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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“‘Cats try to jaw, claw way to first”

Washington point guard Isaiah Thomas is not the former Detroit Pistons great, but he does have some of future NBA Hall of Famer and former Oregon State great Gary Payton in him.

As No. 25 Arizona takes on No. 20 Washington for first place in the Pacific 10 Conference at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion tonight, Sean Miller may have to worry about the Thomas’ mouth as much as he has to worry about his team defending one of the best guards in the nation.

“”He is the talk of Washington, he brings the swag to their team,”” said Arizona forward Solomon Hill. “”He gets out there and talks a lot trash to people. He does certain things that other players don’t do. It’s about not buying into what he’s saying and not let him get in any of our guys’ heads.””

In addition to his speaking roles, Thomas is also pretty keen on acting.

“”He’ll go off a screen and act like somebody socked him in the face,”” Hill said. “”He’ll flop all out and he’ll get the foul, he kind of did that on Derrick (Williams) last year.””

Though Thomas is the ultimate showman, whose mouth competes with horse racing announcers, he backs every single word up with his play on the court.

The 5-foot-9 junior has worked himself into being one of the elite guards in the nation and hasn’t got his due from the national media, according to Miller.

“”I don’t think Isaiah (Thomas) is getting nearly the credit nationally that he deserves for being among the elite point guards in the country,”” Miller said. “”To me a lot of people that have watched him in the past have him as a smaller scoring guard, he doesn’t play that way right now, he leads our conference in assists.””

Thomas leads the Pac-10 with 5.4 assists a game, is third in points with 16.5 and is coming off a 27-point, 13-assist performance against California on Sunday.  

Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar called the junior’s performance against Cal “”his greatest performance as a Husky.”” Miller, a former college point guard, gave the performance even higher praise.

“”His performance the other night at Cal was the one of the best performances that I’ve seen a point guard ever have,”” Miller said. “”He almost accounted for 60 points for his team.””

The last time Washington had a 5-foot-9 inch junior guard in Nate Robinson, the Huskies were a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and made it to the Sweet Sixteen. Thomas has already led UW to a Sweet Sixteen last year as a sophomore and continues to add to his accomplishments.

“”He’s won a championship, he’s a part of the tournament, he’s won in the tournament,”” Miller added in his praise for Thomas. “”He’s an upper-classman, and just looking at how he plays, it’s that ultimate compliment you pay to a player like him, and he makes the game easier for some of his teammates.””

Most in the Tucson community may think Williams is as important to the Wildcats as any player is to his team, but when Hill was asked who was more important to his team: Williams or Thomas, he had a surprising answer.

“”I say Thomas, to them,”” Hill said. “”He is their guy. Derrick does a lot for us point wise but he brings energy to their team that you don’t really don’t see around college basketball. “”

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