SEATTLE — For a while, junior forward Dominic Green was lost in the Washington men’s basketball team’s resurgence.
Green was granted minutes early in the season with first-year basketball coach Mike Hopkins still getting a feel for his roster. By December, it appeared Green was going to be the odd man out. He went from averaging 22 minutes in UW’s first seven games to playing less than 11 minutes while also being benched for two contests over a six-game period by late December.
Then the Huskies (15-6, 5-3 Pac-12) began conference play.
Green has played more than 11 minutes in all but two of the Huskies’ conference games. He’s become a dead-eye 3-point shooter who uses his slender 6-foot-6, 190-pound frame to be the linchpin of Hopkins’ 2-3 zone when called upon.
“I think it just helps bring momentum to the game. That’s what I try to do when I come in,” Green said. “Somebody told me once, ‘You only get one chance to make one,’ so, I just go by that every time I come in.
“Sometimes, when I see that we’re in a scoring drought, I come off the bench and try to have a spark and try to help out the team.”
Hopkins and UW saw what Green could do against Pac-12 opponents in a conference-opening 88-81 win Dec. 29 at USC.
Green went 6-for-7 from the field and 4-for-5 from 3 for 16 points in 23 minutes.
The last four games have reinforced why Green plays an important part in the Huskies’ setup. He’s hitting 43 percent of his 3-pointers all while averaging more than 20 minutes in that span.
In UW’s last game, a 80-62 win over Washington State, Green hit three consecutive 3-pointers near the end of the first half that helped put the game out of reach.
As a whole, Green is shooting a blistering 53.8 percent from 3-point range in Pac-12 play.
“You can see it in our opponents faces,” Huskies junior guard Matisse Thybulle said. “When he starts (making) 3s, they just get deflated. Like, ‘What are we supposed to do?’ It just seems like you can’t stop it.”
Green’s offense is welcomed given there have been times when the Huskies have struggled to score.
His defensive contributions, as Hopkins and Thybulle each pointed out, are also valuable.
The defensive-minded former Syracuse assistant said Green was the team’s best defensive forward when the year began.
“He kind of got away from that,” Hopkins said. “But he’s active, he works hard, he’s got great length. Part of that is not just defending the 3-pointer but its also rebounding. It’s been a focus for us.
“Those are areas I think he’s been showing improvement in.”
Green gets around 2.3 rebounds per game but does more than just occupy the paint when called upon.
Part of UW’s success this season has come from how it can slow an opposing offense in the second half.
A year ago, teams were shooting 41.9 percent in the final half against the Huskies. It might not sound high, but it was in the lower fifth of college basketball.
Washington is limiting teams to 37.5 percent in the second half and that’s good enough for 148th out of 351 Division I programs.
In the last three games alone, opponents are shooting 34 percent against the Huskies.
Green might not have Thybulle’s defensive statistics, but he possess an unsung yet extremely important role within the zone.
“If you look at every game and every position that he’s in, he’s either moving the most or talking the most,” said Thybulle, who is third nationally with an average of 3.0 steals per game. “Those are among the most valuable traits of anyone on defense. I know he helps me a lot when I’m on top of the zone just because I cannot see what is going on behind me.
“But I got him telling me everything that’s going on.”
Green, who is from Renton, initially signed with Arizona State out of high school. A few months after he signed, Green was released from his letter of intent after the Sun Devils fired then-coach Herb Sendek.
The former three-star prospect chose to return home and play for the Huskies.
In that time, Green went from from averaging 11.3 minutes and shooting 27.7 percent from 3-point range in his first season to becoming one of the Huskies’ most versatile options off the bench.
“I think from (the start of this season) I was over-thinking everything. I was doing too much,” Green said. “But now? I’m just doing what I do best and that’s keeping it simple.”