Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Roster Moves -- Late Summer 2010

Now That Classes are Back
Outbound transfers and NBA (and other pro) Draftees are already noted, situations involving a recalcitrant recruit or two have been resolved. Between news reports of injuries and denied eligibility waivers, I have been looking through the early versions of team rosters and realized that a few of last season's players are missing in action apparently. Gone with no explanation, not even a note from the proliferating team blogs which every team in the conference can boast of now. I keep my fingers crossed there will be no new injuries. We are coming into that part of the preseason though, school is coming back into session, squads continue to play unsupervised pickup games. The changes are more gains than losses right now, though one or two are a little surprising.

Cincinnati -- 6-6 junior forward Rashad Bishop was re-instated quietly to the roster in preparation for the full practice to prepare for their Labor Day Weekend Tour of Canada.

Connecticut -- News that Ater Majok may not enroll this fall at UConn has spawned several waves of speculation (beyond the "official" reason) about the cause. Is the problem a possible connection to recruiting violations or perhaps, as suggested by a West Coast recruiting target, a lack of available scholarships due to penalties imposed after Connecticut's response (due Friday 9/3) is processed. At the very least, the rumors have triggered a row between several SB Nation Blogs. [Update] -- Majok has indeed withdrawn, making that announcement on September 1. The UConn apparently anticipated the move, having a 19 year old 6-6 German wing, Niels Giffey lined up and ready to go. Giffey will be the sixth freshman player to join the Huskies this season.

DePaul -- The Blue Demon roster does not list power forward Cleveland Melvin, a signee last May. No word on whether this was another change of heart or a slow Clearing House issue. Also missing is Ryan Siggins, a 6-1 walk-on guard who scored 39 points in 140 minutes of play last season. Siggins, who appeared in 10 games, had his best outing in a 31 minute run at Villanova. Siggins was one of four walk-ons added to the squad last October. Two others, Jimmy Drew and Joe Belcaster, are listed on the current roster, while the third walk-on, Nate Rogers, transferred after last season.

Louisville -- Coach Rick Pitino announced Memphis transfer Roburt Sallie and incoming freshman Justin Coleman will not be eligible to play for Louisville in 2011. Coleman, a 6-5 shooting guard out of Huntington West Virginia, regarded by some as Louisville's best prospect this season (ranked #50 by Scout, Inc.), did not get his transcripts through the Clearing House, and will attend classes at Marshall (located in Huntington, WV). Sallie, a fifth year guard who graduated from Memphis last spring, planned to pursue a Masters degree at Louisville. His waiver request (to play immediately) was rejected. No word on Sallie's plans.

Providence -- Coach Davis has been very busy in the late, late recruiting scene, as the Friars signed Lee Goldsbrough, a 6-9, 200 pound forward out of Newcastle, England, in late July, and 6-1 off guard Bryce Cotton from Arizona in the last days of August. Cotton, whose transcript was initially deemed "ineligible" by the Clearing House, was re-evaluated and cleared in the last days of the month.

Rutgers -- The Scarlet Knights added Robert Lumpkins, a 6-7, 215 pound fifth year players out of Washington DC via (for two seasons) New Mexico State. The S. Knights may be without JUCO guard Tyree Graham who will undergo surgery on his left knee in two weeks for a condition discovered during his physical examination last week in New Brunswick. Latest rumors suggest this is an ACL injury (Ugh, really sorry to hear this).

Villanova -- Announced that entering freshman wing James Bell will be sidelined with stress fractures in the tibia of both legs. The announcement did not specify a rehabilitation period or anticipate a return date.

West Virginia -- 7-0 center David Nyarsuk will not enroll at West Virginia this season. Nyarsuk did not get the qualifying score on his ACT, and will enroll and play instead for NAIA affiliated Mountain State University.

Assessing the Impact
While there is no mention of Bishop, either by the coach or in the media, he was nevertheless re-instated in time for the tour. His fall semester class enrollment was the clue I guess. The avowed aim of the Bearcats' Labor Day Weekend tour is to develop/assess the offense, and clearly Bishop has more than a deep rotation role to play in 2011.

DePaul needs players. If Melvin does not enroll and play, Coach Purnell has one less player to work with in 2011. And one less year to develop the kind of player he would like to see on the DePaul roster.

While Majok was not the impact player promised by the staff (and anticipated by the media and fans), his loss, should it come to pass, would mean a shallower, even less experienced Connecticut will take the court for the 2011 campaign. Majok's involvement with shady recruiting practices and the possible loss of scholarships are the 900 pound gorilla in this room however. Sanctions and penalties beyond the Connecticut-proposed curtailment of recruiting may prove to be more damaging than Majok's absence from the roster. News that Maurice Harkless, a 6-8 #3 who verballed to UConn and then decommitted last June (2010) will now commit to St. John's may be taken as a hint of things to come.

Returning only 50% of their minutes and (even worse) 43.5% of their scoring, both Coleman and Sallie were important, but perhaps for different reasons. Coleman is a scorer, someone the staff would have expected to provide points as Fall Practice starts up. Sallie would have added depth and experience to the back court, but would probably have been more a rotation player than a starter.

Coach Davis found two players who should fit his style of play. Cotton is most likely not a one-for-one replacement for the lost Joseph Young, but with a loaded back court and lack of size up front Goldsbrough may see moe court time initially.

Lumpkins started about 28 games over two seasons for New Mexico State. He will bring experience and depth to Rutgers. He should see playing time, but most likely not a starter. Graham is another story. Reputed to be a hard worker and prolific scorer, Graham might have been a team-friendly alternative to Mike Rosario. The announcement gave no (time) estimate about rehabilitation and return to play, feeding speculation that Rutgers fans may not see him until November of 2011. Best wishes on a speedy and complete recovery for Graham.

Villanova is loaded on the wing this season, Bell most likely would have logged about 100-200 minutes over a 30+ game season. The loss here is experience and practice time for Bell. Let's hope he has a complete recovery.

Nyarsuk will most likely see far more minutes as an impact player at Mountain State than he would have seen at West Virginia. He will team with former UConn wing Doug Wiggins this season, as Wiggins makes his third and final stop in collegiate ball at the NAIA school.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

2011 Transfers/JUCOs -- Nine to Watch

Another Effect of the 2009 Recession?
During the economic uncertainties in the spring of 2009 it seems a number of ADs held off on coaching decisions only to take decisive action during the 2010 season, as the economy began to improve. The large influx of transfers from the summer of 2008 slowed to a trickle in the summer of 2009; five of the nine listed this post are JUCOs who will be eligible immediately, and two others, both transfers from other Division 1 programs, are expected to qualify immediately under existing rules. Which leaves only two who did sit for (at least) a season.

Who, What, Where...
Ron Anderson46-8225Kansas StateSouth Florida
Jae Crowder36-6225Howard CollegeMarquette
Tyree Graham26-0190Brunswick CC (NC)Rutgers
Shedrick Haynes1/26-0185Lackawanna CollegeSouth Florida
Scott Martin2/36-8200PurdueNotre Dame
Eniel Polynice26-5220MississippiSeton Hall
Jawanza Poland26-4195Cowley CCCSouth Florida
Hugh Robertson2/36-5195Tallahassee CCSouth Florida
Roburt Sallie1/26-5186MemphisLouisville

A quick check on transfers (but not JUCOs) this summer shows that nearly 450 Division 1 basketball players will change schools. Of that cohort, most -- but not all -- who will find another D1 program will sit for a season before gaining eligibility. From the group listed here, Eniel Polynice and Roburt Sallie should gain eligibility immediately. For the players who left a Division 1 program, assembling the statistics of their play at their previous stop was fairly easy, (many...) thanks to Ken Pomeroy. For six of the players, I have provided a mix of possession-based stats and shooting efficiency stats based either on their last season with a Division 1 team, or, where sufficient data was available, their JUCO stats...

On Offense...
Eniel Polynice 57.993.424.521.50.94
Scott Martin51.197.923.823.20.98
Hugh Robertson79.4103.221.419.11.51
Tyree Graham14.181.520.619.00.85
Ron Anderson46.4107.116.811.21.05
Roburt Sallie 76.9117.316.617.31.20

For Polynice, Martin, Graham, Anderson and Sallie, the stats are from their last D1 stop, Mississippi, Purdue, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Memphis respectively. Graham played for Texas Tech in his freshman season. He then left to play a year at Study (NC) Brunswick Community College. I have some shooting efficiency stats available from Brunswick, which may shed a bit more light on Graham's value to the Rutgers. Statistical data from Tallahassee CC was complete enough to compute some rough possession-based numbers for Hugh Robertson. So I included him in this group, even though the Community College population is even less uniform that Division 1. If Robertson's Tallahassee numbers cannot be a particularly good predictor for his success at Rutgers, it does give us an idea of how well he functioned within the Tallahassee system.

Four Factors...
Eniel Polynice 57.943.44.324.228.7
Scott Martin51.
Hugh Robertson79.457.14.716.939.9
Tyree Graham14.135.83.625.628.3
Ron Anderson46.452.213.617.7103.5
Robert Sallie 76.957.34.114.742.3

Roburt Sallie and Eniel Polynice, with three seasons of Division 1 stats on the books are probably the two easiest to assess for potential impact. Sallie goes to a Louisville team that needs what he offers, maturity, efficient scoring and (possibly...hopefully) leadership. The possibly that he will transform from a mid-level "Role Player" into a "Go-to Guy" type offensive machine (>28% of the possessions and/or shots) are slim. That he will grow into a "Significant Contributor" (about 20-24% of the possessions and shots) while maintaining his shot efficiency is possible. Assuming he is coachable and plays defense, Louisville will find him minutes. Polynice on the other hand is somewhat problematic. A high-volume scorer, he is a more athletic, less efficient version of the Hall's senior off guard, Jeremy Hazell. Folks who wondered how Hazell, Pope and Keon Lawrence were going to share the ball in 2010, have to wonder how it will work with those three back in South Orange, and joined by Polynice. With a single season of eligibility remaining for Lawrence, Hazell and Polynice, it will be interesting to see how those pieces fit together. If Coach Willard can get and keep them on the same page, the Hall may take a giant step up into the second quartile of the conference. Ron Anderson will join a well-stocked front court rotation that includes (in no particular order) Gus Gilchrist, Jarrid Famous, As for the shot efficiency stats for the JUCOs, this is far from complete, but lacking minutes played, it is the best information we can get about how the player shot the ball

Jae Crowder52.01.1339.87.7
Tyree Graham56.91.2131.9-10.6
Shedrick Haynes53.21.1427.9-24.3
Jawanza Poland53.81.1950.333.1

While he does not appear to be the most efficient scorer among the "pure" JUCOs, Jae Crowder is probably the most anticipated. Marquette needs bodies for front court play, and at 6-6 225, Crowder will definitely see time beside Marquette wing Jimmy Butler. Coach Williams has a habit of finding Texas-based diamonds in the rough, and Crowder may well be his next find. Tyree Graham, an undersized #2 from Texas Tech by way of Supply Brunswick CC in North Carolina, will be one of those Coach Rice looks at closely as a replacement for departed (via transfer) Mike Rosario. Graham has two seasons of eligibility left, and will no doubt be used at both back court spots during the 2011 season. His freshman numbers are consistent with many freshman D1 players, and his minutes are low in part because he left the team during the season to return home and address family issues. Coach Stan Heath's back court was a ghost town on April 5. Dominique Jones and Chris Howard were set to graduate, while Jordan Dumars and Justin Leemow were transfers themselves -- out of Tampa. Working the JUCO circuit, the coach managed to land Shedrick Haynes, Hugh Robertson and Jawanza Poland, to go with several "true" freshmen. Robertson had the fourth highest offensive rating on his Tallahassee CC team, serving as a "Significant Contributor" on a squad that had a single "Go-to Guy" type player and three (Robertson included) "Significant Contributors". Shedrick Haynes played his last year at Lackawanna College in Pennsylvania, showing a decided "outside" tendency in his play (note the -24.3 rating above). Haynes took 52.3% of this field goal attempts from beyond the arc, converting those attempts at a 42.2% rate. Hit at anywhere near that rate for the Bulls, and he will take a lot of pressure off of USF's low post scorers. Jawanza Poland is a good example of the well-traveled player. He enrolled at Crowley County Community College and played there his freshman year, stopping in late January (for not particularly obvious reasons). The Crowley coach moved over to Hutchinson CC for the 2010 season and a number of his players followed him, Poland included. Crowley however, did not release Poland from his commitment, so the wing sat last season awaiting eligibility. And then he transferred to South Florida to join Coach Heath's squad. The numbers above, are two years old, and the last organized ball Poland played. He appears to be a slasher, a wing who goes to the basket (note his inside/outside stat is in the low 30s, and his FTA/FGA is >50, more characteristic of a front court, rather than a wing, player) and scores efficiently.

Hits and Misses...Last Season's Transfer/JUCOs
Wesley Johnson was the definition of an impact player. While the Syracuse team was the model for team play, the Iowa State transfer was the early season face of the resurgent Syracuse program. The Orange blew through the conference regular season, taking the title and #1 seed in the Big East Tournament, bringing Coach Jim Boeheim his fourth Conference Coach of the Year award and Johnson the Big East Player of the Year award. Despite an injury to senior bfc Arinze Onuaku that clearly diminished the team's inside presence, the NCAA seeded the Orange #1 in the West Region, where they fell to Butler in the Sweet Sixteen. Johnson, a consensus All-American waived his last season of eligibility and was drafted by the Timberwolves as the fourth selection in the NBA draft. Notre Dame looked to Ben Hansbrough for his outside shot, and the 6-3 off guard obliged with an efficient (if not dominant) contribution. Hansbrough, who completed his academic work and graduated last May, had a single season of eligibility left. Going into structured practices after the start of the Fall Semester, Darius Johnson-Odom was listed behind true freshman Junior Cadougan at the #1 and fellow JUCO Dwight Buycks and senior David Cubillan at the #2. Cadougan suffered a severe ankle injury and senior Maurice Ackers rejoined the team to man the point, but despite an injury of his own in September, Johnson-Odom rehabbed quickly and went on to be one of the most dangerous three point shooters in the conference last season. Both Dwight Buycks and Johnson-Odom will return to the Golden Eagles this season. James Beatty logged 63.7% of the playing time for Rutgers last season. An assist leader and very efficient scorer, his role in the offense (as measured by possession and shot rates) was limited. Perhaps with the change in coaching, that will change this season. Seton Hall's transfer duo Keon Lawrence and Herb Pope ran afoul of the "law". For Lawrence, the transgression was civil, and occured at the end of the exhibition season. Lawrence was suspended from team activities for about seven weeks, and re-instated at the beginning of the Big East season. Pope sucker punched a Texas Tech player early in the Hall's NIT game in March. He was ejected from the game and Seton Hall went on to lose that game 87-69. Bobby Gonzalez, SHU's coach, was fired the next day. Pope and Lawrence will return to South Orange this season to play for the Pirate's new head coach Kevin Willard. Forward Taylor King started very strong for Villanova, pulling down important rebounds and providing the Wildcats with a consistent perimeter threat. As the season progressed King's minutes declined. He was one of three players suspended at various points during the latter part of the season, not playing in the Wildcats' last regular season game, and used very sparingly in Villanova's last three games. King left the program in June, moved back to California and committed to play for Southern California in July. He now appears headed to NAIA Division 1 Concordia College in California. Scott Martin appears for the second consecutive season. Martin tore up his ACL before the 2009 season, had surgery to repair his knee and has engaged in a year's worth of rehabilitation.

Post Script
Coach Rick Pitino announced that Roburt Sallie would not be eligible to play for Louisville in 2011. Sallie sought a waiver to the one year sit rule because he had finished his undergraduate studies at Memphis and was enrolled in a Louisville graduate program not offered at Memphis. Though rumored for several days, Coach Pitino provided confirmation in a radio interview early Friday (8/27) morning.

2011 To Watch Lists
Rising Seniors to Watch
Rising Juniors to Watch
Rising Sophomores to Watch

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

February 12, 2011 -- Hold the Date

The Wildcats & Panthers
ESPN published their College GameDay for the 2011 season earlier today, and it appears that the Pittsburgh at Villanova game, scheduled for a 9:00 pm tip-off on the second Saturday of the month, made the list. The Pavilion will be packed to the rafters as Villanova has provided a more detailed schedule of events that includes three hours of on-campus pregame programming. College GameDay will have two hours of televised coverage between 10:00 am and noon, approximately nine hours before tip-off. ESPN will again turn on the cameras for an hour before tip-off.

This will be Villanova's second GameDay appearance; the first as a host. The Syracuse-Villanova game last February was featured on GameDay (about the only good thing about that day...). For the Panthers, old hands at GameDay, this will be their fourth appearance. Who knows, maybe Rush the Court can get a live blog from the arena?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Coaching Carousal Part 2010-05: Musical Chairs, Chicago Style

Illinois-Chicago Finds a Coach
The University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) is the third Division 1 Chicago university to hire a head coach this off season. The Flames introduced their choice, Wisconsin Assistant Howard Moore, earlier today (August 23). Moore, an assistant on Bo Ryan's staff at Wisconsin for the past five years grew up on Chicago's west side and attended Chicago public schools before continuing his education at Wisconsin. UIC, by hiring Moore, filled the last Division 1 head coaching vacancy this off season. The book however, may have another line or two to write before the page is turned; the Coaching Carousal often pauses once or twice during the off season, and in fact there was an 11 day pause running (roughly) from July 12, when Chicago State filled their head coaching job, to July 23, when UIC's long-time Head Coach Jimmy Collins announced his retirement (effective August 30). It took UIC about 28 days to find their Head Coach, a far cry from Chicago State's 84 day coaching search. Not the longest of the current cycle (discounting the Jared Grasso's interim appointment), that distinction belongs to Fordham of the A-10, but long enough for a few bloggers around Chicago to identify who would fill the job as one of the mysteries of the Chicago off season. Tracy Dildy's appointment seemed to raise almost as many questions as it settled, as Dildy, the Associate Head Coach at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a well-traveled 20 coaching veteran and UIC alum, was the presumed successor to Illinois-Chicago's well-liked Jimmy Collins. Dildy suggested that lack of a succession reaffirmation from the UIC administration was a factor in his taking the Chicago State job.

By the Numbers...
The 2010 cycle has to date produced 53 vacancies. By vacancy I mean that when the position becomes available -- for whatever reason -- it is vacant. Should an interim coach be appointed (universally true for in-season vacancies, as ADs seem unwilling, for the obvious reasons, to conduct a full-on job search, but occasionally true when the position is vacated in the off season), whether the interim coach is appointed head coach, or passed over in favor of another candidate, the vacancy counts as one. The job search period "begins" when the vacancy is announced and "ends" when a permanent appointment is announced. Clearly this adds several days (timing) to a number of searches, but it provides consistent parameters for the search. The average job search (including the in-season vacancies) was 23.6 days with a standard deviation of nearly a month (28.1 days). That is a large variation, derived largely (but not exclusively) from the in-season vacancies. Exclude the searches for in-season vacancies and the average search time drops to 15.9 days -- just over two weeks. The standard deviation drops dramatically down to a below-the-average 14.9 days, suggesting there was, for most searches, less variation in the length of the search than originally thought. Many of those lengthier searches then, can be attributed to reluctance to fix on a replacement during the season. The Chicago State coaching search, can now be seen as an outlier. Those punctuated questions raised by local media then, were not the product of an overanxious media. The explanation for the overlong search, given the timing between Dildy's acceptance of the Chicago State job and Jimmy Collins' retirement announcement from UIC, becomes clear.

And Then There Is...
Dan Hanner over at Yet Another Basketball Blog posted (yet another?...sorry Dan I could not force my fingers to stop) coaching-related study he conducted this summer. Using data from Ken Pomeroy's web site, Dan compiled and ranked all head coaches (seven years minimum Division 1) for luck and consistency. The coaches (134 of them) are presented in "luckiest to unluckiest" order. Of the eight current Big East coaches (though for Oliver Purnell, who has not actually coached a game with DePaul yet, should not be included) whose careers span the last seven seasons, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim is the "luckiest", while South Florida's Stan Heath is the "unluckiest". Villanova's Jay Wright, whose luck stat, -0.039, suggests he is modestly unlucky, is ranked #64 and second among the Big East (and first among the Big 5) coaches. Coach Wright's consistency stat is 19.5 (the lower, the "more consistent"), ranking him #41 overall among the 134 coaches. Pomeroy provides the numbers, though he does not use them in his rating system. In a very welcomed (to this blogger) development, Dan has been posting pretty consistently this summer. His entire series about Division 1 coaching is worth a long look.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rising Sophomores -- Nine to Watch

The Big East All-Rookie Team Isn't Here
While the five players (Lance Stephenson, Alex Oriakhi, Vincent Council, Dane Miller, Brandon Triche and Maalik Wayns) named to the All-Rookie Team were impact players, only Rookie of the Year, Lance Stephenson, decided to jump into the NBA draft last June. While Pomeroy's classification system is a great guide, taking into account the pool has a single season of Division 1 experience, I broadened the parameters a bit to scout the the "Limited Role" up and into the "Major Contributor" player, someone who took about 13%-25% of their team's possessions last season. Considering freshmen are more often in the rotation rather than the starting line-up, I also decided to look for players who may have logged as little as 12% of the available playing time on the theory that if they played behind an All-Team starter/senior, they will most likely see a much larger percentage of the playing time this season. The low-end possession guys ("Role" players) most likely will not grow into a "Major Contributor" or "Go-to Guy" player next season, but, if their role (possessions and shots) does grow next season, the chances of playing themselves into a "Major" or "Go-to Guy" role by their Junior season is pretty good. Pomeroy discusses growth "probabilities" in "Putting Individual Efficiency into Perspective" over at The Basketball Prospectus back in 2007. One thing about these players is clear -- they tend to push at the upper limit of their growth curve each season.

On Offense...
Mookie JonesCuse12.8118.222.427.91.26
Dante TaylorPitt34.1115.
Dalton PepperWVU14.8112.520.327.80.98
Rakeem Buckles'Ville27.2112.018.616.11.15
Jaquon Parker'Nati24.1111.217.416.41.14
Hollis ThompsonGTown48.8111.
Dominic CheekNova33.5109.918.219.51.07
Mouphtaou YarouNova23.7109.316.312.91.23
Peyton Siva'Ville26.194.623.117.21.12

The minutes for Mookie Jones of Syracuse are light, very, very light...but check out his Offensive Rating and Possessions -- he scores about 1.18 points when he is the player who finishes the possession. His possession rate (%Poss) suggests he is comfortable with the ball, combined with a shot rate (%Shot -- when he is on the court that is roughly the percentage of shots he takes) indicates he can be assertive in the Orange's offensive sets. Why is his %Shot higher than his %Poss (for a #3, one would assume they should be pretty close)? Scarce minutes (12.8%) can create strange impressions and situations for the freshman player. Jones did not see large stretches of time, but rather two-five minutes bursts. A more consistent workout would probably bring down his offensive efficiency and shot rate, but probably not his possession rate, and as will be seen in the "Miscellaneous Table" below, his assist rate was pretty strong (for a freshman wing), which enhanced his offensive efficiency. At 6-7, 220 pounds, he played behind Wesley Johnson and Andy Rautins, in a loose rotation with Kris Joseph and James Southerland. If learning Syracuse's favored 2-3 zone is the price for getting to the floor, then Jones should make that a priority this summer and fall. If he can quadruple his playing time and maintain those efficiency stats, the Orange won't fall very far in 2011. Dante Taylor was one of those late blooming but hotly contested recruits coming into Pittsburgh in the fall of 2009. The freshman front court player struggled to find his place last season, but posted some pretty impressive efficiency numbers for the minutes he played, certainly good enough to draw an Honorable Mention for Breakout Player this season from Josh Reed over at Basketball Prospectus. More a #4 than a #5, the key to Taylor's sophomore season may lie in whether Taylor has developed enough face-the-basket offense (and defense) and whether Coach Dixon can work a legitimate #4 into the Panthers' offense and defense -- the team has tended to go with 'tweeners and #3s playing up a position since Chris Taft left. If Pittsburgh's Ireland Tour early in August is a good indication, the staff will have a hard time keeping Taylor on the bench. While his offense was a bit inconsistent, I took note of his rebounding and offense in Second Irish National Team game and in the Dart Killister Club game played during the Dublin portion of their tour. Injuries and slow recoveries to the Mountaineers' point guards last season forced Coach Huggins to improvise a sort of Four Forwards Offense that put the onus for making plays on the shoulders of those four forwards (primarily Devin Ebanks, Da'Sean Butler, Kevin Jones & Wellington Smith), which in turn left freshman Dalton Pepper searching for a role. Primarily a perimeter player, Pepper had been very effective as a catch-and-shoot wing who drove occasionally when he played at Pennsbury. With an offense that emphasized a more "make your own" and score off the rebound approach, Pepper had no one to get him the ball. Truck Bryant will be back, as will red shirt Joe Mazzulla, both will -- hopefully -- be healthier than last season. Ebanks and Butler have moved on, and Coach Huggins will most likely revert to a more traditional line-up. Pepper is a good size for a wing (6-5, 215 pounds), and should he pick up his rebounding and attack the basket more, should see his minutes increase this season.

The large difference in minutes for the players can make this more tricky than later classes. If a rising senior with very efficient numbers has drawn about 12% of the available minutes through his career, it is safe to say there was (efficiency aside) an issue, that went unresolved for the first three years of his collegiate career, that most likely limited his minutes. An issue that will not be resolved going into his senior season. With freshmen, possibly overwhelmed or intimidated by the transition, playing behind upper classmen (for whatever reason), can obscure a freshman's eventual role on the team and in the coach's system. Probably one reason why many observe a "Sophomore Jump" in (sometimes) the unlikeliest players.

Four Factors...
Mookie JonesCuse12.863.26.316.819.4
Dante TaylorPitt34.158.416.114.868.5
Dalton PepperWVU14.847.24.49.412.2
Rakeem Buckles'Ville27.252.915.520.847.7
Jaquon Parker'Nati24.155.56.819.040.2
Hollis ThompsonGTown48.856.65.317.732.0
Dominic CheekNova33.550.410.014.940.6
Mouphtaou YarouNova23.758.312.725.656.7
Peyton Siva'Ville26.154.01.633.346.6

Rakeem Buckles was effective in limited play in 2010. The freshman has the dimensions of a #3, but the slashing style that works well in transition or when attacking the basket directly. His competition for playing time, mostly wing-type #3s, can hit the outside shot, a skill that Buckles has yet to demonstrate consistently. Should the staff decide rebounding and getting to the line will take precedent next season, Buckles will catch quite a few of the minutes left behind by Jerry Smith and Reggie Delk. If the staff wants an outside threat that Buckles cannot provide, they may turn to rising junior Jared Swopshire. A few might have hoped that having very well regarded Seattle point guard Payton Siva on the roster would provide the staff with a viable alternative should senior point Edgar Sosa have difficulty staying on script. Siva however had his own problems. His solid assist rate (below -- 29.3%) only partly offset his extremely high turnover rate (see above -- 33.3%). Freshmen Elisha Justice and Russ Smith will most likely form a back court/pg rotation with Siva, but clearly the the rising sophomore will be the lead guard for next season's Cardinal team. Jaquon Parker formed a point guard tandem with fellow Cincinnati freshman Cashmire Wright. An off guard out of high school (), Parker made the transition to pair with Wright and leave Vaughn and Stephenson to operate on the wing. The plan was only modestly successful for Cincinnati, but Parker (and Wright) will be back to try again in 2011, this time they will have Yancy Gates, but not Vaughn and Stephenson. Parker very efficiently converted possessions to points last season, and functioning at the high-end "Role Player" level in the Cincinnati offense provides Parker with the possibility of growing into a "Significant Contributor" next season.

Mookie JonesCuse13.
Dante TaylorPitt1.815.44.42.0
Dalton PepperWVU15.
Rakeem Buckles'Lville7.818.71.52.3
Jaquon Parker'Nati14.717.20.31.6
Hollis ThompsonGTown8.
Dominic CheekNova5.810.92.11.6
Mouphtaou YarouNova6.714.77.80.9
Peyton Siva'Lville29.

Hollis Thompson, Georgetown's (eventual?) replacement for Jeff Green and DeJuan Summers, logged the highest percentage of playing time among the nine rising sophomores listed here, but his offensive impact, undeniably efficient, was nevertheless at the low-end of the "Limited Role" level in the Hoya offense. Prospects for dramatic growth (to say, "Major Contributor" level) are limited, probability and players ahead of him in the rotation the primary culprits. But given the loss of Greg Monroe, the prospects for Thompson to step into a high-end "Role Player" are fairly reasonable. Villanova had a tremendous class of freshmen in 2010. Maalik Wayns, a point guard, was voted to the Big East All-Rookie Team, the third Villanova lead guard recognized by the conference. Wing Dominic Cheek was a high-end "Role Player" last season, but with the loss of Regie Redding and Scottie Reynolds last spring, Cheek might be the primary candidate to step into Redding's minutes and spot on the floor, and grow his role in the offense as the staff works to distribute the offensive load carried for four seasons by Reynolds. #5 Mouphtao Yarou saw his development side tracked by illness early in the season. After he was cleared to play, Yarou returned to the rotation, and his minutes steadily grew through the end of the season. Yarou was an outstanding offensive rebounder who could finish consistently -- if he didn't lose the ball. Improving his defensive rebounding and cutting down on turnovers should be high on his To-Do List this summer and fall.

What About...?
Ater Majok and Jerrelle Benimon were very efficient, but virtually "Invisible" in their respective offenses. According to Pomeroy (with a large body of evidence to back it up) neither is likely to jump up to "Significant Contributor" level this season. Looking at possession rate, the same could be said of Austin Johnson. Isaiah Armwood and Ferrakohn Hall are also efficient, but suffer from the lack of a role in their respective team's (Villanova and Seton Hall) offense. Both face the additional hurdle of having players in front of them in the rotation.

Hits and Misses...Last Season's "Rising Sophomores"
Rutgers' Greg Echnique injured his eye early in the season, and after rehabbing for nearly a month, decided to transfer. He selected Creighton and enrolled for their Spring 2010 semester, beginning the mandetory one year waiting period. He should be ready to play for the Blue Jays at the conclusion of the 2010 fall semester, just in time for Creighton's Missouri Valley Conference season. The Pittsburgh point guard Ashton Gibbs started all 34 games, averaging 34.5 minutes per game. Gibbs was named to the All-Big East Second Team in March 2010. Terrence Jennings had modest increases in his playing time, Offensive Rating and shot percentage (%Shot), but did not work his way into the starting line-up, nor see his offensive role grow substantially over the course of the 2010 season. He remained a "Role Player", but I have him back on the "Watch List" as a rising Junior. Also back on the "Watch List" are Kevin Jones of West Virginia, Gus Gilchrist out of South Florida and Kris Joseph of Syracuse. All increased their playing time, efficiency, possessions and shot percentage. Joseph and Jones grew their possessions to the high-end of the "Role Player" level, and should make the move into "Significant Contributor" level roles in their team's offenses. Gilchrist was hobbled early by an ankle injury early in the 2010 season, but after his return to the Bulls' rotation, he managed to "grow" his role to "Major Contributor" level. Basketball Prospectus contributor Josh Reed tabbed Gilchrist the Big East 2011 breakout candidate last June. Cincinnati's Dion Dixon found himself between Lance Stephenson and Deonta Vaughn and lacking a clear role. The off guard's possession and shot rate stayed about the same (high-end "Role Player"), but his efficiency and minutes crashed. If he wants a larger role in the Bearcat offense, he will need to dramatically improve his shot conversion efficiency. Georgetown's Jason Clark saw his minutes and efficiency increase in 2010, but his role within the Hoya offense remained fairly close to where it was his freshman season -- "Role Player". Chris Wright on the other hand, saw his minutes and offensive efficiency improve over the 2009 season. His role also grew modestly, from a low-end "Significant Contributor" to a high-end "Significant Contributor", but not quite the impact that the Hoya faithful anticipated. Like Gus Gilchrist, West Virginia guard Truck Bryant had to overcome an injury (after his return from a three month suspension). Bryant's role grew marginally (to a high-end "Significant Contributor" role), even as his efficiency declined.

2011 To Watch Lists
Rising Seniors to Watch
Rising Juniors to Watch

Monday, August 16, 2010

The 2010 NIT Tip-Off -- A Too Early Look at the Field

Filling Out the Field
News about early season invitationals for the 2011 season have been leaking out in dribs and drabs for the past two months. The NIT Tip Off, operated by the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association, owners and operators of the post season NIT, was inaugurated in 1985 as a counter move to the dwindling prospects for post season event (and later purchased by the NCAA as part of the settlement of MIBA's anti-trust law suit against the NCAA). From the first season, the event attracted a field of the top schools, and continues to do so every season. A move to the pod schedule format a number of years ago gives the tournament's preliminary round(s) a look and feel similar to a number of TV and impresario backed events like the Paradise Jam, the Legends Classic among others. Like the Legends Classic, the preliminary rounds are hosted at four separate sites -- the four top seeds. Unlike the Legends however, the pod hosts, heavily favored by high-major status and home court advantage, must win in order to advance to the Championship rounds (semi and finals) in New York City. The pod hosts for this edition of the tournament are Villanova (North), Tennessee (South), Wake Forest (East) and UCLA (West). The pod rounds (the preliminary rounds) will match the host and three invited teams to two games at the host site. First round winners at each pod site will play a second round game to determine who advances to New York City for the semi-final round. The three teams at each site who do not advance to New York City will play two additional Consolation Round games at site of the three highest seeded teams.

The Field
Four of the six above the "Red Line" conferences, the ACC, Big East, Pac-10 and SEC, are represented and will host the four sites for the preliminary rounds. The 12 "visiting" teams are drawn from conferences generally local to each pod site. The field, sorted by region, with the host team listed first:

(North) VillanovaBig East (South) TennesseeSEC
Boston UniversityAm. East Arkansas StateSun Belt
George WashingtonA-10 BelmontAtl. Sun
MaristMAAC Missouri StateMVC
(East) Wake ForestACC (West) UCLAPac-10
HamptonMEAC NevadaWAC
Virginia CommonwealthCAA PacificBig West
WinthropBig South PepperdineWCC

The teams are listed alphabetically within each region. The field definitely has a "bi-coastal" flavor, as the Big East, ACC and Pac-10 have many members located along the Atlantic and Pacific coastal region. Note however that the conference affiliation for each of the three "guests" in those three pods also have strong representation along the left and right coastlines. A product no doubt, related to the host sites. I wanted a bit more detail about the participants in each of the preliminary round sites, so tracked down RPI, won-loss records and returning minutes/points from the team sites, and some possession-based stats from Ken Pomeroy's web site. For each pod site, I have given the record information, followed by the possession-based information.

The East Region
The breakdown suggests this could be a very interesting mini-tournament. In the same way that throwing a party in the middle of a remodeling project is interesting...

2010 Season2011 Returning
Wake Forest39191032.934.1

Pod hosting for a team with an RPI (2010) of #39 makes good sense. Looking no farther, one could tease out a seed arrangement that would have Wake Forest play Hampton and Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) play Winthrop (of the Big South Conference) in their first round game. Consider however that Wake hired Jeff Bzdelik barely four months ago, and the former Colorado (of the Big 12) coach has had to replace over 65% of his minutes and points from last season's squad. And wait, it gets worse...

2010 Adjusted
Wake Forest69.9106.591.40.852

Coach Bzdelik's Colorado struggled during his tenure, but pace and adjusted offensive efficiency were about the same as Wake's over the same period...but Wake Forest had a much better defense. VCU on the other hand appears to be in pretty good shape. I was a little surprised by the Rams' strong Pythagorean Winning Percentage (PWP), but the squad did win the post season CBI Tournament to close out the 2010 season. All things equal (while checking out Wake's and VCU's PWP), I would favor Wake by just under whatever they get for home court advantage. VCU's coach, Shaka Smart, however, enters his second season as head coach with over 80% of his squad's minutes and over 85% of their points coming back. Coach Bzdelik may not be able to run full practices with his squad until mid October, but I have to think he is breaking down VCU film now. This could be a very bumpy beginning to his tenure at Wake.

West Region
Like Wakes' Coach Bzdelik, UCLA's coach, Ben Howland, has something of a rebuilding job in 2011, so the timing for accepting an NIT Tip-Off hosting job is interesting...

2010 Season2011 Returning

This region also looks like the host will attempt to entertain while undertaking an rebuilding project. Based on RPI alone, one would think the match-ups would be Nevada versus Pepperdine and UCLA versus Pacific in the first round. Since UCLA hosts however, they get to pick their cupcake, so I suspect the Bruins will take the Wave, while Nevada and Pacific play the under-card match. This West however, is almost as muddy as the East. Nevada may have the better RPI, but second year Coach David Carter faces a rebuilding job even more extensive as Wake's Coach Bzdelik. Presumptive top seed? No actually. In fact the Wolfpack may have a tough time getting by the Tigers in the first round (assuming they are matched with Pacific). Pacific, coached by 24 year veteran Bob Thomason (21 years at Pacific), returns nearly 2/3 of the Tigers' 2010 minutes and over 70% of their points.

2010 Adjusted

Looking past the first round games, a Pacific--UCLA match-up would put two teams with very similar profiles head-to-head. They have similar offensive and defensive efficiencies (Pacific is actually a bit better). Coach Howland has no problem with a slightly lower possession rate, should Pacific control the tempo. And again, Pacific's Pythagorean Winning Percentage is higher than UCLA's. Should the Bruins and Tigers survive the first round, this second round match may come down to the Pauley Pavilion's intimidation factor. Will the Tigers be able to filter out the distractions and focus on the game? Pacific's Coach Thomason has a 15-9 record versus Nevada, a 5-2 record versus and incredibly, a 0-0 record versus UCLA.

South Region
Tennessee is probably in the best spot as one of the host sites...

2010 Season2011 Returning
Arkansas St.202151492.292.9
Missouri St.90201289.394.6

The RPI-based first round would most likely pit Tennessee against Arkansas State, and Missouri State against Belmont, with the winners -- Tennessee and Missouri State -- facing off for the trip to the Big Apple. The Vols return over half of their minutes (57.1%) and points (51.0%)...just barely, but how challenging, despite the high percentage of returning minutes and points, would either Belmont or Arkansas State be to either the SEC or the Missouri Valley school? As for the second round game, looking just at the table above, it would seem to be at least as competitive as either the East or West Region/pod. But looks can be deceiving...

2010 Adjusted
Arkansas St.67.597.7100.50.420
Missouri St.65.5110.898.70.792

On paper a first round match-up of Belmont and Missouri State may be the best of the three that would be played over the two days. Both return substantial portions of their squad's minutes and points. While pace can be overblown at times, the nearly five possession difference between the Missouri State and Belmont could be trouble. If Belmont is behind, the Bruins might chafe at the Bears' more deliberate pace. Or if the Bears are beind, they may struggle to stay with the Bruins. In either case, the Vols' pace falls between the Bruins and Bears, so the Vols should have little trouble adjusting if the other team controls the pace.

North Region
Many of the details are sketchy at this point. The dates for the preliminary rounds, and for Villanova, even the site -- will this be moved to the Wells Fargo (nee Wachovia) Center downtown, or will the 'Cats host this on campus at the Pavilion? The Wells Fargo Center would make sense...

2010 Season2011 Returning
Boston University144211443.550.9
George Washington148161575.370.9

Villanova has a connection to each of the other teams in the pod. Boston U Coach Patrick Chambers was an Associate Head Coach at Villanova just two seasons ago. The Terriers were a last minute addition to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off field last November. Though BU has a lot of minutes to replace from last season's squad, I doubt the Wildcats and Terriers will be matched in the first round. That first round opponent will most likely be the Red Foxes of Marist. Head Coach Chuck Martin did stints as an assistant for Bruiser Flint at Drexel, and at St. John's under (former) Coach Norm Roberts. Marist was the destination for former Villanova center Casiem Drummond, who later moved on to Georgetown College in Division 2. While some in the 'Nova Nation may not be happy about Marist's 334 RPI, with 92% of the Red Fox 2010 minutes returning, chances are good Marist will finish with a higher RPI this season.

2010 Adjusted
Boston University71.2104.097.40.679
George Washington68.2102.696.60.665

The first round match-ups here therefore, will most likely be Villanova and Marist, with George Washington, the A-10's representative in this tournament, matched with Boston University. Should seed hold, expect Villanova and GWU to face off for the second pod win. For the past three or so pre-seasons Villanova and George Washington have waived the second NCAA-sanctioned exhibition game in favor of an opportunity to conduct a closed scrimmage with each other. Coach Hobbs and Wright are extremely familiar with the other's personnel and style of play (and coaching). I suspect if the 'Cats (and Colonials) participate in a closed scrimmage this pre-season it will not be with each other.

The Semi-Finals and Beyond
I suspect, should the pod hosts' hold through the preliminary rounds, that Villanova and Tennessee will the match-up the NIT would want for the final. The semi-final then would match Villanova with either Wake Forest or UCLA, with Tennessee getting the other.

Further Reading...
The Official NIT Tip Off Site
The Tip-Off Brakets (.pdf format)
Other Early Season Invitationals with teams, dates and sites. From CBS.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rising Juniors -- Nine to Watch

What We Are Looking For
The Big East Conference made this job a lot more difficult back in 2007 when they increased the size of their season-ending "All-Big East...Team"s from five (the traditional number) to eleven. Toss in the three or so Honorable Mentions, and the number of recognized players goes to 25 or so, up from the 15 - 18 most conferences recognize (three "All" Teams, not including a Freshman/Rookie Team, plus two - three Honorable Mentions). The Big East switched back in 2008-09, giving me another seven to eight players to consider for this list. Using Pomeroy's classification system as a guide, I am scouting the "Role" or "Significant Contributor" player, someone who took about 16%-23% of their team's possessions last season, but could grow into a "Major Contributor" or "Go-to Guy" player over the course of the course of next season -- though most probably won't. Pomeroy discusses growth "probabilities" in "Putting Individual Efficiency into Perspective" over at The Basketball Prospectus back in 2007. One thing about these players is clear -- they tend to push at the upper limit of their growth curve each season.

On Offense...
Kevin JonesWVU81.2124.618.521.51.18
Jeff RobinsonHall50.1118.819.120.91.14
Terrence JenningsLVL31.6116.118.318.61.22
Kris JosephCuse69.6111.119.618.41.14
Jordan TheodoreHall64.5109.519.117.71.04
Darius Johnson-OdomMU73.1107.022.924.21.16
Yancy Gates'Nati62.8106.921.322.71.07
Augustus GilchristUSF38.1104.825.324.61.16
Darryl BryantWVU55.0102.723.921.41.00

The list contains the last member of the Big East's All-Rookie Team from 2009 still in school, Cincinnati's Yancy Gates. Every one else from that team has departed for life in the pros. Gates, whose time with the Bearcats has featured an off-and-on relationship with Head Coach Mick Cronin, found himself, more often than not, the 3rd last season, and that step back allowed him to trade efficiency for usage, a common trade-off. With seniors Deonta Vaughn and Steven Toyloy graduated, and Lance Stephenson gone in the draft last June, the opportunity to step forward and play a major role in the fate of this team this season is there -- if Gates can stay out of foul trouble (he averaged about 3.8 fouls per 40 minutes last season, per Ken Pomeroy) and maintain or enhance his efficiency even as he takes a larger share of the possessions and shots. The offensively challenged Bearcats (a recurring theme in Coach Cronin's tenure), will have to look to a committee of veteran players, centered on Gates no doubt (and freshman pf Justin Jackson?), to make up for the departed offense. With the spotlight on senior Da'Sean Butler and All Big East Devin Ebanks, more than a few observers missed 6-8 250 lb bfc Kevin Jones, yet he played a crucial role in Coach Huggins' Four Forwards Offense. Though guard-like duties fell to Butler and one of Truck Bryant (see below) or Joe Mazzulla if they were available, Jones proved to be extremely efficient in a just-out-of-the-limelight "Role" player status. Jones was the 3rd option on offense, but like Gates, two of the bigger options ahead of him last season, Butler and Ebanks, have moved on. Coach Huggins recognized his value, playing Jones a whopping 81% of the time in 2010. Jones' teammate Darryl Bryant should see his possession and shot rates climb this season as well. Bryant, whose effectiveness may have been compromised by personal and health issues in 2010, has the potential to see his role in the offense expand to "Major Contributor" (Poss% 25%-28%) levels, but will have to improve his shot conversion and limit his turnover rate, if he expects to see his efficiency (and playing time) climb. Seton Hall's Jeff Robinson is one of four JUCO/transfers on this list. Times change -- there was a point in time when transfer "stars" were so rare they often drew special attention from the media and coaching staffs. Though he did not qualify for play until the end of the Fall 2009 Semester, Robinson was so effective during the conference portion of the Hall's schedule that he sent starter Robert Mitchell to the bench. Robinson, along with teammates Herb Pope (also a transfer) & Jeremy Hazell, flirted briefly with the NBA draft, but (all) decided to return to South Orange for another season. Recruited by departed coach Bobby Gonzalez, Robinson is a 'tweener, who has the size of a #2/#3 with the skill set of a slasher. He will see even more floor time this season if his defensive rebounding matched his offensive board work (see below). Robinson's teammate and fellow "Watch List"er Jordan Theodore should see a larger role in the offense now that Eugene Harvey and Keon Lawrence have moved on. Theodore has much the same conversion deficiency as Truck Bryant, but without the turnovers and other baggage Bryant may carry.

Four Factors...
Kevin JonesWVU81.257.612.010.928.5
Jeff RobinsonHall50.
Terrence Jennings'Ville31.661.713.617.434.8
Kris JosephCuse69.650.87.718.259.8
Jordan TheodoreHall64.547.
Darius Johnson-OdomMU73.
Yancy Gates'Nati62.852.
Augustus GilchristUSF38.152.49.320.054.5
Darryl BryantWVU55.042.42.721.656.0

A summer ago Coach Rick Pitino tabbed Terrence Jennings "the key" to Cardinal success in 2010. Though he brought energy to the line-up, Jennings was unable to develop a tandem playing relationship with Samardo Samuels, and found himself behind the more heralded bfc in the rotation. Though Jennings offered efficient scoring and a dominant rebounding presence, especially on the offensive boards, he did not establish much more than a "role" presence on offense. Sam-Sam moved on to the NBA this past June, and ready or not, he has passed the low post baton onto Jennings. Pomeroy's 50% confidence interval suggests Jennings should grow into a "Major Contributor" role this season (in the range of 21%-24% of the possessions/shots), but given the personnel loss, should Jennings blow up, a "Significant Contributor" role, something just north of 25% is possible. As a high-end "Role Player", Jennings has shown he can be very efficient (111.8-116.1); if he can maintain his efficiency level while expanding his role in the offense, he will definitely make an All-Big East Team or two. Then if he is around in the summer of 2011, I will not be able to include him on my Rising Seniors "Watch" List. Kris Joseph is yet another example of how team work was so successful for Syracuse last season. Distribution -- of possessions and shots among the players on the floor -- was atypical for a F1 team, but extremely effective for the Orange. Joseph's Poss% and Shot% put him at the upper edge of "Role Player". Johnson, Rautins and Onuaku have moved on, and given Kris' growth in role and efficiency over the past two seasons, he is on track to become a "Major Contributor" next season. Usage growth has gone hand-in-hand with improvement of efficiency, a good sign for Joseph and Syracuse in 2011.

Kevin JonesWVU7.
Jeff RobinsonHall3.412.92.11.4
Terrence Jennings'Ville5.815.310.22.5
Kris JosephCuse10.
Jordan TheodoreHall22.
Darius Johnson-OdomMU17.
Yancy Gates/td>'Nati7.415.23.71.3
Augustus GilchristUSF4.
Darryl BryantWVU25.

The log-jam in Marquette's back court going into the 2009-10 season was big enough to convince senior Maurice Acker to forego his spot on the roster and concentrate on completing his studies. With two transfers (one a returning native son), a true, and much heralded, local freshman and second returning senior combo guard, it was easy to see why Ackers thought to stand aside. I had to wonder where a second promising transfer, Darius Johnson-Odom, would fit. Preseason injuries to Cadougan (who later returned to play 12 games at the end of the season) and Johnson-Odom were enough to bring Acker back to the squad where he had a very good senior campaign (ranked #1 in conference for assist-to-turnover ratio and #1 for 3FGM%). A quickly recovered Johnson-Odom completed the accidental back court, becoming a fixture alongside a combination of Acker, Cubillan and/or Buycks. He proved to be a good combo guard, sliding over to the off guard where could find his shot (eFG% -- 56.4%) both inside and outside (ranked #7 in conference for 3 pointers made) when Acker manned the #1, and then over to the lead guard spot when Cubillan or Buycks came in. Johnson-Odom had a respectable (per Ken Pomeroy), though not Top 500 assist rate, suggesting he will move back and forth in the Buzz Williams' back court again this season. Normally I cut off candidates at about the 40% Mins line, but (like Louisville's Terrence Jennings...) Augustus Gilchrist made an good argument for setting that guideline aside. Gus completed his first year in Tampa by showing the Bulls' faithful that he could be a dominant (though inefficient) front court presence when he saw the court. Efficiency, under the right circumstances, could be improved, so 2010 held serious promise for the Bulls and Gilchrist. An early December ankle sprain sidelined him until mid-February. He returned to help the Bulls close out their Big East regular season with a four game winning streak. Many assumed the 6-10 235 pound player would man the low post, but he seems to want to play more on the perimeter than the low blocks. Not a dominant defensive rebounder, Gus has shown he can block a shot when needed and dominate on the offensive boards. Over the past two seasons South Florida fans have seen enough to be excited about Gilchrist's potential. He made significant strides in shot and possession-to-point efficiency. If the big guy can manage to log an entire season with the Tampa school, his expected possession and shot rates this season could well land him in "Major Contributor" role in the Bulls' offense. With Jones departed for the NBA, and a number of new guards coming in to replenish Coach Heath's severely depleted back court, Gilchrist should become an "early and often" offensive option.

What About...?
DePaul's Devin Hill and Jeremiah Kelly were too inefficient with their shots last season, logging eFG%s in the low 40s. Greg Monroe's exit leaves a lot of shots and possessions to divvy up among the remaining (and entering) Hoyas. But Henry Sims, who entered as a freshman with Monroe (and was by some, better regarded), who saw his sophomore minutes diminish relative to his freshman season, would seem to be a poor candidate for a significant portion of those possessions/shots. His possession rate, 16%, may have grown modestly over his freshman rate (14.5), but there is a small probability that more than another 4%-5% will come his way (assuming he gets more minutes). Jason Clark, another Hoya who may potentially benefit (possessions and shots) from Greg Monroe's good fortune, made the "Freshmen Watch" list last August, and did increase his efficiency. But his role, as measured by possessions and shots, did not grow at all. Coach Thompson did not, even with a dominant low post presence like Monroe, experiment much with a rotation that put three under 6-5 guards on the floor at the same time. Lacking Monroe, I have to think Coach Thompson would be even less inclined to give that line-up extended run this season.

Hits and Misses...Last Season's "Rising Juniors"
Jimmy Butler and Austin Freeman drew "All-Big East"-level recognition (an Honorable Mention & 2nd Team) and so are disqualified from consideration this off season -- remember we are looking for the guys just off the radar (congratulations to both). DePaul's Mac Koshwal declared for the draft again last April, went undrafted, but played for the Pistons in the NBA Summer League. Pitt's Brad Wanamaker, St. John's DJ Kennedy and Syracuse's Rick Jackson saw their efficiency and roles improve over the course of the 2010 season. For Wanamaker and Jackson, the efficiency improvement was good, but the growth in roles was comparatively small. Given Syracuse's relatively even distribution of touches and shots expect to see Jackon's role grow (modestly probably) again this season. Kennedy's role grew considerably, bordering on "Go-to Guy"-level possessions. Yet the rising senior drew no accolades from the conference. So I put him back on the Watch List (Rising Seniors) again this season. Louisville's Preston Knowles saw his role grow (possessions went from 16.9% to 21.9%), but his efficiency diminished (112.9 to 103.2), a more common phenomena than the both move in the same direction. Corey Stokes, Sean Evans and Marshon Brooks saw their roles remain about the same, while their efficiencies either declined (Evans) or increase (Stokes and Brooks). Brooks, like Kennedy, is pulling down near "Go-to Guy"-level possession and shot rates, so (like Kennedy) I put him back on the watch list. Stokes on the other hand drew middling "Role Player"-level possessions and shots in 2010, much as he had in 2009. There is a ceiling in the low 20s, but if he is going much higher, he will have to buck the trend.

Watch Lists by Class

Rising Seniors

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: An All-Star Night at Hamilton Park

by Ray Floriani

JERSEY CITY, NJ - On Monday the Hamilton Park all stars defeated the Dukes basketball club of the Netherlands 68-63 in the Hamilton Park Summer All Star Classic.

Women's college official Nick Borwn and Brian O'Connell
huddle before the tip-off to review a few final points

The game was four ten minutes quarters stopping the last two minutes of each half on whistles. The only other stoppages were on free throw attempts. The numbers...

Scoring by quarter...
U20 Dukes138231963
HP All-Stars2212171768

A building block for possession-based analysis.

Possessions by quarter...
U20 Dukes1715182070
HP All-Stars1716181970

The Dukes (on the right) exchange gifts with the Hamilton Park All-Stars
before the contest.

Final Points Per Possession (PPP)
U20 Dukes0.90
HP All-Stars0.97

The Dukes basketball club is a strong contingent of U20 players from the Netherlands. After the loss here the Dukes faced St. Anthony’s the next night and lost a very competitive contest. They finished 1-5 on their tour of the New York area but were in every game.

I thought the Hamilton Park team ran a lot of nice offense featuring screening, good movement and the willingness to make the extra pass. Surprised to hear from coach Ben Gamble (St. Anthony’s assistant who ran the team) that the All-Stars did not have a single practice together. In fact Gamble attributed to slow starts in the third and fourth quarter when the Dukes made their runs, as attributed to "...running too many set plays and not just letting them get out and play.".

The Dukes coach Weird Goedee said prior to the game that his club saw a lot of zone defenses on the trip and did not have great success against them. Little surprised given that European teams are known for their skilled perimeter shooters. On the flip side teams from ‘across the pond’ are known for their effective ball screening so the zones were used to combat that. Provided no one was on fire from beyond the arc.

Goedee also noted his team was having trouble playing outdoors. No excuse but in the Netherlands he observed, "...all of our practices and games are indoors.". The Dukes coach said that in the three (of the first four) games outside his team struggled offensively. Probably from not being used to the greater depth perception in shooting from the perimeter on an outdoor court.

The Dukes’ Kadeem Pantophet, a 6-7 forward, paced all scorers with 18 points. Max Franken, a 6-0 guard added 13. Lucky Jones, a St.Anthony’s forward led Hamilton Park with 15 points while Marist guard Marvin Williams contributed 13.

The Dukes showed a lot of poise. Despite being down double digit’s the first half they didn’t panic, continued to execute their game plan and took a lead late in the contest. Hamilton Park then regrouped to seal the verdict. Hamilton Park was effective penetrating and using their quickness to force turnovers on the defensive end. "We threw the ball in the ocean," was the way Goedee termed his club’s turnover troubles. The Dukes, beside their aforementioned poise, did hit a few timely perimeter shots and were effective screening as Hamilton Park stayed man to man.

Cutting turnovers was key to the Dukes comeback. The first 11 possessions of the third quarter they did not turn the ball over and trimmed a 13 point deficit to a one possession (down 3) game. For the game the Dukes had 16 turnovers but ten came prior to the half. Hamilton Park had 11. The TO rates:

U20 Dukes23.0
HP All-Stars16.0

As noted many times (here on VBTN and elsewhere) a TO rate under 20% is very good. Hamilton Park’s mark was outstanding given they did not get a chance to practice and all star games tend to be a little more uptempo.

Faces in the Crowd
Among those in attendance was Sean Couch, a former Columbia standout and assistant who is an editor for Bounce Magazine. Also, a familiar face and former Hamilton Park All-Star, Dominic Cheek of Villanova, stopped by to catch the action.

The top notch scoring table of Regina (l) and Randy
work on the post game report.