But today everything changed. Today, Matthew Bryan-Amaning came back to life and resurrected his dying college career. And for that, we must properly recognize his contributions.
Let’s start, however, by paying homage to his teammates.
From top to bottom, the Husky men’s basketball team was dominant in every aspect this week, handling the Stanford Cardinal and Cal Golden Bears with relative ease along the way.
They hustled, worked hard on both ends of the floor, played selflessly, and capitalized on opportunities presented their way.
They boxed out, they grabbed rebounds, they blocked shots, made crisp passes, disrupted their opponent on defense, dove for loose balls, and simply worked their asses off for a combined 80 minutes of basketball. It cannot be overstated enough. The Huskies bounced back remarkably from a trio of horrible performances in the two weeks prior, victimizing their Bay Area guests in the process.
Quincy Pondexter played like a superstar, scoring 52 total points against Stanford and California.
Isaiah Thomas performed like the offensive guru he is, chipping in 35 points to complement Pondexter.
Justin Holiday returned from a two-game suspension to provide a lift on defense.
Abdul Gaddy began to find his comfort zone on offense.
Scott Suggs established himself as a legitimate factor off the bench.
And then there’s Bryan-Amaning.
His numbers won’t overwhelm you — he scored 16 total points and grabbed 13 total boards — but it’s what he did beyond the box score that should truly be acknowledged.
With a penchant for awaiting the big play — a monster dunk, or a highlight reel blocked shot — MBA instead took this week to alter his game plan, and in turn made plays happen. Instead of sitting on his heels waiting for the game to come to him, the man went and did his own work.
He cleared space, boxed out, made hustle plays, beat his man up court, passed the ball, and played with a sense of awareness that has been lacking all season long.
In doing so, he allowed the flashy plays to find their way into his newfound repertoire. Bryan-Amaning threw down rim-rattling dunks in both games, including an ESPN Top Play jam against Stanford.
He wasn’t perfect, though.
At one point in Saturday’s game, Bryan-Amaning allowed Cal forward Markhuri Sanders-Frison to get under his skin, drawing an ill-advised, non-contact foul in the process (which, when you think about it, isn’t really a foul at all) for swinging his elbows maliciously. In the end, though, it was Bryan-Amaning who would win the battle of hyphenated last names.
Sanders-Frison and his Golden Bear teammates walked away wounded by a Washington team that played with a chip on their shoulder, throttling two conference foes in a matter of 72 hours.
As a collective unit, the Dawgs put forth a spirited effort that could very well signal the turning point in their season.
And as an individual, Matthew Bryan-Amaning did something we weren’t quite sure he would ever do again: He became relevant once more. Props to No. 11.