There’s no question that Terrence Ross has some sort of second gear he kicks into during the second half of games, he’s carried the Huskies to more than one win by getting red hot and taking over when it mattered most.
What’s frustrating though is that Ross never kicks it into gear until the second half of games and often times waits until it’s almost too late before he decides he’s ready to go.
Case in point, Thursday against UCLA when the Huskies were trailing by 10 points with just under five minutes to play and Ross started hitting shot after shot getting the Huskies back in the lead with a huge 13-0 scoring run. Before that he had been anything, but assertive.
He had a similar performance against Washington State earlier this season when he scored 26 of his 30 points in the second half rallying the Huskies to a 10 point victory.
What’s almost alarming though about Ross is that it’s not just in those games where he’s been much better in the second half; his entire season has been full of games with slow starts and strong finishes.
In conference play, Ross is averaging just
4.5 first half points and his first half high is just eight points. In second halves, Ross is averaging 11.6 points; and has scored at least 10 points six different times.
Theoretically his strong finishes could be looked at as a good thing, he is the anti-LeBron James; he can finish, he just can’t play when it matters least. The only problem is that the Huskies aren’t good enough for him to take halves off; they need him for 40 minutes every night.
Ross is one of the most athletically gifted athletes to come through Washington under Coach Lorenzo Romar; the issue is that mentally he’s not quite as gifted; not that he has a low basketball IQ, but he just doesn’t have his heart in the game all the time.
Following the victory over UCLA he made it sound like he was toying with the Bruins; waiting until the right time to strike. I call this time Ross O’clock; because it happens every game, almost like clockwork.
In the first half of nearly every game Ross is invisible; Romar might as well sit him on the bench. He doesn’t take the initiative to find his own shots and instead every time he gets the ball he passes it off.
The type of scorer Ross is he needs to create for himself, he is incredible at shooting off the dribble; how many crossover step back jumpers have we seen from him? It’s silky smooth. But how many of those have we seen in a first half?
The Huskies have enough talent that they have been able to stay in games without Ross scoring in the first half of games, but against better teams the Huskies will likely fall too far behind for Ross to bring them back.
Such was the case against Duke when Ross scored just two first half points and the Huskies trailed by 14 at halftime. He rallied in the second half to finish with 16 points, but the Huskies lost by 6 points.
Against Marquette the Huskies stayed in the game despite Ross’ slow first half when he scored just 5 points, but they trailed by 3 at half. His 14 second half points weren’t enough as the Huskies lost at the last second by two.
Come tournament time, whether conference or NCAA, Ross can’t sit back and watch the first half of games, he’ll need to be a threat all game long.
In his second season, which could be his last in purple and gold, Ross needs to step up as a leader for the entire game. He is the most talented and polished player on the team, but he seems content to take a backseat for the majority of games.
He should be in the drivers seat, or at the very least riding shotgun.
Since he’s not though, it leaves too much pressure on Wroten, who may be able to carry the load at times, but he’s clearly shown when he’s too assertive things can go horribly wrong.
Ross can’t continue to average 4.5 points in the first half, even if he brings that up to 8 points in the first half his total would be nearly 20 points per game and even more importantly take some pressure from his teammates.
He has all the ability in the world, now the question is whether Ross will take the next step.
Follow Lawrence on Twitter @AMitchellReport