"Glue Guys" have long been a key element at Washington. Bobby Jones defined the position during the early years of the Lorenzo Romar era. It's a role defined by versatility and hustle and a commitment to team basketball. It requires selflessness on all facets of the game and as much or more commitment on the defensive end and on the glass as it does for attacking the basket and launching three pointers. Justin Holiday made a career out of it at Washington and Desmond Simmons has adopted the nickname "Junkyard Dog" which perfectly describes his relentless style play.
And now they have Mike Anderson, whose offensive abilities are just now starting to match his prowess in other aspects of the game.
Anderson has taken on just about everything challenge the game could throw at him during his first season in Montlake. A roster riddled with front court injuries forced the UW coaching staff to adapt quickly to the roster challenges. That meant starting the 6-4 Anderson out of position at power forward, in his first season playing D1 ball. Many programs would never consider utilizing a smallish wing at power forward, but it's a further testament to the long armed warriors' adaptability. He is averaging over 27 minutes a game, primarily at the four spot, but as the front court slowly heals, Anderson is finally back on the perimeter where he belongs.
Barring another front court injury, that's where he'll stay.
Against Stanford, Anderson was everywhere, and on this night at least, the box score is starting to reflect the magnitude of his efforts.
"I feel like sometimes I want to tell everyone in the stands not to look at the stat sheet when looking at Mike Anderson," said freshman Nigel Williams-Goss. "He does so many things that don't show up in the stat sheet and he just brings toughness to our team and a complete attitude about winning at all costs. He puts the team first."
Washington isn't winning pretty this season, which seems to suit the 6-4 swingman from Moberly Area Community College just fine. When queried about Anderson before the season, Coach Romar described him in just one word; "Baller." But despite the vagueness of the term, it's a fitting description of his game, no matter what position he's playing on the floor. And while his defensive skills and rebounding abilities have been present all season, it's his offensive abilities that are starting to come into focus, especially in light of the teams' struggles generating offense.
"He's a really good offensive player," shared senior captain C.J. Wilcox. "I think playing at the four kind of took him out of his element and we're telling him to be more aggressive because he can really score the ball. He's one of the better offensive players on our team, especially in the open floor."
Williams-Goss agreed, adding: "We're always on him because he's so unselfish and sometimes we tell him he's such a good driver, shooter and playmaker that he needs to be more selfish sometimes, but that's a good problem to have."
At Moberly, Anderson averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds a game, while connecting on 42% of his three point attempts. Against Stanford, he showed off his range hitting two clutch three pointers which Coach Romar described as "the turning point in the game."
His efficient 13 points came by way of 4-5 shooting from the field and were his most since his 19 points in the double overtime thriller against Long Beach State, but the way he attacked the basket Wednesday night, indications are the best is yet to come.
"We've been talking to him all year about being more aggressive," explained Coach Romar after the win, "but you can't discount the fact that he didn't play inside all night. He played his natural position. I keep saying Michael is probably the most selfless player on our team, in a day and age where everyone has to play the perfect position for themselves, he didn't care. He just did it, but I think (playing the four spot) wore him down, because he isn't going to back down. Tonight he didn't have to battle down there as much, but he still battled. He played a great game."
Anderson has heard the message. The soft spoken junior doesn't say much, but added
"The coaches were telling me to be more aggressive and I think it helped the team tonight."
Yes Mike you certainly did. And regardless of what role he plays, Husky fans can only hope that there's a lot more where that came from.
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