If there was a bright spot to Saturday’s 74-65 home loss by the Washington Huskies to the last-place Utah Utes — and that requires not just a glass-half-full disposition, but a glass-overflowing one — it was the performance of redshirt freshman guard Andrew Andrews, who scored a team-high 17 points. Down the stretch, it was Andrews, not senior starter Abdul Gaddy, who ran the point for the Huskies. That change ought to become permanent.
Thanks to StatSheet.com’s plus-minus data and Lorenzo Romar‘s tight perimeter rotation, we can see how Washington has played with each combination of its four guards on the court during the first five games of Pac-12 play.
Andrews-Wilcox-Suggs: +17.4 points per 40 minutes
Besides indicating that C.J. Wilcox simply can’t afford to rest for more than brief stretches, the plus-minus data also suggests that Andrews has been the superior option to Gaddy at the point. Yet Gaddy has played more than two-thirds of the minutes where the two players haven’t been on the court together.
If you’re not convinced by five games of noisy plus-minus data, I can’t blame you, but in this case their conclusion is backed up both by the eye test and individual statistics. Gaddy’s shooting slump is so far in his head that he’s not just missing, but missing badly. Gaddy is shooting 22.2 percent on threes and 27.0 percent on twos in Pac-12 play. Opponents have taken notice and are sagging off him, gumming up the rest of the Washington offense and making life more difficult for Wilcox and Scott Suggs on the wings and Aziz N’Diaye in the post.
At the same time Gaddy is dealing with a crisis of confidence, Andrews is seeing his grow each game. He’s made 57.9 percent of his twos and 38.5 percent of his threes against conference opponents, providing the Huskies needed scoring. While Andrews is much more prone to turnovers than Gaddy, his decision-making is showing signs of improving. After committing seven turnovers in his first three conference games, Andrews had just two combined against Colorado and Utah this week.
I understand if Romar is reluctant to publicly embarrass his senior leader by benching him for a freshman. Gaddy has been a great teammate throughout a career that hasn’t gone quite the way either he or Washington fans envisioned, and his defensive effort against bigger Spencer Dinwiddie was a major factor in the win over the Buffaloes. So it makes sense to keep Gaddy in the starting lineup to preserve his remaining self-assurance. What I’ll be watching instead is the ratio of Gaddy’s minutes to Andrews’ playing time. That should be close to even going forward, if not tilting toward the freshman’s direction.
Andrews has demonstrated throughout his redshirt freshman season that he’s a key part of the future of this program. Now it looks like that future might be here already.