Washington men's basketball coach Lorenzo Romar got his first look at his new team earlier this week during a one-hour preseason practice session as allowed by NCAA rules.
And his first thoughts on the roster that will try to take over where Brandon Roy and company left off?
"It's a group that is very compliant," Romar said. "A group that it means something to them to do the right things. A group that works well together and encourages each other."
With all that in mind, then, Romar is agreeing to do something he has resisted in the past by holding a Midnight Madness-type celebration to kick off the start of regular-season practice Oct. 13.
Both the men's and women's basketball teams will participate in the event, which will follow the Washington vs. Washington State volleyball match at Edmundson Pavilion. The basketball portion of the night, which will be free, will begin about 30 to 45 minutes after the conclusion of the volleyball match, which starts at 7 p.m.
Regular admission prices will be charged for the volleyball match.
It will be the first time UW has held a Midnight Madness-type event since 1998. Romar has had requests to do them but until now has preferred to take his team away from campus for a few days to begin practice.
Romar said when he first arrived in 2002, he thought it more important to set about changing the culture of the program than holding a Midnight Madness.
"I thought when we first got here we would like to do things more like Midnight Madness and not work to do the things that help you to win games," Romar said. "We loved the Midnight Madness stuff where we could just run around and dunk. I felt we had to have some substance to our program before we did something like that. I feel we are over that hump now."
His other concern, he said, is whether anyone will watch it. He worries that a half-empty house could send a bad message to prospective players.
"Recruits and people hear Midnight Madness and they want to come out and watch, but what they expect is what they see on television, a packed house," he said. "If we are not going to have a lot of people, I'd rather have a real practice. But it is fun and it is something that the kids like to do, and a number of people have said they would support it, so we are going to take a stab at it."
Final details are still being worked out, but the event will include dunk contests, shooting contests and a scrimmage. There is a chance portions of the event will be shown live by FSN.
The event will be the first chance for many people to see incoming recruits Spencer Hawes, Quincy Pondexter, Adrian Oliver and Phil Nelson. The four make up what is being billed by many as the best recruiting class in school history and one expected to help UW stay in college basketball's elite. The Huskies advanced to the Sweet 16 the past two seasons with a veteran group led by Roy, Bobby Jones and Jamaal Williams, all now departed.
"I think the new kids came here because they expect to win," Romar said. "That's why they came here."
• Junior guard Joel Smith had surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right foot that developed while playing over the summer. He is expected to be out 4-6 weeks, which means he should be back for the start of the season.
• Senior center Hans Gasser is expected to be ready to go full speed next week after recovering from a left shoulder separation suffered during a conditioning drill in August.
• Center Zach Johnson, who sat out the last two years with knee injuries and never played, is no longer on the roster, though he will remain in school on a medical hardship scholarship.
• Ed Singler, the father of Kyle Singler, a 6-9 forward and a senior at South Medford (Ore.) High who is considered one of the top prospects in the Class of 2007, told The Oregonian newspaper that his son is no longer considering UW. Kyle Singler is still considering Arizona, UCLA, Duke and Kansas.
• About 500 season tickets remain.