The comparisons with Arizona’s Damon Stoudamire never seem to end. They have been around, it seems, since Tyus Edney’s first dribble as a Bruin.
Edney used to despise them. They were an added pressure a young starting point guard at UCLA just didn’t need.
But as he has grown into his position and taken his place among the best to have played it, he has learned to accept the inevitable.
There are simply too many similarities between Tyus Edney and Damon Stoudamire for it to be any other way.
The two rivals, who both stand an inch or two under 6 feet, blew onto the Pacific-10 Conference basketball scene simultaneously.
Both played considerably as true freshmen during the 1991-92 season. Edney, in fact, started all four of UCLA’s NCAA Tournament games that year and tied what was then his career-high scoring effort with 12 points in the Bruins’ 106-79 loss to Indiana in the West Regional final.
Since then, both Edney and Stoudamire have blossomed into the unquestioned leaders of two of the most successful and high-profile programs in the country.
Both have been named to the All-Pac-10 team two times. Both will be named again.
And both are candidates for this year’s Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, given annually to the best college senior under 6-feet tall.
The comparisons now seem like part of the natural order.
“Ever since I’ve been here at UCLA it’s been like that,” said Edney, who will start at the point for the Bruins this afternoon when they tip if off against Washington State at 3 at Friel Court. “Damon is a great player. It’s actually nice just be mentioned along with him.”
Edney’s numbers certain qualify him for such mention, although it is Stoudamire who is generally considered to be the nation’s premier college point guard.
Edney had started 79 consecutive games until he missed the USC game earlier this season with the flu.
He owns both the career (194) and single-game (11) steals records at UCLA and is one of only 35 players in the rich history of the school to score more than 1,000 points.
In addition, he is the only Bruin to register more than 500 assists and 190 steals.
He is currently averaging 15.7 points a game and ranks first in the Pac-10 in steals (2.8), fourth in 3-point shooting percentage (45.7), fifth in assists (6.2) and sixth in free-throw percentage.
Still, he seems buried in the shadow of Stoudamire, who WSU coach Kevin Eastman recent called “not even arguably the best point guard in the nation.”
Eastman qualified his assessment, however, by pointing out that Stoudamire is asked to do more for his team than Edney. That, Eastman explained, is why Edney’s scoring average pales next to Stoudamire’s league-leading 21.8.
In a earlier 91-78 blowout of Eastman’s Cougars in Los Angeles, Edney scored only eight points. But in the 21 minutes he was on the floor, he handed out 11 assists, made five steals and generally terrorized WSU’s inexperienced backcourt, which was without suspended starter Donminic Ellison.
“He creates havoc with your point guard in that he’s always picking you up at the other foul line and making you earn the right to bring the ball up the floor,” Eastman explained. “Some guys steal passes, but he can steal the dribble. And those are the kind of guys you’re kind of leery of as you bring the ball up the floor.”
Still, it is Edney’s unselfishness that impresses Eastman most about his game.
“I really don’t believe he cares if he scores or not,” Eastman said. “He’s happier with assists and steals than he is with is own points. And from what I gather, he’s very much a kid who is concerned only with the outcome of the game rather than anything personal.
“He’s willing to let his teammates have their games and, to me, that’s a special guy.”
Eastman announced that reserve point guard Chris Griffin will be in uniform for UCLA.On Thursday. Griffin underwent tests for strep throat and mononucleosis, which came back negative.
MEMO: This sidebar ran with story: WSU ON RADIO KXLY (920 AM) Spokane, KWSU (1250 AM) Pullman, KORD (870 AM) Tri-Cities, KCLX (1450 AM) Colfax, KCVL (1240 AM) Colville, KWWW (1340 AM) Wenatchee, KVSN (1470 AM) Moses Lake, KNSN (97.1 FM) Walla Walla, 2:40 p.m.
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