games last season and competed in the National Invitational Tournament. Despite losing three starters from that talented team and beginning this season 5-7, Romar has seen enough to know they are dangerous.
"Morgan State won 22 games last season and went to the post-season - they are a good team," said Romar. This season they go on the road and beat DePaul (8-5), they go on the road and play OleMiss (8-4) very tough and could have won that game, and they haven't been blown out yet. They have played a tough schedule and have been in nearly every one of their games."
Romar believes Morgan State is just behind Portland State, Cleveland State, Kansas, and Florida in terms of talent and thinks they will give Washington all they can handle.
"They change defenses and they are really scrappy," explained Romar. "They have some good shooters and a point guard that runs their team very well."
The Bears also have a coach and player very familiar with the Pac-10. Marquise Kately, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior forward spent two seasons at Cal before transferring in 2006. This year he's averaging 9.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
Head coach Todd Bozeman was the main man at Cal from 1993-96 before being fired for NCAA rules violations and given an eight-year ban from college basketball. While at California, Bozeman became the youngest coach (29) to reach the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and he has Morgan State competing for league titles in his short time in Baltimore.
"I commend him in that he stayed the course and is back in this business on this level," said Romar about Bozeman. "I know that's what he wanted to do and he did his time away. He stayed active, he stayed busy and he's back and I think it's a great story of perseverance, especially since he has learned a lot through what happened.''
With Bozeman back, Morgan State is playing quality basketball, but the Huskies are playing very good basketball as well and it all starts on defense. Washington held their last two opponents (Eastern Washington and Montana) to 50 and 53 points respectfully and a combined 31 percent shooting. Romar praised a few players for their outstanding performances on the defensive side of the ball against Montana.
"Venoy Overton and Justin Holiday both did well when they were in there and Justin Dentmon did a wonderful job defending Ryan Staudacher who was shooting 58 percent from the three-point line," said Romar. "He hit one three in the first quarter out of a trap and other then that he didn't have another three-pointer until late in the game. Also, I though Quincy Pondexter along with Dentmon did a great job on Jack Mcgillis."
Another player who has helped the Huskies progress has been Matthew Bryan-Amaning. After returning from injury, the 6-foot-9 sophomore forward has found his groove and is looking like a star. In the last four games MBA is averaging 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds and along with Jon Brockman have formed a talented front-court combination.
"When you have someone else that teams have to pay attention to on the boards and scoring [in the post] it's definitely going to open things up and it makes us a better team," said Romar. With Matthew playing the way he has - if he can continues it - it will be the first time Brockman has had someone along side of him that can do those type of things since Spencer Hawes was here. When Spencer was here Jon wasn't the player he is now. So, to have Jon playing the way he is and have someone playing at the level Matthew is there is no doubt it helps our team."
Romar said that both Brockman (ankle) and Pondexter (groin) are not a 100 percent.