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Thursday, October 27, 2005 - Page updated at 04:43 PM

UW Men's Basketball

Brandon Roy's versatility being put to test at point

Seattle Times staff reporter

From the moment he decided to come back to Washington last April, there was never any doubt that Brandon Roy would be the leader of the Huskies' basketball team this season.

From where he will do that leading, however, might be changing just a bit as the team concludes its second full week of practice.

The Huskies have begun using Roy so much at the point-guard spot in practices and scrimmages that Roy said yesterday, "Point guard is turning into my primary position."

With Nate Robinson and Will Conroy gone from last year's Sweet 16 team, UW coaches have said all along they would need Roy to take on more ballhandling this season.

"That was a lot of the plan," Roy said. "But you say it's the plan and then you play with it a little bit and it's been turning out so well that it's almost starting to turn into not the plan, but just the way it is. ... Right now, I think if we played a game tomorrow, I would start at the point."

That isn't necessarily an indictment of the team's two new players listed primarily as point guards — Florida transfer Ryan Appleby from Stanwood and freshman Justin Dentmon — but just an evolving of roles.

Coach Lorenzo Romar yesterday called Appleby "the best shooter on our team," the presumption being he will be put in more situations to take advantage of that talent. And Dentmon has earned consistent praise for his play.

But as assistant coach Cameron Dollar says, "The bottom line is, the ball needs to be in [Roy's] hands, however you want to label it."

And with Roy showing more every day that he can handle the point as well as he has other spots, that's where he's ending up.

"I think that's his best position," Dollar said.

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But it's unlikely that Roy will ever be listed as the team's point guard.

For starters, UW coaches detest labels about as much as they do losing.

They've always encouraged versatility in their players and see this as more of the same.

"With Will and Nate last year people would say, 'Boy, I really like your point guard,' " Romar said. "I'd say, 'Will Conroy?' They'd say, 'No, Nate Robinson.' Will was more the point if you had to pick one, but they shared it, and that's kind of how we will do it this year."

Romar said he envisions Roy playing at times in the manner of former Sonics star John Johnson, who, as a forward, led the 1979 NBA title team in assists.

"[Roy is] a great decision-maker and he has the highest basketball IQ on our team," Romar said.

Dollar also points out that Roy often was the team's primary playmaker as a sophomore before Conroy and Robinson took over more of that role last season when Roy was limited due to injuries.

Roy was second on the team in assists in 2004 behind Conroy, averaging three per game.

"This is nothing new for him," Dollar said.

Still, Roy recently noticed a subtle shift in how the coaches regard his role during practices.

"At first it was like, 'Coach, can I step in at the point now?' " Roy said. "Now it's like, 'Don't even ask, just do it.' "

Roy said he has no problem playing point.

"I enjoy it," he said. "It pushes me to get into a whole lot better shape. That way, when the game starts, even if I'm not playing point guard, I can play a whole lot better on the wing because I'm used to bringing the ball up."

Roy also knows that at 6 feet 6, being able to play the point will be just another asset when the NBA draft arrives next summer.

"It's funny because [UW assistant] coach [Jim] Shaw said he thinks it's my more natural position," Roy said. "He said I look more comfortable there. I feel like I can control the tempo of a game."

Note

• Approximately 800 season tickets remain for the season. Washington has sold 600 more season tickets than last year's total of 6,442, including 1,200 student season tickets. The deadline for season ticket purchase is Dec. 1, after which all remaining seats will go on sale as individual-game tickets. Season-ticket holders will have priority to place orders for individual game tickets before tickets go on sale to the general public. Single-game tickets for all non-conference games except Gonzaga will go on sale Tuesday. If single-game tickets for Gonzaga and any Pac-10 games remain after all season tickets have been allocated and all individual game orders placed by season-ticket holders have been filled, they will go on sale Dec. 1. To order season tickets or BCA Classic tickets, contact the ticket office at 206-543-2200 or www.gohuskies.com.

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

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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