BY Bob Sherwin 06:16PM 01/07/2011

Sick, battered and distracted, Overton plays on

UW senior tries stepping in at point guard for injured Abdul Gaddy — following a series of personal setbacks.

Venoy Oveton has taken over for Abdul Gaddy as Washington's point guard / (Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest)

It all started for Venoy Overton with a torn hamstring in mid-September that caused him to miss the Huskies training camp. He returned for the pre-conference season but bruised his tailbone in a fall Nov. 16 against Eastern Washington. Then on Dec. 20, he hyper-extended a knee in practice and sat out the Nevada game.

That’s more than his share of misfortune conspiring to sully his senior season with the Huskies.

But, there’s more.

“I’m pretty healthy now leg-wise but I got an ache in my (right) shoulder and I’m under the weather,” said Overton, UW 6-foot guard. “I couldn’t sleep at all last night.”

Overton hurt his shoulder, not certain when, banging through a screen. In addition, he also faces a distraction of becoming a father for the first time, any day now.

He’s sick, battered, distracted and sore and that doesn’t even include the weight he’s carrying trying to replace injured Abdul Gaddy (torn ACL) as the team’s starting point guard.

“We are two different players,” said Overton, who started in Gaddy’s place at point Thursday against Oregon, a 87-69 victory. “I not trying to do what he did. We have pretty much similar numbers-wise, our assists are right there with each other, our assists-to-turnovers are right there. He does it his way and I do it my way.

“When I’m fully healthy it’s going to be fireworks, as soon as I combine with the starting group and practice more. (Thursday) I was not used to that group. I’m usually not in the game with Isaiah (Thomas).”

UW Coach Lorenzo Romar gave the starting nod to Overton – his 36th in his 117-game Husky career – because he felt Overton could better handle the speed and the various zones the Ducks used against the Huskies. Overton played just 20 minutes. He had five points, five assists and three turnovers.

Another factor in Overton’s favor is that despite his up-and-down season, he has shown he can take care of the ball. His assist-to-turnover is 52 to 16.

“That’s almost 3-to-1, which is sensational. I’d be happy at 2-to-1,” Romar said. “He’s done a good job taking care of the basketball. What he’s not been able to do is go for long periods of time. His timing is just off. He’d go to make a pass and the ball would slip out of his hands or his shot is not consistent yet. Those are the areas that time and reps are going to help.”

He said that will come in the next week or two. In the meantime, the Huskies face a fast-moving Oregon State team Saturday afternoon. Romar is not ready to set his starting lineup yet.

“Oregon State has good size one through five that can present problems for you,” he said. “It’s much more difficult to play against their zone when you have smaller guards. They struggle more.”

Overton is 6-foot and Thomas is 5-9. Romar has plenty of size at his disposal on his bench, 6-6 Terrence Ross, who had a career-high 25 points against Oregon, 6-6 Scott Suggs and 6-5 C. J. Wilcox, who is completely recovered from a staph infection in his hip.

Romar also is looking for more penetration in the lane, either on the drive or pass. Center Aziz N’Diaye took only one shot Thursday.

Ross’s breakout game certainly has earned him more time on the court. But as Romar argues, that doesn’t necessarily mean starting.

“Terrence Ross could play 30 minutes a game, and come off the bench,” Romar said. “People are so hung up and who’s starting, who are the first five getting announced. Sometime guys play more because they come off the bench. He (Ross) is going to be in there.”

Another guy who is going to be in there – a lot – is Thomas. He has shown he can handle the point, especially down the stretch. Romar likes the ball in his hands with the game on the line and trusts his decision making to pass or take his own shot. He can handle the pressure and the minutes.

“Isaiah’s pretty durable,” he said. “Because of our depth, he didn’t average 30 minutes in the preseason. We’re playing twice a week now, we don’t have a training camp, we don’t have 2 1/2-hour practices. He can go out and play as many minutes and I don’t think that’s going to wear him down at all. He’s pretty durable and pretty strong.”

It’s an unusual start time, 3:30 p.m.


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