Brooklyn, N.Y. • There has been a lot of uncertainty in Jahshire Hardnett’s first season at BYU. But the point guard’s decisiveness saved the day when the Cougars needed it most.
Hardnett scored a season-high 10 points in Saturday’s 68-66 win over UMass and provided an inch-perfect assist to forward Yoeli Childs for the game-winning dunk with the game on the line.
“It was just confidence for me,” Hardnett said about his performance. “My confidence is starting to build and get back to where it was. That’s my main thing right now.”
BYU coach Dave Rose knew before the season began that he needed to get Hardnett on the floor. There were, however, questions about how.
“We just didn’t know exactly how he was going to fit,” Rose said.
But Rose decided to insert Hardnett into the team’s starting lineup last week against Niagara after embattled junior guard Nick Emery’s withdrawal from school and later an injury to guard Elijah Bryant.
“I really liked the way the first few minutes of the game went,” Rose said. “I liked it defensively. I liked the matchup. I just liked the way it felt. So I think that’s given him a lot of confidence, the fact that we’ve started him three games in a row now.”
Rose believes solidifying Hardnett’s role has helped his performances.
“He’s never really been in a situation like this, trying to figure out whether he’s the starter or the reserve,” Rose said.
Hardnett was tasked with guarding the Minutemen’s leading scorer Saturday.
Luwane Pipkins was averaging better than 21 points a game entering the game, but Hardnett and the Cougars held Pipkins to nine points on 1-of-12 shooting.
“He’s not necessarily the biggest guy, but he’s strong and he’s physical,” Rose said.
On the other end of the floor, Hardnett converted four of his seven field-goal attempts and had two assists, including finding Childs under the hoop for the final bucket.
“That was a really unselfish play for him,” Childs said. “He could have put it up, but he found the open guy. It would have been the game-winner for him. So I think that’s the sign of a great point guard. I love playing with a guy like him because he doesn’t have an agenda.”