Standing outside the Washington menís basketball teamís locker room at Alaska Airlines Arena, David Crisp tried explaining how he canít be stopped on the court before his coach halted him midsentence with a smothering bear hug.
ďHere he is,Ē UW coach Mike Hopkins said. ďThis right here is the leader of the unit. The leader of the squad. Crispy clean with no caffeine. Thatís what I say. My man, Crispy. And Iíll take it extra crispy.Ē
As Hopkins dashed away, Crisp was asked if spontaneous hugs in hallways from his coach are a daily occurrence.
ďYeah,Ē Crisp said smiling. ďHeís just so full of energy. You know? Life. I could use some of that right about now.Ē
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 didnít 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, ďI coach with my gut,Ē Hopkins said.
As a result, Crisp played more minutes Saturday night than any Pac-12 player this season.
ďCrisp has embodied the word winning for our team this year,Ē Hopkins said. ďHeís a great leader. He sets up our offense. He made some plays in the Oregon State game that were exceptional getting guys shots. Itís hard to not have him in the game.
ďHeís a fighter. He competes at the highest level. Heís been our emotional leader on the court. ... Thatís an iron-man game.Ē
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.
ďI told Coach awhile back that if I have to play however long it takes, Iím giving it my all,Ē Crisp said. ďI donít feel tired. When Iím out there, I donít think about it. In the heat of the game Iím just so focused on how can I keep my guys together and how can we pull off this win.Ē
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 isnít certain on the rotation or substitutions before Thursdayís 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 itís a good bet Crisp, who leads UW players with a 34.4 minutes per game average, will once again see a lot of action.
ďHop told me that he was asking a lot of me and I told him whatever you throw at me, Iím ready for it,Ē Crisp said. ďIf thatís having to play the whole game and play at a high level, then thatís what Iím prepared to do.Ē
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 UWís 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 hadnít played so many minutes, then he might have been able to play better defense on Oregon Stateís Stephen Thompson Jr., who sank a game-winning three-pointer as time expired.
ďI donít know, I feel like he just used a good move,Ē Crisp said. ďI had pressure on him the whole time up the court. And the whole game he had been driving right going to the basket and didnít pull up off his right hand.
ďAnd he drove hard right again, but this time did a pick-up dribble to the left. It was a good move, but I donít think I can blame fatigue on that.Ē
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.
ďEverybody on this team has sacrificed in some way,Ē Crisp said. ďIím cool with it. Really I am. Iím all about winning. Like I said, Iíll do whatever it takes.Ē