Often times the PG is referred to as the QB on the court. It's the job of any PG to control the game and give his teammates the best opportunity to score. Perhaps it's because he has been starting for 3 seasons, but many fans have come away dissapointed in the the play of Jeremy Pargo this season. While his scoring is down to an even 10 points per game, Pargo is averaging a career high in assists (6.5) and has an excellent assist/turnover ratio (2.26/1). In comparison to some of the other top guards in the country, Pargo trails only Levance Fields (7.1) and Ty Lawson (6.6) in assists per game, and has a higher average then Jonny Flynn (5.7) and Darren Collison (5.5). Keep in mind that Jeremy has done this against the likes of UConn, Tennessee (twice), Washington St., Maryland, Arizona, and Utah. Most of the other guys that I mentioned before have been playing the type of competition that Jeremy will be seeing in WCC play, which should mean an increase in most of his statistical categories. Therefore, the question for me is: What do we need to see from Jeremy the rest of the season for both him and this team to call this season a success?
When Jeremy decided to declare for the NBA draft, he truly used the entire draft process as an opportunity to see where he needed to improve in the eyes of NBA scouts. Pargo was told that he needed to prove he was the type of PG that could lead a team and make his teammates better. At the start of the season, it seemed that Pargo had taken this message to heart, as his play in the Old Spice Classic garnered him accolades and he was named the tournament in MVP. It appeared that this team needed Pargo to be the distributor and the leader that NBA scouts told him to be.
However, Jeremy and the team struggled towards the end of the UConn game, and this spiraled into losses in 3 out of 4 games. It was at this point that I began to question what exactly this team needs from Jeremy to reach the tremendous potential that it possesses. Last season, when this team was struggling, Jeremy would put the team on his back and take over by scoring. There was no player that I trusted more with the ball in the second half then Jeremy, and I knew that if the team was struggling offensively, he would take over and dominate. This is where the problem lies for Jeremy: Is it still in his best interest and the best interest of the team for him to take over the game by scoring? I firmly believe that Gonzaga would have beat both Portland St. and Utah if Jeremy had taken over the game in the final 10 minutes.
I believe that two good things can come from those losses for both Jeremy and the team. The first positive being that the team now realizes that it can't just stand around and wait for Jeremy to score at key points. This can be a huge positive as it will allow other great scorers like Austin, Steven, and Matt to stay involved and aware late in the second half. The more involved key guys like that feel, the better this team will be in crunch time. At the same time, Jeremy learned that there will be certain games where for this team to win, he must be prepared to dominate in the final 5 minutes or so. The best example of this circumstance would be the Utah game. Both Matt and Austin struggled throughout, but at no point did Jeremy attempt to make the game his. This team can be great in March and beyond if Jeremy can maintain the mentality of keeping his teammates involved, while at the same realizing that there are going to be certain games he has to dominate by scoring.
As fans we must understand that Jeremy is playing for his future career. This is not an indictment of Jeremy in any sort of way, and it's terrific how much improvement we have seen from him during his 4 years in Spokane. However, I do get worried that Jeremy is less willing to dominate the game by scoring because he knows that NBA scouts don't want to see that aspect of his game. It must be incredibly difficult for Jeremy to balance doing what his best for him and the team at the same time. I want to clarify that this in no way means that I don't think Jeremy is playing for this team, but I can only imagine how difficult it must be for him to balance doing what is best for his future career and what is best for this team. One of the most pleasing aspects of the Santa Clara game was the spurts where Jeremy really attacked the rim to score. If Jeremy can find that perfect mixture of setting up his teammates and looking for his points, this team will be playing in the Final 4. How about that for a confident prediction!!