Last week, I wrote about how the Huskies lack something that is going to cause them to stumble and fumble through this season. I said they have all the talent in the world, but they aren’t going to win games because something was missing.
I called it an unattainable ingredient; it turns out that I was wrong, that ingredient was sitting on the bench, he was someone who had spent the first half of the season on the football team.
The impact Austin Seferian-Jenkins has made in just two games played has been immeasurable and unexpected.
Terms were thrown around like All-American practice player, I said he would have a minimal impact and it wouldn’t be until February that he saw meaningful minutes, but as it turns out it was just weeks after joining Lorenzo Romar that he made the Huskies a completely different team.
In retrospect, it should’ve been expected; why would Romar let someone join the team mid-season who wasn’t going to help the team? Why would Steve Sarkisian let his superstar tight end risk injury if it were only to play garbage time minutes?
I have a sneaking suspicion that they both knew Seferian-Jenkins was exactly the kick in the pants the young talented hard-court Huskies needed.
In the many games before Seferian-Jenkins joined the team, the Huskies were soft, uninspired and looked like they didn’t care. The team has no senior leadership and senior leaders don’t walk through the door mid-season, but a bruiser like Seferian-Jenkins did, and he may end up being even better.
The first game Seferian-Jenkins played in, at home against Stanford, was probably the Huskies most complete and dominant victory of the season. They played tough strong defense, controlled the boards and scored a solid amount of points against a pretty good Stanford team.
He tied for the team lead with 7 rebounds, playing just 16 minutes. He also provided Romar with extra fouls; his five fouls were five that didn’t go to Aziz N’Diaye, who the Huskies desperately need to keep in games.
It also points towards his physical prowess, he has the body type that some said should’ve been a left tackle on the offensive line; instead he chose tight end, meaning he is just that much more athletic.
Against Arizona State he played a huge role in the victory despite limited counting stats, he grabbed five rebounds and did score his first four points of his career, but it was his defense that may have won the game for Washington.
Down-low in the post, even being a shorter defender, Seferian-Jenkins would not give an inch; he forced Stanford offensive players to try numerous post moves that came up empty. I can remember five or six times when a Stanford player tried to back him down, tried to finish and didn’t even hit the rim with their attempt.
This addition gives N’Diaye a much needed physical partner downlow, something he hasn’t had before. Even last year with Matthew Bryan-Amaning, he was more of a finesse player than a physical enforcer.
It hasn’t been a perfect start for him, he still has plenty of learning to do, which was evident by him leaving a great three-point shooter wide open late in the game against Arizona State, but nonetheless he’s shown his role on this team is huge.
He’s a difference maker in the mindset of this team, he’s brought over something that the football team clearly seems to have; that teams have to fight for everything, and the last two games the Huskies have fought hard and come up with two wins putting themselves at the top of the Pac12.
It’s only been two games and Arizona State is not a very good team, but the Washington Huskies are a different team today than they were one week ago, the only thing that has changed is that they now have a proven winner and dominant tight end packing the paint.
That ingredient that I called unattainable, wasn’t unattainable, I just didn’t know what Romar knew, that the All-American practice player, was actually more of an All-American sixth man.
Follow Lawrence on Twitter @AMitchellReport