Monday, March 08, 1999

MIAMI'S OPPONENT: WASHINGTON


Huskies features size, two sharpshooters

BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — Miami coach Charlie Coles joked Sunday. To him, the University of Washington is so far away, it might as well be in Alaska.

        But Coles knows how Washington, the RedHawks' first-round NCAA Tournament opponent on Friday, whisked Xavier from last year's first round and nearly stunned Connecticut in the third.

        Sure Coles knows. On Friday, he wrote down Washington, George Washington, Southwest Missouri State, and, yes, Xavier, as possible foes.

        Some are already calling it Miami's speed vs. a Washington team supposed to have problems against quickness with nearly 30 more turnovers than assists.

        “I thought Xavier gave them problems last year,” Coles said. “But that was last year.”

        Like Miami, the Huskies pride themselves on defense, holding foes to 43 percent shooting in coach Bob Bender's fundamentally sound scheme. But Bender is concerned they have no one big enough to match the quickness of 6-foot-8 Wally Szczerbiak. No one for Washington has ever played in a dome like Szczerbiak has in Syracuse's Carrier Dome.

        The Huskies (17-11) are built around 7-foot center Todd MacCulloch, on the verge of becoming the only player other than Ohio State's Jerry Lucas to lead the nation in field-goal percentage three straight years.

        “We did a good job of not looking ahead to the next half or the next game. We'll stress that this week,” Bender said.

        Coles says not to look for his tallest starter — Szczerbiak — to guard MacCulloch.

        The 280-pound MacCulloch is a load. He's hitting 66 percent of his 311 shots, averaging 19 points per game and is second in the nation with 12 rebounds per game.

        “There's a lot of guys on this team who have been through it and know what to expect,” said guard Donald Watts, the Pac-10's most accurate three-point shooter.

       



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