This is the third consecutive season University of Washington basketball fans have waited for everything to click for forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
Coach Lorenzo Romar says he may have heard that click.
“Ever since the UCLA game, he has stepped up and done a really good job for us,” Romar said Tuesday. “He’s averaging 12 (points) and six (rebounds) in the last three games. And in the post for us, you average 12 and six, you make us a lot better basketball team.”
This season, Bryan-Amaning is averaging 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds. But in the Huskies’ home win Feb. 6 against Arizona State, he broke out for 12 points and nine rebounds. He followed that Thursday with 13 points and six rebounds at California.
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After that, Romar returned Bryan-Amaning into the starting lineup – a spot he lost 11 games earlier to freshman Tyreese Breshers – and the junior nicknamed “MBA” provided 11 points and five rebounds as the Huskies got their first road win of the season at Stanford on Saturday.
Bryan-Amaning is expected to get his 15th start of the season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday when Southern California visits Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
But despite scoring in double figures for three consecutive games, Bryan-Amaning said he doesn’t think there has been a dramatic change.
“I don’t feel offensively I’ve done anything differently than I have all season, or even towards last season,” he said. “It’s the same thing I’ve been doing in practice. Shots are just beginning to fall. And when shots start to fall, stats start to increase, and people start to notice.”
Romar also has noticed improvement on the defensive end, and Bryan-Amaning agrees.
“He’s a guy that’s putting out fires for the other guys,” Romar said. “His ability to block shots – he’s top 10 in the league in blocking shots. But he’s making good defensive decisions coming over to help. That’s helped our team. And I think he’s doing a better job of taking care of the basketball himself. It’s made us better.”
At a chiseled 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds, Washington fans have longed for the London native to more regularly live up to the potential he has sometimes shown.
That may be happening, as Bryan-Amaning is well on his way to his best season. He already has set career highs in steals (24) and blocks (33). And he is one rebound away from setting his career high in rebounds (129).
Romar not only noted the improvement, but he even drew a comparison to senior Quincy Pondexter, who seemed to step up his game at about this point last season and now ranks among the top contenders for Pacific-10 Conference player of the year.
Pondexter himself takes the praise of Bryan-Amaning even further.
“He’s has been playing really well – really aggressive, the way he hasn’t been a lot of this season and a lot of his career,” Pondexter said. “I’ve told people all around that Matt has the best professional talent, I think, and ability. If he put some things to work, I think he’ll be able to make it. He has so much potential for his size and ability, I really hope he can carry it into next season as well.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808