Utah Hoops - Washburn responds well to benching

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There has been no sour grapes to Jason Washburn.

He's been one of Utah's most vocal players on the bench. He's usually the first to greet Dallin Bachynski - the man who took his starting job - during timeouts.

Oh. And he's playing pretty well too.

Washburn scored six points in seven minutes on Wednesday, a win over Idaho State.

On Friday, against Central Michigan, he was better. In 18 minutes, he scored seven points, and blocked a pair of shots. Most importantly, he was a presence in the paint. He played hard. He got his hands on loose balls and he made a difference.

Larry Krystkowiak sounded like a man who wants to make his switch with Bachynski in the starting lineup permanent. But he's been impressed with Washburn and how he's handled adversity.

Very impressed.

"Wash is doing great, as far as I'm concerned," Krystkowiak said. "He could be down there at the end of the bench sulking, but he is constantly bringing positive energy to the table. When we've called on him to contribute, he has provided scoring, like what we saw tonight, and tough defense."

Krystkowiak likes Bachynski's energy with the starting lineup, plus his rebounding and toughness. He likes Washburn's ability to score against second-unit big men. He said as much during postgame interviews, repeating his mantra of liking certain players with certain units.

Washburn still has his issues. He's turned the ball over at an alarming rate this season. But he has shown improvement when his back was against the wall.

And that's impressed his coaching staff.

Tony Jones