(COACH: ANDY RUSSO)
New coach Andy Russo has walked into what seems to be the most fail-proof assignment at Washington since university president Asa (Here Come the Brides) Mercer imported single women from New England for Seattle's lumbermen in the 1860s. But is Russo elated over the four starters he inherits from last season's Pac-10 co-champs? Is he talking up all-conference center Chris Welp? Or talented forward Paul Fortier?
Maybe later. So far Russo has been raving about his job. "There are not many schools left like ours where the phones are purple and gold, the carpet is purple and people wear purple and gold to the games," says Russo. "I appreciate being here."
Very soon Russo will appreciate his purple and gold frontcourt. The Huskies last season outrebounded opponents by a margin of 7.4 boards per game, fifth best in the country. Certainly the team will miss forward Detlef Schrempf, one-half of the Grand Teutons, who led the Huskies in points, rebounds and assists last season and became a first-round pick of the NBA Dallas Mavericks. But Welp, the other half, who averaged seven rebounds and 13 points per game, and Fortier (6.4 and 13.2) will keep the boards secure for the Huskies.
Last season Washington couldn't find the right point guard, and under Russo the search continues. Greg Hill, a juco transfer, has the inside track. Clay Damon, who struggled at the point last season, may move to off guard, and Shag Williams will move from the backcourt to small forward.
Russo gained some prominence when he led Louisiana Tech to a 29-3 season in 1984-85. This winter there will be a growing number of Russophiles around Puget Sound.