A key player that needs to up his offensive game is one I wanted to highlight for the next post. It's time to talk about the Big Ross Man, Ross Travis. Here's his shot chart:
I think it's best to start with the weaknesses for Ross, given that if we are going to take a leap, he's going to have to come into his own his senior season. For one, he needs to be a better finisher around the rim. Here's the actual numbers from his attempts around the rim:
He's not only attempting a significant number of his shots at the rim (42%), which is a good thing, that can't be understated. It's good that he's trying to get to the rim and finish, theoretically it should be the easiest shot on the floor. Ross's problems might go into shot selection though and that's why his conversion rate is so poor (43%). I think we've all seen Ross on too many occasions try to finish through defenders when he doesn't have the space or the room, much to his and our detriment. For someone of his size and strength, finishing at the rim needs to be an area that he excels in. He's a good leaper and can dunk with ease, it seems bizarre though that he struggles so much in this particular area of the floor. Which leads me to believe that shot selection is Ross's biggest problem and if he can rectify that, either through passing up a shot to an open guy on the perimeter or another area of the floor and just finishing stronger at the rim, as a team, we will see great benefits. We can't have someone who plays near 30 minutes of the game as a good rebounder, defensive player struggle in the paint to finish. It's too much to overcome when you consider that we are underdogs as is. A big improvement from Ross in this area along with some fine tuning in other areas of his offensive game should see us prosper greatly.
The left baseline is Ross's strongest area of the floor though. Here's those percentages:
Oddly, there's such a large overlap in this area of the floor, that I can't get more than one bubble at a time. But this is a huge chunk of his shot selection, 1 in every 4-5 shots he takes is from this area of the floor and he makes them at a substantial clip and is among the best in the country at it. For one, after analyzing DJ's shot chart last night, it's interesting that they are both better from this side of the floor as right handed players. Perhaps it leads to spacing issues for both players if they both prefer this area of the floor and prefer to get to the rim? This is a purely rhetorical question but it's an interesting question to see if we can observe improvement over the course of this season. But, I don't want to focus on the rhetorical and note that Ross is very good from this side of the floor and hopefully it will continue to be a strength for him and this team.
The Jeff Brooks Comparison.
Thanks to www.statsheet.com
, we can compare former collegiate players with current ones. Since Ross Travis arrived on campus, he's gotten the Jeff Brooks comparison and some people are giving up on him after a junior season that many hoped would see the leap, but wasn't quite what people wanted. Unfortunately, we can't compare shot charts between Jeff Brooks and Ross Travis because the data for Brooks isn't there and I do not know how to figure it out. However, we can compare statistical seasons. Here's the link to compare 2009-10 Jeff Brooks with 2013-14 Ross Travis, http://statsheet.com/mcb/players/compare?add=ross-travis&i=1&jeff-brooks=2009-2010&p1=jeff-brooks
The one thing that stands out to me with the Jeff Brooks/Ross Travis comparison is that statistically it does not seem so far off just looking at the numbers. There are some areas where one excels in more than the other. For instance, Jeff Brooks had a far higher effective FG% (53.1) to Ross Travis's 45.8%, was a better passer (1.38 apg) to Ross Travis's .97 apg, and a better shot blocker (2.3% block percentage) to Ross Travis's 1.3%. However, Ross Travis was a far superior rebounder (7.0 rpg, 7.4% offensive rebounding percentage, 20.2% defensive rebounding percentage) to Jeff Brooks (4.1 rpg, 5.7% offensive rebounding percentage, 15.8% defensive rebounding percentage) and got to the line (47.8% FT rate) far more than Jeff Brooks did (24.4%).
The similarities that stand out for me are offensive categories though. I'd copy the chart in here if StatSheet didn't color both the same so it was nigh on impossible to determine who is who. But here are the crux of the comparisons:
Offensive rating: Jeff Brooks 102, Ross Travis 100.1
FT Percentage: Jeff Brooks 65.2%, Ross Travis 68.8%
3 Point Attempts: Jeff Brooks 39, Ross Travis 30
3 Point Percentage: Jeff Brooks 30.8%, Ross Travis 30.0%
It's pretty interesting how tight these numbers are. For instance, if Ross would have shot 9 more threes last season and made 3 of them, he'd have been equal with Jeff Brooks in 3 point shooting percentage for Jeff's junior year. Jeff being such a good 3 point shooter his senior year (shot 40.3% on 67 attempts) helped elevate us another level. Jeff had an offensive rating of 118.1 and his effective FG percentage went up to 58.9%. I think it would be unrealistic to expect this kind of growth from Ross in one season, as he's a slightly different player to Jeff Brooks offensively. Ross likes to get to the basket (as evidenced by his FT Rate, whereas Jeff's pretty much stayed the same from junior to senior year) and has done so throughout his career (albeit with limited success, a jump in that could help our offense that much more though), so that kind of growth from 3 would be difficult to expect. But a more efficient Ross Travis would help our offensive greatly and I have some confidence he can make a noticeable leap in his offensive play this season.
So, in conclusion, I'd say that if Ross Travis could build on his offensive game a bit, he could be a very effective player for us. To add an effective offensive game to his already impressive rebounding statistics (ending top 5 in the B1G the last two seasons) would be a huge benefit to our squad. He needs to be more selective with his shots around the rim and look to pass if he gets the opportunity and it would be important if he could shoot the 3 at an average clip to help spread the floor for our other drivers, Newbill, Thorpe, Garner, Johnson. But the makings of a good senior season are here if he can play within himself more and with more composure, something I think we'd all expect from a senior, especially one who has done as well in the class room as he has.