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Originally published December 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified December 30, 2005 at 12:12 AM

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Steve Kelley

Roy's hard work carries Washington to victory

They were staggering into the Pac-10. The Huskies didn't score a field goal in the first five minutes of the conference season. Jon Brockman missed his...

Seattle Times staff columnist

They were staggering into the Pac-10.

The Huskies didn't score a field goal in the first five minutes of the conference season. Jon Brockman missed his first three shots. Jamaal Williams missed three, including two jump hooks that are usually as negotiable as cash.

They missed their first 10 shots against a sagging Arizona State defense that dared them to shoot from outside.

Then, after a timeout, Brandon Roy started doing what he always seems to do, carrying Washington out of the gloom.

Roy took a pass in the paint, took the bump from ASU's Tyrone Jackson and converted a three-point play. Then he squared up and hit a three that gave Washington its first lead.

Roy spent the summer rehabbing his knee for nights like this. One last conference season.

He turned down invitations to try out for U.S. international teams so he could get ready and healthy for the rough and tumble of one last season in the Pac-10.

Saturday

UW men vs. Arizona

@ Edmundson Pavilion,

11 a.m., FSN

He chose unglamorous afternoons in the weight room over the chance to play abroad. He chose the solitude of the gym to the hum of the arena. He stayed home and got better so he could play in games like Thursday night's 91-67 win over Arizona State.

"It was another one of those unselfish decisions," Roy said of his choice to stay home for the summer. "My knee was getting better, but I still had a kind of nagging feeling in it. I could have gone to some of those camps, but I just decided, 'My team needs me to be ready in January.' I felt like I needed to get my knee stronger.

"It was kind of lonely at times. [Teammate] Bobby Jones came back [from the World University Games] wearing all that Olympic stuff and that was cool, but my knee feels fine and nights like tonight definitely tell me I made the right decision."

College careers seem as brief as movie trailers. They pass with dizzying swiftness. The program-changing wins, the heartbreaking losses, the plays that define those careers, all happen in a blur.

Roy's career will be remembered as a profile in perseverance. He has risen above his personal disappointments. He has survived the intricacies of fate.

He was ineligible for the first 14 games of his freshman season. He missed nine games with a knee injury last season.

He was recruited by Bob Bender, had a brief flirtation with the NBA. Washington was 10-17 his freshman season, but he became part of a group — along with Will Conroy, Tre Simmons, Nate Robinson, Bobby Jones and Mike Jensen — that has led Washington out of the hardwood wilderness.

And on a night seventh-ranked UW started inexplicably sluggish, Roy, the senior, the leader, was its spark.

"Thank goodness he's healthy," coach Lorenzo Romar said.

Roy missed his first three shots, but Romar hollered at him from the sideline to "Be aggressive. Be aggressive." Roy made 13 of his next 19 shots, including all five of his three-pointers.

"It's the Pac-10 schedule and I'm going to need to be aggressive," Roy said.

Roy scored 16 of the Huskies' first 36 points. He passed to Ryan Appleby for Appleby's first Pac-10 trey. He karate-chopped the ball away from Bryson Krueger at the rim and dramatically swatted Antwi Atuahene from behind.

Roy played point guard. He played inside. He played on the perimeter. He was the eye in every Huskies hurricane.

"He did what he is capable of doing," Romar said.

At the beginning of the second half, Roy scored five points as the Huskies came to life and broke open a close game with a 10-0 run that gave them a 50-38 lead.

Washington will go as far as Roy can take them. It isn't as deep or as experienced as last season's conference-tournament champion. It can't win big games unless Roy has big games like Thursday's career-high, 35-point night, which made him the 31st Husky to surpass 1,000 points for his career.

"The nonleague schedule was great to prepare [freshmen] Justin Dentmon and Jon Brockman for games like this," Roy said. "But I was actually getting frustrated. I was saying, 'I've got to put my print on this team.' I knew, tonight, Arizona State was going to be tough and the guys were going to need me.

"There's no more Americans on our schedule. Every night's going to be a good team. I think as I go and guys like Jamaal and Bobby go, the team will go."

On this first night of his last conference season, Brandon Roy, on his healthy right knee, lifted his team out of its early-game malaise.

"B. Roy. B. Roy. B. Roy," the student section chanted as Roy left the floor.

After a summer in the shadows, Roy was in the spotlight again.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com.

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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