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Saturday, February 25, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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UW Men's Basketball

UW still has a Pac-10 title shot

Seattle Times staff reporter

It has come down to this for the Washington Huskies — beat Cal, and the Pac-10 regular-season title could be theirs.

Lose, and begin shifting focus to the postseason.

The Bears are tied atop the Pac-10 with UCLA at 11-4, with the Huskies close behind at 10-5. But Cal won the first game with the Huskies in Berkeley, and another win when the two meet at 5 p.m. Sunday at Edmundson Pavilion would create an almost impossible gap for UW.

But if the Huskies win, they would then simply need to win their remaining two games in Arizona, and get a UCLA loss against Oregon, Stanford or Cal, for at least a share of the title.

"We know if we win out we would be in good shape," said senior guard Bobby Jones. "As long as we do our part, we could win the conference championship instead of finishing second."

UW has finished second during the regular season the past two years.

Sunday

California @ Washington, 5 p.m.

But there will be many subplots Sunday.

It will also be the last home game for five UW seniors, three of whom — Brandon Roy, Mike Jensen and Jones — have been with coach Lorenzo Romar for every step of his revival of the program.

Jones was Romar's first recruit, and Jensen is the last player who saw time when Bob Bender was still coach. Roy has been the leader as the Huskies have turned it on the past three weeks to all but sew up a third straight NCAA tournament berth.

"No one can ever duplicate that," Romar said. "It's the first group that you spent four years with at the place where you like being at and the place you hope to coach at for a long time. You never forget that group."

Also playing their final home game are forward Jamaal Williams, a transfer from New Mexico who will return to the starting lineup as part of the senior salute, and walk-on Zane Potter.

Jones said it really began hitting him that the end is nearing Friday when he attended a luncheon honoring the seniors.

"Everybody was talking about the past and reminiscing rather than talking about the future," he said. "It felt weird."

Then there's the showdown between Roy and Cal's Leon Powe, regarded as the lone two players left in the hunt to be the Pac-10 player of the year.

Roy admits that as the year has progressed, winning the award has become a bigger priority. Only one Husky has won the award since the Pac-10 first offered it in 1976 — Chris Welp in 1986.

"That's something that would really be important to me," Roy said. "I've seen Josh Childress [of Stanford] win it and Ike Diogu [of Arizona State] and those are really special players. To bring it back to Washington and be the guy to do it would be really special."

Roy and Powe are difficult to compare because they play vastly different roles.

Powe is essentially a power forward, leading the Pac-10 in scoring (20.2) and rebounding (10.3). Like Roy, who has scored 20 or more points in eight straight games, Powe has been especially wicked of late, averaging 26.5 points his past four games.

Roy ranks among the Pac-10 leaders in 10 of the conference's 13 statistical categories, and is averaging more points than Powe in conference games only — 22.7 to 19.9.

Romar, though, says that while he understands the "hoopla" likely to be made about the Roy-Powe battle, "I don't know how a player of the year can be based on one game."

Jones, meanwhile, said he'll gladly play all 40 minutes, if necessary, not wanting to leave anything to chance in his last home game.

"This has probably been the best four years I've ever had in my life," Jones said. "It's sad to see it go away."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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