- Aug 26, 2011
I was exposed to covid and now I'm stuck in quarantine with tons of time on my hands. Luckily we've got a lot of new players and I don't know enough about basketball to make judgements about how good someone is from highlight clips. I really need to watch whole games to form an educated opinion. So I went ahead and watched a ton of games. Here are my opinions. Hopefully you get some entertainment out of my boredom.
Benny Williams 6'9 190 (according to his coach) Height/weight always seems to be a guessing game, but he looks all of 6'9 to me so lets go with it.
The best skill he brings to the table is his jump shot. Its as smooth as any I've seen, and he makes shots at as high a percentage as I've ever seen a high school kid make.
The second best skill he brings to the table is his shot blocking. He's tall, he's long, and he jumps out of the gym. He is a top notch rim protector.
The numbers I found for him (understanding that high school numbers are generally very unreliable) are 14ppg 6rpg 3apg 1.5 bpg. You might not think that sounds like much for a 5 star recruit, but you have to understand his situation. He plays for the basketball factory IMG. Not on their regular varsity team. He plays on their post grad team, which is a bunch of college age kids with college talent. They go around playing other basketball factories and they DEMOLISH them. I watched 7 of their games and no team was within 20 of them by half time. In all 7 games the coach removed all the starters at half time, and played back ups the rest of the way. The point here is, those numbers are being put up in only 13 or 14 minutes of playing time ... I'll let you extrapolate what his per 40 numbers might be. I saved the best stat for last because its the hardest to swallow. According to the site I found, he's shooting 70% from the field and 50% from 3. I know, those are video game numbers. Is it accurate? Maybe and maybe not. I can tell you from the 7 games I watched (which were all blowouts against inferior competition), his shooting numbers seemed right around there. Maybe even better. The kid hardly misses. He's not a huge part of the offense, mind you (nobody dominates the ball for them). He hangs out near the 3 point line and waits for someone to feed him. When they do he usually takes and makes a 3. Sometimes he drives to the basket and finishes. I saw maybe three Michel Jordan-esk turn around jumpers. Not much of a sample size to be sure, but he made them all, and if that is any kind of a reliable weapon, there isn't a college defender capable of bothering him when he takes it.
Lets talk about weaknesses now. The only one is his youth. He's got NBA size, NBA skill, NBA athleticism. Barring injury, he's going to be playing in the NBA the minute he puts on about 20 more pounds of muscle. The only questions are, is he going to be a good NBA player or a mediocre NBA player, and how long is it going to take him to get there? The faster college game affects all freshmen differently. If Benny struggles he won't be the first five star to do so. But, I think the odds are pretty good that he comes in and gives us great shooting while also contributing ball handling and passing, with the defense and rebounding that come around once he learns the zone There really isn't anything he can't do, but of all his attributes I'm probably most excited about his shot blocking. He and Edwards together have the potential to turn back a lot of shots ... pair them with a 6'8 or 6'9 'small' forward, and our zone will look intimidating.
Cole Swider 6'9 225
Best skill he brings to the table, a sweet jump shot.
Second best skill he brings to the table, a very solid post up game.
Cole averages about 20 mpg and 6ppg on a very talented Villanova team that was a top 10 team until their point guard got hurt, and even then made the sweet 16 and gave Baylor their toughest game of the tournament. From what I can see Cole is a very good player that doesn't fit into Villanova's style very will, but still plays just below starters minutes because he's too good to sit. On D, Nova switches on every screen. They want guards tough enough to cover big guys, and big guys quick enough to cover guards. They don't want to have any mismatches when they switch. Unfortunately Cole isn't that kind of guy. When he's matched up against a guard in space its a mismatch. Luckily for us that will never happen playing zone. On offense, Villanova plays mostly 5 out. They run very little motion and do very little screening. They like to have one of their guys beat his man off the dribble and dare the D to leave a player open from 3 to help. It is to Cole's credit that it was rarely his man that left to double team, so he simply didn't get a lot of shots.
In my opinion the best way to use Cole would be to move him around a lot, run pick and pops with him, and run him off screens. Try to get the D to switch into mismatches. Get a guard on him who he can post up, or get a shot blocking center on him so he can take him away from the basket. To me that sounds a lot like how our offense works.
If Cole gets enough minutes, I have very little doubt he will average double figures in scoring. He scores in three ways. Shoot from 3, pump fake one dribble into a mid range pull up, and posting up. He does all three very well. He also can be counted on to make the right pass, and has a solid handle (better than any of our forwards this year).
His weakness is he's not a high flyer, he won't get a ton of blocks, but he's tall, he doesn't mind banging down low, and he goes up for rebounds with two hands and tends to hold on to the balls that come his way. He's going to need to know the zone well to play defense the way we need because he won't be able to make up for mistakes with athleticism, but if he can figure the defense out he will be a very good player.
One other thing of interest to me. I looked at how often Cole played center defensively for Villanova, and the answer is, quite a lot. I'd say about 50% of the time. Could he be a center in a small ball line up for us? He's not going to be the shot blocker Dolezaj was, but he bangs down low better than Dolezaj could, and will probably rebound better. Plus offensively he offers a lot more than Dolezaj ever did because of his ability to pull the opposing center all the way out to the NBA 3 point line. If he does play center it will be like Dolezaj where sometimes he's just not good enough, but the times we can afford to have him there, wow, we would be putting out a great offensive line up.
Symir Torrence 6'3 200
Best skill he brings to the table, speed (both legs and hands)
Second best skill he brings to the table, passing.
Symir began the year as Marquette's starting point guard, and put up good numbers in 2 games before getting banged up, dropping out of the starting line up, and putting up poor offensive stats for the rest of the year. Was he playing hurt? I don't know, but if he was hurt it sure didn't seem like a leg or foot injury, because he really moves quick. Was it possibly a shoulder or elbow injury? Maybe ... his jump shot looked terrible, and he made very few of them despite putting up decent shooting numbers as a freshman.
Marquette has 3 point guards on their team that all play pretty big minutes so a lot of the time Symir was in the game but playing off the ball. This is a terrible way to use a pass first point guard who was struggling with his jump shot, and all the minutes Symir played off the ball were basically zero productivity minutes on offense. When Symir played point he usually made good things happen. Expect Symir to have the ball in his hands 100% of the time with us. On offense he is amazing at getting past his defender and into the lane under control. Remember how Jalen Carey would always blow past his defender, but then be too out of control to make a basketball play when a help defender came? Symir is the opposite of that. He's mastered going just fast enough to keep the defender on his back hip, but not so fast that he can't stop or switch direction when needed. Symir is okay at finishing in traffic, but he's better at drawing help and finding the open man. He's the definition of a pass first point guard. On D, Symir has quick feet and quick hands. He's good at using his length to grab steals when he's out on an island defensively, which I think translates well to playing in our zone. He's also pretty tall for a point guard, and looks pretty long too. I think he will excel in our zone, and also make our press better, not many people are good at both those things, he's one of the few.
I can see why the coaching staff signed Symir quickly. He wants to play for us, he seems like a good kid, and he brings a ton of skills to the table that we need. This feels like a low risk move. If you get excited by lots of points and superstar players, Symir won't thrill you. But if you think Syracuse needs more speed and athleticism, if you want Syracuse to have an excellent defensive option at the top of the zone, and if you want a passer who can help our shooters perform even better, Symir is your guy. Also, for what its worth, I saw a couple games where Marquette was getting pressed, and he handled that nicely too.
Jimmy Boeheim 6'8 215
I wasn't able to find any full Cornell games, so for this one you are going to have to live with my memory of seeing him play in the past rather than recent observations, but I have seen him play 3 or 4 times and I do have a few thoughts.
Best skill he brings to the table, creative finishing around the hoop.
Second best skill he brings to the table, passing.
When people talk about Jimmy, they seem to talk about him as a jump shooter. I get it, he's an ivy league white guy, and his brother is maybe the best shooter in the country. But the truth is Jimmy is far more of a Quincy Guerrier type than he is a Buddy Boeheim type. Both Quincy and Jimmy can hit the 3, but its a small portion of their game. Their bread is buttered slashing to the basket, and posting up. Quincy is more athletic than Jimmy ... but Jimmy is just better at those skills right now. He's got a better handle and he's great at finishing around the basket.
You can go to another post in the Jimmy Boeheim thread and see highlights of a game he scored 25 against Coppin State. If you fast forward that video to the 50 second mark you'll see 4 straight plays where Jimmy drives to the hoop. On each occasion a double team comes immediately, showing that the Coppin State coach saw his driving ability as a major threat. And on each play Jimmy scores despite the double team. Against ACC competition Jimmy won't be able to take it to the basket against double teams and still score, but he won't need to because he's never going to see a double team with shooters like Girard, Buddy, Williams, and Swider around him. Even ACC athletes will have trouble stopping him one on one because he has a great handle and a WIDE variety of methods to get his shot off. What you don't see much of in that Coppin State highlight is Jimmy's post up game. Its top notch, and considering he's going to have lots of time to make moves without needing to worry about help defenders, I think it will be successful here.
The other big thing Jimmy brings to the table is passing. He should replace all the ball handling and passing we lose in Dolezaj. You know that play we ran very successfully the last few years where Hughes, Griffin, or Braswell make a back cut and gets an easy lay up after Dolezaj delivers the ball to them perfectly? Well Cornell runs that play about a hundred times a game. Jimmy absolutely has that pass in his arsenal.
His weakness are a lot like Swiders. He's not a high jumper or a shot blocker. I do think Jimmy is quicker laterally than Cole.
As a whole
When I look at this group I see a lot of basketball skill. A lot of passing, dribbling and shooting. Also a lot of size. I expect Williams and Swider to be 3 point shooters who can go inside from time to time, and I expect Jimmy to give us points in the paint and occasionally shoot a 3. They all seem to have a role to play here.
Awesome write-up, as usual. I don't think I've ever watched an entire game that has already been played. I'm a sucker for highlight film. When I looked at Jimmy vs. Coppin State and Cole's Villanova highlights, (both on You-Tube), it seemed obvious to me that Cole was the better player. He's bigger, played at a faster pace, shot threes like they were lay-ups and was smooth and athletic. Jimmy could do some things but looked like a good Ivy league player. Cole looked like a guy who will wind up in the NBA and a great guy to pair with Benny Williams.
I see the team at this point as three centers, three forwards and three guards, plus whatever Chaz Owens is. I think it will be hard to recruit guys beyond that because I think next year's starting line-up is already in this roster. I think a center or center tandem will emerge from Sidibe, Edwards and Anselem. They may all sit if JB wants to focus on offense and 'go small' against some teams. We may run into the same nepotism criticisms Buddy got early this past season if Jimmy starts or plays too many minutes. I think he should get his minutes backing up Cole and Benny. I continue to think that Girard, the combo guard, should back up the specialists in the backcourt and getting his minutes that way with Torrance at the point and Buddy as the '2'. But JB never did that last year so I won't expect it this year.