While Isaiah Thomas and Jeremy Green have gotten the majority of the attention after the Washington Huskies' win over Stanford yesterday - and justifiably so - UW coach Lorenzo Romar also credited the bench after the win as quoted by Scott M. Johnson of the Kitsap Sun.
Thomas sees double, shoots straight for Huskies " Kitsap Sun
"It was really good to see the guys pick it up," UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Our bench was, maybe, the MVP of this game. Guys came off the bench and held the fort down in the first half."
Among the guys he singled out was guard Venoy Overton who came off the bench to put up somewhat modest numbers, but a pretty strong impact on the game.
"If you remember, just like we got better in the Oregon game in spite of a loss, I mentioned Venoy seemed to get his edge back," said Romar. "That's what it is with him - it's just that pit bull mentality that he has when he's playing at his best."
Key player: Venoy Overton
While Overton's defense has always been his strength, Overton has also been crucial as a distributor this season, especially with Abdul Gaddy out with the season due to injury.
Last night, Overton had four assists and no turnovers for a very efficient game as a distributor given his minutes. Over the past two games against the Bay Area schools, Overton tallied a total of 11 assists and two turnovers which is obviously a strong performance by any standard.
In addition, with a strong free throw rate against Stanford, Overton was rather efficient as a scorer getting five of his 12 points at the line. And of course, his free throws down the stretch in the first half were an important part of the Huskies surge as written by Tim Booth of the AP.
Thomas' 22 leads Washington past Stanford 87-76 " Kitsap Sun
Thomas' 3-pointer with 2:38 left was his first points of the half and he followed with another just 28 seconds later. Overton then scored on a driving layup while being fouled, the start of a five-point possession for the Huskies. Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins was issued a technical foul and Thomas hit both free throws. Overton then converted his free throw and suddenly, the Huskies' lead was up to 15.
However, another role player that might go overlooked is Aziz N'Diaye.
Key player: Aziz N'Diaye's anchors the post with scoring and rebounds
N'Diaye had arguably among his most significant games of the season with nine points, six rebounds, and three blocks. In addition, he grabbed tam-high 17.03 percent of the available offensive rebounds, which resulted in him finishing tied for a game-high three offensive boards with two Stanford players.
However most important might have been that the Huskies were able to establish N'Diaye as a scoring threat, as described by Gregg Bell of GoHuskies.com.
Thomas' Instant Scoring Plus Key Role Play Sends Huskies Past Stanford 87-76 - University of Washington Official Athletics Site
But the most encouraging aspect for the Huskies, who extended its school-record streak of home wins by 10 or more points to 14 games? Previously minimal role players Venoy Overton and C.J. Wilcox were huge contributors. And the Dawgs finally began finding 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye inside as a second scoring option with Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who had 13 points and six rebounds.
N'Diaye added nine points - his most since Dec. 22 against Nevada -- while making all four of his field goals, and would have had far bigger night had he made more than one of five free throws.
Bell described it as role players rising and with the bench accounting for nearly 40 percent of the Huskies' overall production - which is very impressive considering strong performances from N'Diaye and Thomas - that might be a better way to describe the game that Romar's assessment that the bench was the MVP.