Washington Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar actually said that a reporter summed the biggest challenge of today's marquee game against Arizona perfectly by asking a compound question about player matchups and Derrick Williams.
"Nicely put," said Romar in response to a question about individual matchup issues. "Matchup issues and then Derrick. I think for us we've had a lot of good talent come through this Pac-10 in the last couple of years - lottery picks, guys who were good enough to leave after their freshman, sophomore years. Really good basketball players. But Derrick Williams, to me, is one of the hardest covers since Ike Diogu who was very difficult to cover at Arizona State."
To appreciate Romar's comparison, we should probably clear our minds of Diogu's journeyman NBA career.
There's a reason why the Golden State Warriors were convinced he was worth a lottery pick (aside from being a cursed franchise) - he was so dominant against college competition that he was scoring against double and triple teams. And even when teams did think they contained him, he had an impact on the floor.
"We'd defend Ike Diogu and it didn't seem like he took many shots and he turned the ball over a couple of times, maybe charged. Halftime, you say, ‘Good - Ike is not killing us.' He had 16 points. ‘How did he get 16?' Derrick's a lot like that: teams have taken away - maybe he's taken four shots in a half - but he still has 13 points because he gets to the foul line so frequently."
Coming off a Pac-10 Player of the Week award, Williams is looking as unstoppable as Romar describes - he currently ranks second in points per game (19.7), field goal percentage (65.8 percent), while also being seventh in rebounding (7.3 per game). It's an impressive season and as Romar alluded to, he's almost guaranteed to hit double figures even if you think you are actually containing him.
Romar didn't drop any hints as to how they might cover Williams tonight and we can expect it to be a combination of players. Yet perhaps the easiest way to defend Williams might be to take the approach that the Huskies took last season at Hec Ed: keep him on the bench.
Arizona Wildcats to face off with Washington Huskies in measuring stick game. - Arizona Desert Swarm
According to Arizona F Solomon Hill, Thomas is quite the talented flopper. "He gets out there, he talks a lot of trash to people. He does certain things that other players don't do..." Asked what Thomas does that others don't. "He'll come off a screen, and he'll act like somebody socked him the face when he come off a screen and he'll flop all out. And he'll get the foul. He kind of did that last year with Derrick, and Derrick ended up fouling out quick."
In fact, Derrick Williams fouled out after less than 8 minutes of game time. It will be disastrous if Williams fouls out early tomorrow. Clearly, Williams is better at avoiding that kind of thing this season, but it has already happened once this year, against the Kansas Jayhawks, so it's not unforeseeable.