In an age of one-and-done players, ASU basketball will face a team led by a trio of seniors and a sophomore in the Washington Huskies.
After being pegged as a top-3 team in the conference during the preseason, the Washington Huskies have exceeded expectations as they have raced out to a perfect 10-0 start to Pac-12 play.
Behind the three seniors in Noah Dickerson, David Crisp, and Matisse Thybulle, with sophomore Jaylen Nowell to round out the group, Washington is quickly looking like the only lock in the conference to make the NCAA tournament.
When looking at the team’s success so far, it comes almost as a shock to those who don’t closely follow the conference.
A team that had gone 10-8 in conference play last season to dominating the league is not all that common, but here’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
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As Washington enters their matchup against ASU after defeating Arizona last night, we take a look back to the series last season when the schools squared off, one that would give us a glimpse of what was to come for this Huskies team.
Feb. 1-3, 2018
Heading into the Arizona series at a record of 5-3 during the 2018 conference campaign, Washington faced their toughest two-game stretch of Pac-12 play.
The likes of No. 25 ASU and No. 9 Arizona stood in the way of a team that had struggled to get past the middle of the conference due to inconsistency on both sides of the floor.
In the first matchup, against ASU, the Huskies received contributions from the likes of Dickerson, Crisp, Thybulle, and Nowell, the same four leading the team to their success this season.
Dickerson led the way with 21 points and 16 rebounds with Nowell adding 15 and 9 to bolster the offensive attack while Thybulle held down the defense with a team-high six steals in the 68-64 victory.
Against No. 9 Arizona, it was Washington that used a buzzer beater to knock off the Wildcats behind the hands of Dominic Green. It propelled the Huskies to their most crucial back-to-back victories on the season.
Dickerson arguably had the best collegiate game of his career, dominating again with 25 points and seven rebounds while matching up against future No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton.
The two victories were the high point of what would be an otherwise disappointing end to conference play, as they finished in the middle of the pack at No. 7 (10-8) before losing to Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.
While the two wins against the Arizona schools didn’t make a difference on the result of the season, where Washington lost in the second round of the NIT, it did give us a glimpse of what we’re seeing from the Huskies now.
The 2019 season has almost been a repeat of the high level of play shown by Washington in those two matchups, as the team-based approach by the team’s core four players has led to the perfect conference record.
With the added extra year of experience, the four have been fantastic this season for the Huskies with Nowell and Dickerson leading the way. The former of the pair is averaging 16.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in his sophomore season as the latter is averaging 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds while also being a valuable leader.
When we look at the team’s perfect start of 10-0, we must not feel surprised or shocked about the play of head coach Mike Hopkins’ team. Because we have seen this level of play before, it just took place during in a condensed stretch of two games against ASU and U of A.