You are not looking live at today’s starting lineup introductions. This is from the Baylor game last Saturday, and that was Nathan Adrian’s fourth straight start.
Yesterday, a day after Bob Huggins reinstated Jon Holton from his indefinite suspension, Huggins wouldn’t commit to starting Holton, as is custom, or Adrian, who’s been uncommonly good these past five games.
“I think it’s been great for Nate,” Huggins said. “He’s played the best basketball since he’s been here. His confidence is at an all-time high.”
Strong words there. Sounds like he’s in, right?
Confidence can be empowering, and there is no doubt Adrian’s play suggests he believes he belongs, which is a big deal. He could not have felt that way, or at least quite as strongly, before. His numbers before this stretch and after the stretch are significantly different, but the greatest proof is when and how he’s contributes.
Adrian’s been a cog — a scoring cog, even — in key moments and in big wins. Being in there has helped him and making plays has helped him. He’s not deferring because he thinks someone out there or on the bench is more able or more deserving. He’s doing things.
But confidence can be fleeting, and returning him to a reserve role, even if he’s in at the end, is a risk. I guess saying it’s a risk implies Adrian isn’t capable of this level of play in an altered role … but saying it’s a risk also implies it isn’t necessary.
So this is interesting. Huggins’ loudest threats and most punitive actions through the years has been to bench players and cut into their minutes, yet he doesn’t believe players will or ought to react different to varied roles. He’s enacting player responsibility, for sure, but it is a paradox.
So, what is it Bob?
“I’ve gotten really good at answering this question,” He said. “I think Nate has played extremely well, so whichever way we go, I think it’s going to make us better. It’s not a bad thing to have Nate or Jon coming in with Jaysean or Tarik.”