Jaelen House hasn’t slowed down yet.
Since opening night, the spark-plug point guard of the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team has been putting pressure on opposing defenses with a seemingly endless reserve of energy and a never-let-them-relax approach to attacking the opposing team.
It’s a breakneck pace that sometimes seems to leave his teammates guessing what may come next as much as the opposition – a high-risk, high-reward style that he and his coach understand still needs some refining.
“I got to pull back on taking so many shots,” House, with a refreshingly self-aware summation of his play, said this week as the Lobos prepare to host Utah State (9-5, 0-1 Mountain West) on Saturday night in the Pit.
“I’m taking a lot of shots. I’ve got to take better shots, but I also got to find guys where they like the ball so they could be efficient and do something with it. … As you can see, I’m kind of still working on that. It’s a hard thing to do, you know? I’ve been playing like that the whole season, so I just got to find balance.”
The numbers would suggest he’s actually doing it quite well for New Mexico, which is 7-7 overall and 0-1 in league action.
The 6-foot junior,who has started every game he’s played as a Lobo this season since transferring from Arizona State, is averaging 16.7 points and ranks seventh in the league with 4.5 assists per game.
House also is drawing fouls at a high rate. But he’s also shooting just 38.2% from the field and 30.0% from 3-point range.
As the second half of last Saturday’s loss to Nevada showed, the Lobos’ offense has become rather limited of late. House and leading scorer Jamal Mashburn Jr. (18.3 points per game) too often have been taking matters into their own hands when things stall and trying to do too much by themselves rather than getting the entire roster involved in the offense.
It’s something first-year head coach Richard Pitino called a “trust” issue that the team needs to address on offense.
But Pitino is trying to find the right balance, too. He doesn’t want House to lose an ounce of his aggressive style of play, which is his best weapon.
But Pitino also needs him, as the point guard, to be the one leading the charge on getting everyone involved.
“I’d rather tone down a Bronco than warm up a corpse,” Pitino said a month ago, drawing from an old saying he used in the past when talking about a high-energy player at Minnesota.
“Jaelen is that. You don’t need to warm them up and wake them up and get (him) going. But sometimes he needs to slow down and calm down. That we’re working on. It’s a learning process.
“The beauty of Jaelen is he is a willing listener, learner.”
One person who doesn’t feel House is lacking any such balance right now is first-year Utah State coach Ryan Odom.
“House is the prototypical point guard who’s really attacking you aggressively in transition, he’s attacking you on pick and roll,” Odom said. “He delivers the ball to other guys. He makes winning passes for his teammates. He’s an aggressive shooter, and he’s not afraid to take the big shot. He gets to the line a ton. Another key to the game for us is gonna be not fouling him.”