Huskies efficient in their play

Although it's still early in the season, the 12-3 Washington Huskies are often considered to be one of the top 25 teams in the country. Given that distinction, it is fair to expect them to be near the top in several statistical categories. However, this year, there is one important category the Huskies are faring exceptionally well in.

Assist-to-turnover ratio is something almost all successful teams have in common historically, and this year has proven to be no different. While coaches look at field goal percentage as an indicator of defensive stinginess, assist-to-turnover ratio can tell a lot about just how efficient an offense is - and when an offense is efficient, that typically means they are running on all cylinders.

With an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.57, Washington is in a tie with Saint Mary's for the sixth best A/TO ratio in the country. This is the highest ranking for the Huskies since the 2004-2005 season, when Washington was again tied for sixth with a ratio of 1.3. That was also the same year that Washington received a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The best ratio in team history since assists and turnovers started to be recorded, was in the 1975-1976 season, when the Dawgs had a ratio of 1.39 per game. That was the same year the Huskies averaged 22.6 assists per game, another school record.

As for individuals, before his season-ending injury, Abdul Gaddy had a 3.1 A/TO ratio per game; good enough for 17th nationally and the best ranking among Washington players.

Venoy Overton, who historically hasn't been known for his ballhandling and assist numbers his first three years at UW, is currently 27th in the country with a 2.8 A/TO ratio per game. His previous season-high was his freshman season when he was at 1.6, good for 222nd nationally.

Isaiah Thomas is the lowest rated of the point guards, currently at a 2.1 ratio per contest and 115th in the nation - but with Gaddy's season-ending knee injury, Thomas is also the Huskies' primary ball-handler.

Although Washington will most definitely be hurt by the loss of Gaddy, Thomas has shown signs of improvement in the first two games without him. In wins at home over Oregon and Oregon State, Thomas had an A/TO ratio of 4.25, which if he was to continue that pace, he would rank third in the nation and first among point guards. Overton also kept his solid ratio going at 2.4 assists per turnover.

Husky forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning said Thomas is much more than a scoring guard.

"It's just one of the perceptions people have of him, but I think he's showing everybody that he can play point (guard), and that his vision is just as good as his scoring," Bryan Amaning said.

As a whole, without Gaddy, the Huskies didn't skip a beat, as they finished the weekend with a 1.77 A/TO ratio, which would be good for second nationally if the season ended today.

The teams currently ranked higher than Washington this year are Wisconsin, 1.8; Pittsburgh, 1.7; Notre Dame, 1.7; Ohio State, 1.66; and Northwestern, 1.6. If you wanted proof that teams with a good A/TO ratio play winning basketball, the combined record of those five teams is 64-10, with three of the teams ranked in the top 15 of the AP Top 25 Poll.

Wofford has the highest ranked A/TO ratio for a team with a losing record - a tie for 43rd. Duke and Kansas, who are tied for 16th with a ratio of 1.39 per game, are the two teams in the AP top-five with the lowest A/TO ratio.

Historically, only three national champions have ranked outside of the top-20 in A/TO ratio since 2000. Those anomalies were Duke in 2009-2010, who ranked 26th, Florida in 2006-2007, who ranked 42nd, and Syracuse in 2002-2003, who ranked 36th. Five of these 10 national champions finished the season in the top five in this statistical category.

The statistics tell the story; if you handle the ball well, get everyone involved, and don't give possessions away cheaply, success is the net result. And the Washington Huskies are doing that as well as anyone in college basketball right now.


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