Crisp ranks seventh in the Pac-12 in minutes played. Thursday’s game at Alaska Airlines Arena has NCAA tournament ramifications for Washington (17-8, 7-5 Pac-12) and Utah (15-9, 7-6).
Standing outside the Washington men’s basketball team’s locker room at Alaska Airlines Arena, David Crisp tried explaining how he can’t be stopped on the court before his coach halted him midsentence with a smothering bear hug.
“Here he is,” UW coach Mike Hopkins said. “This right here is the leader of the unit. The leader of the squad. Crispy clean with no caffeine. That’s what I say. My man, Crispy. And I’ll take it extra crispy.”
As Hopkins dashed away, Crisp was asked if spontaneous hugs in hallways from his coach are a daily occurrence.
“Yeah,” Crisp said smiling. “He’s just so full of energy. You know? Life. I could use some of that right about now.”
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Crisp just might be in need of a 5-Hour energy drink or a double shot of espresso after playing every minute of a 97-94 (2OT) defeat at Oregon State and logging a career-high 50 minutes.
Hopkins didn’t intend to play his 6-foot junior point guard so many minutes, but he manages substitutions based on an instinctual interpretation of what he sees on the court.
In other words, “I coach with my gut,” Hopkins said.
As a result, Crisp played more minutes Saturday night than any Pac-12 player this season.
“Crisp has embodied the word winning for our team this year,” Hopkins said. “He’s a great leader. He sets up our offense. He made some plays in the Oregon State game that were exceptional getting guys shots. It’s hard to not have him in the game.
“He’s a fighter. He competes at the highest level. He’s been our emotional leader on the court. … That’s an iron-man game.”
And Crisp, who finished with 11 points, a season-high tying seven assists and four rebounds to offset four turnovers, delivered a historic iron-man performance while logging more minutes than any UW player since at least the 1988-89 season.
“I told Coach awhile back that if I have to play however long it takes, I’m giving it my all,” Crisp said. “I don’t feel tired. When I’m out there, I don’t think about it. In the heat of the game I’m just so focused on how can I keep my guys together and how can we pull off this win.”
Crisp, Matisse Thybulle (44), Jaylen Nowell (44) and Noah Dickerson (40) each logged personal highs for minutes because Hopkins employed a seven-man rotation against Oregon State.
It was a drastic departure in strategy from the previous outing when 10 Huskies saw action during a 65-40 defeat at Oregon.
And Hopkins isn’t certain on the rotation or substitutions before Thursday’s game at Alaska Airlines Arena, which has NCAA tournament ramifications for Washington (17-8, 7-5 Pac-12) and Utah (15-9, 7-6). But it’s a good bet Crisp, who leads UW players with a 34.4 minutes per game average, will once again see a lot of action.
“Hop told me that he was asking a lot of me and I told him whatever you throw at me, I’m ready for it,” Crisp said. “If that’s having to play the whole game and play at a high level, then that’s what I’m prepared to do.”
Crisp ranks seventh in the Pac-12 in minutes played largely because backup freshman point guard Michael Carter III missed 11 games in the first half of the season after fracturing his hand. Freshman guard Jaylen Nowell is UW’s only other ballhandler who is capable of running the offense.
Carter strung together an impressive three-game outing last month, including a career-high nine-point, 19-minute performance in a 70-62 defeat at Utah.
However in the past six games, Carter has averaged just 5.7 minutes while Hopkins has leaned heavily on Crisp.
One could argue that if Crisp hadn’t played so many minutes, then he might have been able to play better defense on Oregon State’s Stephen Thompson Jr., who sank a game-winning three-pointer as time expired.
“I don’t know, I feel like he just used a good move,” Crisp said. “I had pressure on him the whole time up the court. And the whole game he had been driving right going to the basket and didn’t pull up off his right hand.
“And he drove hard right again, but this time did a pick-up dribble to the left. It was a good move, but I don’t think I can blame fatigue on that.”
Hopkins applauds Crisp for accepting a role as floor general in which his minutes have increased while his scoring average (11.7), shot attempts (10.5) and shooting percentage (37.5 percent) have dipped.
“Everybody on this team has sacrificed in some way,” Crisp said. “I’m cool with it. Really I am. I’m all about winning. Like I said, I’ll do whatever it takes.”