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Originally published January 24, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 24, 2007 at 12:38 AM

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Notebook | UW men's JC target opted for K-St.

The theme of the season for the Washington men's basketball team is that it may be just a little too young. As the Huskies got drilled by...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The theme of the season for the Washington men's basketball team is that it may be just a little too young.

As the Huskies got drilled by Washington State on Saturday, however, it was tempting to wonder if UW wasn't Young enough.

The Cougars time and again ripped through UW's defense, shooting 53.6 percent overall, exposing some holes in Washington's perimeter defense that might have been clogged had the Huskies been able to secure the services of junior-college transfer guard Blake Young last spring.

"He would have helped us on the defensive end, definitely," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar of the 6-foot-2 Young.

The Huskies thought they had Young locked up when he took a recruiting trip to UW in April. Instead, he signed with Kansas State, lured away after the Wildcats hired his JC coach, a former Wildcat himself, to be the school's new director of basketball operations.

Young, who attended Daytona Beach (Fla.) CC, has been primarily a reserve for Kansas State, averaging 21.6 minutes per game, but was a starter early in the year before suffering a knee injury that required minor surgery.

That the Huskies went so hard after Young, however, is a reminder that they knew they might have some issues with their youth this season.

"We felt we needed someone to come in with some experience, someone to help with the transition [from a veteran team to an inexperienced one]," Romar said.

That UW is struggling with that transition was glaringly apparent against the Cougars, even if it was easy to focus on offense being the root of UW's problems after the Huskies were held to 28.3 percent shooting. But Huskies coaches continue to feel the team's greater issues are on defense, particularly on the perimeter where freshmen Adrian Oliver, Phil Nelson and Quincy Pondexter are struggling to learn how to play college ball.

"It's not so much effort, but understanding the importance of getting through that screen," Romar said. "Older, veteran players who have been through that before understand that urgency."

UW forward and team captain Jon Brockman said that's something he's trying to get the other players to understand, as well.

"I really feel like we need to focus a lot more on defense than offense," Brockman said. "A lot of us need to stop thinking about how much we can score and instead think of how many stops we can get."

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Porter gets his chance

Romar said Tuesday he "smiled to myself" when he read the comments earlier this month of Oregon guard Tajuan Porter, who said he wanted to "get back at" Romar for cutting him from the USA Basketball team last summer. The 5-6 Porter told The Sporting News that "behind closed doors he tried to sugarcoat it. He said he wasn't cutting me because I was short. I can't wait to play Washington. Just to get back at him."

Romar said Tuesday that Porter doesn't know that Romar fought just to get Porter invited to the final tryouts after others on a selection committee wanted to cut him earlier in the process.

Romar said he chuckled when he read the comments because it fit what he learned to like of Porter's competitive temperament.

"I thought 'that's my man, that's Tajuan looking for any way to get himself pumped up so he can come after you,' " Romar said. "I understood."

Oregon freshman forward Joevan Catron also tried out for the team but didn't make it as far as Porter. "He might be upset, too," Romar said with a laugh.

Note

• UW center Spencer Hawes returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Monday and said his sprained left ankle was on the road to recovery and he should be good to go against the Ducks. Forward Quincy Pondexter struggled with a bad back Monday and also has shoulder and ankle ailments but said he'll play.

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