PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -Isaiah Thomas doesn't want more opportunities, at least not enough to publicly complain about it on the eve of his first NCAA tournament.
Washington's freshman point guard and leading scorer sheepishly said Wednesday he has no gripes about how many scoring chances he's gotten this season.
The fourth-seeded Huskies woke up the day before their first-round game against Mississippi State to an article in The Oregonian newspaper detailing Thomas' close relationship with former Washington All-American Brandon Roy, now a star with the Portland Trail Blazers.
One of the last paragraphs reads, ``(Roy) remembers hearing complaints from Thomas that (coach Lorenzo) Romar wasn't playing him enough, or after a loss to Cal this season that Romar wasn't giving him enough touches at the end of the game.''
Asked Wednesday about that, Thomas, 20, put his hand over a sheepish grin as he sat deep in his locker in the Blazers' dressing room at the Rose Garden.
ut,'' said Thomas, who leads Washington with 15.4 points per game but has been in an offensive slump for most of the last month.
``It wasn't anything that was bad. We were winning, so there is nothing to complain about.''
Thomas, who said he talks or exchanges messages with Roy ``every other day,'' has been benched at the end of some games this season while sophomore guard Venoy Overton has emerged as a potent sixth man. Thomas admitted part of his frustration was because he was used to being the go-to guy at Curtis High School in University Place, Wash., where he set eight state tournament scoring records in 2006.
``Yeah, in high school at the end of games I always had the ball,'' Thomas said. ``It was something to get used to, but it's not like I'm not a team player.
``We're winning, so there's nothing to complain about.''
Thomas said he and Romar talked over adjusting to his evolving role as the season went on - nothing formal - just that the coach acknowledged Thomas' frustration.
``He knew sometimes I was frustrated,'' Thomas said. ``He just said, 'Keep you head up. We need you.'''
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BODY TIME: Huskies rugged inside star Jon Brockman has two challenges Thursday: Trying to shoot over Mississippi State's leaping Jarvis Varnado, the nation's leading shot blocker, and getting his bullish body into the leaner 6-foot-9 Bulldog.
a prolific shot blocker was last season - and it was two prolific shot blockers: Stanford's 7-foot Lopez twins.
Brockman, the nation's active leader with 58 double-doubles, said Varnado's challenge is more unusual than one the Lopez twins presented.
``He doesn't let people get into his body. A lot of times with the Lopez twins, because they were more bangers, you could get to their body,'' Brockman said.
``He definitely keeps his space and doesn't let anyone get up inside him.''
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DRIBBLES: This will be the first NCAA tournament game for starting F Quincy Pondexter, who was invaluable during the Huskies' march to the Pac-10 regular-season title. Even though the junior marveled at being on college basketball's grandest stage Wednesday, his goal is to forget about that Thursday. ``My approach is pretend I'm back in Fresno (Calif.), in a high school gym,'' he said. That will be tough to do in the sold-out, 19,980-seat Rose Garden, while on CBS television. ... Pondexter and Varnado played in the same Adidas camp in Dallas last summer. Pondexter said he was impressed. ... Thomas played against Mississippi State freshman point guard Dee Bost last year while Thomas was at South Kent prep school in Connecticut. Thomas still remembers Bost's team won. ... The No. 4 seed is Washington's second highest in its NCAA tournament history. The Huskies were No. 1 in their last tournament appearance, in 2006, when Roy lead them to the regional semifinals.
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