Jan. 4, 2010
SEATTLE -- Ask a basketball player if they would prefer to start a game or come off the bench, 99 out of 100 would probably say they would like to start. Whether it is hearing their name announced during player introductions, getting into the flow of the game from the outset of a game or the idea that you might not be one of the top five players on your team, hoopsters just prefer to be a starter.
Husky junior guard Venoy Overton is no different. His preference is to start but he has taken the company stance of "doing whatever it takes to win." Besides, Lorenzo Romar considers Overton a starter despite not having his name announced at the beginning of the game.
"He's our sixth starter," Romar has stated on several occasions. "I don't know how much he likes it, but I think he takes pride in it. I think when he is in that role, I think he takes the high road on it to tell you the truth. Well, this is not the ideal, but I'm going to make the best of it. He has made the best of it."
Indeed he has made the best of it. Instead of pouting over his circumstance of coming off the bench, Overton is impacting the game from the bench.
Overton, an honorable mention member of the 2009 Pac-10 All-Defensive team, continues to hound the opposition with his smothering defense. He ranks fourth in the Pac-10 with 1.9 steals per game and probably ranks first in frustrating the opposition.
"He plays a subordinate role, but that kid might be the key to that team," said Oregon State coach Craig Robinson about Overton following his 13 point, 4 steal and 4 assist performance in a 76-70 win by UW. "Just from a defensive standpoint he was the reason they turned it around in the first half. He just plays so physical and so tough. He uses his hands and his feet so well."
As good as Overton has been defensively, he has been equally impressive offensively in his bench role. In the six games he has came off the bench he has averaged 11.6 points per game and scored in double figures in all six of those games. In his seven starts he scored over 10 points just once and averaged 5.6 points per game.
In Washington's loss to Oregon, Overton single-handedly almost got the Huskies back into the game. Trailing by 15 point with just under six minutes remaining, Overton scored the Huskies next seven points and pulled them within nine before the Ducks put away from the Dawgs. Despite the outcome, Overton knows that the Huskies can't dwell on the loss.
"We've got to come back together," he said, "not let this game drop our confidence and just be ready."
Words that also perfectly describe the situation of a former starter who has embraced his role from the bench.