When one of our writers detailed how UConn was not invincible - and could be beaten, we took some heat from back east as "flag-waving homers." When the same writer said even earlier that Pac-10 Player of the Year Brandon Roy deserved consideration as player of the year, we could hear eyes rolling from 3000 miles away.
A funny thing happened, however, on the road to the final four. That is, the rest of the country got a good look at the senior guard from Washington, who yesterday was named to the first team of the AP All-American team and the Huskies' first selection since 1953.
Roy, who posted the school's fourth-highest single-season scoring total and eighth-highest assist figure, was joined by fellow Washingtonion Adam Morrison of Gonzaga, Randy Foye from Villanova along with Duke's J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams.
"When I was a kid, I dreamed about this," said Roy on Monday. "It's an incredible honor to be recognized nationally like this."
Ever humble, Roy then gave his teammates much of the credit for his success, but coach Lorenzo Romar, who hinted at the retiring of his number 3 jersey, said of Brandon, "His selection is so special, because he earned it."
Earn it he did. A graduate of Seattle's Garfield High School, Roy led UW with 666 points and 135 assists this season. Ranking second among Pac-10 players with a 20.2-point scoring average he also finished fourth among playmakers with 4.1 assists per game.
The 6-foot-6 guard possesses a remarkable all-around game, impressing CBS-TV analyst Jay Bilas enough to claim Roy was the most "complete player in the Nation." To back that up you need only look to see he finished among the Pac-10 leaders in eight of 13 statistical categories.
Along with second in scoring and fourth in assists, Roy ranked second in assist/turnover ratio (1.80), third in field goal percentage (50.8%), fifth in 3-point percentage (40.2%), fifth in free throw percentage (81.0%), ninth in steals (1.4) and 11th in rebounds (5.6). He led the team with 26 blocked shots, an average of 0.8 per game that ranked 11th in the conference.
The Huskies finished the 2005-06 season with a 26-7 record, finished second in the Pac-10 with a 13-5 mark. Roy helped Washington advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season, and 3 straight NCAA tournament berths.
Roy's play sparked a late-season run of eight straight victories and he was rewarded with three consecutive Pac-10 Player of the Week awards between Feb. 13-27. That has been done only one other time in the Pac-10 over the course of one season, by Arizona State's Eddie House in 2000.
Roy registered 20 or more points in 19 games this season, including a UW record of nine consecutive 20-point performances. He averaged 23.0 points in three NCAA Tournament games, including 28 in an opening-round victory over Utah State.
Pretty heady stuff. Final word has to come from coach Romar who put it this way, "You're talking about people acknowledging you as one of the best five players in the nation - and if you don't know what that means, go back and look at the list."
Can you say national Player of the Year?