The Washington men’s basketball team finished last season sooner than the Huskies would have liked, and the 2013-14 version is beginning sooner than many UW fans expected.
Coach Lorenzo Romar’s team opens fall practice Wednesday, which is earlier than previous years thanks to a new NCAA rule. Women’s basketball teams adopted the same early start times two years ago, which allows them to practice 30 times in a 42-day window before the season opener.
Washington, which opens Nov. 10 against Seattle U, will practice a few days this week at Alaska Airlines Arena before departing Friday to Olympia for two days at Evergreen State College.
“I like the new start time,” Romar said. “It gives you more time with your team. Sometimes in years past you go into games thinking you hadn’t worked on this or that. Now we get time to be around the guys. We get time to get our work in.”
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UW, which welcomes six newcomers and two new assistant coaches, can benefit from the extra practice.
Three senior starters — Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N’Diaye and Scott Suggs — are gone, and it’s unclear who will occupy those three spots in the starting lineup or who will fill out the rotation.
What is certain is the Huskies will rely heavily on fifth-year senior C.J. Wilcox, who was elected a team captain. The Huskies are expecting a big year from their leading returning scorer, but it remains to be seen if the 6-foot-5 shooting guard can hold up. He suffered from late-season injuries as a sophomore and junior.
In May, Wilcox underwent surgery in which a screw was inserted in his foot to alleviate a stress fracture. He missed most of the summer workouts and returned to the court in August.
“I don’t think we’ll have to monitor his minutes in practice or anything like that,” Romar said. “We have to monitor him in general, making sure we don’t wear him out because we’re going to ask a lot from him.
“We’re going to ask him to defend the other team’s best player. Rebound. Score with people hanging all over him.”
Other than Wilcox, every player is a mystery.
Fifth-year senior Perris Blackwell, who sat out last season after transferring from San Francisco, is expected to start in the post. But it remains to be seen if he can be as effective against Pac-12 competition as he was when he averaged 12.7 points and 6.1 rebounds as a junior at San Francisco.
Washington brings in McDonald’s All-American point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, but it’s unclear if he’ll unseat sophomore Andrew Andrews, last season’s backup, or if they’ll form a three-guard lineup with Wilcox.
The Huskies also have questions at power forward, where Shawn Kemp Jr., Desmond Simmons and Jernard Jarreau will contend for the job.
“We’re not starting from scratch,” Romar said. “There’s some unknowns to people that are watching us.”
On paper, it’s debatable if the Huskies have more talent than they did last season when they finished 18-16 and missed the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.
“I think we do, but I know we’ll be tougher,” Simmons promised. “We’re going to fight every day in practice, and that should carry over into games.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com