The University of Washington men’s basketball team is in the midst of something special.
The Huskies defeated UCLA 69-55 Saturday at Hec Edmundson Pavilion for their 11th straight victory. Washington is now 9-0 in Pac-12 games, which is the team’s best start in conference play since opening 14-0 in 1952-53. The Huskies are one of just nine NCAA Division I teams that remain undefeated in league games.
Washington now has a three-game conference lead over USC, Oregon State and Arizona State, and the Huskies seem well om their way to their first Pac-12 regular season title since 2012. Washington, which is 18-4 overall, is expected to enter the Associated Press top 25 when the rankings are released later Monday, and the memories of a sluggish start to the season have been banished.
So who’s most responsible for this surge of success? Washington has four players who have led the way. Let’s take a closer look at them:
The sophomore guard from Seattle’s Garfield High School is Washington’s leading scorer at 16.6 points per game, while also chipping in with 5.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Nowell is shooting 52 percent from the field, including 45 percent from 3-point range. Nowell is a legitimate offensive creator, so when the Huskies need a basket he’s is the one with the ball in his hands.
The senior from Atlanta is essentially Washington’s only inside presence, and the undersized power forward has more than held his own against all interior opposition. Dickerson is averaging 12.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting a blistering 57 percent from the floor and constantly making his way to the free-throw line. No doubt Washington coach Mike Hopkins is sweating out the sprained ankle Dickerson suffered against UCLA.
The senior guard’s standard numbers may be modest — 9.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game — but the Eastside Catholic High School product means so much to Washington’s defense. At 6-foot-5 with long arms and cat-like quickness, Thybulle is the perfect distruptor at the top of the Huskies’ zone defense, and his defensive numbers — 3.2 steals and 2.1 blocks per contest — are off-the-charts good.
The senior point guard from Tacoma was often the subject of frustration for Husky fans in the past because of his inefficient play. But Crisp has reined himself in this season and given Washington a reliable contributor from the point, averaging 12.0 points on 42 percent shooting from the floor, and he’s hit a team-high 44 3-pointers on 40-percent shooting from deep.
So which player has been the biggest contributor to Washington’s success? Vote here: