Season Wrap-Up: Nate Britt

Looking at game logs from Nate Britt's junior season, a handful of numbers stand out.

Eight points at Carroll, nine points at O'Connell, three points at Whitney Young, four points against Dematha, six points against St. Joseph's.

From the outside it's easy to say Britt struggled during those games this season. From the outside, it's easy to be wrong.

Gonzaga coach Stephen Turner says it's a mistake to judge a point guard like Britt by points alone. Scoring isn't his job -- winning is -- and he's quite good at it. Britt led Gonzaga to a 27-7 record this season and in those five games he scored fewer than 10 points, the Eagles were 4-1.

That makes Britt's season a success more than his 15.8 points per game.

"Everyone thinks the best player has to score 20 points a night," Turner says. "What makes Nate great is that he doesn't have to score to affect the game."

For Turner the math is pretty simple. The nights Britt scores in single digits are easily offset by the offense he produces for others. Every assist he gets means two fewer points he doesn't have to score himself.

And that doesn't include all the other opportunities he sets up with his quickness and presence on the floor. He knows when to score and when to set up others. So if the 30-point night isn't there for him or it isn't what his team needs, he can put his scoring on the back burner without worrying what it might look like in the paper the next morning.

Or more simply, he takes what the defense gives him and rarely forces it.

"He was certainly doing it in other ways," Turner said. "He understands the game. He understands how to break a team down and try to make sure guys are getting the ball where they need to get it."

And of course there were plenty of nights when Gonzaga needed Britt to score 20 and he happily obliged -- better than he ever has before, in fact. The junior displayed a more complete offensive package this season, scoring 19 points or more on 10 different occasions.

The improved scoring has coincided with an improved body and skillset, according to his coach. Not only has he gotten physically stronger but his shot has improved as well.

"His long ball -- knocking down the three (is the biggest difference)," Turner said. "He's always been a pretty darn good mid-range shooter as it is. It's just getting that consistency from outside the arc."

The improved range made his mid-range and penetration skills even more effective. Britt took advantage of defenders who played him too closely, drove past them and got to the rim for easy buckets.

Two games in particular, Turner said, truly showed off Britt's expanded arsenal -- a 30-point, five assist performance in a win against Central Catholic and a 35-point double overtime loss against 2013 point guard prospect Stan Robinson and Paul VI.

"He just came in here and put on a show," Turner said of the Central Catholic game. "He scored every which way -- it was getting to the basket, it was mid-range, it was floaters, it was knocking down the deep ball."

Against Paul VI, Britt was returning from a calf injury that sidelined him for eight games but still kept his team in the game with his scoring.

"It was just another one of those performances where it seemed like everything he put up was going to go in," Turner said. "Then on the other end he did such a tremendous job shutting down their best player -- Stan Robinson, who's a junior and a highly decorated guard and one of the top guards in our conference."

Despite games like Central Catholic and Paul VI, the season wasn't a complete success in Britt's eyes. When asked what grade he thought Britt would give himself, Turner said a B minus.

"I think for him, a big part of it connects to winning a championship. That's something we didn't accomplish as a team but I think he's willing to put a lot of weight on his shoulders," Turner said, citing close losses to Paul VI and St. Benedict's to close the season. "An ‘A' would've been taking home the crown. That's something he wants to achieve before he walks out of these doors."

The next step in Britt's development will come physically, according to his coach. Given his current skillset and work ethic, Turner expects the basketball side to take care of itself.

"He's just got to continue to get stronger and continue to hone the skills that he's already developed now," Turner said. "I don't know how much more he has to improve. I think he just has to keep developing and working hard. I think the biggest thing would be to just make sure physically he's ready for the pounding of the ACC."

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