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November = Hoops = Less Uncontrollable Sobbing

It doesn’t take more than a pair of eyes and rudimentary level of literacy to understand that the 2005 Syracuse hoops season is going to be fairly frustrating. With a glaring problem of depth in the frontcourt and inconsistency dogging the Gerry McNamara-led backcourt, the Orange is bound to go through some serious growing pains this season.

Twenty wins is a reasonable possibility, but Coach Boeheim is really going to have to put in a terrific coaching effort to get the Orange to that plateau considering the unyielding series of landmines that will be this team’s Big East Conference schedule.

Many outlets have already catalogued Syracuse’s strengths and shortcomings and there is no reason to repeat many of these sentiments. As such, the following serves as material supplemental to those previews.

This blog has always been dedicated to the promulgation of original content generated by an alternative approach to reasoned analysis. Throughout the football season this was done, albeit sporadically, through different statistical means, although primarily from a team approach. For basketball season, this notebook will incorporate many of the methods and approaches developed and adapted by John Gassaway, Ken Pomeroy, and others as an effort to further the scope of discourse created by such analysis.

Without further ado, here are a bunch of wonky-looking numbers.

[Returning Players]
The data below represents the production value generated by Syracuse’s returning players from 2004 (sans Matt Gorman who redshirted last season). For a primer on the statistical values employed, the following may be of assistance:

PPWS
Reb%
A/100

Returning Players
PlayerPPGPPWSReb%A/100
T. Burach1.41.19732.030.00
R. DiLiegro0.42.008.010.00
L. McCroskey5.560.8968.223.607
G. McNamara15.821.0913.668.251
D. Nichols3.930.9509.162.212
T. Roberts7.211.15311.951.947
D. Watkins3.651.19713.391.794
D. Wright1.30.94512.782.329
J. Wright1.370.6884.1912.171

[Non-returning Players of Significance]
The data below represents the production value generated by Syracuse’s non-returning players from 2004 (sans walkons).

Non-returning Players
PlayerPPGPPWSReb%A/100
B. Edelin4.01.0524.486.6397
C. Forth4.651.12614.731.615
J. Pace10.821.1448.416.708
H. Warrick21.351.19212.932.329

[Newcomers of Significance]

Fresh Faces
PlayerPosHtWtStar Rating
E. DevendorfSG6'3"1754
A. OnuakuC6'9"2553
A. RautinsSG6'4"1651

[Around 800 Words Concerning the 2005/6 Orange]
Gerry McNamara
Gerry McNamara has all the tools to become an unstoppable force in the college game. The only thing holding back the Scranton Sharpshooter is his, at times, deplorable shot selection. While averaging almost 16 points a game last season, this was more the residue of McNamara lofting up an incredible amount of shots rather than knocking down jumpers at an efficient rate.

McNamara’s points per weighted shot (PPWS) is a great indicator of this fact. With a PPWS of 1.091, McNamara was a fairly average shooter (in terms of efficiency) despite his legendary reputation as a long range marksman. This conclusion is further supported by McNamara’s pedestrian 49.31 effective field goal percentage (about 3 points lower than the team’s effective field goal percentage – 52.35)

In short, it’s not a question of Syracuse finding ways for McNamara to get his shots; it’s a matter of McNamara selecting what shots he should take when delivered the leather.

One other note on McNamara: he is by far a better court general than critics give him credit for. Having an assists per 100 possessions value of 8.251, McNamara is more than capable at dishing the rock to capable finishers. He can play the point efficiently, and this will be a great weapon should Josh Wright falter or the need arises to play either Eric Devendorf or Louie McCroskey with McNamara in the backcourt.

Terrence Roberts
Roberts’ performance this season may ultimately decide whether Syracuse is a four seed this season or a low eight. He is the epitome of an “X Factor” and has some large shoes to fill with the absence of Hakim Warrick.
Despite playing on 18.5 minutes per contest last season, Roberts made the most of his opportunities. Relying mostly on a wide array of tongue-wagging dunks and sly, back to the basket play, Roberts was quite efficient as a finisher closing the season with a 1.153 PPWS. Not shabby considering virtually all of his attempts came from inside the arc and away from the charity stripe.

The question will be whether Roberts can maintain this kind of efficiency as he becomes the second or third scoring option on the floor rather than the fourth guy to touch the leather. If he can, Syracuse will not have to rely on playing stingy defense and driving down the number of possessions afforded to an opponent.

Speaking of defense, Roberts is going to have to fill the rebounding void created by Hakim Warrick’s and Josh Pace’s departure. Roberts’ rebound percentage mark of 11.9 last season is respectable, but considering that it was generated with the assistance of two adequate Windex men in Warrick and Pace, Roberts will have to become very assertive on the glass this season. Demetris Nichols has never been strong on the glass and given Matt Gorman’s questionable ability to bang underneath, Roberts is going to have to shoulder a large load.

Louis McCroskey & Demetris Nichols
If you’re not rebounding and not playing spectacular defense, you better be able to shoot.

And last season, McCroskey and Nichols couldn’t. The numbers don’t lie here.

In 2004, Nichols registered a PPG of 3.9, a PPWS of 0.950, and an eFG% of only 45.15. In an apparent effort to outpace his classmate, McCroskey took the bar even lower with a PPG of 5.6, a PPWS of 0.896, and an eFG% of only 44.

Given the makeup of the 2005/6 edition of the Orange those numbers just aren’t going to cut it. Nichols and McCroskey need to become viable options on the floor because relying on a freshman (Devendorf) to drop 10 to 15 points a game is a dangerous proposition. And given the fact that these two guys are going from 15 to 20 minutes a game players to 20 or 25 minutes a game options, there is little room for them to continue their inconsistent play from last season.

Darryl Watkins
The four words that Watkins needs to keep in his head this season is the following: Stay on the floor.

Despite logging only 14.0 minutes a game last season, Watkins managed to register 55 total personal fouls in 26 games. That amounts to just over a foul every 6 minutes. As the only center on this team with any sort of meaningful collegiate experience, taking fouls at that rate cannot occur. Especially considering the potential force (both offensively and defensively) Watkins could be inside for the Orange this season, Watkins needs to find a way to avoid being disqualified.

Watkins may not have the intangibles that Craig Forth did (i.e. setting screens, making faces of frustration, fastidiously adhering to the layup over the power slam), but his production was just as efficient, if not more (Watkins logged an eFG% of 61.19 compared to Forth’s 54.7 eFG%). And all this came as a sophomore.

With this in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Watkins become a valuable inside option much along the same lines as Etan Thomas was, and given the fact that Syracuse hasn’t had an inside offensive/defensive presence like Thomas since he graduated, this could become a great weapon for Coach Boeheim.

It’s all about balance. And balance, in the end, benefits everyone.

1 Responses to “November = Hoops = Less Uncontrollable Sobbing”

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