Montlake Madness Conjectures on the Starting Lineup and Nine-Man Rotation


In recent days, Coach Romar has begun to reveal what his lineup may look like during the upcoming season. Here are some of the clues he’s given through interviews:

  • He said that Isaiah Thomas, Quincy Pondexter, and Darnell Gant would all start for the Huskies at the beginning of the upcoming season, as each did on last year’s Pac-10 championship squad.
  • Coach LoRo has also said that whichever point guard (between Abdul Gaddy and Venoy Overton) does not start will be “like a starter,” since he’ll often opt to finish games with a three-guard lineup.
  • Finally, coach has said before that it’s likely he’ll exercise a nine-man rotation again this year, which will leave three Huskies scrapping for extra minutes during blowouts, and times of foul trouble or injury.

Here’s the lineup I think Coach will use to start the season, along with the role players coming off the bench, and our explanations for each pick. You’ll notice that we’re not listing the guys in order of playing time, since there are too many unknowable factors that will go into that. We’re picking starters, role-players, and reserves.

The Starters:

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F/C – Matthew Bryan-Amaning

Why he should start: No one’s been a victim of higher expectations than MBA during the first two seasons of his college career, and it seems like he’s just now prepared to start making those flashes of brilliance a more regular occurrence at Hec Ed.

Why he shouldn’t: We’re being a little unfair here, given his injuries last year, but if MBA couldn’t consistently maintain a high level of intensity in about 17 minutes-per-game last year, what makes us think he can do it now for 25-30 mpg?

F – Darnell Gant

Why he should start: Because he plays solid defense, shares the ball, and hustles whenever he’s on the court. And, word out of Montlake is that Gant put on a bunch of muscle and is ready to be more of a presence near the rim on both sides of the ball this year.

Why he shouldn’t start: Because he had the worst assist-to-turnover ratio (1/2.2) of any regular player last season and shot just under 37% from the field, meaning defenders could sag off of him and clog the lane.

F – Quincy Pondexter

Why he should start: We finally saw the Quincy Pondexter we’d been waiting for during the last part of 2008/09, when Q-Pon developed into a scorer by forcing himself into the lane and getting high percentage looks at the basket, or getting himself fouled. An underrated rebounder, there’s an outside chance he could challenge for the Pac-10 lead in boards.

Why he shouldn’t start: It’s not worth struggling to come up with a reason just for the sake of writing something here.

G – Isaiah Thomas

Why he should start: I.T. is going to be the most exciting player on the court this year wherever he goes, and if he doesn’t lead the team in scoring, it will mean something’s gone horribly wrong. He’s the Husky capable of throwing a 50-spot up on the scoreboard, or laying the ball in despite a lane filled with a guy like Jarvis Varnado, or Hakeem Olajuwon, or Shaq. . . or all three.

Why he shouldn’t start: Again, he should and he will. Not much more to offer here.

G – Abdul Gaddy

Why he should start: Because the word on Gaddy is that he’s one of the best pure point guards in the world right now, and that he’s a guy who makes the game come more easily to everyone around him. Unless he gets some form of the freshman yips, and isn’t as poised or polished in reality as by reputation, the Huskies will benefit from having a true quarterback on the floor.

Why he shouldn’t start: Because for a team with aspirations of a run through the NCAA Tournament, any growing pains at all for Gaddy could result in loses that would severely hamper our seeding come March.

The Role Players:

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Venoy Overton – Sixth Man

Why this role is right for him: Because Venoy was our game-changer last season, and there’s no way to quantify the energy boost he gave the team every time he stepped on the floor. It’s valid to wonder whether fouls and turnovers would go up, and the manic energy would go down, if Venoy saw 7-8 more minutes per game (last year he averaged about 20).

Dissenting opinion: Venoy is the team’s nerve center — at times, our heart and soul. Is there ever a time we don’t want his energy on the court? And, are we selling short the idea that Overton can grow as a playmaker too, using his two years of Pac-10 experience to make the battle for the starting point guard spot an absolute dawgfight?

Justin Holiday – Defensive Stopper

Why this role is right for him: Because we need someone we can bring onto the floor to ice the other team’s hot hand. With his length and speed, smaller point guards (common in the Pac-10) and huge post men (not so common in the Pac-10) are the only players Holiday will have difficulty shutting down.

Dissenting opinion: We’re a defensive-minded team, and that should be a strength regardless of the mix on the floor. Additional minutes for a shooter (like Wilcox) or a post player (Trent) may be more critical for the team than another defensive-minded sub.

Elston Turner – Marksman

Why this role is right for him: With some consistent playing time (after last season’s ankle injury Turner’s minutes-per-game dropped from 19 to 11), and a year under his belt, I’d be very surprised if Turner didn’t raise his three-point accuracy into the 40% range (from about 37% last season). He does everything well enough not to hurt us when he’s on the floor, and until someone proves differently in real game action, Turner is the option here.

Dissenting opinion: It’s hard to ignore the early whispers out of practice: that C.J. Wilcox is the team’s best shooter. If Turner doesn’t make the most out of his minutes early, Wilcox could begin to eat into his court time.

Tyreese Breshers – Reserve Big Man

Why this role is right for him: Because there are going to be games when (gasp) the Huskies are getting out-rebounded and the ghost of Jon Brockman looms large over this club. When the gameplan isn’t going our way, or our bigs are in foul trouble, Big Ty is going to be the man who gets the call.

Dissenting Opinion: Breshers was a medical redshirt last season and is just getting back to full-speed workouts. With Breshers off of a year-long injury, it’s entirely possible that Clarence Trent, who has impressed with his hustle thus far, could sneak into this role as well.

The Reserves:

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Scott Suggs, Clarence Trent, C.J. Wilcox – Bench Guys

Why this role is right for them: Trent and Wilcox are freshmen, and provided neither of them cracks the regular rotation, they’ll have the chance next year. Trent can set his sights on earning minutes vacated when Quincy Pondexter graduates, and Wilcox can bulk up and keep working on his sweet shot. Suggs is the odd man out here, still struggling in a crowded backcourt to distinguish himself.

Dissenting Opinion: It may be impossible to keep Wilcox off the court if he turns out to be a more athletic version of Ryan Appleby and truly is the team’s best shooter. The tools are there, and Trent could easily step into the backup big man role, or even a starting spot, if he can rebound well, play defense, and add an offensive element to the team that Darnell Gant doesn’t. It’s starting to sound like a familiar refrain, but Scott Suggs was Missouri’s best high school baller before he came to UW. I wouldn’t be shocked if Suggs shocks us and improves by leaps and bounds, forcing himself into the discussion.

So, that’s the lineup I think we will go with, and should go with. What do you think? Please do offer up your opinions in our comments section. We love to hear from you!


Finally, an announcement came yesterday from UW that a “Midnight Madness” style preseason event will be taking place on October 16th, at about 7:30 PM. A dunk contest and scrimmage are on tap, and you can bet we’ll be there soaking in every second of it.