UW's Jensen set for season debut against Lehigh

Updated: December 20, 2005, 4:13 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Washington forward Mike Jensen anxiously sat and watched his teammates sprint to a 9-0 start. Now, he gets to join in the fun.

The three-year starter will make his season debut for the Huskies (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) when they play Lehigh at home Friday night. It's their last game before starting Pacific-10 Conference play next week.

Coach Lorenzo Romar said Jensen would not start but would play against the Mountain Hawks.

Jensen missed the start of the season after dislocating his left shoulder in mid-September while participating in a rebounding drill with teammate Hans Gasser. Jensen dislocated the same shoulder his freshman sesaon.

"The biggest thing is getting back into that game-type shape," Jensen said Tuesday. "I'm expecting to come back in and do well."

The 6-foot-8 senior was expected to be an integral part of a team that lost three starters from last season's 29-6 squad. Jensen started 34 of 35 games last season and averaged 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds.

With Jensen out, Washington has turned to undersized forward Jamaal Williams and freshman Jon Brockman to fill gaps in the middle. Williams, listed at 6-foot-6, is averaging 16.1 points and 5.6 rebounds, and Brockman is adding 12.7 points and nearly eight rebounds a game.

Gasser also has improved. After playing in 15 games and averaging 1.7 points last season, the 6-9 junior is scoring 5.9 points and playing more than 15 minutes a game.

"As a head coach I have never been with a team that has collectively the inside group that we have right now," Romar said. "With Mike coming back and Hans Gasser's emergence, we feel really good about our inside guys."

With Jensen back in the fold, Washington adds another talented perimeter shooter who also can play in the paint. Jensen is a career 37-percent 3-point shooter, and Romar hopes he can stretch defenses and open more interior opportunities for Williams and Brockman.

How Jensen is used will be determined by his conditioning. Jensen has started 87 of the 98 games he's played at Washington, but he might fall into a similar circumstance as Brandon Roy a year ago.

Roy started the first three games last season but missed five with a knee injury. When he returned, Roy became the first player off the bench for Romar, starting just once the rest of the season.

"I think everyone wants to start. I think Brandon wanted to start last year," Romar said. "Whether he starts or not, I don't think that's going to affect Mike at this point."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press