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Having the right attitude in response to a challenge is a life lesson Jordan Richardson learned quickly.
After beginning the season in the starting lineup for the Weber State University men’s basketball team, the senior guard hit an early slump.
Over a five-game span leading up to the start of Big Sky Conference play, Richardson hit just 7 of 31 shots from the field, a field goal percentage of just 22.6 percent.
“At the start of the season, I was thinking too much and not really playing my game,” said Richardson of the slump. “In the last few games, I’ve let the game come to me, and it has helped me out a lot.”
With Richardson’s shooting touch missing, the Wildcats’ coaching staff made the decision to try bringing him off the bench for a few games in order to create a spark to help him get going. Freshman Richaud Gittens started in place of Richardson.
“(Richardson) went through a stretch earlier in the year where his shots weren’t falling, and I think that affected his defense,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “We decided to bring him off the bench for a couple of games so he could see the game differently and maybe get going a little.”
Instead of letting it frustrate him, Richardson doubled his efforts and refocused.
“He had a great attitude about it, and when he came in the games he was ready to play,” Rahe said. “When we put him back in the starting lineup, his confidence was up, and he’s been playing really well since. He looks like the defender he used to be.”
In his first four games after returning to the starting lineup against the University of North Dakota on Jan. 11, Richardson averaged 13 points per game and shot 50 percent from the field. His perimeter prowess, when he was 12-for-23 in those four games, added a critical piece of the puzzle for the Wildcats, preventing teams from simply clogging up the paint all game long.
“It starts on the defensive end for me,” Richardson said. “That’s what gets our offense going. I’ve been here four years, so I think the guys look to me and the other seniors for leadership. I know our program and can help out the younger players, and that’s my role right now.”
Richardson had his best overall game of the season against Idaho State University on Martin Luther King Day. He splashed in a season-high 18 points on 5-for-11 shooting with four 3-pointers and three assists in a 65-59 win.
Over their last seven games, the Wildcats have gone 6-1, a streak that, perhaps not coincidentally, started when Richardson returned to the starting five.
“I played well on the defensive end (against Idaho State), and that was my main focus, then my shots started falling on offense,” Richardson said. “Our team goal is to win a Big Sky Championship. No one on our team has done that yet, so that is our main focus right now.”
The Wildcats are 8-2 in Big Sky play (11-7 overall), and lead the Big Sky Conference. They will face a pair of home games this week. The first is against UND, the team that sparked Richardson’s run. The other is the University of Northern Colorado, which the Wildcats lost to 70-51 earlier this season.
“Jordan is a leader by example, but he’s been giving us more vocal leadership this year,” Rahe said. “He’s not an overly vocal kid at all times, but he leads by how hard he plays in practice and the effort he gives. All of our seniors have pitched in, in different ways, to provide great leadership.”