Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Big East Freshmen: The 2008 All-Rookie Team

Why would I want to revisit last season's rookies so far removed from last season...well a few of these ten (minus Donta Greene -- departed for the NBA) will be team leaders next season. But even those returning to "well stocked" teams will be expected to show progress over their freshman production. I put together 2 tables, the first looks at possession-based offensive numbers (Poss%, Shot%, ORtg, eFG% and FTRate), along with PPWS, a stat thats gives us an idea of how effective a player is once he gets his shot off. Besides, these were, in the opinion of the press and conference coaches, the eleven best freshmen in the conference, and I was curiuous to see if the numbers supported those opinions.


Statistics were drawn from Ken Pomeroy's web site, the last update (usually the April 7 version) of each team's "Scouting Report" Page. Click on the College beside any player to scroll to his college's Scouting Report.

The players are ordered by playing time (percentage of available minutes they actually played). While playing times may have varied greatly, note that possessions and shots (ie role within their respective team's offense...) showed a good deal less variaton. Virtually everyone of them was a first (Chandler, Tucker), second or third option on offense. Austin Freeman's possessions may seem light compared to the others, but consider that Georgetown had a very balanced offense last season -- Freeman's Poss% and Shot% numbers were almost identical to senior Jon Wallace's numbers. Compared to the 2007 All Big East Rookie Team, the 2008 edition seemed a bit less efficient offensively as well. Of the three whose ORtgs were <100, Rutgers' Corey Chandler and St. John's Justin Burrell seemed conspicuously out of place -- I cannot recall finding a player on an All conference team with an ORtg < 90. Consider the circumstances of each however. St. John's, like Rutgers a "scoring challenged" team in 2007, lost a good deal of it's scoring punch in the off season with graduations and transfers. Going into the season with a class of 7 freshmen to fill out the roster around a couple of upper classmen, the Johnnies found themselves starting the season without their best returning scorer, Anthony Mason Jr. Li'l Mase ended up missing a total of eight games over the course of the season, and Burrell, the most heralded of the incoming class, shouldered a good deal of the scoring burden, quite possibly more than he may have taken on had Mason been healthy in November. Burrell, who finished the season as the Johnnies high scorer, drew a good deal of attention from opposing defenses throughout the season. Corey Chandler of Rutgers faced a similar situation going into the season. Though no significant contributor on the Scarlet Knight's roster was injured, there was actually no "significant contributor" on the roster in the first place. Rutgers, lacking a go-to guy since Quincy Douby entered the NBA draft early in the 2007 off season, had limped through Coach Fred Hill Jr's inaugural season with a team offense (ORtg) ranked at #291 out of 336 in 2006-07. Forward JR Inman took more shots and scored more points, but Chandler, despite missing 3 games near the mid-point of the Big East regular season, drew a good deal of attention from the defenses. He was very capable of having a big night, as many Wildcat fans know all too well.

I grouped the rebounding and some of the defensive stat together for the table below. Anyone having trouble understanind why Mac Koshwal was on the Rookie Team need look no farther than his OR% and DR% for an answer...

Donte GreeneCuse5.515.74.82.0
Jonny FlynnCuse2.
Dominique JonesUSF4.510.00.82.6
Justin BurrellSJU6.615.82.40.8
Mac KoshwalDPU12.
Jeremy HazellHall3.
DeJuan BlairPitt16.623.24.63.9
Austin FreemanGTown4.
Dar TuckerDPU8.714.10.92.4
Corey ChandlerRU6.
Corey FisherNova1.

Co-ROY Dominique Jones may have put up some gaudy numbers for the Bull's offense, but a look at the rebounding numbers for DeJuan Blair of Pittsburgh more than explains why he shared the ROY honors with Jones. DeJuan's OR% and DR% are Top 100 (#6 and #59 respectively), surprising when I realized he was also Top 500 offensively (ORtg). I confess when I first reviewed Blair's dimensions I doubted he would be tall enough and mobile enough to compete in the Big East. He proved to be both. No wonder Cassiem Diggs transferred out after a single season.

The Good Surprises...
DeJuan Blair & Dominique Jones (am I starting to sound like a broken record?). Blair may have had a local reputation coming into Pittsburgh, but he was under appreciated by media and fans nationally. His coming out party at Madison Square Garden, complements of Duke, was marred only by the season-long loss of Mike Cook. Blair went on to share ROY honors with South Florida's Dominique Jones. Something of a practice phenom, Jones got the starting nod over better known redshirt freshman Dante Curry and veteran Solomon Bozeman (both of whom subsequently transferred...) and scored 13 points in his first outing. Near the end of the Bull's out of confernce schedule Jones had a 3 game scoring jag of 30, 30 and 25 against Central Florida, Richmond and Alabama-Birmingham, respectively. That got everyone's attention. Jones went on to score 20 or more points, including a career high 31 against Seton Hall, during his inaugural Big East season. Accomplihsments may pale when measured against Blair and Jones, but Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell was, for me at least, another pleasant surprise. I had expected Nutter and Laing, along with Harvey, to provide the offensive punch for the Pirates this past season. While the Seton Hall back court seemed crowded (and talented), Hazell proved there is always room on Coach Gonzalez's roster for a scorer.

The Bad Surprises...
While virtually no one tabbed McDonald's All American and Villanova freshman Corey Stokes as the preseason ROY (ok, maybe I did...), not making the All big East Rookie Team was a letdown. Despite some strong exhibition outings, as the season started, the freshman struggled to find his spot in the offense. Stokes adjusted, he learned to play Villanova Defense and began to come on at the season's end. Georgetown's Chris Wright, a very heavily recruited point out of DC, was injured just before the beginning of the Big East regular season and despite a series of post season appearances, ultimately appeared in less than ½ of the Hoyas games, logging < 300 minutes total. Despite some promising numbers (56.4 eFG%, 1.12 PPWS), Wright had virtually no impact on the team and the games he appeared in.

No Surprise (thankfully)...
Mac Koshwal and Dar Tucker, both out of DePaul, were as good as advertised. Unfortunately aside from senior Draelon Burns, the balance of Demons team was worse than advertised. As disappointing (maddenly inconsistent) as the 2007-08 Demons were Burns, Koshwal and Tucker were not. And that kept a season that was extremely disappointing and frustrating from becoming far, far, far worse. Though Syracuse's Jonny Flynn did not, as predicted by the preseason prognosticators, take share the ROY award with teammate Donte Greene, he was every bit as good as most thought he would be. And he will be back in 2008-09.

No comments: