One of the interesting sidelights to tonight's game will be seeing how the Mac Court crowd treats Isaiah Thomas in his first appearance there.
My hunch is that they will aim most of their fire at Jon Brockman in his final appearance. It may take them at least one appearance to even approach giving Thomas the kind of grief they gave Nate Robinson ("Ga-ry-Cole-man...")
In any case, Thomas says he's ready for anything.
"I'm ready," he said this week. "I know they're one of the best at getting on players, making fun of them, but I'm ready for it."
Thomas will likely be paired some with Oregon's Tajuan Porter, who wasn't real interested in discussing the match-up, and freshman Garrett Sim, who has faced Thomas before.
"I've played against him before (in AAU)," Sim said. "He's a real good player, real quick. I've got to lock down defensively."
At the midpoint of his freshman season, Thomas is averaging 15.7 points, 3.2 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. I think it's the best start of any UW freshman I've seen since starting on this beat in 2003-04. His only real competition would be one-and-done center Spencer Hawes.
I asked coach Lorenzo Romar:
"Spencer would be the closest to it," he said. "Spencer had some big games for us. The difference between Spencer and Isaiah is that Spencer was hurt and sick for a few of those games, whereas Isaiah has been relatively healthy for these first 15. He's done a pretty good job. They both had a tremendous impact in that with Spencer you had to devise a defense to play against him, and I think with isaiah you've got to do some tricky things to play against him and try to contain him. I think teams have tried to do those things."
We also asked Thomas how he has improved over the first half of his first college season.
"I think I'm more patient, picking my spots, knowing when to I guess score and knowing when to pass – just making the winning plays," he said. "Coach Romar always puts it in my head: just make the right play, the winning play. I think I'm just getting more mature and better at that."