N'Diaye earns first start, praise

SEATTLE - After a debut of 13 points and 15 rebounds against McNeese State and a big follow-up of five blocks and 10 rebounds in Maui against Kentucky in the Maui Invitational, sophomore Aziz N'Diaye has made his presence felt in a short amount of time at Washington.

Tuesday night against Long Beach State, N'Diaye had his first start as a Washington Husky, replacing senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Bryan-Amaning, even though he ended up playing starter's minutes against the 49ers, was benched for the first time since he sat for a string of 11 games in the middle of last season. While NDiaye was putting in his gargantuan shift against Kentucky, Bryan-Amaning only totaled two rebounds and seven points in his 22 minutes on the court.

"Coach (Romar) was saying I need to be more of a leader, be smarter with my decision making, and putting more effort when I'm out on the court," Bryan-Amaning said after racking up 14 points, six rebounds and four blocks against Long Beach State. "I just know I have to bring it. If I start what I'm supposed to show then I'll be back in the starting five."

It appears Bryan-Amaning heard the wakeup call, but expect N'Diaye to be reminding him of his senior responsibilities every day by challenging him for starts. "It is always good to receive whatever message it is," Romar said. "Aziz has done a nice job. He worked so hard, he was so dialed in.  We rewarded him with a start.  He tried to do everything we asked him to do."

N'Diaye finished tonight with only one point and one rebound in 13 minutes. That didn't stop his coach from praising the sophomore transfer from Senegal, via the College of Southern Idaho. "I thought he was fantastic," Romar said.

Although his stats weren't as eye popping as they were in Maui, his hard work clearly didn't go unnoticed. In the first half with about 10 seconds to go, N'Diaye dove for a loose ball, which resulted in necessary stitches for his lip at halftime. With the Huskies comfortably ahead by 16 at the time, it's hustle plays like that one that will keep the 7-footer in his coach's good graces.

Don't be surprised in the future to hear even more N'Diaye admiration from Romar and other opposing coaches as the young center continues to put his stamp on every basketball game he plays in.

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