Lorenzo Romar had options.
When Scott Suggs strained the medial collateral ligament in his knee Thursday, the Washington Huskies' coach knew he'd need to pick a starter from three guards today against the No. 12 Arizona Wildcats.
There was redshirt freshman C.J. Wilcox, who scored 16 at Arizona State.
Or true freshman Terrence Ross, the star prospect the coach called "arguably our most talented player."
But really, there was one option: senior Venoy Overton.
Overton is, after all, the most experienced player in the Pac-10.
One of only 12 fourth-year seniors in the league, Overton has appeared in 128 career games, two more than teammate Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
"We're on the road," the Huskies coach said Friday after practice at McKale Center. "Experience. He's been in this situation before.
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"And he's playing well."
The Huskies' Pac-10 title hopes will be on the line today, but that doesn't intimidate the Seattleite.
He started 26 games as a freshman but only 12 since.
"You know what to expect," he said. "You know the crowd's going to be loud when they do something, but you can't let that get to you."
Suggs' strength was drawing the larger defender away from guard Isaiah Thomas. Teams had to respect the 6-foot-6-inch Suggs' three-point shot.
Overton is more of a slasher, but Thomas has already spoken to him about shooting with confidence.
Opposing teams would rather Overton shoot than drive, Thomas said.
"I just told Venoy, 'They're going to leave you open; just step in with confidence and shoot the ball,'" Thomas said. "'You can't hesitate.'"
Overton, a pesky defender who averages 5.7 points in 21 minutes, has been practicing more with the first team and said he feels healthy again.
"My legs are back," he said. "I feel like I'm fast again, I'm quick, lateral."
Romar's rotation change won't be drastic. He said he'll be less likely to "gamble" on a foul-plagued player or play someone extended without a break.
Ross and Wilcox - who Romar said, under different circumstances, could have started - will share the extra minutes. Suggs will miss at least next week's games.
"In some ways it might make us even better," Romar said.
Overton said starting is "no different" than a bench role, but he couldn't help but sound excited.
"We're playing to try to get to the top of the Pac-10; we're playing for the NCAA tournament, (to put) key wins on our résumé," he said. "There's no better feeling."
A sold-out, ESPN, "white-out" game just adds to the atmosphere, Overton said, smiling.
"We're trying," he said, "to ruin their moment."
Are you experienced?
The Pac-10 has only 12 fourth-year seniors, and Washington's Venoy Overton leads them in games played. Here's a look at the list:
• 128: Venoy Overton, Washington
• 126: Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Washington,
• 125: Ty Abbott, Arizona State
• 119: Joevan Catron, Oregon
• 118: Rihards Kuksiks, Arizona State
• 117: Calvin Haynes, Oregon State
• 117: Jamelle Horne, Arizona
• 116: Jamelle McMillan, Arizona State
• 115: Lathen Wallace, Oregon State
• 114: Justin Holiday, Washington
• 113: Omari Johnson, Oregon State
• 96: Marcus Simmons, USC