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UW Men's Basketball
Roy nets Pac-10 Player of the Year
Seattle Times staff reporter
In the darkest hour for the Washington Huskies, Brandon Roy had a moment of clarity.
Walking off the court in Pullman on Feb. 4 after a 77-64 loss to Washington State — UW's third straight defeat — Roy knew it was up to him to right the seemingly sinking good ship Husky.
And if that happened, he figured, all of his individual goals — such as becoming Pac-10 Player of the Year — would come along with it.
"I thought, 'If we can turn this thing around and win all these games, I'll really have a shot at it then,' " Roy said Monday.
And just as he has done so often on the floor, Roy hit nothing but net with that prediction, leading the Huskies on a season-ending eight-game winning streak that paved the way for his selection Monday as the Pac-10's Player of the Year in voting by the conference's coaches.
Roy won the award thanks to an all-around game rarely seen in the conference. He ranks among the top 10 in 13 conference statistical categories when considering only Pac-10 games, including scoring (first at 22.0), rebounding (ninth at 6.4) and assists (fourth at 4.28).
He also led the Huskies to the same regular-season record as a year ago, 24-5, as well as a second-place conference finish at 13-5, scoring 20 or more points in nine straight games and winning three straight Pac-10 Player of the Week awards.
It all culminated in Monday's award.
"Coming from Garfield [High School], I've gone through a lot of adversity just to get to this point today," Roy said a few hours after learning of the honor. "It's just an incredible feeling."
Roy became the second Husky to win the award, which was instituted in 1976, the other being Chris Welp in 1986.
Roy was also named to ESPN's All-America first team Monday, along with J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams of Duke, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison and Villanova's Randy Foye.
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said he thought all the awards for the Washington players were fitting tributes for a group that has had its priorities in the right place all season.
"When someone is playing solely for individual awards and accolades, it's not as special when they [get them]," Romar said. "When you are working together as a group and as a team and then you receive those awards, you are just so proud of them."
Few players better exemplify that thought than Roy, long lauded for his unselfishness and willingness to do whatever the team has needed.
"He has deferred to others and always looked out for others and he's the one who ends up being the player of the year," Romar said, pointing out that Roy also leads in a set of numbers the coaches call "hustle stats" — taking charges, diving on the ground for loose balls, etc.
Roy thought about following Nate Robinson to an early entry to the NBA. But the challenge of keeping the Huskies afloat after the early loss of Robinson and prize recruit Martell Webster to the NBA helped convince him to stay, as well as a knee injury that limited his play last season.
He said he also wanted to show what he was capable of before leaving college.
"I didn't want to say, 'I made it to the NBA but I could have won Pac-10 Player of the Year, I could have won these other awards,' " Roy said. "To come back and prove to myself that I can be a Pac-10 Player of the Year and have a chance to be an All-American is saying a lot."
Still, the ride hasn't always been smooth. He remembered Monday how problems with the SAT delayed his arrival as a freshman. Then came the knee injury last season.
Even this year, what Roy called a "light" nonconference schedule rarely required him to do much and his early numbers were hardly Player of the Year caliber. When conference play began and he did step up — scoring 35 points in UW's first two Pac-10 games — the chemistry of the team seemed a bit out of whack. It wasn't until the last month that it all came together for both Roy and the team.
"These things are hard to accomplish," Roy said. "But to sit here today and say, 'I'm the Pac-10 Player of the Year' is a special feeling. I'm just happy to say I've come this far."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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