Washington is the only Pac-10 team ranked in the preseason Top 25 polls and the clear favorite to win the title in what should be a slightly improved, but still weak conference.
Five-foot-eight Isaiah Thomas does not let his shortcomings stand in the way of leading this team. He is lightning quick and knows how to score the basketball. Thomas is not afraid to speak his mind either as he recently called out FOX Sports' Jeff Goodman via Twitter for not picking Thomas to his preseason All Pac-10 First Team.
Sophomore Abdul Gaddy is hoping to bounce back from a terribly disappointing freshman season and will join Thomas in the starting backcourt. Veteran Venoy Overton is one of the top sixth men in the conference and a nuisance on the defensive end. Freshman Terrence Ross is a consensus Top-100 recruit despite not playing basketball his senior year of high school. He should be a regular contributor off the bench. The lengthy Justin Holliday is expected to start at the three, while three-point threat Scott Suggs will also see minutes on the wing.
Lorenzo Romar has to replace physical forward Quincy Pondexter who had a breakout senior season leading the Huskies in both points and rebounds. Romar must also fill the void of bruising big man Tyreese Breshers whose basketball career came to an end due medical reasons, and Clarence Trent, who chose to transfer.
Matthew Bryan-Armstrong started 25 games a year ago and will need to provide some muscle inside since likely starting power forward Darnell Gant is known more for his mid-range jump shot than physicality. JUCO transfer Aziz N'Diaye is a raw 7-footer who sat out last season with a torn ACL. If he can provide some depth and be a difference maker in the paint, it would be a huge boost for Washington. Freshman Desmond Simmons is a combo forward who will have to play bigger this year due to lack of size off the bench.
The guard play will ultimately determine the success of this year's team. Romar may be forced to go small more times than he would like which is a difficult challenge this year since the versatile Quincy Pondexter has moved on to the NBA. Regardless, Washington should easily capture the Pac-10 title and be the only conference team to scratch the Top 25 this season.
Player to Watch: Abdul Gaddy, G
A McDonald's All-American and top-20 prospect for the 2009 class, Gaddy did not make the impact that many expected in his first year at Washington as he really struggled with his shot. He is more of a true point guard but was forced to play off the ball a little more with Thomas running the show. The talent is certainly there, but for Washington to be a true factor on the national scene, Gaddy must play significantly better than he did during his freshman campaign.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/22 vs. Virginia (Maui Invitational)
11/23 vs. Kentucky/Oklahoma (Maui Invitational)
11/24 vs. Michigan State/UConn/Wichita State/Chaminade (Maui Invitational)