Q-Pon and The Great Leap Forward

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In 1958, China’s leader, Mao Zedong, hatched a plan called The Great Leap Forward to catapult China from being a simple, agricultural country to an industrialized and powerful one. Mao was trying to get China into the conversation when it came to world powers, but it didn’t work — the country just wasn’t ready for it and it had disastrous results. /

Last season our best four players were clearly Brockman, Dentmon, Thomas and Pondexter, with the order 1-4 being pretty debatable. I rank Quincy third, ahead of I.T., when it comes to overall contribution. So this year, I think Q-Pon’s got to be our best guy (although I.T. will likely lead the team in scoring).

It stands to reason that lot of fans are carrying high expectations for Pondexter this season, hoping he’ll make The Great Leap Forward from solid contributor to superstar. Quincy’s a guy we’ve hoped would give us 15+ points and 6-7 boards a night for three years now, and there’s a lot of hope that his ascension to that level will help fill some of the void left by Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon. The only problem with that is Quincy’s already made this leap.

First, take a look at his stats from the past three seasons:

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q stats 1 copy /

It’s easy to see why we’d look for a lot of improvement in Quincy’s senior season in order for the Huskies to have a chance at repeating the magic and having a truly special team. But, Quincy’s surprising leap was actually a huge reason we were such a special team last year.

Check out his stats now with last year broken up as if it were two seasons:

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q stats 2 copy /

Quincy had a particularly poor first half of the season last year, so his full year stats don’t really tell the story of the Q-Pon we saw during the heat of the Pac-10 Championship battle and the NCAA Tournament.

So, what does this all mean?:

Will “The Real Q-Pon” please stand up? I’m coming into this year assuming (hoping, really) that Quincy’s stats from February and March represent “The Real Q-Pon.” If that’s the case, we should be able to look for an average of at least 15 points and 7 rebounds. And, then, assuming normal improvement between his junior and senior seasons, maybe 17 and 8 isn’t out of reach.

We want the ball in his hands. The 2nd half Quincy was a much more efficient player, raising his scoring about 6 points, but only shooting about 3 more times per game. Any coach in the country takes that ratio. And, looking outside the numbers, Coach ensured ball was in his hands during some of our most key possessions down the stretch last year.

We need more. This also tells me that we’re going to need someone else to take the leap. Quincy’s really a known quantity at this point in his career, and I fully expect him now to lead the team in key statistical categories, provide leadership, and have the ball in his hands when it matters. So, while he and Isaiah will be the team’s stars, there’s a lot of contribution hanging in the balance.

What the numbers can’t say. One question I have is why Quincy made such a leap in the second half of last season? While it’s always admirable to see a player improve during the conference season, what caused him to step it up so drastically? Did Q-Pon’s improvement stem from a lack of pressure on him as the focal point. Did his comfort level improve once it was clear that he was the fourth option as far as scoring the basketball? Was this the first time since becoming a Husky that the expectation of what Quincy Pondexter would do finally matched what he could do?

One thing is certain, though, Quincy Pondexter’s Great Leap Forward last season didn’t turn out nearly as badly as Mao’s did in China. Like I said, I believe it was his play that gave us the unexpected surge we needed down the stretch. Where, though, will this year’s much-needed pleasant surprise come from?

Will MBA step it up and become the low-post force we’ve been begging him to be? Will Elston Turner let it fly to the tune of several big threes every contest? Or will one of our new additions, say, Tyreese Breshers, quickly establish himself as a third scoring option on the team? I’ll share my thoughts on this in the coming days and weeks, but I’d love to hear what you think. Drop a comment if you get a chance.

And, hey, thanks for coming!