Recently, the Huskies recorded a 5-3 nonconference record overall — with an 0-2 record against Power Five teams — but the questions about the UW WBB backcourt have yet to be answered.
Huskies Had More Turnovers than Assists
In the Huskies’ three losses this season — to Louisville, North Carolina and VCU (a 2021 NCAA Tourney participant) — assists and turnovers has been an issue.
Against Louisville, North Carolina and VCU, the Huskies recorded 29 assists and 50 turnovers overall — a subpar 0.58 Assist-to-Turnover Ratio.
Against the rest of the competition? As a team, the Huskies had 69 assists and 104 turnovers for an almost equally moribund 0.66 Assist-to-Turnover Ratio.
The Huskies main guard unit consisted of Missy Peterson, Lauren Schwartz, Alexis Griggsby and Trinity Oliver (determined by minutes played at the position).
Overall, the main guard unit recorded 59 assists and 71 turnovers during nonconference play.
Although mostly influenced by guard play, it must also be noted that turnovers are a team-wide problem for the Huskies.
Indeed, every Huskies player averaged more turnovers than assists per game — with the exception of Jess Finney (1 assist and zero turnovers)
As a team, upon completion of their nonconference schedule, the Washington Huskies were averaging 21.1 turnovers per game — which ranked in the bottom 7% of NCAA Division One teams (332nd out of 356 teams).
Likewise, Washington’s Turnover Rate (i.e., the percentage of plays where a turnover was committed) was a whopping 26.5% – which ranked in the bottom 3% of Division One teams.
As for assists, the Washington Huskies averaged 12.9 assists during nonconference play (which ranked 166th of 356 Division One teams) — a decent average when separated from the turnovers.
However, juxtaposing the Dawgs overall nonconference assists versus their turnovers, Washington’s 0.61 Assist-to-Turnover Ratio ranked in the bottom 24% of Division One teams (270th out of 356 teams).
In fact, the Huskies had the worst nonconference Assist-to-Turnover ratio by any PAC-12 team during nonconference play.
There is an almost guaranteed expectation of increased pressure against the elite competition of the PAC-12, as well-coached PAC-12 teams will likely look to attack the perceived weakness in Washington’s backcourt with increased pressure.
For Washington to have any PAC-12 success will require Huskies guards to improve ball security by limiting turnovers, as well as improving their play-making.
Washington’s guards need to improve their three-point shooting
Overall, the Huskies have struggled from three-point range.
Washington’s Three-Point Shooting average is a barely passable 31.7% from beyond the arc — ranked 139th out of 356 NCAA Division One teams.
However, the only Washington Huskies guard making a third or more of her three-point shots is Alexis (Lexi) Griggsby— shooting an excellent 45.8% while averaging a team-leading 3.4 three-point attempts per game.
(Regardless of position, the only other Huskies player making 33% or more of their three-point attempts, with a sample size of four attempts or more, is wing/forward Haley Van Dykeat 33.3%.)
Lexi Griggsby also recorded an impressively aggressive three-point rate of 66.7% (her percentage of offensive possessions where she takes a three-point shot).
However, Washington’s overall Three Point Rate is a decidedly unaggressive25.6% — ranked in the bottom 31% of all Division One teams (246th out of 356).
In only one nonconference game did Washington’s overall Three Point rate rise above 30% (versus Seattle U).
Compared to the nonconference performance of other PAC-12 schools, only USC matched the Washington Huskies’ aversion to three-point shooting — the Trojans also only had one nonconference game with a higher three-point rate than 30%.
Equally concerning, Washington’s nonconference performance of 15 three-point attempts per game significantly trails the PAC-12 average of 18 three-point attempts per game during the first two weeks of conference play.
Also, unfortunately, Lexi Griggsby is currently out with a knee injury that may take another six (6) weeks or longer to heal.
So Lexi’s absence from the lineup due to injury creates the expectation that the Huskies’ three-point performance could get much worse before it gets any better.
Thus far, Washington definitely has gone “all-in” with an offense of two-pointers — the Dawgs generate 60.5% Pts of their total points from two-point range.
Meanwhile, only 24.6% of the Huskies’ points come from made three-pointers — ranking 233rd out of 356 Division One teams.
Regardless of offensive preference or comfort level, Huskies guards must improve their outside shooting to keep their PAC-12 opponents from simply guarding the paint and daring Washington to shoot 3-pointers all game.
Hopefully, the Huskies guards can show more all-around consistency in PAC-12 play.
In the end, it may take only one player to step up as a dedicated point guard, show confidence with the ball, and control the floor to turn the Huskies’ guard play to a positive and strength of the team.