While the Dawgpack sang "Happy Birthday" for Lorenzo Romar during warm-ups, a much smaller crowd than at the Simon Fraser game watched as UW prepared to toy with another out matched opponent. With Harvey Perry in sweats after being listed as day to day with back problem and Ryan Appleby getting over a sprained ankle, from late last week, UW had little trouble dominating this nice looking but smallish, yet not that quick Morgan State Bears team 118-51.
That point total was the 2nd highest in school history, yet seemed like business as usual with the way these Romar coached teams play. Romar felt this to be an effort worthy of special praise. Lorenzo said, "Very few games are played where everyone who plays in the game makes a great contribution. It's hard to get everyone on the same page on the same day, or the same night. I thought tonight everyone was on the same page. Our bench was fantastic, gave us great effort and made big plays for us. I thought our guys did a nice job overall."
Coached by ex-Sonic Butch Beard, who was in the unenviable position of being the player that the Sonics traded Lenny Wilkens to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the early 70's, the Bears were blown out early as Bobby Jones stormed out to 16 points in the first half, most of them on breakaway dunks after steals and interceptions. When you add the welcome that UW gave to Butch to the no win situation he found himself in at the old Seattle Center Coliseum, over 30 years ago, you wonder if he would ever want to come back to town. He said that UW will be one of the top teams in the country and went on to say, "I wasn't impressed with one individual, but I was impressed with the way they played. They play unselfish, and that is the mark of a good ball club. Lorenzo has done a great job of getting them ready. To me that is the most impressive thing."
Bobby who only scored 5 in the exhibition game, seemed to want to set the record straight, as to whether he will be one of UW top Dawgs this year. While UW had 7 players score in double figures (one short of a team record), MSU had only 5'9" guard Timothy Mathis score in double digits with 10. UW again forced bunches of turnovers throughout this one as MSU had 36, while being out rebounded 50-31. Though they looked physically stronger than SFU, they weren't able to handle UW's pressure and improved effort over what the Dawgs did against SFU, which was encouraging for UW fans to see an overall team improvement.
If it were not for a sloppy and mediocre effort to start the second half, where UW was out scored 16-15 in the first four minutes, this game would have been a thorough and complete drubbing. This was not unexpected as Morgan State this year is a middle of the pack team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and rebuilding at that and UW looks clearly like a Top-25 D1 program. UW had balanced scoring, with Bobby who finished with 18, followed by Jon Brockman with a dynamic 17 (plus 10 rebounds), the consistent Jamaal Williamsand the surprising Hans Gasser with a career high 14, Brandon Roy with a quiet 13, Brandon Burmeister with 12 in another solid effort and Joel Smith with 11.
Joel will I'm sure have to hear some ribbing and I would imagine be running some laps for a missed windmill dunk attempt, after he unnecessarily double dribbled in an attempt to set himself up as if this were a pick up game. When I asked Romar about it, he kidded "the windmill, he didn't get to it, it was the double dribble that was quite interesting before that." There was a lot of garbage time to kill though and it at least provided one of the more entertaining moments in a game that was decided in the first 10 minutes decisively.
Justin Dentmon finished with 9 points on inconsistent shooting, but really played a much better game on the floor, than his last, and led the team with 8 assists and only one turnover in 24 minutes. Ryan Appleby started out the game with a couple of misses from the 3 point line and ended up with 6 points on 2-6 from 3. He seemed to be a bit out of sync, yet continued to play solid defense, though he committed 4 turnovers to only one assist. Dentmon looked a bit more comfortable overall and had some spectacular plays particularly on defense with a steal of a 2/3 court pass that he turned into a nice finish on the other end.
Hans Gasser, who looks much more comfortable and playing within himself this year, was really the most effective outside shooter tonight on 7-10 almost all of which were 15-20 footers when left open. He did not look comfortable shooting from outside the arc, though he made every shot inside it. It would not surprise me if Hans is an asset to this team, especially early, with Mike Jensen absent, and earns consistent minutes.
Brandon Burmeister also put together almost the exact solid effort that he did against SFU and just might find considerable minutes this year, with his dependable 3 point stroke. He doesn't seem like much of a liability on either end of the floor and looked comfortable coming in again in the first set of substitutions.
Jon Brockman with a double double in his first game as a freshman and played a very impressive game in the paint, also hit 7-10 from the field almost all on within ten feet, though every shot demonstrated a different move that really wowed the crowd. One particularly tough looking move was a rebound and put back with a reverse lay in, on which he was fouled. Although Roy, Bobby and Jamaal were obviously doing the classy thing and not pouring it on this team from Maryland, for much of the game, Brockman never seemed to let up a bit and actually looked to make strides from his strong showing against SFU.
Artem Wallace had a nice, yet less spectacular effort than the SFU game, but continued to impress with his hard nosed play in the paint and overall finesse. Though he took a step back in the offense, he stayed firmly planted in the tough guy in the paint category with 7 rebounds, many of them nice displays of toughness and fight.
Again this game was basically a collection of breakaway dunks and dominating post play against a smaller, slower and less talented team. I agree with Butch Beard's assessment and I think this was a strong team effort reminiscent of some of the blow out games of last year, though this opponent is much less formidable it would seem, from what I saw tonight than a Houston or a SDSU, who both went on to put in decent season's in decent conferences later in the year.
Of his team's effort Romar said, "I think we've done a really good job. I thought in the second half we got a bit sloppy at times, but other than that I thought we played some really good basketball. In the last exhibition game, and then tonight, to have a lead of this magnitude and continue to play hard and share the ball, those are the important things that you look for."
UW Leaders: Scoring: Jones 18, Brockman 17, Williams 14, Gasser 14, Roy 13, Burmeister 12, Smith 11, Dentmon 9, Appleby 6, Wallace 4 Rebounding: Brockman 10, Wallace 7, Gasser 6, Dentmon 5, Jones 4, Williams 4, Roy 4, Burmeister 4, Smith 3, Appleby 1 Assists: Dentmon 8, Roy 6, Williams 4, Brockman 4, Smith 3, Jones 2, Wallace 2, Burmeister 1, Appleby 1, Gasser 1 Blocks: Smith 3, Roy 2, Williams 1, Burmeister 1, Wallace 1, Gasser 1 Steals: Brockman 4, Roy 4, Burmeister 4, Jones 3, Williams 3, Dentmon 2, Smith 2, Appleby 1
Starters: PG Justin Dentmon SG Brandon Roy SF Bobby Jones PF Jamaal Williams C Jon Brockman
Notes: There were experimental rules tonight with the 3-point line extended out a foot and the key extended out a foot on each side. Joe Wolfinger suited up but didn't play. Romar mentioned after the game when asked about the strength of schedule early, that originally there were plans to play North Carolina, but Marvin Williams going pro changed the Tar Heels motivation to come out to Seattle.