Scott Suggs turning it on late

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

After struggling early in the season, fifth-year senior Scott Suggs has exploded the last two games to lead Washington to victory. What is behind his newfound success?

Scott Suggs was shooting under 40% on the season. His field goal percentage had dropped by a dime over the span of two months. His senior season wasn’t going as planned. He had planned to be out of Washington state by now, graduating in 2012 after four years of college ball.

Suggs’ fifth-year senior season wasn’t going as he envisioned it when he signed on to come back another season. He wasn’t going to shoot a career-low 38.6%. He wasn’t going to turn the ball over nearly twice per game. Suggs was going to be part of the best-shooting wing duo in the country. He and junior teammate C.J. Wilcox were going to be lights out from beyond the arc, shooting the Huskies into the NCAA Tournament.

Well-laid plans often go to waste. Suggs certainly didn’t hope for things to be as they were before Washington’s game in Tempe, AZ. He was coming off of three consecutive games where he scored only four points, hitting a shot from deep in exactly zero of them; three-point shooting is the specialty from the smooth 6-6 guard out of Washington, MO.

Lorenzo Romar, the head coach who has known Suggs since he was a middle schooler, sat down with the struggling guard for a little talk. (The quotes are from the post-game interviews with Suggs and Romar).

Suggs has the ability to score, he knows it, but he was struggling, and his long-time friend and coach stepped in, talking to him "about the type of mentality he has to have going out onto the basketball floor." Or as Suggs put it, "We talked about some stuff and, you know, just playing with more intensity." Suggs has responded. He has scored 39 points in his last two games, while shooting an astounding 64.3% from deep.

While Romar did talk to him about how "sometimes we can go out on the floor and think if my shot is going everything is good, if not everything is not that good." That sort of mentality is a freshman’s mentality. A senior leader in his fifth year on the team should not have that sort of mentality.

After the talk, Romar said "I just think his approach was really good. He’s had two pretty good performances." Romar specifically noted Suggs’ rebounding. He had zero in 30 minutes against Arizona, but four against the Sun Devils including "a big-time traffic rebound down the stretch," and two in yesterday’s game against WashingtonState.

Romar admitted that Suggs had probably been playing too laid back in previous games, "at times." In his talk with his sweet-shooting guard, Romar said, "I was fortunate enough to play professionally, but if I didn’t play with passion, I wasn’t very good. Michael Jordan, if he played laid back he would have just been an All-Star, he wouldn’t have been the greatest." Passion is something Romar values highly, and typically attempts to instill into his players with his signature in-your-face defense.

Suggs played these last two games more confident, with a little bit of swagger. "Playing with more intensity was the biggest thing," said Suggs. He plays with grace, his movements smooth and appearing effortless. He has made an effort to be "trying that much harder, trying to make a play, aggressively."

In a better place mentally, Suggs will now look to lead his team to finish the season with two more victories at home against USC and UCLA this week. To finish out the season strong, Romar said, "None of us have to have our best game of the year, none of us have to go out and have our career-high performance. We just have to play to the level we are capable of playing." Our very own Gekko Mojo and thecassino tweeted about how so long as neither Suggs nor Wilcox is having a bad night, the offense looks good.

Hopefully Suggs’ new mentality can carry over to the rest of the team, and they will finish out the season strong, maybe even in the NCAA Tournament, if everything breaks right. In this season of college basketball, anything can happen. If a laid-back personality can develop a ferocious intensity, if number one can fall 4,385,148,635 times, if Utah can win games, Washington can make the NCAA Tournament. A more intense Scott Suggs will look to lead them there.

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