The anticipation was to see the new kids. But while each of the team's four true freshmen had moments that made it likely they will prove...
The anticipation was to see the new kids, and they didn’t disappoint as Washington breezed past Pepperdine on Sunday night in the season opener, 99-91.
But a year ago, it was Jon Brockman who was one of the new kids who everyone couldn’t wait to see, just in case you’d forgotten.
And it was Brockman who almost overshadowed the debut of Washington’s highly touted freshman class, scoring a career-high 25 points and tying a career high with 12 rebounds.
“I was able to find a groove,” said Brockman, who had fouled out in 13 minutes in the team’s exhibition game against Saint Martin’s nine days ago. “And it was fun to play with that lanky, 7-footer, too.”
Oh, him, Spencer Hawes, the most highly touted of the team’s Fab Four freshmen that also includes forwards Quincy Pondexter and Phil Nelson and guard Adrian Oliver.
Hawes didn’t start because he’s still rounding into shape after arthroscopic knee surgery four weeks ago. He entered the game at Edmundson Pavilion for the first time with 17:25 left in the first half and he didn’t take long to make an impact. He scored his first points on two free throws at the 16:30 mark, then recorded his first of seven assists with 15:41 left on a pass that Quincy Pondexter turned into a lay-in.
“That may be the best thing that he does,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said of the passing ability of Hawes, who had 12 points, five rebounds and four blocks in just 19 minutes.
Nicholls State @ UW,
7:30 p.m., FSN
Pondexter, meanwhile, scored 21 points, making 11 of 16 field goals — most within close range — and grabbing seven rebounds. Pondexter scored eight of his points in an early run as UW jumped out to a 16-2 lead that gave the Huskies a cushion that was never really threatened.
“I didn’t expect that,” Pondexter said. “I just came out to play as hard as I could.”
Oliver also had his moments, with nine points, five rebounds and four assists.
Nelson was quieter (three points, five rebounds), as was Harvey Perry, the team’s one redshirt freshman who was also making his official debut. Perry had six points before fouling out.
UW had 24 turnovers against a Pepperdine team that kept the tempo high all night. Those were more turnovers than all but one game last season, evidence that there is still some maturing to do. Fourteen came in the second half as the Huskies allowed the Waves to make the score look closer than it should have been and causing Romar to lament that “I don’t like the way we finished.”
On the other hand, UW had 23 assists on 36 field goals, showing that in some ways, this team is already playing beyond its years.
Many of Hawes’ assists went to Brockman, a longtime teammate on summer traveling teams.
“We kind of have a feel for each other, what the next move is going to be, where they are going to be at on the court,” Brockman said. “When he moves one place, I kind of know where to move and vice versa.”
The Huskies will play their second game in the three-day tournament tonight at 7:30 against Nicholls State.
Northern Iowa 68, Nicholls State 63 — UNI won the opening game of the tournament behind the 16 points and 15 rebounds of 6-6 junior center Eric Coleman. UNI led 35-31 at halftime and never trailed. Forward Adonis Gray led Nicholls State with 20 points.
• Isaiah Thomas of Curtis High, who is committed to the Huskies but won’t sign a letter of intent until next spring, mingled with UW players during the UNI-Nicholls State game. He then sat behind the UW bench when the Huskies played. Thomas is leaving Curtis to attend South Kent (Conn.) School to improve his academics with hopes of coming to UW next year.
• Hawes started the second half along with Pondexter, Brockman, Dentmon and Ryan Appleby, which could be the regular starting unit.
• Pepperdine senior guard Chase Griffin is a graduate of Eastlake High. He finished with 10 points.