It seems observers of the University of Washington men’s basketball team are appreciative of defense.
This week’s Seattle Sidelines poll involved the success of the Huskies, who have won 11 straight and are a perfect 9-0 in Pac-12 play. Washington has several players who can be said to be the team’s most important, so we asked readers which UW player has contributed the most to the Huskies’ success? Here’s how you voted:
POLL: Which player has been most important to the University of Washington men’s basketball team’s success? Full context, including a closer look at the candidates, here: https://t.co/ZLUOq1CuHC
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) February 4, 2019
Add it all up and UW defensive ace Matisse Thybulle received more than half the votes, taking in 53 percent. Jaylen Nowell came in second at 29 percent, while Noah Dickerson and David Crisp each received 9 percent.
This is an interesting result, because the voters overwhelmingly picked a player averaging just 9.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Usually in basketball people want to see gaudy point, rebound and assist totals in evaluating a player’s value. Thybulle has none of those.
What Thybulle does have, however, is an enormous impact on defense. At 6-foot-5 and with long arms, the senior guard is an absolute destroyer at the top of Washington coach Mike Hopkins’ 2-3 zone. And when we’re talking about gaudy statistics, Thybulle’s 3.2 steals and 2.1 blocks per game are as shiny as it gets on the defensive end. I didn’t vote myself, but if I did I think I would have voted for Thybulle, and I’m pleasantly surprised so many of you went that direction.
The other surprise to me was seeing how few votes Dickerson received. Dickerson is pretty much the extent of Washington’s inside presence, and he’s usually smaller than the players he’s going up against on both ends of the court. Yet he’s become incredibly effective at what he does, and we may find out just how much value he has to the Huskies as he’s listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game at Arizona because of an ankle injury sustained in Saturday’s 69-55 home victory over UCLA.
But regardless of whether Dickerson is available against the Wildcats, the Huskies find themselves in tremendous position in the Pac-12 at the midpoint of the conference season. Washington has a three-game lead over Arizona State and Oregon State, and that kind of lead at this stage in the season historically bodes well for the Huskies:
— Tim Booth (@ByTimBooth) February 6, 2019
So Washington is in great shape to win its first Pac-12 regular season title since 2012. And yet it still wasn’t enough to get UW into the Associated Press top 25, as the Huskies finished 26th this week, missing out by just seven points. If Washington takes care of business this week in Arizona, no doubt the Huskies will finally break through next Monday.
And according to the readers, it’s the Thybulle-led defense that will be the primary reason why.