The Washington Huskies Men’s Basketball Team enters the 2019-2020 season with a lot of hype and expectations following last year.
Recently, the Huskies were picked to finish third in the Pac-12 Preseason Media Poll, as there are a lot of new faces in the mix this year.
After making it back to the NCAA Tournament and advancing to the round of 32 last season, the sky is the limit for the Huskies this season.
Over the summer, the Huskies traveled to Italy for a four-game tour where they went undefeated, winning each game by a 44-point average.
We take a look at the guard position, which players will make an impact and which ones departed after last year’s successful season.
QUIN BARNARD (Redshirt Junior, 6 foot 0 inches, 175 pounds)
JAMAL BEY (Sophomore, 6 foot 6 inches, 210 pounds)
NAHZIAH CARTER (Junior, 6 foot 6 inches, 205 pounds)
JASON CRANDALL (Redshirt Junior, 6 foot 0 inches, 155 pounds)
JONAH GERON (Redshirt Freshman, 6 foot 5 inches, 175 pounds)
QUADE GREEN (Sophomore, 6 foot 0 inches, 170 pounds)
ELIJAH HARDY (Sophomore, 6 foot 2 inches, 170 pounds)
NOAH NEUBAUER (Redshirt Freshman, 6 foot 3 inches, 185 pounds)
TRAVIS RICE (Redshirt Junior, 6 foot 2 inches, 185 pounds)
MARCUS TSOHONIS (Freshman, 6 foot 3 inches, 185 pounds)
The guard position for the Huskies lost some big time talent to the NBA and to graduation after last season. Three players that were integral parts and considered the “heart and soul” of the team are no longer on the roster. Point guard David Crisp, shooting guard Jaylen Nowell and defensive guru and specialist Matisse Thybulle, are no longer here to lead this group. Between the three, they were responsible for producing 37.5 ppg, which is big chunk of the offense that will need to be replaced from last season.
One of the big needs for the guard position this season is a leader who can run the offense and take over for the departed Crisp at point guard. Throughout Crisp’s career at Washington, he went from a “shoot-first” two-guard to a “pass-first” point guard. Washington coach Mike Hopkins called him “the rock” of the team. While he had his challenges with not turning the ball over throughout his career, Crisp had a productive senior season and finally settled into his role of running the offense. Replacing Crisp will fall into the hands of either Quade Green or Elijah Hardy. Green is a superb talent who transferred to Washington from Kentucky. During the 2017 recruiting class, Green was listed as the #26 overall player in the nation and a “five-star” recruit. He originally chose Kentucky over other suitors like Duke, Villanova, Syracuse and Temple. Green has all the physical tools to run an offense and he can also score the basketball by attacking the rim, pulling up for jump shots and hitting three-point shots. He can pass the ball and has good vision in delivering the ball where it needs to go. Defensively he can steal the ball when he is locked in to that side of the floor with his quick hands. Hopkins really got a talented prospect in Green when he decided to transfer to the Huskies.
Hardy, is coming back for his sophomore season and last year he played mostly during “mop-up” duty. This season, he will have the opportunity to make an impact at the guard position and run Hopkins offense efficiently. Hardy is a “pass-first” point guard who can setup the offense and get things settled down for Hopkins when his number is called. He has good speed bringing the ball up the floor and also has a very good handle which will prove important in taking care of the basketball this season.
When trying to replace the production of the departed Nowell, who averaged 16.2 ppg last season, it won’t be easy. He was an aggressive scorer who had a nice midrange game and took it upon himself to be the “go-to-guy” and assassin when the game was on the line. Last season, Nahziah Carter was listed as a forward for the Huskies, but this season he is listed a guard and will be tasked with stepping in and being that “go-to-guy” for the Huskies. Carter is the most natural athletically gifted player on the team. He can jump through the roof with his tremendous “hops” and can attack opposing defenses and put a strain on them. The one thing that has really improved with Carter’s game is his outside shooting ability, which has made him a more versatile threat. The “light bulb” has clicked with Carter and big things are in store for him this season. Another “wild card” this season to help with the scoring will be Jamal Bey. The talented “all-court” player flashed some signs of his skill set last season but received minimal playing time due to the logjam in front of him. The coaches have waited for Bey to adjust to the speed of the college game and play with more confidence and no hesitation. With a year of experience under his belt, look for Bey to take his game to the next level and add some scoring for Coach Hopkins.
Finding ways to fill the void of the departed Thybulle is simply impossible. Matisse was one of those “once-in-a-program” kind of guy’s who simply can’t be replaced. His impact on the defensive end of the floor with his ability to “ball-hawk” the passing lanes, while playing off his man, is something that can’t be taught to everyone. Let’s face it. Matisse was just a special type of player. This position group will have to do it by “committee” this season with getting steals and imposing their will on defense around the perimeter. Having quick, defensive minded guards will be important for the success of the aggressive type of 2-3 zone that Hopkins likes to run.
True freshman, Marcus Tsohonis will also add another talented dimension to the Husky backcourt and it will be interesting to see how Hopkins uses him. Tsohonis is a talented shooting guard who can put the ball in the basket by shooting and attacking the glass. He technically is a “combo guard” who can be effective at both the “2-spot” or the 1-spot”. Obviously adjusting to the speed of the game at the college level is a transition that takes time for players to adjust to. Getting game time experience so the coaches can see where Marcus fits the team the best, will be important. It’s a nice issue for the coaches to have with the versatility and skill set that Tsohonis brings to the table.
The Huskies lost a massive chunk of its leadership and production at this position, but some talented and promising newcomers are now present. Hopkins needs a consistent point guard to lead his offense and get his talented forwards the ball in positions where they can score. He doesn’t necessarily need “scoring machines” at this position, with how the team is setup this year. Getting consistent and productive minutes from this position group and most importantly taking care of the basketball will be critical. Look for this group to improve and grow into productive and efficient players as the season goes along!
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