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Originally published November 5, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 5, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Men's Basketball | Huskies putting it on display

Just how well the message has been taking hold will be on display tonight when the Washington Huskies face Seattle Pacific in an exhibition...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Just how well the message has been taking hold will be on display tonight when the Washington Huskies face Seattle Pacific in an exhibition men's basketball game at 7 at Edmundson Pavilion.

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said he's eager to see if the increased emphasis in early practices on defense and taking care of the ball — two bugaboos for the 19-12 team last season — will play out during games.

"Two things to look for going in is, defensively, are we forcing turnovers and what is the other team's field-goal percentage," Romar said. "And then our turnovers — how good or bad are our turnovers early on. That's going to be interesting."

Romar announced Sunday his probable starting lineup will be forwards Jon Brockman and Quincy Pondexter, center Joe Wolfinger and guards Joel Smith and Justin Dentmon, though he expects lineups could vary greatly early in the season.

Romar said he hopes to use a regular rotation in the first half tonight and then maybe open it up in the second half to get every player significant time.

The Huskies last week were voted No. 8 in the Pac-10 preseason media poll. But Brockman says he's confident the Huskies will surprise people this year.

"Defensively, we are just picking up concepts and clicking a lot better than we were last year," he said. "As far as playing together as a team, we are so much further along than we were last year, it's like two totally different groups. We are getting up and down the floor and guarding people and getting up on them."

Brockman says he thinks this team is coming together quickly because of the addition of Stanford transfer Tim Morris, a senior, and the return of Smith and Wolfinger, a sophomore who sat out last year with a foot injury.

"We are significantly older than we were last year," Brockman said.

But the Huskies also seem to have a clearer understanding this season of who they are.

Last year at this time, they were still waiting for the debut of freshman center Spencer Hawes, who missed most of preseason camp with a knee injury. Once he returned, the Huskies then had to figure out how to integrate him into the lineup, trying to alter their fast-paced style to one that was more half-court oriented. And then knowing Hawes might not be around more than a year or two also created some uncertainty.

"We definitely changed the way we played last year, which was good for the personnel we had," Brockman said. "You have to play to your strengths, and we did. I just feel like we will have more success with the strengths we have this year, that we are really long and athletic and we've got guys who want to work. It was difficult at times having Spencer because we never really knew what he was planning on doing. I'm not going to say we are better without him, because if he came back we'd be that much better. But we just have to focus on what we have and go to our strengths now."

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Seattle Pacific, which was selected to finish second in the preseason Great Northwest Athletic Conference coaches poll, gave Nevada all it wanted Saturday before losing 80-73 in an exhibition game.

The Falcons were led by the 20 points of 6-foot-2 guard Marques Echols.

NOTE

• The Washington women's team will be at home against Seattle Pacific in an exhibition game Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Edmundson Pavilion. The two teams have met 11 times in the regular season (UW with an 8-3 advantage), the last time in the 1978-79 season when UW won 103-48.

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

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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