Every successful basketball team has a point guard that takes charge and controls the game. The Braves have had early season success and have shown significant improvement during head coach Andrea Gorski’s four year tenure on the Hilltop.
However, this team does not have the dominant point guard it needs.
If Bradley had a true point guard who dished out a high volume of assists, the Braves would be even stronger heading into a year in which Gorski’s recruits have significant experience. The last time Bradley had a player average over three assists was Alona Johnson in Gorski’s first year, 2016-17.
Last season, physical and sharpshooting junior guard Gabi Haack led the team with 69 assists, an average of 2.3 per game. She is again on pace to lead the Braves in assists this season. Should she be distributing or doing what she does best: knocking down 3-pointers and grabbing rebounds?
Bradley has two point guards in sophomore Tatum Koenig and freshman Violeta Verano. Combined, the duo averages 3.8 assists per game. This needs to be much higher.
Koenig has only turned the ball over three times, and that should be commended. Verano has a total of nine in significantly less minutes.
Neither the scoring nor rebounding has been there for either. Koenig averages six points and 2.5 rebounds per game while Verano averages two points and three rebounds per contest.
A point guard requires a team-first attitude and both players have that, but they need to assert themselves more to make a significant difference in close games.
Last season, Koenig led the team in 3-point shooting percentage at 37 percent on 61 shots. She needs to shoot more often down the stretch.
Gorski calls Koenig tough. She certainly is, as Koenig will often dive on the floor for loose balls, and that effort doesn’t get credit in the box score. She had a 1.7 turnover to steal ratio last season.
However, a point guard needs to do more than be tough. Koenig plays 24.5 minutes per game yet has only attempted 20 shots thus far this season, making seven.
In a game against Division III Eureka College, Verano recorded 10 assists. That is a great sign for the future. She is new to the American style of play, but can improve in due time. She doesn’t get much playing time, but maybe she should. Sure, she turns the ball over, but she knows how to distribute the rock.
Bradley can clearly shoot it. Four players are averaging in double figures and senior forward Chelsea Brackmann hasn’t fully asserted her dominance yet, scoring just seven points per game.
Bradley is out rebounding their opponents by 17 this season. With a strong backcourt passer, outlet passes will lead to even more fast break buckets.
Point guards are an integral part of any basketball team and can essentially lead a team to victory. Bradley’s point guards need to be, generally, more assertive in all facets of the game if the team plans to reach a postseason tournament.