Scott Suggs waited about 21/2 seasons for the first start of his college career.
When that start arrived Sunday, the Washington junior coolly concealed any excitement he might have felt.
“It felt pretty good,” he said. “I just needed to get out there and start the game aggressively. It was good to get a win (and to) get a split on the road.”
His teammates greeted his new status in much the same way.
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“Whoever starts, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get the most minutes all the time,” senior Justin Holiday said. “Everybody knows that. He’s played big minutes.”
In this case, however, Suggs not only got his name called during introductions: He also got extra time on the court.
Stepping in for Venoy Overton, Suggs played 24 minutes in Washington’s win at California, up from his season average of 16 minutes. Meanwhile, Overton played 14 minutes, down from his season average of 22 minutes, and his 23-minute average in three starts since Abdul Gaddy went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Point guard Isaiah Thomas said the different lineup has some effect on the way he runs the team.
“Probably a little,” Thomas said. “Once (the defenders) collapse, we’ve got Holiday and Scott out there – two good shooters. They can knock down shots, and they did a good job of that (against Cal).”
Holiday scored a career-high 23 points at Cal, including 5-for-8 shooting on 3-pointers. Suggs had four rebounds and three points, makin one of the three 3-pointers he attempted.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said he made the switch specifically because of the Cal lineup. He wanted to add a bigger guard to take pressure off Thomas.
Romar did not commit to starting the same five on Thursday when Arizona visits Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
“We could,” Romar said. “(Against) Oregon-Oregon State, we went with Venoy because they were (pressing. That was) the first time we were playing without Abdul. We wanted to make sure we had ballhandlers out there against so much pressure. So we went that way. And (against Cal), with what we talked about – trying to get a mismatch offensively somehow – we went this way. So, we’ll see. We haven’t seen Arizona yet, we haven’t prepared a scout for them. So, we’re not sure exactly what we’ll do.”
Suggs maintains that starting or coming off the bench matters less than being on the court at crunch time.
However, he did smile at the thought of being introduced in the starting lineup for the first time in front of the Dawg Pack and the other home fans at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
“Yeah, it would be cool,” he said. “But if it happens, it happens; if it don’t, then not.”
UW NO. 20
After losing to Stanford on Thursday, UW fell three spots in The Associated Press media poll and two spots in the ESPN/USA Today poll of coaches released Monday. The Huskies rank 20th in each.
At the top, Ohio State took over for Duke in both polls.
UW remains the only Pacific-10 Conference team ranked in the AP poll. However, Arizona slipped into the coaches’ poll at No. 25.
The Wildcats and Huskies will clash at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Hec Ed (FSN) with Pac-10 leadership – and perhaps their spots in the rankings – on the line.
Arizona sophomore forward Derrick Williams was named Pac-10 player of the week after leading the Wildcats to an 80-69 win over Arizona State on Saturday. He matched his career-high with 31 points and added 10 rebounds.
His selection followed consecutive weeks when the honor went to Huskies: Matthew Bryan-Amaning on Jan. 3 and Thomas on Jan. 10.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports