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December 13, 2011The Washington Huskies men's basketball team may have left its week-long road trip in New York 0-2, but there are plenty of positives that can be taken.
Most notably among those positives: the growing brand of University of Washington basketball.
Washington may not be listed next to elite programs such as Kentucky, Duke, Ohio State or North Carolina, but it is certainly moving in that direction.
"I am constantly amazed at our fans," said head coach Lorenzo Romar during Monday's press conference. "During the NCAA Tournament games, last year in Maui, you have these storied programs like Kentucky last year, and our fans don't take a back seat at all."
"There were more Duke fans there (at Madison Square Garden), but they weren't louder. It made me very, very proud to have that type of support."
That may seem like a hollow victory for Husky fans, but as Washington continues to gain fan support on the East Coast, it means one thing.
Most high school standouts from that side of the country might usually compare Washington and a school like Duke and see it as a no-brainer.
Duke all the way.
But as the UW continues to get more support on the East Coast and more exposure on ESPN, that answer might not be quite as easy for five-star recruits.
Usually Romar is forced to recruit on the West Coast, but that could soon be changing.
"There are a lot more people than I thought familiar with not only our current team, but our recent history," Romar said. "There were people that recognized us and said 'we watch your games a lot.'"
There was Maui last year, New York this year and now possibly the Hall of Fame Classic next year.
Romar said that talks of Washington going to the HOF Classic in Connecticut next year with Ohio State, Rhode Island and Seton Hall were very close to being done.
Yup, the Husky brand is continuing to grow on a national scale. And yes, even with the losses, that's a very good thing for Washington.
As far as actual play on the court this past week, Romar said the problems were evident, but extremely small.
"Our transition defense, taking care of the basketball, good job of spacing on offense and finishing games," said Romar when asked what his team needed to improve on.
Romar also said Aziz N'Diaye, who went down with a knee injury against Duke on Saturday, did not suffer a tear but is "very questionable" for Friday's game against UC Santa Barbara.
Romar is confident he'll have his center back by the time Pac-12 Conference play starts.