Coming into its first season under head coach Donnie Tyndall, Tennessee had big questions about the starting point guard position. The team lost of all their lead guards from last season and Tyndall wasn’t able to land a natural floor leader in the spring.
There were thoughts that junior college guard Kevin Punter could come in and attain the role, but he’s more natural off the ball and is wired to be a scorer. So the team has gone to an unlikely source as its starting point guard early on: senior 6-foot-6 guard Josh Richardson.
Richardson played as a shooting guard for the Volunteers the last three seasons, but according to a report from Steve Megargee of the Associated Press, Richardson is playing as the team’s current starting point guard.
“I’m comfortable,” Richardson said to Megargee. “I feel like I can get the ball up the court any time I want to.”
Tennessee opened its season on Monday against Pikeville in an exhibition contest and Richardson scored 15 points, dished five assists and had three turnovers in the team’s 80-62 win.
The senior actually became the team’s point guard by chance. Richardson injured his right wrist a few weeks ago and practiced without a real ability to shoot. So he became a facilitator, and in-turn, the team’s point guard.
“So I said, ‘Coach, I’ve just got to play point guard today and pass,’ ” Richardson said to Megargee. “Since then, I’ve been playing it predominantly.”
I’ve got to say, I’m anxious to see this experiment for myself. I always liked Richardson as a third or fourth option as a scorer, but as a point guard? That’s intriguing. Richardson stepped up his play in the NCAA Tournament last season, averaging 19.3 points per game during the Volunteers’ Sweet 16 run.
As the only player on Tennessee returning who averaged more than five points per game last season, Tyndall needs Richardson to step it up this season. Returning sophomore Robert Hubbs III can play along with Punter off the ball and Tennessee’s offense can go from there.