Tag Archives: West Virginia

Cavaliers Draft Prospect Profile: Andrew Wiggins

With the Cleveland Cavaliers wrapping up important workouts later this week with top prospects, they should be close to determining who they will take with the number one pick (if they don’t trade it).

Last week I talked about center Joel Embiid and a week prior to that I focused on forward Jabari Parker. This week, I’ll end the look at the Cavs’ potential pick with Kansas freshman wing Andrew Wiggins.

 

There's no doubt about it. Andrew Wiggins is a high flyer.
There’s no doubt about it. Andrew Wiggins is a high flyer.

2013-14 stat line: 32.8 Min., 45% FG, 34% 3PT, 17.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 BPG, 1.2 SPG, 2.7 PFPG, 2.3 TOPG

 

Andrew Wiggins was the top prospect coming out of high school last year. Native of Ontario, he has a chance to become the third Canadian-born player to be drafted by the Cavs in the last four years (Tristan Thompson in 2011 and Anthony Bennett in 2013). Wiggins garnered a lot of hype coming out of high school, as any number one prospect in the nation would, and ended his season with mixed results. He became the top scoring freshman in Jayhawk history (597 points), surpassing Ben McLemore’s mark of 589 set the year prior.

However, Kansas’s season ended on a bitter note, being upset by #10 Stanford and their zone defense in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, denying head coach Bill Self’s team a Sweet 16 bid. Wiggins was highly criticized after this game, finishing with just four points, four rebounds, an assist, and four turnovers.

Overall, Wiggins gets lauded for his extremely rare athleticism, defense, and dunks. But some question his passiveness, ball handling, and shooting ability. Let’s take a look at which critiques are real and which are perhaps a bit exaggerated. (Games evaluated: v. #4 Duke, @ #19 Florida, v. #24 Baylor, @ West Virginia)

 

Offense:

If you’ve heard anything about Andrew Wiggins, then you’ve heard about his out-of-this-world athleticism. Some will try to downplay this, stating that in the NBA, everyone is athletic which will compromise Wiggins’ abilities. While the former is true, Wiggins has athleticism that perhaps only a select few in the NBA will be able to match. This athleticism enables him to be a great player in transition and be a guy that plays above the rim.

 

(1:27:40-1:27:48) Wiggins’s teammate #34 Perry Ellis gets the steal and the former immediately starts to run the floor from the post. By the time he gets to the ball he’s in front of everyone and is able to dunk it home while taking a hit from Jabari Parker.

 

(34:28-34:36) #31 Jamari Traylor gets the rebound and gives a quick outlet pass to Wiggins. He turns on the burners past half court and then picks up his dribble as two Gators meet him. For most players, this would be enough to force them to just go into their half court set, but Wiggins takes the ball over the defenders and in just two steps is able to lay it up and in.

 

Wiggins’s athleticism also helps him be a heavy contributor on the boards, even on the offensive side (2.2 per game).

 

(44:29-44:35) Wiggins crashes the boards as soon as the shot goes up. He then tracks the ball off the rim and uses much of his 44-inch vertical to out jump everyone and grab the rebound.

 

(50:19-50:25) A few minutes later in the game, Wiggins gets another offensive rebound. This time, he shows that along with the ability to go up and get the ball, effort is critical in grabbing offensive rebounds. He taps it up to his right hand (probably by accident, but still) and taps it in with his right hand between two Baylor Bears.

 

Right away, Wiggins should be able to contribute on offense as a cutter/slasher, being able to get to the basket, especially off the ball. With the ball, he’s had some serious problems that he will need to fix to fulfill the potential he has on offense.

 

(22:23-22:29) This is a great overall play for Kansas. #21 Joel Embiid dribbles out of the post and Wiggins recognizes the gaping hole he leaves in the middle of the paint. He quickly cuts through the lane and Embiid gives him a nice pass for an efficient bucket.

 

(44:47-44:54) This is one of my favorite offensive plays I’ve seen from Wiggins. He gets momentum at the top of the arc on a pass by #1 Wayne Seldon Jr, who then sets a pick forcing Duke defender #2 Quinn Cook from Seldon to Wiggins. Wiggins is able to get initial penetration, but when Cook meets him, he’s able to perform a right-to-left spin move – a move he loves to use – to split him and his initial man, #5 Rodney Hood. From there, Wiggins is able to shoot it over Parker, through contact, and is able to bank it off the glass into the rim.

 

Wiggins isn’t just a supreme athlete that happens to play basketball. He has translatable skills going into the NBA on offense. He isn’t the most polished and has some serious work to do, but he has a pretty good foundation to start from, especially with his jump shot.

 

(1:20:49-1:20:54) In this game at West Virginia, Wiggins scored 41 points. He was able to show the promising range he can have in the NBA, coupled with his ability to get to the rim.

 

(50:23-50:29) Wiggins, above the arc, gets a pass from Embiid. He’s wide open for the shot, but jumps forward, causing him to miss long. I didn’t notice Wiggins make this mistake often, and his shooting mechanics are pretty solid. While he didn’t shoot at a high clip from 3, there’s no reason he shouldn’t (double negative!) be able to improve on that in the NBA.

 

Though Wiggins can get to the rim with the best of them, he has mixed results throughout the process, from beginning, to middle, to the end. What I mean by that, is that sometimes he is passive, which has been the narrative – one that I buy into right now. His ball handling and finishing have also been criticized, and rightfully so. These three aspects of his game aren’t atrocious, but will more than likely take some time to fix – especially his dribbling.

 

(1:05:11-1:05:17) Kansas struggled against zone defenses last year, which is what Florida runs. It was very hard for their wings to penetrate off the dribble. Wiggins has a great chance to do that here – he has a one-on-one matchup and at the very least could’ve drove middle to suck defenders in and then kick it out. He also could have, and probably should have, done a ball fake to the left and dribble right. I think sometimes he underestimates the athletic prowess he has over his opponents. Most of the time he’d have the upper hand athletically, giving him a good chance to drive. But sometimes, like he did here, he would just pass it up.

 

(31:58-32:03) Wiggins has two good options here, none involving turning the ball over like he did up top. It would’ve been reasonable had he taken that somewhat long 3. Also, his defender was closing so hard, he probably could’ve given a hard pump fake – something he should try more often – and drive to the hoop.

 

(37:16-37:22) Wiggins is an inconsistent ball handler, and just flat out struggles driving with his left. That’s exactly what happens here, as he tries to get into the paint but loses the handle as he tries to pick up is dribble. Losing the dribble is one thing, but this is also an example of Wiggins picking up his dribble too soon, which he does too much. As I said before, sometimes it seems as if he underestimates his ability when he can just blow past guys.

 

(40:37-40:43) Even though he drew the foul here, this is a shot I’d like to see him finish more often. He’s not a bad finisher through contact, just a bit inconsistent. He does a good job of using his body to shield the defender and then his long arms prevent the defender from blocking his shot. As Wiggins’s body fills out, he should be able to finish more shots in the paint through contact.

 

There are other parts of Wiggins’s game to be optimistic about. He’s made some good passes, none spectacular. He’s shown sparse post ability, though that would just be icing on top and not something he should grasp right away.

 

Also, like I touched on with Embiid, Kansas didn’t have great distributors that would set up teammates. Their point guard, #10 Naadir Tharpe, made some good plays for them, but sometimes was more interested in making a spectacular play than making the smart one.

 

(41:37-41:42) Tharpe gets doubled up top and has Wiggins wide open in the corner, but never sees him. Instead, he passes to Seldon, who drives and gets swatted down low.

 

If you’ve read this far, enjoy this picture of Dion Waiters’s buzzer beating game winning shot to make the Cavs go bonkers and steal a win in Detroit.

The night Dion Waiters became a Cavaliers legend, probably.
The night Dion Waiters became a Cavaliers legend, probably.

 

Defense:

 

This is the part of Wiggins’s overall game that has the highest floor, due to his athleticism. He still has things to clean up, as every prospect does, but it shouldn’t be long until he’s someone’s lock down defender.

 

(16:12-16:17) I know it sounds like I’m beating a dead horse, but Wiggins once again shows off his athleticism. He’s able to cheat inside the paint as #14 Rasheed Sulaimon drives. He kicks it outside to the corner where #12 Alex Murphy thinks he’s about to get off a 3 pointer. Nope. Wiggins closes in on him in a hurry and is able to block Murphy’s shot right out of his hand.

 

Wiggins played a great defensive game against Baylor, and this play was no different. If my memory serves me correct, he was only driven on twice during this game and eventually Baylor’s sharpshooter (and fellow Canadian), #5 Brady Heslip, was getting hot from deep. Wiggins was then put on Heslip and was basically shut down whenever guarded by Wiggins. Here are two of those plays:

 

(53:53-54:00) Wiggins shows off his transition versatility, closing in on Heslip and makes him think twice about shooting that 3, making him look like a deer in the headlights.

 

(57:57-58:08) Here, Wiggins does a nice job of getting around the weakside screen and chasing Heslip, who gets the ball on the opposite side of the court. He knows Wiggins is behind him and gives a pump fake, which Wiggins does a nice job of not completely falling for. After Wiggins gets through a pick, with the help of Ellis’s hedge, he’s able to recover on Heslip and force him to shoot a deep, contested 3.

 

(25:27-25:35) Wiggins’s athleticism is nice, but that’s not the only thing that helps in transition, and he displays that here. He gets good positioning to deny the rim and is able to poke the ball out. After West Virginia regains possession and puts a shot up, Wiggins rejects it into the eighth row (not really, but it was pretty far).

 

(2:24-2:31) Gator #24 Casey Prather gets the ball on the arc and quickly drives to the paint. However, Wiggins gets great first and second steps to beat him to a spot, forcing Prather to pick up his dribble. He tries a shot from there, but Wiggins is able to block his shot. It’s just a well-read, executed play by Wiggins.

 

For all the good that comes with Wiggins on the defensive side, there are still some fixable things that he can get rid of.

 

(1:09:15-1:09:22) Wiggins is guarding Sulaimon one-on-one at the top where #21 Amile Jefferson sets a screen on him. Wiggins has enough space to go over top of the pick, but instead makes full contact with Jefferson, forcing Embiid to come out on Sulaimon. As Wiggins recovers, he and Embiid get tangled with each other, allowing Sulaimon to get initial penetration. At times, Wiggins doesn’t read the screen correctly, and also isn’t able to power through some screens. This is something that can be learned through repetition and improved by getting stronger.

 

(1:25:36-1:25:42) Wiggins gets a good first step as his man starts to drive. But as they get closer to the paint, Wiggins starts to pull away, perhaps trying to avoid a foul (he did have four at this point in the game, when Kansas was trying to make a comeback). Nonetheless, this is something that I’ve seen him do on multiple occasions. Instead of trying to beat his man to a spot – which I showed he has done – it’s as if he’s just following the movements of the ball handler and following him.

 

Bottom Line: Wiggins is an easy player to fall in love with watching. The level of athleticism (the “athleticism” count is up to 9, in case you’re wondering) he has will be beyond most that of the players already in the NBA. At the very worst, he’ll be a reliable defender, a good off-the-ball slasher and a versatile transitional player on both ends of the court. As I said earlier, he’s not as polished as, say, Jabari Parker is offensively. He will have to work long and hard to get his dribble to become a reliable/elaborate weapon – he’s already shown he can have an effective spin move. Luckily for him, he already has a respectable shot. That and his defensive ability should be able to keep him on the court a good amount of time as a rookie.

Looking at all three top prospects – Wiggins, Embiid, and Parker – they’re all great options for the Cavs. These guys would arguably be the top prospects in other drafts as well, so GM David Griffin has a tough decision to make between the three. The draft is less than two weeks away and I have finally come to a decision of who I want the most out of three…

I’ll have that for you next week.

Hey Coach Rodriguez, We Love You

There’s just something about the unknown that makes us all pessimistic about everything, unless it’s someone else’s unknown, then it’s basically a coin flip. When it comes to hiring new coaches to take you to the promised land, you tend to think you want your school to win the press conference, but in actuality, winning actual football games is paramount.

Now, a guy like Nick Saban, that’s a home run hire, unless you’re the Miami Dolphins, but a Head Coach from Youngstown State, Glenville State, or even the non-automatic-qualifying ranks of the Football Bowl Subdivision offers anxious fan little on the day of their hire. There are two things the fans are looking for; someone that’s better than the last guy and someone who gets the program where the fans think it should be.

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For a school like Arizona, they’re still trying to figure out the formula. About a decade ago, they tried to go with bloodlines, and they knew any of the Stoops brothers came from pretty good stock. Honestly, for that program, in the aftermath of the John Mackovic era, Mike Stoops was a good fit. Unless you really disliked what Bob was doing at Oklahoma with Mike on his staff, you had to feel things were looking up in Tucson.

Things got better before they got worse, but the bar was set pretty low. From 2001 to 2003, Mackovic, the guy before Stoops, went 3-14 in conference. In 2001, the inaugural season of HBO’s Hard Knocks demonstrated just how inept the guy before Mackovic (Dick Tomey) was, when the Ravens bluntly told quarterback Ortege Jenkins that he was a gifted athlete, but came out of the U of A so raw that they couldn’t develop him, a shameful reflection of the state of the dilapidated “Desert Swarm”. However, under Stoops the pinnacle was a 7-5 season and a Las Vegas Bowl appearance.

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Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t about the Bowl appearance, though the program would like to someday play in a Rose Bowl, but competing with two teams in-state. You may look at what’s actually “in-state” for Arizona and see only one other FBS program, and Arizona State is certainly a source of angst, not only for the school itself, but for the proud people of the “Old Pueblo”.

Historically, Tucson has stomached the angst of the football program, while waiting for November and all the excitement there was to be had at the McKale Center. Whoever runs the show on the gridiron, coaches in the same shadow of Lute Olson that Sean Miller does on the hardwood, except said football coach also has Miller’s shadow to deal with. Nothing short of divine intervention will cause the seismic shift necessary to convert the University of Arizona into a football school per se, but they have to be competitive enough to keep the folks around town interested.

Enter one Coach Rich Rodriguez; you may recognize that name from other coaching ventures, such as West Virginia or Michigan, but in the present tense, he is tasked with righting the ship for the Wildcats. After an enormous amount of success at West Virginia, his alma mater, the road got bumpy in Ann Arbor when his style didn’t translate to the Big Ten.

He didn’t exactly have to take over for Bo Schembechler there, but Lloyd Carr had done well enough, if you’d excuse the loss to Appalachian State to open the 2007 season, his final one on the sidelines for the Corn and Blue. Some poll voted Carr’s team #1 in 1997, so he had that feather in his cap, which left Rodriguez with some decent sized shoes to fill. The rub was that Carr went 1-6 against Jim Tressel-led Ohio State teams, so that was where RichRod needed to answer the call.

Three seasons, three losses to the Buckeyes, and a brow-beating in a lower tier Bowl later, Rodriguez is off the sideline and in the studio for CBS Sports and they begin to miss him in Columbus quite quickly. Ohio State fans respected Schembechler and Carr, albeit after the fact, but they just missed their Buckeyes taking “That School Up North” behind the woodshed once a year. In 2010, there was a memorable moment in the stands when fans of the Scarlet & Grey revealed a long banner that read, “HEY COACH RODRIGUEZ, WE LOVE YOU”. An angry Michigan fan attacked the banner; apparently, that love did not go north of Toledo.

After a year in the studio, Rodriguez found himself in Tucson with an inexperienced Senior at quarterback, but a very capable back in Kadeem Carey. With apologies to Marion Grice and D’Anthony Thomas, Carey is the best ball carrier in the PAC-12. In Tempe, fans may not want to hear that. They pride themselves in one thing above all at Arizona State, being superior to that school in Tucson in every way, shape, and form.

No matter what transpires in the first 11 games of the season, all of ASU’s worries can be alleviated by winning the Territorial Cup, a game that goes back farther than the “Arizona State University” brand itself. The Wildcats have disliked the campus in Tempe since it was called the “Tempe Normal School”, it didn’t become ASU until 1948 after an 18-year run as the Arizona State Teacher’s College, but the game has been played since 1899.

Arizona has the edge in the series, 47-38-1, but that’s a bit of a misnomer in the same context that Rodriguez’s former employer has over their rival, dominating the contemporary era. Arizona won 20 of the first 22 contests, up until 1948. Since the teams began playing every season in 1946, the school in Tempe has a 36-30-1 advantage.

Arizona has won 3 of the last 5 match ups in a series that has been coined The Pillow Fight, even if only by Yours Truly. The last time anything real was at stake was 2007, when the Sun Devils needed the win to claim a share of USC’s PAC-10 Championship and they did 20-17. Conference titles are pretty few and far between in the Sonoran Desert, with ASU’s last one prior to six years ago coming with the help of Jake Plummer. Arizona has never been to the Rose Bowl.

There’s something about RichRod and rivalry games that make you think he’s asleep at the wheel when it matters the most. Obviously being 0-3 vs Ohio State didn’t make him a popular man in Michigan. In first crack at ASU, he looked like he had it in cruise control at home, with a 10-point 2nd half lead, but the tide turned on a weird fumble by his Matt Scott, the aforementioned inexperienced senior. A blocked punt and an interception later, Todd Graham’s visiting Sun Devils had it in the bag, and Rodriguez got his PAC-12 career in rivalry games off on the wrong foot. A win could have sent the Cats to Vegas, but this loss landed them on a cold field in Albuquerque.

Even before he got to Michigan, the cards fell the way of Rodriguez’s West Virginia team, and the only thing that stood between them and a date in the National Championship was rival Pitt in the Backyard Brawl. Of course, though they were 4-3 in the rivalry during RichRod’s time in Morgantown, they lost.

It leaves me to wonder how many pillow fights they need to lose before “Hey Coach Rodriguez, We Love You” becomes a thing in Tempe.

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MTAF NCAA Football Reader Challenge

by Ryan Isley

With the 2012 college football season on the horizon, More Than A Fan contributor Damien Bowman (@damienbowman) decided he wanted to challenge us over at MTAF to make predictions for all of the BCS conferences, the BCS Bowls and the national championship game. We recruited Stephen Garvin (@CleveNole) to help us out from the reader’s side. They decided that they wanted me to be the person from MTAF making picks (they will regret that when I am right). The following is what we came up with – feel free to let us know what you think, even if you disagree. Hell, ESPECIALLY if you disagree. I mean, just look at Stephen’s national championship game.

Without further ado, the MTAF Reader/Contributor NCAA football predictions:

Continue reading MTAF NCAA Football Reader Challenge

B1G, what the future may hold.

I’m going to do my best to not beat the dead horse that is the Penn State Football Scandal.  Rather, I want to look at the scandal from a different perspective.  What is the B1G’s next move?  The Big Ten has long prided itself on its strong academic standing as well as being comprised of quality athletic departments who play by the rules and are rarely in the news for negative press.  To be fair, the Big Ten has had well publicized issues, most of which have come from its two marquee programs; Ohio State and Michigan.  No conference has been free from NCAA infractions and to compete at the highest level sometimes you need to interpret the rules a little differently to try to stay competitive (that is a whole other story for another time).

Regardless of what the NCAA decides to do and if PSU finally takes it upon themselves to do the right thing and shut the program down, I believe the B1G needs to take a hard look at disassociation.  PSU obviously lacks the morals and ethical integrity required to be a part of this prestigious conference.  There are conferences in this country who could care less about moral integrity and only care about the product on the field, we all know who they are so they need not be named.  The B1G is not that way.  Our coaches rarely jump ship to the NFL, most programs are built on integrity with a strong focus of graduating players and turning young immature athletes into disciplined, educated contributors to society. Continue reading B1G, what the future may hold.