Three games in, the point guard competition looks more wide open than ever.
Andre Hollins still has the starting role, but he’s only getting a few more minutes than reserves Julian Welch and Maverick Ahanmisi and has not been out-performing his backups either.
While I don’t think Hollins’ starting role is in jeopardy just yet, in Thursday’s game against Fairfield, it appeared Ahanmisi – who coach Tubby Smith has lauded lately for his knowledge of the offensive and defensive systems -- was the one gaining steam.
“I thought it seemed like we’re executing better when Maverick’s in the game and we’re a little more settled,” Smith said.
Here’s a break-down of what each did on Thursday:
- Hollins: He looked more aggressive than he has so far this season and got to the line nine times, making eight of those shots. He also had a season-high 12 points. But he made five turnovers to two assists and looked overmatched at times against Fairfield’s quick guards. “He was definitely a lot more aggressive,” Austin Hollins said. “I think the experience will help [him] further along the road.
- Welch: In 14 minutes, the transfer had one assist to two turnovers and no points. Smith continues to praise Welch’s defense, but acknowledges that he still really doesn’t know the system yet. “Julian is still learning what we’re doing,” Smith said. “He’s probably going to play more.”
- Ahanmisi: Smith left the sophomore in for 16 minutes Thursday – the most time in a game he’s seen yet this season. And Ahamisi responded with five points, one assist and one turnover and two rebounds. But most of all, Smith likes the way the offense responds to Ahanmisi – who knows the plays inside and out.
Smith clearly has faith in Hollins’ skills, and I think there are times when he feels he most trusts Welch, but Ahanmisi’s patience and chemistry with the offense has really stuck out the last two games. Thursday, Smith tried different combinations with two of the three out on the court at a time, and he seems willing to test each at the 2-guard. Until someone really breaks out of the pack, we could see more point-guard-by-committee, where Hollins comes out with the starters, but all three split the time.