Resolutions

Marcus Smart

New Year’s Resolutions: Oklahoma State Cowboys

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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES OKLAHOMA STATE PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Rebound the ball

  • Why it will happen: Oklahoma State isn’t short on athletes. Markel Brown, Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash, Michael Cobbins, Brian Williams, Kamari Murphy. These are all kids that are capable of putting on a dunking show. The ability to rebound is equal parts positioning, boxing out and want-to. It has as much to do with effort as it does size, and given the Cowboy’s athleticism, this group should be able to improve on their currently-mediocre rebounding numbers.
  • Why it won’t happen: There’s a reason that the Cowboys are currently sitting 147th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and 179th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage: they may be athletic, but they aren’t all that big up front. Michael Cobbins and Kamari Murphy are Travis Ford’s two biggest big guys, and they both check in at a slender, 6-foot-8. Le’Bryan Nash plays the four for the Pokes, but he’s never been a great rebounder, either. What happens when this team goes up against someone like Kansas or Kentucky, who has a massive front line?

WHAT DOES OKLAHOMA STATE SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Let Marcus Smart fire away from three

  • Why it will happen: I get it. Marcus Smart is the star of this team. He spent the offseason getting better shooting the ball. But he’s also shooting just 32.3% from three this season after shooting 29.0% from three last season. He can make threes, but he’s inconsistent. He’s streaky. And he’s taken more threes than anyone else on the Cowboys roster this season. More than Phil Forte (46.9%), Markel Brown (41.9%), and Stevie Clark (40.7%). Smart shouldn’t stop shooting. But he should be more selective.
  • Why it won’t happen: This is Smart’s team. He’s the star, he’s the leader, he’s the decision-maker. If he thinks a shot that he takes is a good shot, who is going to quibble with him?

New Year’s Resolutions: Creighton Bluejays

Doug McDermott
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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES CREIGHTON PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Become a more disruptive defensive team.

  • Why it will happen: Creighton may have the best offensive player and offense in the country, but their defense has holes that may come back to bite them as they embark on their first season in the Big East. With a team that is so high-powered on offense with a bevy of shooters, they will be able to get by — for the most part — with a mediocre defense. Guards Devin Brooks and Jahenns Manigat are both more than adequate perimeter defenders, and they should match-up well with the top guards in the Big East.
  • Why it won’t happen: Their defensive numbers actually don’t look too bad through the non-conference as they give up 65 ppg, but what is of concern is their inability to force turnovers. The Bluejays played a very pedestrian non-conference schedule, and the Big East figures to pose a much greater challenge to their defense. The prior two seasons, Creighton’s defense was actually worse than it is the year, so improvement has been made. However, not having a stopper in the paint like Greg Echenique will make it difficult to defend teams like Marquette and Georgetown who have imposing front-courts.

WHAT DOES CREIGHTON SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Head coach Greg McDermott will not have as short of a leash for guard Devin Brooks.

  • Why it will happen: Devin Brooks is in his first season with Creighton after transferring from Iowa Western CC. The Creighton offense isn’t one that anybody can simply step into and excel, but Brooks has done a solid job thus far coming off the bench as he’s averaging 8.1 points, 4.0 rpg, and 2.9 assists in just over 16 minutes of action — very productive. With the Big East featuring some of the best guards in the country, don’t be surprised if Brooks has his minutes extended and McDermott allows him to play through mistakes.
  • Why it won’t happen: Creighton is averaging nearly 83 ppg and, as previously mentioned, may have the best offense in the country. Why tamper with that? Senior shooting guard Jahenns Manigat, who is in his fourth season with Creighton, boasts a 2.9:1 assist to turnover ratio, while starting point guard Austin Chatman leads the team with assists at 4.3 per game. Until Creighton begins to struggle in the Big East or Brooks plays so well in practices / games that he leaves McDermott no choice but to see more minutes, Brooks will continue his role off the bench playing 15 minutes or so a night.

New Year’s Resolutions: Villanova Wildcats

Ryan Arcidiacono
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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES VILLANOVA PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Receive more production from Ryan Arcidiacono.

  • Why it will happen: For the amount of time that sophomore guard Ryan Arcidiacono is on the floor — better than 30 minutes per game, which is the most on the team — Villanova needs to start receiving more production from him. There is no doubt that he’s the floor leader and does the little things, but that doesn’t change the fact he’s shooting a mere 35.4% FG and 23.9% 3PT. However, if we are to go by history, Arcidiacono should get better in Big East play. He averaged 11.9 ppg and made double the amount of free throws per game (3.6 to 1.8) last season. Villanova is rolling right now thanks in large part to James Bell, JayVaughn Pinkston, and Darrun Hilliard, but a better Arcidiacono makes the offense that much more dynamic.
  • Why it won’t happen: Arcidiacono’s role on the team isn’t to be a scorer; that’s the aforementioned three players’ job. However, he needs to be more efficient on the offense end. His eFG% (effective FG%) is a poor 43.4%. Averaging 9.0 ppg is fine considering his role, but the amount of shots he’s taking to reach this number makes him inefficient on offense. For his shortcomings on offense, Arcidiacono is a true menace on defense. That counts as “production,” right? It may not come on offense, but Arcidiacono still plays a critical role for Villanova.

WHAT DOES VILLANOVA SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Shoot fewer three-pointers.

  • Why it will happen: It’s not earth-shattering to state Villanova takes a ton of three-pointers. Their rotation consists of just one player taller than 6-foot-7 and, as a result, they rely heavily on shooting from the perimeter. 46.8% of their FGA attempts are from three, which ranks fifth in the nation. Having the three-point shot be such a large part of the offense isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that’s only if a team hits a high percentage of the shots. Look no further than yesterday’s game against Syracuse. Villanova came out on fire, hitting five three-pointers in the first 8:25 of the game, but then went cold going 5-24 the rest of the way, resulting in a relatively easy win for Syracuse. For the season, they are shooting 32.6% 3PT. Aside from Josh Hart, there isn’t a Wildcat shooting better than 40% 3PT. Living and dying by the three is a scary proposition. Expect Jay Wright to go inside more and more during Big East play, especially since Villanova is shooting 54.7% 2PT (19th nationally).
  • Why it won’t happen: With little presence in the post, Villanova will continue to be a jump-shooting team. Daniel Ochefu is the only true threat to score in the paint. James Bell and Darrun Hilliard have both attempted more three-pointers than shots inside the arc, even though they are each combining to shoot a mediocre 35% 3PT. It is easy to critique Villanova’s offensive ability. Ultimately, they hang their hat on the defensive end where they allow a mere .90 points per possession. If the strong defensive play continues, the Wildcats will be able to get away with — in most games — relying on three-pointers.

New Year’s Resolutions: Syracuse Orange

syracuse
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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES SYRACUSE PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Run C.J. Fair off of screens

  • Why it will happen: Looking at his raw numbers, C.J. Fair looks like he is having his best season as a collegian. He’s averaging a career-high 17.8 points and grabbing 5.3 boards as Syracuse as worked their way to No. 2 in the country. On the surface, it looks great. Except that Fair’s efficiency is down this year. He’s yet to find his three-point stroke, which is part of the problem, but he’s also finding himself in too many isolation situations. He’s not a guy that beats people 1-on-1. He’s not a guy that scores with his back to the basket. He’s a spot-up shooter that is lethal curling off of a down-screen.
  • Why it won’t happen: Unfortunately, Syracuse has a number of guys on their roster that aren’t 1-on-1 players. Their front court is big and athletic, but they are dunkers and rebounders and that’s about it. Trevor Cooney is a lights-out shooter, but he’s a catch-and-shoot guy right now. Outside of Tyler Ennis and Fair, there isn’t really anyone else. So even though Fair is scoring just 0.693 points-per-possession (PPP) in isolation situations — which has contributed to his high-turnover rate — he’ll likely be forced to try to beat people 1-on-1 much of the year.

WHAT DOES SYRACUSE SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Give up fewer offensive rebounds and second chance points

  • Why it will happen: This is the issue that the Orange have every season. Only once in the KenPom era have the Orange finished the season in the top 200 in defensive rebounding percentage. That came in 2008, the worst season Syracuse had during that span. This year? Syracuse is grabbing 68.4% of the available defensive rebounds, putting them in the top half of the country. They’re better than they have been.
  • Why it won’t happen: Syracuse plays a zone, and anyone can tell you that it’s more difficult to rebound out of a zone than out of man-to-man defense. Add in the fact that the Orange have a tendency to try to rely on outjumping opponents instead of boxing out, and it’s not a surprise that they struggle cleaning the defensive glass.

New Year’s Resolutions: Connecticut Huskies

Shabazz Napier
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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES CONNECTICUT PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Shabazz Napier’s surrounding cast — mainly Omar Calhoun — will take some of the load off of his shoulders.

  • Why it will happen: Ryan Boatright, Napier’s running mate in the back court, is the second piece of UConn’s potent guard-play. He’s averaging nearly 12 ppg to go along with 3.8 rbg and 3.6 apg, and one of the most dynamite guards in the country when he heats up. Boatright isn’t the issue here, rather it’s sophomore guard Omar Calhoun. Calhoun had high expectations entering the season coming off of a strong freshman campaign where he averaged better than 11 ppg, but has regressed to 8.2 ppg on a poor 34.1% FG. Calhoun has been hot and cold. He began the season with three straight double-digit games, but has gone over ten points just once in the past eight games. The 6-foot-6 Calhoun is a better player than he has shown, and when he finds his groove in this year’s Husky offense, Napier will be the primary beneficiary.
  • Why it won’t happen: Napier has drawn comparisons to Kemba Walker. As the nation saw during the 2010-11 season when UConn won the National Championship, Walker carried them. He bailed the Huskies out countless times. Napier has a similar ability as we saw when he basically single-handily beat Indiana in the final minutes, and then when he connected on a buzzer-beater to defeat Florida. Make no mistake, Napier is the guy at UConn. That’s not a bad thing. However, is Napier feeling too much of the onus to consistently be the guy that this stunts the growth and involvement of those around him? Napier pressed in the second half against Stanford, and was unable to bail UConn out.

WHAT DOES CONNECTICUT SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: End the experiment of inserting a “true” center in the starting line-up and play smaller up-front.

  • Why it will happen: Sophomore center Phillip Nolan has started ten of 11 games for UConn, while freshman Amida Brimah received the other start. Through the non-conference schedule, Nolan simply hasn’t been productive enough to warrant these starts; he is averaging 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds. Meanwhile, Brimah is at 3 ppg and 1.9 rbg. Of course, there is a need for a big bodied center in the line-up at times, but Kevin Ollie should consider going small up-front with DeAndre Daniels and Niels Giffey. Perhaps Ollie likes Giffey’s instant offense coming off the bench, but maximizing his minutes on the floor will benefit Napier and the rest of the offense. He is currently seeing 19.6 mpg and averaging 11.9 points — both could be more.
  • Why it won’t happen: Nolan and Brimah are bother underclassmen and continuing to develop. Pulling Nolan from the starting five and cutting both of their minutes may stunt their development and kill their confidence. Against Washington, Brimah started instead of Nolan, and Nolan played well off the bench — look for Ollie to toy with this strategy in future games. Also, let’s remember that UConn is 10-1 and the No. 15 team in the country. Is making a change to the starting five and potentially ruining the continuity of the team worth the potential reward of inserting Giffey or a Tyler Olander, for instance, instead of Nolan or Brimah?