Good Afternoon Friartown,
We are coming to you early this week, as here at Friarblog we want to make sure you get a good chance to read through and make your perceptions as you prepare for tomorrow’s early 11AM tipoff against UNC-Asheville.
Talk about a busy week for Friar fans, three games since the last crunch, that is a dream for any PC fan. Granted, the circumstances could have been better (I don’t know, maybe half of a complete roster would have been nice), but it is hard to really get on the players too hard. While maybe Dan Dakich couldn’t do his research and realize PC has three players injured, one academically ineligible, and three sitting do to transfer regulations, this team continues to scrap and work as hard as possible to be in a position to win.
I am a stats guy, but one thing that obviously cannot be calculated is heart and determination. Junior walkon Ted Brancroft played a career-high 45 MINUTES against Penn St. on Friday night. No that is no mistake, he played the entire game. And now think about it this way, not only is that a career-high for him, but that would also be a career high for 99.95% of college basketball players over the past ten seasons, most of those guys who have been recruited to play at this level. Ted Bancroft came to PC to be a student! And then he joined the team to be a towel-waiver for moral support! And now he is starting and playing 45 minutes. In the words of Mr. John Rooke, “HOLLLLYYYYY MOLLLLEEYYYY!!!!!”
Yet, despite having a player lacking ability like Bancroft in the game, PC led most of the second half, and took Penn St. to overtime on two late free throws by Kadeem Batts. You can see Cooley oozing out of these players, the toughness, mental and physical, that he has taught these guys. It’s one of those things that maybe you are not happy with the results, but I personally prefer it than losing 105-95 (a score that seemed to define the Keno Davis era for me). As long as the fight and effort is there, how can you complain?
The Games This Week:
Providence 81 Bryant 49
UMASS 77 Providence 75
Penn St. 55 Providence 52
I’m going to bring forth a little bit of a different set-up this week. I’m going to go player from player to discuss games, year to date stats, and even in some cases compare them to last season.
With that, let’s start crunching….
What can we say about Kadeem? He has been the rock of this team over four games, a complete 180 when last season he rode the bench for key stretches in a significant number of games. He was losing legitimate playing time to Bilal Dixon because of effort, so that in itself should say it all. He had only 4 games last year that he played over 27 minutes (a number I choose because against NJIT, Batts played 27 minutes, his least amount of minutes played for the season), and also had 8 games where he played minutes in the teens, and even 1 game late last season against Notre Dame where he played only 8 minutes.
I think most of us naturally had no idea which Kadeem Batts was going to show up this season, and I have to say, personally this is the Kadeem Batts I expected last season when they said he was much improved. I will use some cautious optimism — His matchups, while not terrible players, are not quite Big East caliber as well. Regardless, let’s check the stats to see where this improvement has come from:
So for those who don’t know, I use statsheet for a lot of my research, so I will try to use their definitions as well for some stats I enjoy.
Offensive Rating: Last year, 90.7 This year, 126
Statsheet defines offensive rating as points produced over possessions played times 100. It is a way of comparing a player statistically to teams that might play games with more or less possessions. This basically is a way of looking at the good a player does when on the court. He doesn’t always have to score, but he can get the assist, grab an offensive rebound, etc.
In Kadeem’s case, this is a huge jump, and it shows his maturity as a player. It isn’t all about scoring and he has found ways to get involved in other ways. He throws great ball screens, he has improved his court vision, and it is hard to complain about the touch he has shown in the paint.
Total Shooting Percentage: Last year, 45.9% This year, 60.6%
Total Shooting Percentage is a way sabermetricians calculate everything when it comes to shooting. In their formula, they combine FG%, FT%, and 3 Point % to come out with a number to judge how well a certain player is shooting the basketball.
Again with Batts, you can see the huge jump. A big part of that is his general FG%. Last year he only shot 39.1%, and this year he has that up to 53.3%. His free throws are up to 78.1% from 71.4% as well. Add those in together, and you have a guy on your roster you want touching the ball in nearly any situation.
Rebounds: Last year, 4.5 This year, 9
Obviously, minutes played has a lot to do with this since Kadeem is playing more minutes now, more opportunities for rebounds. But why is he playing more minutes? HUSTLE, HUSTLE, HUSTLE. He has earned those minutes so far.
Turnovers: Last year, 1.5 This year, 1.5
This year, Kadeem is playing 14 more minutes per game, averaging the same amount of turnovers. What does that tell you about him from last season? There were many times when he would just sleepwalk out there.
There is not too much you can really say about Bryce Cotton through the three games he has played too much this season, and I mean that in a good way. It is simply ICE just being ICE. Despite playing out of position, he has somehow shown off a whole new aspect of his game.
Considering he has played point guard all season, you can take this out of it.
Since moving, he has averaged 5 Assists and 3 Turnovers, an Assist to Turnover Margin of 1.7. Last season, he averaged 2.2 Assists and 1.6 Turnovers, a 1.4 Assist to Turnover Margin.
Granted, it is a low margin for a point guard, but for a guy who never played a serious lick of point guard, I would say it is pretty solid. And despite playing out of position, his efficiency (which I think can be someone indicated by True Shooting %, is nearly the same). Last year, according to TS%, he was a 57.2% shooter. So far this season, he has been a 57.8% shooter, and his offensive rating has also increased from 115.1 to 119.2.
All of this shows why losing him to this ankle injury hurts so bad, because he is an incredible piece when he is out there for the Friars. He has been a better player so far this year than he was last year, and that is playing with the ball in his hands. Imagine how much better those stats will look when he actually gets to run off some ball screens and get some additional open looks?
Before I get myself into trouble, I know LaDontae Henton is playing out of position. He is playing the Small Forward position significantly more than he should be. He is the second ball handler right now with Cotton injured, as opposed to being the third or the fourth.
If anything though, this should start to put to rest one theory: He is not the next James Harden outside of a resemblance in shooting technique. He doesn’t have the handle, he doesn’t have the foot speed. Let’s just let Buckets be Buckets.
Now, one thing that stands out, as it should, is possessions. Last year, Henton only had an outcome in 19.5% of possessions, and this year that number has increased to 29.1%, so you can tell he is more involved with things.
However, while for most that increase is good, for Henton, the effect of not having Council around is more than noticeable.
Offensive Rating: Last year, 109.7 This year, 84.6
True Shooting Percentage: Last year, 54.1% This year, 44%
Three Point Percentage: Last year, 39.3% This year, 21.4%
Rebounds: Last year, 8.6 This year, 5.5
Turnovers: Last year, 1.7 This year, 4.5
It has only been four games, but that is still 13.3% of the schedule, and who knows when Council gets healthy. He has been playing outside of his element, outside of his game. He has let the game speed him up, something he cannot do.
I don’t think Henton is done or fried or anything bad, but I do think he is supposed to be a leader, and despite averaging 1.7 more points per game, every significant statistic to me has gone down for him. He needs to step up and be the efficient, clutch LaDontae that we all fell in love with.
Dan Dakich spent all night Friday telling viewers that LaDontae could either “win the game for you or lose the game for you.” That is not the Henton we watched his freshman year, who let the game come to him, and I do think Dakich was 100% right in his assessment.
Talk about the tale of two venues. Fortune could not hit the side of a barn in Providence, and he goes to Puerto Rico and is impressing everybody. We all knew he could shoot, but the question was if he had the onions to step up when it mattered, and I think that question has slowly started to be answered.
Just some quick points, his offensive rating this season so far is 95.7, better than LaDontae, but for a pure shooter, it is hard not to be disappointed that his true shooting percentage is only 45.1%.
And while he has turned the ball over frequently, his Assist to Turnover Ratio is still 1.3, so at least he is getting players the ball to some extent, despite playing some point, a position more foreign to him than Cotton.
But just for laughs, compare his Providence games to Puerto Rico:
Providence: 4.5 ppg, 22.2% FG, 12.5% 3, 2 RPG (rebounds), 4.5 apg (assists), 1 bpg (block), 1 tpg (turnover)
Puerto Rico: 13.5 ppg, 55% FG, 37.5% 3, 3 RPG, 1.5 apg, 0 bpg, 3.5 tpg
So it is interesting to me the correlation, shooting is up, assists down and turnovers up. Shooting is down, assists up and turnovers down.
In his defense though, the weapons around him while he was playing point weren’t necessarily good by any means. Batts is likely going to take guys more off the dribble, same with Henton, but obviously you would have preferred if he did not have 7 turnovers against Penn St. Like Cotton, he should be at his best coming off screens and getting open looks, so the fact that he has been a solid piece outside of his role, that is something to be happy about. After all, Ed Cooley does preach VERSATILITY.
When Lee had two power slams against UMASS on Thursday night, as a fan we could only hope that Lee was turning the corner and finally was going to play with some fire, until Friday night when it looked all like a mirage and Goldsbrough played timid out there. Granted, he handled the ball with some poise, he rebounded some, but if he was 6’5 or Bancroft was 6’9, would you notice a difference between them, besides the fact one had a scholarship and the other doesn’t?
Now, it could start that his offensive rating is lower than it has been in any season since he has been a Friar. 10-11 it was 89.1. 11-12 it was 123.1. 12-13 it has been 75.5. His true shooting percentage has also decreased so far this season, as last year it was 73 and this year it has been 59.3. Granted, he has been a part of more possessions this year (10.3 compared to 6.4), but his offensive rating is really the barometer there, and 75.5 is just not good enough in the Big East.
Granted, all of these point to signs of Lee losing significant playing time once Sidiki Johnson’s gains his eligibility, whether later this month as John Rooke says is a good possibility, or before Colgate in December. If he plays less scared, especially on offense, maybe there is some hope to turn things around there.
Here is a guy who has shown steady improvement from his freshman to sophomore year. Granted, he has been in the program for three years now, but the Cooley impact can definitely be seen. He actually wants the ball, which is the sign of an improved big man in the post, not scared away by contact or lack of moves.
Those are things that wouldn’t necessarily be reflected in points per game stats (where he only averages 3.2). But look at things like offensive rating (115.9 to 101.5), or true shooting percentage (77.6 to 59.2), those are places where you can see his offensive improvement. He is also grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game, so when he and Batts are on the court together, it makes sense why LaDontae Henton is having a hard time getting his.
So you can definitely notice the improvement there in his game so far this year. Granted, yes again it has only been four games, but these are things that you can see are most four game samples than one game aberrations.
Ted “WHITE LIGHTNING” Bancroft
Does anything really need to be said? I touched on it in the beginning about his minutes, but to him it must be a dream. His offensive rating is 94.5, so if you choose to believe it, he has had more positive offensive interactions than LaDontae Henton and Joshua Fortune, and it is believable, as he isn’t credited with many bad shots or turnovers, so when he is involved, usually it is a positive play. His TS% is only 43.1 though, so clearly he needs to build off of his 2/6 from the floor and 1/2 from the FT so far through four games. Regardless, great kid, plays hard, and I’m proud to call him a Friar.
There are not many teams out there that could give such detailed player by player analysis due to the fact that they have 13 or 14 guys playing, but it definitely is nice to be able to see the improvement and hustle of these guys game in and game out.
That concludes the Crunch for this week. Make sure to watch PC and UNC-Asheville at 11 AM. That is a team who lost some pieces from last year, but almost beat #1 Syracuse last year if it weren’t for a few “questionable” calls against them, noticeably an out of bounds call late in the game that cost them a possession down three points.
If Cotton plays, I think PC wins rather easily. If he does not, I think it is closer to 55/45 I’d favor PC.
And remember, follow @rjsuperfly for more twitter nonsense like this.