Husky Love Week continues with more glowing praise, this time to our absolute most valuable player: Isaiah Thomas.
With all due respect to Derrick Williams, if you take him off that team and replace him with your average, run-of-the-mill power forward, Arizona is still a good team and likely in the Tournament regardless. If you take IT off the Huskies and replace him with an average point guard, we would have gone NOWHERE this year.
IT is the heart and soul of this team. He’s our vocal and emotional leader. He’s always ready to step up to the next challenge presented to him. And, for good measure, he’s stronger than 10 Grinches + 2.
Look at where we’ve been this year; look at what we’ve gone through. We’ve suffered close defeat to some good teams on the road. We’ve had games where our outside shooters were ice cold. We lost our original starting point guard for the season. We missed our other point guard for stretches due to injury, and again in this Pac-10 Tournament due to suspension.
And through it all, Isaiah has been there. The lone constant on this team of streaky players. IT has scored less than 10 points only three times this year; even when his outside shot is off, he finds a way to get to the line and help the team. He has doubled his average per-game assists, while still keeping his turnovers to a minimum (2.00 assist to turnover ratio as the team’s primary ball-handler). His overall play has improved every year since he started back in 2008, and oh yeah, he’s only a Junior.
Basically, I could’ve said all of this last week and it still would have been true. Then, he came out last Thursday – arms the size of tree trunks – and he rounded up all his Husky teammates one by one, collecting them in a pile and putting them on his back for the 3-day ride of all rides! He played every last second of that WSU game, going for 21/11. He had but two minutes of rest (one in each half, if I’m not mistaken) on Friday against Oregon, going for 10/12. Then, on Saturday, in the championship game against Arizona, on legs mortal men would find turned to jelly, Isaiah turned in his single greatest performance of the season. Of his CAREER! On the court for all 45 minutes, coming out of the box on fire for 19 points in the first half. Getting his teammates involved in the second half; drawing defenders away from wide open shooters for key assists in the closing minute. And, of course, for the last shot of overtime, gathering his teammates upon his back with those tree-trunk arms once again. 28/7/5.
I don’t even want to think about where we’d be this year without Isaiah Thomas. It’s certainly not a place I ever want to visit.