The 2017-2018 Washington Basketball season surprised many. Many needs remain, with team assists among the highest priority. But look for new recruit Elijah Hardy to help in that area. He’s on point
The Washington Basketball team took the NCAA and PAC-12 by storm in Coach Mike Hopkins debut season. Coming off a 9-22 season, the team exploded onto a 21-13 final record. The team made tremendous strides in many areas. Perhaps the greatest improvement came in the team defense, which shaved 8.1 points per game off last years numbers. When opponents can’t score, the team has a better chance of winning.
But now the team must turn to the offense. As that area is dissected, examined, and reassembled, one area that stands out is the number of assists for the Washington Basketball team. Or rather the lack thereof. Washington generated 11.7 assists per game. That is just slightly better than Oklahoma’s Trae Young at 8.8 assists per game, and that means it’s an area that needs improvement. The Washington Huskies were 11th in the 12 team PAC-12 conference.
2-3 zone offense
The premise of the 2-3 zone is to reinforce defense. But the 2-3 zone has some offensive advantages to help exploit mismatches as well.
The key to the 2-3 zone offense are screens, good ball movement, and great decisions by the point guard to get the ball to the open shooter. Conversely, a big challenge for a team running a 2-3 defense is the mindset of playing in a small zone on offense to mirror the same role on defense. That passive reactionary mindset can dull a team’s offense. Ball movement is critical.
Huskies need true point guard
The Washington Basketball team evolved into a consortium of shooting guards who facilitated the shots of teammates. David Crisp, Jaylen Nowell, and Matisse Thybulle all contributed on assists per game. Contributors yes. Facilitators? No. And that is one of the areas the team needs to improve. So to improve assists, bring in a point guard to facilitate assists.
Enter Elijah Hardy.
Hardy has great vision, and a feel for the basketball court. And that is what it takes to facilitate.
Point guard improves everyone’s play
The point guard shoots as a last resort. Until that moment a shot goes up, he searches for the open teammate. Like the same strategy of a baseball pitcher, the point guard’s primary purpose is to keep the defense on their heels. Now don’t get me wrong. David Crisp did a fine job for the Huskies this year. But when reviewing the season, the guard dished out 105 assists, while making 355 shot attempts. He played in a point guard role, but had the heart of a shooting guard still.
Hardy has no “shoot first” ideology. His idea is to get the ball to the offensive court, and find the open man. If the defense has manned up on his teammates, then he becomes responsible for driving to the basket. Everything is in real time, so decisions must be intantaneous.
Hardy processes what he sees and can deliver the basketball to the open shooter. With the team adding Jamal Bey, Nate Roberts, and Bryan Penn-Johnson to the roster, the number of open shooters will very likely increase. In 2017-2018, the plan was to see what works. Now with one season behind the team, the coaching staff can focus on making what worked last season work even better this year.