The Washington Huskies know they have a huge test on Saturday when they head to Tucson, Ariz., to face the first-place Arizona Wildcats. The only problem for the Huskies is they have a game on Thursday against Arizona State they need to focus on first.
"We can't afford to do that, we can't even look past our next practice," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.
"We've got to take things step by step and focus on the game with Arizona State before looking to Arizona," freshman Terrence Ross said.
Even though Arizona State has just one Pacific-10 conference victory, the Sun Devils pushed Washington to the brink earlier in the season in Seattle. The Huskies ended up winning by 13, but the Sun Devils were in the game until the final minutes before Washington pulled away.
"Arizona State is a dangerous team, period," Romar said.
One of the major reasons Arizona State had success against Washington was its 3-point shooting. The Sun Devils made 9 of their 15 attempts in the game, something Romar said is not typical of Arizona State.
Another reason Arizona State has had success against Washington is because the Sun Devils like to run the Princeton offense and slow down the pace of games. This season, the Sun Devils are playing similar, but according to Romar, it isn't quite as grinding.
"I think they have changed a little bit, but they shoot a little quicker sometimes," Romar said. "But the nature of their zone automatically slows the game down."
McMillan and Life
Jamelle McMillan, a senior from Seattle, is only averaging 7.2 points per game, but lately has stepped up for the Sun Devils. McMillan has scored 12 or more points in each of the past four games, including a career-high 17 in a loss to Stanford.
"He's anybody's kind of player," said Romar, adding that McMillan "has great character and is a great leader; he's solid across the board."
McMillan, son of Portland Trail Blazers coach and former Seattle SuperSonic Nate McMillan, scored just two points in the last meeting between the teams, but he still had in impact on the game playing 34 minutes. He is a solid defender and drew comparisons to the Huskies' Justin Holiday in that both players have high basketball IQs and are team leaders.
Why no TV stings
The game between Arizona State and Washington will not be televised. This isn't the first time this season a Washington game isn't being shown on TV.
While fans are irritated they are unable to watch all of the games, Romar explained there is an even bigger drawback to the lack of TV coverage.
"You hear from those that you're recruiting, they want to see themselves in a situation where they're going to be on television," Romar said.
Ross continues to draw praise
Washington State coach Ken Bone said that he thinks the Huskies' Terrence Ross should be mentioned in the conversation for Pac-10 freshman of the year. Ross' minutes have been limited at times this season, but he has shown ability to take over games on the offensive side of the court.
"I do think Terrence could potentially become one of those guys who comes off the bench as a freshman, and then is all-league as a sophomore," Romar said.
"It's an honor to be mentioned with those players, but I'm not really paying attention to that," Ross said. "I'm more focused on the next game."
Thomas doing whatever it takes
Isaiah Thomas won his third conference player of the week award, but that isn't the only thing that impresses Romar about the junior guard.
"He is willing to sacrifice and do whatever he can to win," Romar said. "He isn't pouting when he isn't scoring. I don't think there is a guard in our league playing as good as he is."
Thomas scored 23 points against California, but Romar thought Thomas could have scored 40 if he hadn't been taken out of the game.
The Venoy factor
Venoy Overton has always been the Huskies' spark plug off the bench, but he's had a lot of trouble finding his groove in his final season as a Husky. The past few games, he has found his niche on both the offense and defensive sides of the ball.
"He adds a dimension that we can't manufacture," Romar said.
His teammates also get going quicker when he is on the court, Romar said, adding that his hustle and aggressiveness is contagious.
"He's the ringleader," fellow senior Darnell Gant said, adding that having Overton back to his old self has been a major boost for the Huskies.