For a long time, homegrown guard Jordan Hughes was the undisputed go-to guy on the offensive end for the Werribee Devils.
Nowadays, Hughes is happy to play second fiddle to import guard Jeremy Smith, or whichever teammate steps up on any given night, as long as it means the Devils are winning games in the Big V basketball men’s championship division.
“A lot of the times I was having those big scoring years, we weren’t winning as many games,” Hughes said. “So I’m happy to do whatever role as long as we’re winning – which we’re doing a bit more this season.”
Hughes is ecstatic with the way Werribee is tracking, with the Devils having every chance of being front and centre at the pointy end of the season.
Hughes has to go back to the Devils’ days as a division 1 club for the last time the club’s top men’s side was seriously in the running for finals.
“It’s definitely new territory for us,” he said. “We can give it a shake, I’m a firm believer in that, because we know our best basketball is ahead of us.
“We can definitely make the playoffs. We can match it with anyone, we feel, as long as we bring our A game.”
A natural-born scorer, Hughes is still a lethal weapon for Werribee.
Unlike seasons past though, the 25-year-old can have an off night with his shooting and the Devils can emerge with a win, such is the depth within the team.
“Having the imports in and a few other new guys, it’s much more of a shared workload,” Hughes said.
Averaging 11.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game, Hughes’s numbers don’t jump out as much this season, but the need is not as great with Smith providing the potency with a league-high 26.4 points a game.
Hughes can still rip a game apart, though, as evidenced by his back-to-back 20-plus point games earlier in the season, but he admits he has been a little inconsistent with his shot.
“I’d definitely like to shoot the ball more consistently,” he said. “There’s those games when I get hot and shoot it well, but there’s also games where I struggle a bit.”
Even on those rough shooting nights, Hughes is still a key to the Devils’ success, as a playmaker, rebounder and a defender.
Hughes has become more dedicated to his work at the defensive end and is regularly assigned to the opposition’s star player.
“I usually take the best offensive player on the defensive end, so just trying to really lock them down as much as I can,” he said.
“With the new balance of the team, it’s the role that I’ve been given and I enjoy doing.”
Despite no longer holding the captaincy, Hughes remains one of Werribee’s leaders and has relished the chance to take some of the talented young Devils under his wing this season.
“We’ve got a couple of young guys now and it’s good to have a bit of a mentor role with them,” Hughes said. “They’re good – they take in what you say.”
Hughes reckons Werribee is in good hands with coach Michael Czepil at the helm.
Czepil, a former player and coach at college level in the US, has added a new dimension to the team.
“There’s a lot of watching of film amongst the group, there’s clips that are cut for us that we watch,” Hughes said.
“It gets everyone to buy-in a bit more when you can see how much time he puts into it.
“He’s a smart guy, he knows what he’s talking about and when he talks people take note and play hard for him.”