How to watch or listen to the game
Tip time: 4 p.m. ET, Sunday, Dec. 13
TV: ESPNU (Allen Bestwick, Mark Wise)
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)
South Florida vitals
Pomeroy ranking: No. 245
Best win***: 63-61 over Albany (KenPom No. 86)
Worst loss: 82-77 to Troy (KenPom No. 273)
(***Best win or loss based on opponent's Pomeroy Rating, not the scoring margin.)
Adjusted tempo: 69.6 poss/40 minutes (ranks 205th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 95.5 (ranks 306th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 100.7 (ranks 143rd)
The South Florida offense and starters
|USF Offense -- Four Factors||eFG% (National Rank)||TO%||OR%||FT Rate|
|2014-15||47.3 (243)||20.9 (293)||31.3 (162)||31.6 (306)
|2015-16||43.5 (316)||20.7 (275)||33.6 (92)||34.4 (212)|
NC State's been up against what has felt like an endless line of teams that shoot the three-ball well and shoot it often. It is to the point where when I am opening an opponent's profile page on KenPom.com, I'm holding a hand over my eyes, peeking through my fingers.
So it was to my great surprise to discover that not only does USF not shoot a lot of threes, they don't shoot well from outside, either. My reaction traversed a number of emotions in a few seconds. This is a rough approximation:
Now why don't you join me as I completely jinx us and turn USF into a great shooting team for one day?
Former Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua is in the second year of his reclamation project at South Florida; it's been slow going, as the Bulls won only nine games a season ago and are off to a dreadful 2-7 start to this campaign.
He is turning the roster over, with mixed results--the Bulls have some veterans to work with, but have also inserted a freshman and two transfer players into the starting lineup, and the production from them has been rather terrible. South Florida wasn't a good shooting team last season, and that has not changed despite the new-look lineup. It's unlikely to change significantly this season.
The Bulls are actually the worst three-point shooting team in the country at 23.2% from beyond the arc. Only four players on the roster have made a three-pointer this season, and the highest 3FG% among them is 27.8. That is ... unfortunate.
So the three-pointer is not exactly a point of emphasis for this USF offense, even though the Bulls' top two scorers are guards. The Bulls' shooting fortunes are not much better inside the arc, where they're hitting only 47% (209th nationally). The task gets tougher when opponents know that you have almost no production from outside to help support your bigs.
Compounding matters is a propensity for turnovers. Poor shooting combined with too many giveaways? Tough combo to overcome, no matter how well the team rebounds at this end. If there is one team that should be crashing the offensive boards like crazy, it's this USF team, which needs a ton of second chances to approximate an effective offense. They've been above-average on the boards, but that ain't nearly good enough.
Roddy Peters (6-4, 205) -- The one-time Maryland Terrapin is picking up right where he left off in College Park, which is to say that he can't shoot for shit. He's 3-23 from outside in his career, and 2-14 this season. He's also a career 44.4% shooter inside the arc. His assist rate is excellent, though it is paired with a turnover rate north of 30%, which is super duper terrible.
Jahmal McMurray (6-0, 175) -- The freshman is USF's leading scorer through sheer determination--he takes a team-high 27.8% of the shots while on the floor but has a meager 42.7 effective field goal percentage. He is the team's most frequent outside shooter, with 57 three-point tries (he's made 15). He's had a bit better luck inside the arc, where he's shooting 45.8%. This is pretty much the worst kind of primary option--an inefficient shooter who brings almost nothing else to the table other than an unceasing willingness to hurl the ball toward the rim.
Angel Nunez (6-8, 210) -- Nunez is living the hoops vagabond life, having gone from Louisville to Gonzaga to USF. I always wonder at the kids who do this sort of thing, just from a practical, social-life perspective. When my family moved across the country while I was in high school, I thought my life was over. Anyway. Nunez can be a decent secondary option when he isn't shooting threes--for whatever reason, he feels like that's his thing now, but he's only 10-36 from outside. That puts him at 13-55 for his career; meanwhile, he's over 53% for his career inside the arc. Decent shot blocker, a little turnover prone, needs to rebound better defensively.
Chris Perry (6-8, 250) -- I am quoting this from USF's game notes. I am not making it up. "Nicknamed Skippy Walnuts after a rival video gamer's alias, teammates and coaches call him Skip." Nuts to that, I'm calling him Cashew, or Cashy-P for short. Cashy-P is an excellent rebounder at both ends of the floor but an unreliable scorer in the paint (46.4% on twos this year, 49% career). Not much of a free throw shooter, but a solid shot blocker.
Jaleel Cousins (6-11, 255) -- DeMarcus Cousins is Jaleel's older brother (fun fact: Jaleel is an uncle!), and they definitely share a few traits. While not quite the incredible rebounding force in college that his brother was, Jaleel is excellent in his own right. He's shooting right around 50% from two in his career, which makes him one of USF's better options. He's also a fantastic shot blocker. His ability to draw fouls could have enormous value later on in his career, but at this point his poor shooting from the stripe is squandering a lot of opportunity.
The South Florida bench and defense
Reserves: Nehemias Morillo (6-5, 185), Ruben Guerrero (6-11, 235), Bo Zeigler (6-6, 205). Morillo should spend a lot of time on the floor and he is not shy about shooting. That's been a slight problem: he is 12-40 (30%) from two and 8-35 (22.9%) from three. Last season he made 32.1% of his 112 three-point attempts.
Zeigler is a low-usage player to the point where might not factor into the scoring at all. But he has been a decent shooter inside the arc during his career (52.8%), and he has an outstanding block rate for his size. Probably helps that he has a 41-inch vertical.
Guerrero is another light-usage contributor with some decent shooting numbers from two, and he is an exceptional offensive rebounder and shot blocker. An issue for him is fouls, as he's committing more than five per 40 minutes. (Cousins and Perry are also in this neighborhood.)
|USF Defense -- Four Factors||eFG% (National Rank)||TO%||OR%||FT Rate|
|2014-15||49.1 (168)||18.8 (189)||34.8 (325)||42.5 (287)|
|2015-16||45.5 (68)||14.6 (344)||30.5 (184)||38.8 (213)|
As you may have gathered by now, USF has plenty of tall people who can block shots, and that is paying off significantly through the first nine games. Opponents are shooting only 45.5% inside the arc, well below the national average. USF is 13th nationally with a block rate of 16%. In other words, the Bulls' defense is averaging one block for every six or seven two-point attempts by their opponents.
That interior defense is incredibly important to USF's defensive fortunes since the Bulls don't really do anything else well. If they can continue to bother shots at an elite rate, the defense could remain average; the next realistic step would be to shut down the defensive glass. With all the tall dudes wandering about (USF is 28th in effective height), this team probably should be better in that area. There's tons of ways to play effective defense, and being all-around good-to-great inside is one of 'em. That means on-ball defense, shot blockerin', and rebounds.
But as we know all too well (hi, BeeJay!), there's a give and a take with shot bothering, since it often leaves the botherer in poor position for a defensive board. If the botherer connects and sends the ball to the moon, that's okay; if not, easy second-chance points can be there for the taking.
There is a fine line between good selective aggression and fundamental defense. And it's not that USF's defensive rebounding percentage is bad--it's right at the national average--but the defense can't evolve from decent to good unless the rebounding does too.
The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by five.