Isaiah Stewart is doing more than his part for the talented Washington Huskies



TOP OF THE TOWN – Looking for positives in Washington’s stunning 66-64 loss to underdog UCLA Thursday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion is almost looking for a lost needle in a haystack. It’s there, but you have to search real hard for it. Isaiah Stewart continues to show he’s the top freshman in the Pac-12 and one of the best in the country. He poured in 24 points, secured 11 rebounds for a double-double and blocked five shots. Stewart is a gem and is more than his pre-season hyped, and that was real good. He’s a man among boys, and he’s just 18 years old. A teenager in age, yet an elder in basketball skills who is carrying the Huskies (10-4, 0-1in Pac-12) on his sturdy back despite being double-and-triple teamed. He is much more mature than his age, which can’t be said about his pre-season hyped running mate, Jaden McDaniels. A positive for McDaniels is that he’s the Huskies second-leading scorer. But the negatives outweigh that positive. He commits way too many silly fouls and turnovers (an art the Huskies have mastered to imperfection with almost 15 per game; 14Thusday) and is very, very immature. The six-foot-nine McDaniels is19, but his emotional age is 12. He fouled out with 16:10 left Thursday, acquiring his third technical foul this season while sitting on the bench with three fouls. A loose ball came into his hands and he impulsively tossed it at the head of UCLA guard Prince Ali with a referee standing within feet of him. The technical was whistled immediately by the ref. Stupid, stupid, stupid.  But that’s McDaniel, who must still think he’s still in high school at Federal Way and can get away with his teenager antics.  If he would ever grow up he would be a tremendous offensive weapon for the Huskies. His talent is undeniable. But his emotional stability gets in the way. It’s incredible to see how mature Stewart is and how immature McDaniels is. It goes to show once again that character is important in athletes. Some grow up fast and produce as expected and some, like McDaniels, can’t move forward to showcase tremendous talent because of character issues. He finished with a season-low three points and four turnovers in just 14 minutes of playing time. A UCLA tight man defense bothered the Huskies, especially in the first half when the Bruins built a 34-24 lead at the intermission. The Huskies showed life in the second half and the battle was on. Nahziah Carter scored 14 of his 16 points in that second half comeback for the Huskies, but Carter also contributed several turnovers, including one in the last seconds as he lost the ball on a drive that could have produced a tying shot. The Huskies to this point are Stewart and four others. They have yet to jell as a team and rely too much on Stewart and the conference play is underway now and it is  not going to be a cakewalk for any team in what promises to be a hotly contested race. So gear up and hold your breath as the Huskies play their second conference game at Hec Ed Sunday night against visiting USC (12-2, 1-0). … The Seahawks and Eagles collide in Philly Sunday afternoon (1:45 p.m. on NBC TV) and this also is not a cakewalk. Since losing at home 17-9 to the Seahawks, Philadelphia has won four in a row and appears to have it all together for a good playoff run. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have lost two straight and three of their last four games and are juggling an injury-riddled roster that now includes Marshawn Lynch and rookie Travis Homer at running back. It’s going to be extremely tough for the Seahawks to win this game, not that it can’t be done.  To get to the Super Bowl the 11-5 Seahawks have to win three straight games on the road. They are 7-1 in road games this season, so maybe the road winning will continue. The odds, though, are against them.  That’s it for today.

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