I was never one to complain about Alex Brink, and I know he took a lot of heat from Cougar fans over the years; if you want my opinion, the lack of recruiting, poor X’s and O’s from Doba, mixed with awful defense and inconsistent Special Teams is what doomed Alex’s reputation among many a Cougar faithful. I will never fault somebody, especially a young man who went 3-1 against the Huskies and smashed many all time records at Wazzu. Sorry Brinkhater, wherever you are…
There seems to be one stud on our basketball team who is drawing lots of criticism for the team’s poor play at the moment, and out of respect for this individual, I am not even going to name names. Read on, to see whether he is in a Sophomore Slump or a little funk.
So there is no way you can call this recent “dry spell” a slump or blame him for the teams woes (see, the UCLA, UW and ASU games). He has increased his per game average in points, assists, rebounds, free-throw attempts and steals from last year, so to do such a thing is simply unfair to one of our own. So I believe he isn’t in a Sophomore Slump, just not meeting our current expectations for him. But let’s take a look at the numbers which obviously point to the bigger picture.
In the 12 out of conference games the Cougs played this season, he averaged 25.0 PPG, 79% FT on 7.25 FTA, and 45% from 3 Point Land. In only two of those games was he below 20 points, with 37 and 43 point performances along the way.
In the nine Pac 10 games played, his PPG has dropped to 17, while hitting 83% FT on 5.33 FTA. The alarming stat is that in conference he has connected on only 15 of 62 attempts from down town, for an astonishingly low 24%. Of these games, the 20 point threshold was met once and only exceeded twice.
So based off of these numbers, here are a few things to point out:
1) By and large, the quality of out opponents has increased. Although, against Gonzaga, Kansas State and LSU, he dropped 15, 22 and 26.
2) Aside from Trent Johnson and Mark Few, Pac 10 coaches are much better than our OOC opponent’s coaches. That means teams are keying on him and smothering him beyond the arc, while not allowing him to slip screens to get open. We have also faced a lot of zone defense in the last nine games and every time he drives the lane 3, 4 or 5 defenders collapse the Key on him.
3) Lastly, he is not getting to the Charity Stripe enough. If you throw out the Oregon game, he had 21 FT attempts, in the other 8 conference games he has shot 27 free throws. These 3.38 attempts per game is less than half of the per game attempts he took in the OOC slate.
Every great athlete goes through slumps. Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird. I would love for our guy to take a page out of Larry Legend’s book. Whenever Larry was having an off night shooting he said that he would try to rack up assists, rebounds and blocks because his team can still reap the benefits of it. The greatest thing about basketball, is that more than any other sport this is a team game. The offensive slack has been picked up by Nikola and Reggie during most of his off nights. This is a team game, and a few of the fundamentals we are used to after being coached by the Bennett’s such as protecting the basketball and nasty pack defense are clearly not being preached as much as in the past. Saturday afternoon from the bleachers in Hec Edmondson it was clear to me, via frustration fouls, that something has gotten to our guy. I am not going to read too much into this funk. He is extremely young, and the majority of the game “from the neck up” will come as he matures. Brandon Roy is a prime example of this, and he was a guy who came of the bench as a Junior. The nice thing about having a father who played in the NBA is that #1 has a large network of professionals to mentor him.
And the silver lining is that we will likely see him return for at least his Junior year. The future is awfully bright.