Georgia braces for Washington's Isaiah Thomas
ATHENS, Ga. (AP)
The problem is Robinson and his teammates on Wednesday couldn't name a guard in the SEC who compares with the Huskies' 5-foot-9 star.
Georgia coach Mark Fox said Thomas is ''unique'' and even rises above comparisons with another 5-foot-9 former Washington star, Nate Robinson, who is with the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder.
''No, he's better than Nate,'' Fox said firmly. ''He's a better player than Nate, and Nate is obviously good enough to be a pro, but Isaiah Thomas is terrific.''
The Bulldogs practiced in Athens on Wednesday before leaving for their bus trip to Charlotte, N.C.
Georgia (21-11) is the No. 10 seed in the East Regional. Washington (23-10) is the No. 7 seed. The winner could face No. 2 seed North Carolina on Sunday.
Robinson and Dustin Ware are expected to lead Georgia's defensive efforts against Washington in the game on Friday night.
Thomas averaged 19.7 points and 10 assists in three games as Washington won the Pac-10 tournament last week. His signature moment came when he made an 18-footer at the end of overtime against Arizona to give Washington the championship.
Thomas' game-winner received strong play on ESPN and YouTube, even making its way onto the TV screens and laptops of Georgia players on the other side of the nation.
''I didn't get to catch it (live), but I have seen it on highlights over and over again,'' Robinson said. ''He's a great player who made a great play for his team.''
Added Ware: ''It didn't surprise me at all because he's done that kind of thing throughout his career.''
Thomas, a junior who is averaging 16.8 points for the season, leads a balanced Washington attack that averages 83.5 points.
''Washington is extremely talented, a great offensive team,'' said Fox, who began his career as a graduate assistant and assistant coach at Washington.
''They're very complete offensively and very explosive,'' Fox said. ''They combine that with very good defense, also.''
Fox said that Thomas is not the Bulldogs' only concern. Senior forward Matt Bryan-Amaning averages 15.5 points and 8.1 rebounds.
''No, they have too many guys who can score,'' Fox said. ''This is a very complete offensive team. Isaiah is a great player, but they have a lot of good pieces around him that make for a great team.''
Thomas is the key for the Huskies. He is one of only two players to start every game for Washington, and he played 123 of a possible 125 minutes in the conference tournament.
''He's one of those guys you've got to put all sets of eyes on,'' Ware said. ''He's a really good player who can do a lot of different things. He really, really drives that team and makes them better. He knows how to get it done.''
Travis Leslie may be Georgia's only player who has faced Thomas. He said he was 16 when he played on a Georgia Stars 17-and-under AAU team against a team led by Thomas.
''He's just a great player,'' Leslie said. ''He goes to the basket. He can shoot. He's an overall good player.''
And about that AAU game? Leslie said he couldn't remember the name of Thomas' team, but he remembered the result.
''He's the reason they won,'' Leslie said.