BY Bob Sherwin 11:05PM 11/02/2010

Minus Overton, Romar searches for fifth starter

Intriguing newcomer Aziz N’Diaye, a seven-foot shot-swatter, has a good chance to start Saturday

Venoy Overton has been out six weeks because of a hamstring injury, changing the starting lineup options for Washington coach Lorenzo Romar / Sportspress Northwest file

After three weeks of practice, the Washington Huskies are now up to four starters. They’ll need one more for Saturday’s 5 p.m. exhibition game against St. Martin’s.

Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar projected three starters before the team’s first practice Oct. 15: G Isaiah Thomas, F Matthew Bryan-Amaning and F Justin Holiday. He has added G Abdul Gaddy.

Romar said Gaddy, who did not have a stellar freshman campaign, has grown in confidence and skills. “Abdul is an improved player from last year,” he said. “He’s quicker, faster and is driving the ball better.”

Another factor is the fact that his primary competitor for the starting spot, senior Venoy Overton, has been nursing a sore left hamstring since Sept. 14. The team has been careful with the injury. He will have his first full practice Monday.

“It’s better to err on the cautious side, be conservative,” Romar said. “It’s a very sensitive injury.”

The players offer contrasting styles. Overton provides defensive spark while Gaddy looks to keep teammates involved and serve the ball to their best shooting spots.

Gaddy said what Overton does makes him better.

“Nobody can guard like that,” he said. “In practice, when he’s picking up full court, that’s the hardest thing to deal with. If I’m dealing with that in practice and getting used to it to where he doesn’t steal the ball, then I can deal with it in the game, no problem. That’s the main thing I miss about him. I can’t wait for him to get back.”

Nor can Overton stand it much longer.

“It’s just a process get back slowly,” Overton said. “It’s close to 75 percent, over 50 percent definitely. I hope to be back for the second game, definitely before the Maui tournament (Nov. 22).”

That leaves one starting spot open. It could go big or small(er). The feeling is that 7-foot newcomer Aziz N’Diaye might be the guy.

“We really haven’t had any shot-blocking presence since Romar has been here,” Thomas said of N’Diaye “He’s unbelievable, not that he blocks every shot but he changes shots. He makes you think about it when you go in there.

“Aziz is one guy people are going to like.”

Romar is pleased to discover that he can play N’Diaye and Bryan-Amaning together for extended periods.

Romar also might go with 6-8 junior Darnell Gant or a three-guard offense that includes 6-5 redshirt freshman C.J. Wilson.

“He’s (Wilson) earned the respect of everyone in our program,” Romar said. “He has such good quickness and the uncanny ability find open areas to get his shot off. He knows where the gaps are.

“He doesn’t look like a freshman trying to figure things out.”

What Romar is looking for is how the various combinations play together. Minutes will be spread wide.

“This year, maybe more than any year,” Romar said, “the starters don’t matter.”


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