Lance Stephenson was the last Bearcat drafted into the NBA. He's been the only 1 and done of the Mick Cronin era so far. He was the only Bearcat to win an individual award while UC was in the Big East. Stephenson was the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2010. Lance didn't have an incredible year at UC, nor did he have much early NBA success. He barely played his rookie year. He was a spot guy in the rotation last year. This season though, Stephenson has broken out. He started 72 games. He's started every playoff game. He averaged 8.8, 3.4 and 2.4 for the regular season. When you watch Indiana in the playoffs, Lance is a guy that stands out because of his play.
Last night, Indiana tried to put away the New York Knicks in game 5 of that series. Indiana was down 6 in the second quarter when Lance took matters into his own hands. Watch.
Lance thought he could come down the lane and get an easy dunk. He thought he could make a big impression on the game. In a way, this drive represents his career. The first few steps were his illustrious high school career. The slowing down was most of his college career. Then the road block of Tyson Chandler came and put Lance on his ass. That would represent being drafted in the second round, rarely playing as a rookie and getting arrested for pushing his girlfriend down the steps. Lance would get up and keep going, which he has done this season with his fine effort.
In a way, this clip of Lance Stephenson trying to put Tyson Chandler on a poster and failing miserably is a metaphor or analogy for our lives. We are going to have moments where our ideas look like they are great ones, be it in our personal relationships, work lives, or even more mundane decisions like what to eat for dinner. Then Tyson Chandler comes and puts you on your ass. That would represent getting dumped, finding out that your significant other is a terrible person, not getting the promotion or actually being put on your ass by that terrible dinner decision. All we can do is what Lance and the Pacers did. Shake off the affects, call timeout, come up with a new plan and get back in the game.
David Nyarsuk came to Cincinnati as the tallest Bearcat ever at 7'1. Unless he has a horrible shrinking disease, he will leave Cincinnati as the tallest player ever. David played in 33 of the 34 Cincinnati contests. He even started 2 of them. He played 11 minutes a game. Dave used 13.3% of the Cincinnati possessions. He took shots on 12.3% of them. That means he turned the ball over a lot. And he did. 27% of the UC possessions that ended with Nyarsuk were capped off by him turning the ball over. Dave was pretty solid from the field. He was 39-66, 59%. He attempted only 23 shots during conference play. You would think the big guy who was hitting 6 of 10 shots would get a lot of shots, but that was not the case. Nyarsuk was a poor foul shooter because of his horrible shooting form. He was 8-15, 53.3%. One of his free throws this year hit the far side of the right block. It was very funny. David averaged 2.6 points a game.
You would think a 7'1 player would dominate the glass, especially in the non-conference. That was not the case. David averaged 2.5 boards a game. 1.1 of them were off the offensive glass. He pulled in 10.2% of the offensive rebounds, which isn't that great. He wasn't great, hell no one on this team was, on the defensive glass by pulling in just under 14%. It was a solid team rebounding squad.
Nyarsuk had 7 assists to 22 turnovers. He had 2 steals. Dave's strength was being very tall and blocking shots. He blocked 29, pretty much 1 per game. He blocked 8.2% of the shot attempts while on the floor. What Dave wasn't good at was blocking shots and keeping position without fouling. He averaged 1.5 fouls a game, remember he played 11 minutes on average, and fouled out of 3 contests. Even with playing at the back end of blowouts early on, Nyarsuk's plus minus was only 19. His Roland was -111. That doesn't seem good.
The season started off very well for David. UC played a lot of terrible teams with no height. Dave put up 9, 6 and 2 blocks in the opener while playing a season high 24 minutes. Dave followed that with 8-3. Against NCAA tournament team NC A&T, Big Dave had 6 points, 6 boards, 5 blocks, 1 assist and 3 turnovers in just 12 minutes. He filled up the stat line against an NCAA tournament team. He put 6-4-1 block and 1 steal up the next game.
Dave played 23 minutes against Iowa St in Vegas, the most minutes by far he played against someone good. He had 5 points and 5 rebounds in the win. He followed that with 5 rebounds against Oregon, but he fouled out in 11 minutes. Dave did nothing against Alabama before posting a career best 12 points on 5-6, with 6 rebounds. He had 2 turnovers and 4 fouls in that game. Dave became a turnover machine starting with that game. He had 4-2-2 blocks-3 turnovers and 4-5-1 block-2 turnovers the following 2 games. Nyarsuk played 20 minutes total against Xavier and Wright State, the highlight being a 4 block game against WSU. He scored 2 in the Bearcats loss to New Mexico before his defining performance of the season.
When Biggie McClain was a Bearcat, he had one random game where his height paid off when UC was in foul trouble. He pulled in some boards and scored some points in a key UC win. Dave had his moment against Pittsburgh. He scored 6 points on 3-3 with 3 huge offensive rebounds, 2 of which came very late. Nyarsuk helped seal up a key UC victory.
And that was pretty much it for Big Dave. He went for 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block the next 3 games. He had 4 points and 3 boards against ND. He scored when UC was making a short run late. The 5 games after that he scored 4 points on 3-7, with 7 rebounds and 7 blocks. He blocked 4 shots against Marquette before fouling out in the overtime win. Dave scored 2 against Seton Hall, 2 against PC and 2 against Georgetown. The UConn rematch saw Dave kick in 17 big minutes. He had 6 points, 6 boards and 2 blocks. He scored 2 with 5 boards against Louisville and then didn't have another point or rebound the rest of the season. The game he missed was the Big East tournament win over Providence.
Before the season started, I wrote a piece about David in which I predicted he wouldn't play more than 10 minutes and that he wouldn't average 3 and 3. That was unfortunately correct. I also joked that people would call him Nyarsuck, which they did. Dave has 1 thing going for him that opens all the doors in basketball. That is that he is 7 feet tall, kind of athletic and he can dribble. Coaches think they can mold guys like this. In fact, Mick said this when UC signed Dave:
Mick Cronin is quoted in the linked piece earlier saying that Nyarsuk's strengths are "catching lobs, finishing around the rim and making free throws. He made over 70 percent from the line. He’s not a guy that you’re going to throw the ball to 15 times a game but that’s not what we need in our style. We need a shot blocker and a rebounder and that’s what he is.”
That was just not correct at all. Nyarsuk could have hit 80% in practice, but he was awful during games. He was very good at catching lobs. He was very bad at finishing around the rim because once someone put a body on him, he would wilt. He was easily pushed around. Dave was a shot blocker, but he was not a rebounder. Dave didn't average double digits in high school or as a junior college player. To expect him to average double digits, or anywhere close to decent percentages, in the Big East was wishful thinking.
If you read the piece I wrote when UC signed Dave, I never expected him to be good. If you read this piece, you would know that he wasn't very good. Yes he had his good games because he is a division 1 basketball player and they can all have good games because they are very talented. What he didn't bring was any kind of consistency or strong play. And I do mean physically strong. Too often Dave would be pushed off the block on offense or down under the basket on defense. He could block shots when people went right at him, but they could also go right at him and draw fouls because he was bad on defense. UC is in a bit of a roster crunch and there are a lot of people who want to see Dave not come back. I think he will be back. 7 footers who can block shots and rebound on occasion are too valuable to cast aside. Even if they don't have fancy stats, they can still turn a game. Like Pitt or the UConn home win. Nyarsuk could have some mild growth like Cheikh Mbodj did. I doubt he would turn into the player Mbodj could be at times, but I also doubt that in more minutes he would post 2.5 and 2.5 again. That would raise. Even a 4-4 Nyarsuk would be a nice contributor. Especially early in the season, especially on lobs. I don't think UC players looked to lob to him enough. This was a bad passing Bearcats team. Maybe next year will see better passing and easier baskets for a guy who can covert easy baskets. It seems that I've talked myself into thinking Nyarsuk can be a decent play next season and I haven't, but if you were convinced that is good enough for me.
The random questions are back. Just like Andrew Wiggins committing to Kansas, they are very important. I'm joined this week by my good friends Patrick Johnson, formerly of Big East Coast Bias fame, Jamie DeVriend of the great USF site Voodoo Five and my good pal Norman from the St John's blog Rumble in the Garden.
I asked the guys questions on a variety of topics such as college basketball rule changes they would make, the NBA, annoying athletes and very tall buildings. Before we get into the questions, let me publicly thank Jamie, Patrick and Norman for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to follow them on twitter. I'm sure a lot of you do already but if you aren't, what are you waiting for?
A quick key, Jamie will be JD, Patrick PJ and Norman will be N. Questions are in bold. Simple.
I've watched a lot of the NBA playoffs the last month or so and I've greatly appreciated the style of play compared to college. I've always thought it was silly to compare college to the pros since, hey they are pros, but my question is what do you prefer, college basketball or the NBA?
JD: I don't really care for one over the other and don't understand why anyone should have to choose between them. You can have great games in both and you can have horrible games in both. Although you'd never see anything like Robert Morris over Kentucky in the NBA, so I guess college is better in that respect.
PJ: I prefer college basketball to the pros. The atmosphere with students and the brass band is completely different (and better) in my opinion. You really feel like you can impact the game in the crowd at a college event. One of my favorite basketball moments was watching an unranked LSU (my undergrad) team defeat then No. 1 ranked Arizona at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in 2002. The student section rushed the court after the win and the scene was put on the schedule poster for the next season.
N: Well, duh, college! Or else I'd write a Knicks blog! The college game is definitely more variable, in some ways less predictable (but in some ways just as predictable as the NBA). Sure it's silly to compare - they're very different games with different accepted practices - the NBA is much more about the individual and quick actions (that are often well-schemed out) whereas the college game is often about slower-developing plays, stalls, and team play.
I like college's style of play. I like the deliberateness. I like the defense and the sloppiness. The players could use more skill, and the rules could be more conducive to a freer-flowing game, but I love the passion and grit of the game. The NBA has a higher level of play - the defense in the Indiana/ Knicks series is pretty awesome, for example, and the ability for these players to take and make jump shots from all over is refreshing. But the NBA's regular season is completely boring and too long. Teams are out of it by mid-year, and even the playoffs lack some drama until the later rounds.
Separate question, do the lack of rule changes to a hurting college game disenchant you at all? The rule that needed to be changed was the shot clock. The only rule that was changed was if an offensive player is taking off to jump, that's an automatic block instead of a charge. What rules would you add or subtract if you had the power?
JD: I disagree that the shot clock needed to be changed, because that would just lead to teams with no offensive imagination pounding out five fewer seconds on the clock before taking a bad shot. The rule I want to see changed is to let teams move the ball into the frontcourt on timeouts at the end of games. Take the Ohio State game in the round of 32, when Aaron Craft hit that dagger 3 with like half a second left. Was there any way in hell that Iowa State was going to come back and tie the game? Of course not. But we still had to have a timeout and watch the Cyclones try and set up a ridiculous play from full court that had no chance of going in. Let them inbound it from the frontcourt, like they do in the NBA? Now you have a shot.
On the flip side, I want the NBA to adopt the one-and-one at the free throw line. That would be a lot of fun late in games.
PJ: The rules in the college game don't bother me half as much as the refs. Out of frustration, I knew them by name watching SEC and Big East games and got to know their quirks and biases. One rule I would instate is that if an offensive player purposefully jumps or runs into a defensive player trying to draw a foul and then attempts a shot which has no reasonable chance of hitting the rim, it's not a defensive foul but instead a turnover. I hate those plays and the fact that some guys make a career out of them. It's not real basketball to me.
N: I like the shot clock as is. Shortening the shot clock with the same rules just makes the game slightly more ragged. I would find a way to discourage the bumping of players off the ball... or some other rules to get more movement in the game towards the basket.
Bob Stoops made some weird comments about the SEC when he basically said "So what they've had the national champ and a lot of top 10 teams recently, those 10th-14th place teams in the standings blow." Instead of reacting to those comments, put yourself in Bob Stoops' shoes and try to come up with reasonable justification for that statement.
JD: There isn't any. It was stupid. The only point I want to make off his statement is how I'm done with SEC fans acting like they have some Lake Wobegon league where everyone is above average. Just because Kentucky played in the SEC last year didn't mean they weren't a God-awful football team. That's right, SEC, YOU HAVE TEAMS THAT ARE BAD AT FOOTBALL LIKE EVERY OTHER LEAGUE. And it's not because they have to play Alabama and LSU and Florida and whoever else. They suck on their own terms.
PJ: Stoops' league doesn't want to or can't expand in value past 10 teams right now and he's trying to deflect a perceived weakness. He knows full well the SEC has been better than his team in the big game (LSU and Florida) but doesn't want his conference to get overlooked for seeding when the playoff starts.
N: He's right. There are a lot of DePauls in the SEC - and it's even worse in basketball. There are SEC teams that are just happy to be at the table. Every league needs that, someone has to take the beatings, but... the SEC in football isn't all that interesting. There's Alabama and LSU or Florida and some plucky teams of ragtag waifs from the streets of blah blah blah and the farms of yada yada just trying to make an impact. But unlike in the movies, they don't win.
Who do you think is the most annoying athlete in sports? And why?
JD: Since Joey Porter retired, I'll say Marshall Henderson. Look, if you need some kind of douchey persona to get fired up to play, or if you have to be a rageaholic, then whatever. But if you don't have an off switch and you act like that when you aren't playing, then you're just annoying.
PJ: Most annoying athlete for me is Steven Lenhart of the San Jose Earthquakes. He's a good physical forward but takes getting under the opponents' skin too far and gets involved in dangerous plays that can get guys hurt.
N: I'd like it to be Jay Cutler, but he hasn't started lecturing on "parenting" and having a "way" and how we all need to find the version of God he's found, so I am sure there's someone more annoying. Like all of the St. Louis Cardinals. Or Tiki Barber. Or maybe it's Nate Robinson. Or on a positive annoyance side, maybe Kevin Garnett, Joakim Noah, Mario Balotelli, Clint Dempsey.
I had a Good Charlotte song come up on my itunes shuffle the other day because I bought the cd that had the song from Madden back in 2002 or 2003 and for some reason put it on my computer. It was very embarrassing because Good Charlotte was awful and I think I was doing a lot of drugs that ruined my mind back then. (Note: I was not doing drugs). That long lead up leads to this question, what song or album is on your itunes, or computer or whatever, that embarrasses you when it comes on?
JD: It's either this Ja Rule song I just deleted, or "Brand New Day" by Sting. I might delete that one too. I also bought a few queefcore songs back when we did our first basketball season theme on our blog, but I'm keeping those. (ED: Boo to Jamie for not naming names here)
PJ: Embarrassing song: "Lucky Star," Madonna. I own the Snatch soundtrack and whenever the song comes on I just let it play because I enjoyed this scene from the movie too much to skip it:
N: I know that song.
None of my songs embarrass me. I openly love the Spice Girls' "Spice Up Your Life". I'll play the New Kids' "The Right Stuff" without shame. Wait, wait. I know, either the Ying Yang Twins "The Whisper Song" or The Smut Peddlers' "Talk Like Sex". Both of those are way too gross to play in public. The Olsen Twins line in the Smut Peddlers' (the rap group, not the punk group) song... that's wrong. It was 2001 when that came out.
The spire for the WTC went up on Friday. The building is 1,776 feet high, the tallest in the western hemisphere. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world at 2,722 feet. There are videos of people sitting on top of it.
Tom Cruise just chilled on top of it with no shoes. Would you ever do that? Or did you get kind of sweaty palms just from watching the video like I did?
JD: I have a crippling fear of heights. Did you ever see that documentary "Man on Wire" about Philippe Petit, the guy who walked across the two World Trade Center towers on a high wire in the 70s? My wife and I saw it in a theater and just seeing footage of that on a 50-foot screen made me light-headed. So yeah, I don't think you could even get me into the Burj Khalifa, let alone up on the top of it.
PJ: I have no intention of ever sitting at the top of a tall building as in the videos. Much better things to do and eat in both of the cities where the buildings are too.
Thanks again to Jamie, Patrick and Norman for answering my questions. If you have any suggestions for who I should talk to in the future, or if you want to answer the questions yourself, drop me a line. Until next time.
yesterday I wrote a season review about Jermaine Sanders. In the post, I made a claim that Sanders did not have more than a handful of baskets that he created on his own. If no one assisted him, Sanders didn't score was my primary point. Since I couldn't find the assist percentage on made shots at Basketball State before my free page views wore off, I have to manually look at all of Jermaine Sanders' baskets. This sounds like a lot more work than it really it. Sanders only scored 38 baskets. He didn't score a basket in 12 of those games.
Why didn't you do a post like this during the season? That's a good question. The answer is simple. The game to game sample of Sanders made field goals were so small that they didn't really matter. When you add them up for a whole season things get interesting. We will find out how interesting in a few minutes.
This is going to be a pure list of the made baskets by Sanders. The following will look like this.
#) Type of basket - assisted yes or no - assisted by
It's that simple. The list is after the jump due to obvious reasons.
The season review series continues with Jermaine Sanders. I figure I might as well cover everyone but the big 3 and save those guys for last. Today and tomorrow will feature a couple of players competing for minutes at the power forward spot. Today is obviously Sanders because I said it was him. Previous entries about Jeremiah Davis, Alex Eppensteiner and Kelvin Gaines, Ge'Lawn Guyn, Justin Jackson and Shaq Thomas can be found by clicking on their names.
Jermaine Sanders played 13 minutes a game this season. He was a part of every Cincinnati game, even starting 1. Sanders was not keen on using many possessions, under 16%, nor did he shoot a lot at just over 16%. His offensive rating saw modest improvement from 94.5 to 96.7. While that was up, his shooting percentages were down. Sanders was 38-103 from the field which is 37%. He went 13-48, 27% from 3. He was 17-32, 53% at the free throw line. His effective field goal %, which weighs 3s, went from 46.4% to 43.2%. His true shooting %, weighs 3s and free throws, went from 47.4% to 44.8%. Sanders scored 106 points, 3.1 a game.
Jermaine improved on the boards. He went from 1.2 a game to 2.1. He improved his offensive and defensive rebounding percentages a full point each. Neither of them were great numbers but there was improvement with his bump in minutes which is what you want to see. Sanders was a decent passer with 26 assists to 21 turnovers. One of the rare Bearcat bench players with a positive assist/turnover ratio. Jermaine showed some defensive prowess with 11 steals. He had 1 the season before. He also blocked 3 shots.
Sanders started the season playing 15 minutes a game the first 6 contests. He had a solid opener with 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 point. Sanders ripped off 8 points in the Bearcats only 100 point output of the season against Mississippi Valley on 3-5 shooting. He had 3 boards, an assist and a steal. He followed with 2-3-1 against NCAA tournament team NC A&T and 4-2-1 against Campbell. Jermaine played 19 solid minutes against Iowa State. He hit a pair of 3 pointers, his first of the season, in a 6 point, 3 rebound, 2 assist effort. In the championship game against Oregon, Sanders had 7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Solid minutes.
After the first 6 games, Sanders saw his minutes cut. He played 9 with 4 points against Alabama. He filled out the stat line wonderfully against UALR with 5 points on 2-5, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. He had 2-2 against UMES and 4-4 against Marshall. Sanders missed his next 8 field goals over the next 4 games scoring just 2 points over that span. He had 4 rebounds against Wright State in his best effort. Jermaine got off the schneid with a bucket in the UC loss to St John's.
That basket seemed to get Sanders going because he sure made up for the cold streak with his best back to back games as a Bearcat. He scored 8 points on 3-5 shooting against ND. The highlight being back to back 3s in the firs half. Sanders scored 9 on 3-5 shooting with 2 rebounds in a win at Rutgers. After a modest 2-3-2 assist game against DePaul, Sanders scored 6 with 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and a block in the overtime win against Marquette. Jermaine played 20 minutes that game and 23 the next 3. He scored 2 points combined on 1-4 shooting with 6 rebounds in the span. He missed his only shot in 10 minutes against Providence before a solid 4 point, 4 rebound game against Pitt. Sanders knocked down a couple of 3s in a 7 point, 4 rebound performance in the rout of Villanova. Jermaine took a regular season high 6 shots against Georgetown, 5 from 3, but made only 1 two pointer in the loss. After being scoreless in the loss at ND, Sanders poured in 9 on 3-4 shooting with 4 rebounds and 2 steals in the win vs UConn.
The last 5 games saw Sanders score 8 points total after the 9 point performance against the Huskies. He had 3 rebounds and 2 assists against Louisville and 2 points, 2 assists against USF to close the regular season. Getting quality time in the Big East tournament blowout win over Providence saw Sanders score 6 points on a season high 7 shot attempts. He had 2 boards and a steal in that game. Jermaine went 0-2 in just 12 minutes in the blowout loss against Georgetown. He played just 2 minutes against Creighton where he missed a 3 pointer and had a rebound.
Jermaine Sanders doesn't really have a reputation when you think about him. He is not thought of to be a great shooter. He is not thought of to be a great rebounder. He is not thought of to be a great passer. He isn't someone that adds a lot to the game nor is he someone that makes UC visibly worse when he is on the floor. Sanders had a plus minus of 29. He was about a plus 1 on average. That is the definition of average.
The one thing that stands out about Sanders is that he is left handed. He has nice form on his jump shot. You've seen the stats though. He needs to find what he's good at and go with that. Jermaine needs to find his little niche with the team next year. He can play. He was a highly thought of recruit. He has had some solid games.
I'm wary to say there is a lot of potential here but I do think that Sanders could be a guy that can hit you a couple 3s, grab a couple of rebounds and generally play some solid reserve minutes. Not everyone has to be a superstar. Some players have to grow into their roles. I really think that Jermaine Sanders can grow into a role next season. He can't get his own shot though. I think that Sanders had nearly all of his baskets off of assists. For the longest part of the season, every made basket was off an assist. The shots he got for himself had to be in the single digits. You could count them on one hand. Maybe there will be a follow up post to this. That's something that has to change, the not creating made field goals. Or it can not change. Sanders can be the Shane Battier who stands in the corner shooting 3s while other guys do all the creating. There is no shame in that as long as you make the shots. Confidence seems to be an issue with Sanders as well. I'm not entirely sure it is because I don't know him, don't know his demeanor, only he knows that, but I do know that he barely uses any possessions, he doesn't shoot a lot, he doesn't get a lot of assists and that couldn't have been the player he was in high school. There can be a lot of pressure on recruits to come in to college and be something they aren't. They could find that the skill set that got them to a major school isn't going to work and they have to do something different. I hope that Jermaine Sanders figures out his game this summer. There is no reason for him to be such a poor shooter. Besides the fact maybe he's just a poor shooter I guess. I like to think that someone with that jump shot is not. Progression is key for everyone. It's time for Jermaine Sanders to progress.