At this point, it’s safe to declare Jaelyn Richard-Harris the winner of LSU’s starting point guard competition.
After alternating with freshman Khayla Pointer early in the year, including a stretch where Pointer started three straight games in nonconference play, Richard-Harris has cemented her place in the lineup for now.
With the security of a starting role, Richard-Harris can go into Sunday's game at Florida with her full attention on winning games instead of fighting for playing time.
“My confidence has grown,” Richard-Harris said. “I’m more prepared now, knowing that I’m starting and not wondering if I’m up next game or what it’ll be.”
It took a while for coach Nikki Fargas to decide between Richard-Harris and Pointer, but she has been pleased with the decision so far, especially considering the recent eight-game win streak for the Lady Tigers in which Richard-Harris started all but one outing.
Richard-Harris started 11 of the first 15 games, including all four Southeastern Conference games. She’s third on the team with 24.1 minutes per game and has 71 points and 30 assists this season.
“The rhythm of our team was starting to gel a little bit,” Fargas said. “I think (Richard-Harris and Pointer) complement each other. They do a lot of similar things and different things. But I think when we go on an eight-game win streak, you don’t mess with what’s working. Her ability to get us into our offense, those are the things we’re looking for from a point guard.”
Fargas didn’t rule out Pointer overtaking Richard-Harris at some point, but with Richard-Harris’ added experience and consistency on the court, it doesn’t appear anything will change soon.
Fortunately for Richard-Harris, she won’t be alone in running LSU’s offense. The Lady Tigers frequently let senior Raigyne Louis and junior Chloe Jackson take the ball up the court and set plays as the primary scorers for the team.
That gives Richard-Harris a lot of room to grow into the position for later down the road.
“They do it by committee,” Fargas said. “You’ve got Louis on one side of you, and the thing I like about our team is that if we turn them over or they miss a shot, then the rebounder becomes the point guard. Jaelyn has the versatility to play the two and Louis who can bring the ball down and Jackson can bring the ball down.”
Going the distance
LSU is no longer the worst 3-point shooting team in the country.
Thanks to a drastic uptick in tries from distance over the past month, the Lady Tigers have risen to seventh from last with 44 made 3-pointers.
It still isn’t much, but considering the team only made 38 shots from behind the arc all of last season and made perimeter shooting a priority for this season, it's a step in the right direction.
The area LSU has seen the most improvement is 3-point percentage. The Lady Tigers have hit 29.3 percent this season compared to 24.2 percent last year.
That number increases to 40 percent during the past five games, in which LSU has hit 28 deep shots.