During Bleak Times, Huskies Freshman Playmaker Tries to Dish Out Hope
With his dynamic hair in full bloom, Marcus Tsohonis walked into a room full of media members, traded a few digs with his coach, sat down and assumed the role of Washington basketball team spokesman.
He seemed completely at ease with this chore, which others have relinquished as their play has fallen off or the questions have become to tiresome. He didn't look like someone who had lost eight consecutive games. He was chatty and circumspect.
The irony of the exchange was this: Tsohonis was the one asked to address the Huskies' Thursday night opponent, Stanford, and he knew less about the Cardinal than a majority of his teammates. At least from personal experience.
He didn't play against Stanford the first time, because he was redshirting. Now he's one of the main guys.
If and when the Huskies (12-14 overall, 2-11 Pac-12) turn things around, they'll need Tsohonis to make it happen. There may be no other player whose development means more to this team. Now and for next year.
"We trust each other and we like each other," he said of his teammates. "We've got to keep playing hard throughout the whole game, not just through a few spurts and then hang our heads when things don't go well for us."
The Portland product has played in half of the Huskies' 26 games and started four. He scored 19 points against Arizona State, 13 against Washington State. He averages 6.5 points and 2.1 assists per game.
He's been asked to fill the void left by sophomore Quade Green, the Kentucky transfer who's on academic suspension. He wonders how much of the continued losing falls on him. He accepts some of the blame but doesn't dwell on it.
Tsohonis is more concerned about providing leadership, getting the ball in the right places and ending the futility.
"It was tough losing Quade," he said. "Quade's great. You see what he was putting up when he was on the court. We've just got to play together and get the ball moving."
Entering the game against the Cardinal (16-9, 5-7), Tsohonis and the Huskies need a win badly. Another setback, and they equal the second-longest losing streak in school history.
Three previous UW teams (1941, 1954 and 1994) have lost nine games in a row. The all-time mark for Husky ineptitude is 13 consecutive defeats three years ago, something only reserve big man Sam Timmons experienced among the current players.
As the setbacks have piled up, Tsohonis has been trotted out in front of the media more than most of his teammates. He's good at answering the same questions about losing and presenting an upbeat face.
"For the situation that he was put in, I couldn't have wished for anybody better or more proud of a guy that's gone through adversity," UW coach Mike Hopkins said.
Tsohonis' next move will be to get his team back in the win column. It can't be too much longer, can it?
"We don't want to say it's happening again, but it's reality that it is happening," Tsohonis said of each loss. "We've just got to keep playing."