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Originally published February 24, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 9, 2007 at 9:02 PM

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Oregon's Brooks seeks a 1st against Washington

Oregon guard Aaron Brooks plans to take it old school before tonight's game against Washington, punching the button for slow jams for his...

Seattle Times staff reporter

EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon guard Aaron Brooks plans to take it old school before tonight's game against Washington, punching the button for slow jams for his pregame listening.

No hip-hop necessary to get the graduate of Franklin High School amped for this contest, maybe his last chance for a victory against the Huskies in a game he finishes. The teams tip off at 7:30 p.m. at McArthur Court.

"There's definitely going to be some emotion there, I can't lie," said Brooks.

It's also Brooks' first chance to play against the Huskies since the Pac-10 tournament last March in Los Angeles when he threw a forearm at the face of UW's Ryan Appleby midway through the first half. He was kicked out of that game, suspended for the Ducks' next two games and also for Oregon's trip to Seattle in January, a game the Huskies won 89-77. Brooks was forced to watch at his aunt's house.

But the Appleby subplot, Brooks insists, has nothing to do with his anticipation for this game.

"I'm just looking forward to playing Washington," he said, adding that he plans to approach Appleby before the game "just like I approach any other player. I already sent him my apologies and I hope he accepted them. But I can't sit there and dwell on that before this game, too."

The two haven't talked since the incident, and while Appleby said Friday he's ready to move on, he also admitted he's not sure he'll take Brooks' hand if it's extended.

"It'll be a game-time decision," he said. "We'll see."

Just as uncertain is whether the Huskies will come out with the same kind of fire Brooks is likely to display.

Washington looked devoid of fight in its 73-65 loss at Oregon State on Thursday night that almost certainly consigns the team to the NIT. Romar said Friday the team will accept an NIT bid if offered but added, "You know me, though. We're not thinking NIT right now."

Romar, however, acknowledged the Oregon State loss was puzzling, saying the team showed "a lack of a sense of urgency" despite the high stakes.

It's not the first time this season the Huskies have come out unduly passive in an important game, particularly on the road, where UW is 1-9.

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Romar hopes youth is the biggest factor, but acknowledged that this team also has a different personality than those of the past few years.

This team is filled with highly rated recruits while past UW teams were dominated by players accustomed to scratching and clawing for everything.

"Those were some unique individuals," Romar said, recalling the likes of Bobby Jones, Nate Robinson and Will Conroy. "Those were three underdogs that had never been pampered, always had people say 'I don't think you're good enough.' They'd always been the underdog. Nate was told he was too small, Will Conroy 'you're not good enough,' Bobby Jones was under recruited. So those guys had that in them.

"The makeup of our team for the most part here is guys who have been good early, and they have to learn that."

They will unquestionably be underdogs in their final three games, however, starting with the Ducks, who snapped a three-game losing streak Thursday night by beating Washington State, 64-59. That win moved Oregon closer to an NCAA tournament bid, with one more victory likely to clinch it.

Brooks continues to lead the Pac-10 in scoring at 17.6 per game, leaving some thinking he still belongs in the hunt for conference Player of the Year, though Brooks said Friday he'd vote for UCLA's Arron Afflalo or Darren Collison.

Kent said he hopes the image of Brooks hasn't been forever altered by the Appleby incident, particularly among fans in Seattle, where Brooks plans to live after graduation.

"He's leaving here with a great legacy," Kent said.

Both would like that legacy to include a win over the Huskies. Brooks missed both games against Washington as a freshman and lost both as a sophomore and the first two a year ago before the incident with Appleby.

"It's time for a change, I guess," Brooks said. "Hopefully this will be the game."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. Read his blogs on Washington football and basketball at www.seattletimes.com/huskies.

Brooks vs. Huskies
Oregon's Aaron Brooks, a Seattle native, is 1-4 and has averaged just 8.0 points in games against Washington, but was ejected from the only victory:
Date Result Pts
3/9/06 Oregon 84, Washington 73* 5
2/16/06 Washington 75, at Oregon 72 7
1/21/05 At Washington 78, Oregon 59 4
2/10/05 Washington 95, at Oregon 88 (OT) 15
1/13/05 At Washington 77, Oregon 56 9
* Pac-10 tournament at Staples Center, L.A.

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