What’s better than a good point guard?
How about two good point guards?
The BYU men’s basketball team essential starts two points guards in juniors T.J. Haws and Jahshire Hardnett, and the duo has produced some good results in the Cougars’ 4-1 start.
Haws is averaging 13.4 points and five assists per game, shooting 51 percent from the field and 32 percent from the 3-point line in 31.4 minutes per game. Hardnett, who had 17 points in the opener against Nevada, is averaging 11.2 points and 3.4 assists per game, shooting 42 percent from the field and 21 percent from the 3-point line in 27.4 minutes per game.
“In the last two or three games I think T.J. has really got to a comfortable pace that he can play at,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “The game has slowed down for him a little bit. He’s seeing the floor really well and finishing at the rim. I like the way he’s playing.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge with he and Jahshire, because they both want the ball in their hands. They’re doing a good job of kind of picking their spots. It’s kind of been Jahshire playing really well and T.J. playing off of him one game, then the opposite the next game. Hopefully, we can find a way to get them both really involved on the offensive end of the floor. I think they play really well together defensively so we need to get them to complement each other on the offensive end.”
Haws has led BYU in assists in all five games and has a 2.27 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“Something we’ve stressed on this year’s team is to get other guys shots,” Haws said. “You want to make a play for your teammate. Whoever has the ball if we’re making plays for each other, it doesn’t really matter who has the ball to start with, right? We just penetrate and kick.”
Last year, the Cougars were trying to be more deliberate offensively, but head assistant Heath Schroyer left last spring to become the head coach at McNeese State, and Quincy Lewis took over the offense. The pace is much quicker this season and BYU is focusing on spacing and scoring in transition.
“Really, we’re playing a two-point guard system here,” Lewis said. “Transition offense was something we felt we like was important to incorporate back into what we were doing this year. We’ve had a lot of success so far in our transition buckets. A lot of that has to do with not just one guy bringing the ball up the floor and making a decision. We’ve got a couple of guys.”
BYU has outscored its five opponents in fast break points 85-23. Cougar radio play-by-play man Greg Wrubell posted on social media that it took 20 games for the BYU to reach 85 fast-break points last season.
“I’m much more comfortable (in this offense),” Haws said. “This is what I was recruited to play. We ran a lot my freshman year. I don’t like playing slow. That’s not fun basketball for me. I think the way we’re playing this year allows guys to get in rhythm and allows guys to get open looks. We’re getting good shots, whether it’s in the first five seconds or the last five seconds. We’re getting great looks, and everyone feels good about that.”
One key in getting open shots is the presence of Yoeli Childs inside. The junior forward is averaging 19.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.
“We’ve taken a little bit from last year (offensively) and incorporated it with spacing the floor,” Lewis said. “Little by little, we’re getting better, especially the last game. I thought we were efficient in what we did and it was nice to see some 3-point shots go down. A big part of that is obviously Yoeli. He’s an important piece of the whole thing. We feel like he’s getting enough touches down there, too.”
BYU hosts Rice on Wednesday and Houston on Saturday.
Lewis said freshman Gavin Baxter, who missed last Saturday’s win against Alabama A&M due to concussion protocol, was full-go in practice on Tuesday.
“Today was his first day back,” Lewis said. “You never quite know how some of kids will come back, but he was bouncing around and looked great today.”