UW coach Lorenzo Romar spoke words about Isaiah Thomas today that some thought they would never hear: “I am not lobbying for anything, I am just telling you how I feel: He should be on the all-defensive team,” Romar said. “He has played that good of defense for us.”
Thomas scored 19 points, dished eight assists and grabbed six rebounds in Washington’s 88-75 win over Arizona State. But his biggest mark may have come on the defensive end, where he doused previously sizzling ASU senior Ty Abbott.
In the first half, Abbott had gone off for 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting, including 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point line.
In the second, Abbott managed seven points on 2-of-6 shooting -- and one of those second-half field goals came while Thomas was on the bench.
“Go back to last year, several games he guarded like crazy,” Romar said, singling out the NCAA tournament win over Marquette. “… This year, guys that he defends, he is so good at just taking them out of the game. I don’t think we would have won (Saturday) if he didn’t guard Abbott in the second half.”
Thomas admits things were different back at Curtis High School.
“Oh, I didn’t play defense,” he said. “I played offense: outlet, give me the ball. So, it was like four-on-five.”
The change came from a number of factors, including simple desire.
“I think it has a lot to do with just weight room things, getting stronger and quicker, lateral movement,” Thomas said. “With shooters, I feel like that’s the easiest thing to guard. I’ll run with you all night; I really don’t get that tired. And it’s a matter of just going out there and doing it, having the will to play defense. I learned a lot from Venoy (Overton), just trying to be like him a little bit.”