I think it’s safe to say that Glynn Watson Jr. has arrived on the national landscape.
Tai Webster is still the team’s best overall player and its rock. He is the team’s leading scorer and has hit double figures in every game, he is the team’s leading distributor and he is also its best perimeter defender.
However, as a sophomore, Watson is starting to push Webster when it comes to the guy who should have the ball when Nebraska needs a bucket.
In high school, Watson was more of a traditional pass-first point guard, and he played like it during the Huskers’ summer trip to Spain prior to last season. But over the last two years, Watson has developed into a bonafide go-to scorer.
Watson’s first 10 games were pretty up and down as he cracked double figures in half of them. Over the last five games, Watson hasn’t scored fewer than 13 points. The 6-foot point guard has actually struggled somewhat inside the arc, as he’s shot 13-39 inside the arc over Nebraska’s four-game winning streak. The difference has been in his 3-point shot. After shooting 33.3 percent in the team’s first 11 games and 26.7 percent as a freshman, Watson has hit 14 of his last 20 triples.
Watson hit his only attempt against Southern, he shot 4-of-7 at Indiana and he made two of his four treys at Maryland. On Thursday, Watson shot an unbelievable 7-of-8 from beyond the arc including a few in big moments as he racked up a career-high 34 points. Watson won’t continue to shoot 60 percent for the rest of the season, but with each passing game it looks more and more like legitimate, sustainable improvement more than just a hot streak.
Coach Tim Miles deserves credit as well with the way he’s put his sophomore floor general in position to be aggressive and encouraged him to shoot. With two strong offensive rebounders in the front court in Ed Morrow and Michael Jacobson, Miles said he’s told Watson that even a miss is a good outcome for Nebraska.
“I call it playground, which is we’ve got like four different sets where we just basically get out of Glynn’s way,” Miles said. “Like, ‘Let him do his deal, guys.’ And then we’ll put two guys on the other side of the basket ready to rebound.”
Tai Webster has had a phenomenal season and his improvement over the last two years has been tremendous, what separates Watson from the senior is Watson’s in-between game. Webster’s game is predicated on getting all the way to the basket, while Watson is much more capable of pulling up for a mid-range jumper and tossing in a floater when opponents are packing the paint. He’s not consistent with it yet, as the shooting percentages reflect, but when Nebraska needs a bucket, Watson has more ways to get it done than anyone else on the team which bodes well for the future as he continues to improve.
College basketball analyst Dan Dakich has taken note of what Watson has done as he tweeted during the Iowa game that Watson has been the MVP of the Big Ten three games in. Watson battled the Big Ten’s leading scorer in Iowa’s Peter Jok to a draw on Thursday night, and went shot for shot with him down the stretch of regulation and the overtimes.
I think the next step for Watson is to re-incorporate the ability to be a distributor he flashed in high school. Watson is only averaging 2.8 assists and has only topped five assists twice in his career.
Watson and Webster combined for 57 of Nebraska’s 93 points against Iowa. Outside of those two, there aren’t really any players on the team that are able to consistently create a good shot for themselves. If Watson can look to create more for others in addition to the scoring he’s doing now, Nebraska’s offense would be a lot more difficult to defend than it is now.
On a related note, Nebraska is currently leading the Big Ten in 3-point percentage at 44.2 percent. We must be living in a bizarro-world, right? Well, I wouldn’t get too excited about that. Nebraska is 23-of-52 (44.2 percent) from deep through three Big Ten games. That’s really good. However, that is almost entirely because of Watson.
Watson is 13-of-18 from deep (72.2 percent!). After a 2-of-10 performance against Iowa, Jeriah Horne is 6-of-18 (33.3 percent). Tai Webster is 4-of-13 (30.8 percent). Evan Taylor is 0-of-2. Michael Jacobson is 0-of-1.
Five players have taken a 3-pointer in Big Ten play, but truly, only three are regularly shooting and like I said above, Watson is not going to be able to continue shooting at this rate. Tim Miles is going to have to make another adjustment before too long or we’re going to see the offense struggle once again as teams figure out what Nebraska is doing.
In regards to Horne, I thought he hunted shots a bit too much against Iowa. He’s capable of hitting some tough ones, but I think he settled for deep or contested 3s too often. Nebraska needs him to hit 3s, but not badly enough that he has to force them. Ten 3-pointers in one game is a lot for anyone, let alone a freshman that wasn’t really part of the rotation until Big Ten play began. He needs to let the game come to him.
Finally, Watson was tremendous, but once again Tai Webster is the one he led the Huskers to victory. Webster’s offensive game, especially after a 2-of-7 first half, was terrific with 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting (5-of-9 in the second half), seven assists, six rebounds, four steals, one block in 48 minutes and 47 seconds out of a possible 50 minutes. Even more impressive, Webster was the one defending Jok down the stretch.
Webster forced Jok into a couple of turnovers and a couple of misses in big moments, and after Webster picked up his fourth foul right away in the first quarter, Iowa began to target him. Fran McCaffery sent the 6-foot-6 Jok down onto the block against the 6-foot-4 Webster. Joe did get him once, but Webster forced at least two misses inside. More importantly, he played the final 9:27 both without picking up another foul and without simply allowing Jok to score; he kept being aggressive and continued to make defensive plays and Jok ended up being the one who fouled out in the second overtime.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.