Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eye Candy From 08/12/27

Perpetual Tryouts?
Reviewing the South Florida box scores over the past two seasons reminded me of baseball spring training. This season alone Coach Heath has employed 9 different starting lineups for the Bulls' first twelve games. His rotation ranged from 8 (3 games, Virginia, UCF & UAB, relatively close losses all) to 12 (5 consecutive games, from Niagara to Oral Roberts), though double digit minutes are typically given to only 7 - 9 of those players. Heath has tackled the additional challenge of integrating 2 transfers into the USF rotation in the runnup to the Big East season. The shuffling rotation has to confuse the players; it sure has confused me.

The Accidental Co-ROY
Which brings me to Dominique Jones, the quite unexpected Big East Co-ROY from the 2007-08 season. Largely off the grid for the Media Day both he and Pitt's DeJuan Blair made their noise during Pitt's and USF's OOC slate. If Blair had the benefit of a national media debut versus Duke in December, Jones was quietly racking up ROY of the Week kudos from the Big East front office. Running against previous trends that largely discounted outstanding performances from freshmen of lower division teams, Jones' string of 20+ and 30+ point games could not be ignored. Benefitting from the spring tryout atmosphere last season, Jones appears to be the victim this season. Heath moved him out of the starting lineup at one point to make room for Georgia transfer Mike Mercer, an experiment that lasted two games; indeed after pulling down consecutive starts and logging 25+ minutes in several games that followed, Mercer has disappeared altogether in the Bulls' last two games (injury? Coach's decision?). Jones meanwhile has slowly re-emerged, and his performance against Iona last night suggests he may be back for the season. The box scores said a lot, but the table below ought highlight how remarkable his shooting performance really was:


Jones played 95% of the minutes at his position, which means his possession/shot percentages are very close to the team-wide stats. Jones took fully 1/3 of the Bulls' FGAs, and (no wonder they continued to feed him...) hit at a far better rate than his teammates. His PPWS of 1.98 suggests he was close to scoring the equivalent of a 2FGM every time he released an FGA. He was 7-9 from beyond the arc, and 5-6 from the line, numbers well above his season-long averages.

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