I remember in the exhibition game against Western Washington University, the first game of the season, I was surprised to see that Desmond Simmons was not listed as the starting four. That spot was given to Jernard Jarreau. It wasn’t that Simmons was a super star in 2011-2012, not by any means. But his endless energy and defensive tenacity seemed enough, in my eyes, to secure the starting spot going forward, even if his offensive game is limited to offensive rebounds and putbacks. After a few games, that was exactly what happened, and now, through the first three games of the conference season, Desmond Simmons has gone beyond simply starting and has become the catalyst for the scrappy, intimidating defense that Washington has used to secure three straight road wins.
Tonight’s close win over Stanford was no exception, and the statline was perfect. Just seven points on rocky 3-7 shooting, but also thirteen rebounds, five of them offensive. And of course, his superb defense, so noticeable even through to Stanford’s final failed possessions, doesn’t show up in that box score at all.
Perhaps as important as Desmond Simmons in this game was the offensive prowess of C.J. Wilcox, the deadly shooter that managed 27 points on 10-16 shooting, including 4-6 from deep. Add nine rebounds and two blocks, and you have the sort of game that makes road wins possible.
Stanford only shot 39% from the field, including a dreadful 3-17 from three-point land, and only kept it close through 11-14 free throw shooting. Washington, on the other hand, shot a respectable 47% and added 13-19 free throw shooting. Just as key, they also dominated the boards 35-25, and they can head back to Seattle knowing that they are 3-0 in the Pac-12 and have certainly shifted the storyline of this young season.