Although it's only an exhibition and won't count on their record, the Washington Huskies are eager to put on their game faces against Saint Martin's at 5 p.m. Saturday at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The Huskies men's basketball team brings back a veteran group, including four starters, from a team that went 26-10 and reached the Sweet 16 last season.
Coach Lorenzo Romar is calling this his most athletic team in his nine years at Washington.
It's all enough to leave the Huskies a little anxious to finally get on the court in a game as they gear up for the official season opener Nov. 13 at home against McNeese State.
"I'm eager to play against someone else than my teammates," guard Isaiah Thomas said.
Thomas, a junior team captain, will start in the backcourt against Division II Saint Martin's with sophomore point guard Abdul Gaddy and forwards Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Holiday.
Players were still competing in practice for the fifth starting spot.
Senior point guard Venoy Overton has been rehabilitating a hamstring injury and will miss the Saint Martin's exhibition. Overton is expected to be back at practice Monday and will be battling Gaddy for the starting spot for the season opener against McNeese State.
Two newcomers also have the Huskies excited for this season: freshman guard Terrance Ross and 7-foot junior-college transfer Aziz N'Diaye.
N'Diaye, who missed last season at the College of Southern Idaho with a knee injury, has been making a big impact in practice with his shot blocking and ability to make others alter shots.
"He's got such a presence," Romar said. You watch him post up, and it looks like he takes up 6 feet of space in there. He's not a big wide body, he's just long and tall. He knows he's big and he know how to use it on the glass, when he goes up and boxes out."