No Pressure, But Can Tsohonis Save the Huskies' Season?

Dan Raley

Quade Green was the Washington point guard for 15 games until his grades got in the way, tripping him up and putting him in street clothes on game nights.

To replace the academically ineligible transfer from Kentucky, the Huskies (12-7 overall, 2-4 Pac-12) conducted what amounted to midseason tryouts. 

They used sophomore Elijah Hardy in the vacated starting guard spot, replaced him with sophomore Jamal Bey and inserted freshman RaeQuan Battle when Bey had to move over and fill the position usually reserved for the injured Jaden McDaniels.

For Thursday's game at Utah (10-7, 1-4), it's highly likely UW coach Mike Hopkins will go with a fourth option in his opening lineup -- freshman guard Marcus Tsohonis.

"I think Marcus has really solved the Quade issue," Hopkins said in the aftermath of a 64-61 overtime loss to Oregon on Saturday, one in which the first-year guard supplied a career-best 14 points and a pair of assists.

What no one is saying is Tsohonis likely will be asked to save a season teetering on edge. 

The Huskies looked totally lost in the Bay Area once Green was ruled out but they've slowly regained something that resembles team chemistry. They've lost three of their past four Pac-12 games. Yet the guy who wears the 1970s-style afro gives them hope.

Coming off the bench each night, Tsohonis pulled 29 and 36 minutes against the Oregon schools, in the process gaining his coach's trust. The Portland product lobbed the ball inside to Isaiah Stewart with more success than anyone and scored on an assortment of unconventional shots.

In a short amount of time, Tsohonis has gone from redshirt to pulling on a uniform but sitting to getting on the floor and taking over the UW playmaker role. 

"We talked about it and it wasn't about how I wasn't ready to play this year," he said. "I felt it was best to redshirt because there were guards ahead of me and it was hard to get minutes."

Tsohonis also had sprained an ankle, curtailing his advancement. He got healthy real quick when Green tripped over his books.

"I'm just ready for the opportunity," he said. "I've just got to be more of a focal point now."

The playmaker possesses a unique game. His shots don't always look conventional when they come off his hands, but those floaters go in. He connected on 10 of 22 attempts from the floor against the Ducks and Beavers.

Tsohonis has yet to start a college game, but that likely changes when the Huskies tip off in Salt Lake City.

"Marcus has such really good instincts," Hopkins said, as if he'd just discovered this about his young guard. "He's a basketball player."

With each game now, that's becoming more and more obvious.