In preparation for this blog post, I tried to find as many holes in Mike Scott's play through the first seven games as I could. The senior Idaho point guard has made that difficult for me.
Here are the holes I've been able to come up with ... In his last two games, both Idaho wins, Scott is only 3 of 11 from 3-point range and 5 of 8 from the foul line. Scott is only a 59-percent free throw shooter on the season.
And, uh, that's about as much as I could come up with.
Now let's talk about production, something Scott is excelling at thus far this season.
Scott's contribution to wins over Washington State (77-71) and UC Davis (79-71) this week was 38 points, 10 assists, five steals, three rebounds and one turnover in the two games combined. It was good enough for him to be named the Big Sky Conference Co-Player of the Week along with Eastern Washington's Venky Jois, who scored a combined 76 points in his last two games.
I'd like to focus on the turnovers, specifically. Scott played 35 minutes in both those games and only turned it over once against Wazzu and not at all against UC Davis. Scott has played 221 minutes this season and has turned it over three times.
His assist to turnover ratio is just over 10 to 1. His steal to turnover ratio is exactly 3 to 1.
"His season assist to turnover ratio is unbelievable," Idaho coach Don Verlin said.
Scott, a 6-foot native of Los Angeles, transferred to Idaho last season from Antelope Valley CC. He came off the bench for then-senior Glen Dean and dished out only 2.2 assists per game. After finishing the season strong, Verlin challenged Scott in their postseason meeting to take ownership of the starting point guard role and all of the responsibilities that came with it.
"That’s a role I wanted him to have. He had a really good second half of his junior year," Verlin said. "He’s just taken the ball and ran with it. The credit goes to Mike, he’s put in the work, the time and the effort, it’s all paying off."
Scott has effectively teetered the line between setting up offense for his teammates and creating his own offense. His 5.1 assists per game and 17.1 points per game on 50-percent shooting attests to that.
"He does it on his own. You put in your guys and Mike is a good player, he has a good feel for the game," Verlin said. "He knows when to pull up and shoot and he knows when to give it to somebody else. I don’t do anything but put trust in him."
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Cross country trip
Idaho will fly out to Malcomb, Ill. to face Western Illinois on Thursday night. On Saturday, the Vandals will be in Brookings, S.D. to face South Dakota State for the second time this season.
The tipoffs are 45 hours apart and separated by over 500 miles, and Verlin scheduled it that way on purpose.
"This is a defining road trip for us in the preseason because these are the kind of road trips we’re going to have in the Big Sky conference," Verlin said. "I’ve challenged my guys all week and will continue to do that until the games. 'Hey, let’s go out and let’s approach these like a Big Sky Conference road trip.'"
More Verlin on the road trip: "That’s exactly why we set it up that way. We have short prep that day, it’s the first time all year we’ll have one day of prep getting ready to play. It’s the first time all year we’ll have played a game, traveled quite a ways in between the two games and it’s an early start."
All of Idaho's Big Sky road trips are Thursday night followed by Saturday night games. Idaho's longest road trip in conference play will be the Sacramento State on Thursday night and Portland State on Saturday night turnaround on Jan. 15 and Jan. 17.
Surely, it will be easier travel than going to Edinburg, Texas and Las Cruces, N.M., or Chicago and Kansas City, as Idaho had to do in Western Athletic Conference play last season.
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Nate Sherwood out this weekend
Idaho freshman forward Nate Sherwood will miss the weekend road trip with a sprained knee. Verlin said he wasn't progressing as quickly as they had hoped, but the optimistic hope is Sherwood will be available for a Dec. 18 home game against Walla Walla.