Washington basketball has had trouble on the offensive glass this season, but why doesn’t Nate Roberts see more time on the floor?
Before the season started, there were lots of stories coming out about how high Washington basketball’s coaching staff was on redshirt freshman Nate Roberts. The three-star redshirt freshman out of Washington D.C. measures in at 6’10, with a seven-foot plus wingspan. Roberts has clearly come a long way during his two years at UW, and after hearing so much about him in the preseason, you can’t help but wonder, why is he averaging 7.3 minutes per game?
Roberts has played more than ten minutes in a game four times this season, and in two of them, he grabbed his career-high in rebounds, with seven against USC, and then topping it with eight in the next game against Stanford. Not to mention that Roberts also scored his career-high in points (7) in the game against USC, and looked dominant during his time on the floor.
The Huskies were only able to grab three rebounds over the first eight minutes of the Apple Cup in Pullman on Sunday, and when Roberts was finally able to see the floor, he almost matched that number on his own, grabbing two first-half rebounds. Now, while that isn’t a huge momentum swing, the Huskies, who were sitting at 2-8 in conference play after dropping 9 of their last 11 coming into the game, could use any kind of boost they can get. And the question remains, when the Huskies are struggling in certain areas, why does the rotation barely seem to change?
Roberts has proven that he can produce when given time on the floor, and Isaiah Stewart can’t do everything himself, he needs some help down low, especially on the offensive glass. The Huskies spread the floor and usually leave Stewart on his own in the paint to grab offensive boards, often against multiple defenders, and even Stewart, who can seemingly do no wrong, can’t win those every time. Throwing someone like Roberts, or Bryan Penn-Johnson down low, who might not be a perimeter threat, but are going to consistently fight for rebounds, might be what this offense needs to get back on track. Second chances go a long way, especially with Stewart as the focal point of the offense, he’s going to give you two points or give you a chance at the foul line.
It’s baffling to not see Roberts on the floor more, especially since Sam Timmins is in his final year of eligibility, and Stewart will most likely be on his way to the NBA, the Huskies need to find a way to develop guys down low. They can have a very skilled trio down low with Roberts, Penn-Johnson, and J’Raan Brooks next season, but getting the former two involved now is crucial for their survival this season, and for developing the future of Husky basketball.