Comparing Young Guns to Old Favorites

By Steve DiMiceli

As we begin to transition into the off season, I think a lot of Duquesne fans are desperately searching for hope for next year. Most are clinging to Donovan Jack, but there are a few Dukes who compare favorably to similar players during the early stages of their careers.

First, some definitions. Throughout this post, I will be referring to a shooting slash line similar to a batting slash line in baseball. It will look something like this .46/.32/.50. The first number is shooting percentage from the floor, the second is 3 point percentage and the last is free throw percentage. I am only using two digits, because excel cut the other digit off. To make for smooth comparisons between players receiving wildly different playing time, I converted their statistics to how many stats a player accumulated over a 20 minute increment.

It appears that Jerry Jones will be replacing BJ Montiero in the starting lineup next year so this seems like a good place to begin by comparing their sophomore years. In his second year, BJ put up a slash of .46/.32/.50 while Jones put up .48/.36/.73. Their overall shooting percentage is comparably, but from behind the arc and from the free throw stripe, Jones is clearly the much better performer at this stage in his career. Overall, BJ scored a 1.5 points per 20 minutes but he also shot the ball 2 more times than Jones in the same span. Jones is a slightly better rebounder grabbing 3.3 per 20 minutes versus 3.1 for BJ. When comparing assists, BJ had  1.2 compared to .9, but Jones turned the ball over less resulting in 1.1 A:TO while BJ was sub 1. Overall, I think it would be fair to call Jones a more mature player at this stage in his career. He is more selective with his shooting and stronger with the ball. However, he does not get as involved in the offense as much and based on an eyeball comparison, does not create his own shot off the dribble as well as Montiero did. Montiero also managed to score in every game of his sophomore year while Jones came up with a few goose eggs even in games where he played 20 minutes. Jones will need to assert himself more, take more chances and simply be more consistent, something that has been a concern for BJ his entire career.

Based on body type and shooting form, many have linked Bill Clark and Kadeem Pantophlet. During his freshman year, Clark decimated Kadeem in ink to skin ratio and on the playing angry matrix. The rest of the numbers are surprisingly comparable.  Clark put up a slash line of .38/.31/.64 while Kadeem was .43/.38/.63. While some have concerns about Kadeem's FT shooting, he did almost exactly as well as one of our more reliable FT shooters during Ron Everhart's tenure his freshman year. While Kadeem was also a more efficient shooter, he averaged 3 fewer points over 20 minutes than Clark on 2.5 fewer shots. Part of the difference in attempts might be that Clark played in the 10/40 his freshman year while Kadeem played in the slowest Duquesne offense since Ron took over. Either way, he will need to shoot more. Clark was a much better rebounder averaging nearly 2 more rebounds over 20 minutes. While the faster offense may account for some of that, it certainly does not account for all. The angry factor probably explains the rest of the difference. Clark turned the ball over nearly 3 times more often than Kadeem over a 20 minutes period, but again that might be skewed by the pace. Still, Kadeem manged a very impressive 1.3 A:TO for a freshman forward while Clark held at 1. Based on the eyeball test again, Kadeem is a much better defender as a freshman than Clark was. Heck, he might be as good as Clark was as a junior. In terms of personal fouls, Kadeem averaged less than two per 20 minutes something Bill Clark never did in his Duquesne career. Kadeem would do well to find some of Bill Clark's mean streak, but at this stage in his career, he is a better shooter than Bill and year younger. He just needs to shoot more.

This comparison really may not sound fair, but in some ways Mamadou Datt is producing about as well as Damian Saunders did his freshman year. Datt had a slash line of .47/-/.38 (didn't have a three point attempts) compared to Saunders .48/-/.42. Saunders like Datt was very raw offensively when he arrived at Duquesne. Saunders and Datt also average around 4.5 rebounds over 20 minutes. That's about as far as the comparison goes as Damian was a much better passer, defender and ball handler than Datt. The good news is that Mamadou has a lot of room to improve in those areas. Just for fun, I also compared Derrick Martin. He had a slash of .43/-/-.00 having missed his only FT attempt. Shooting percentage is naturally lower as Martin tends to be more of a jump shooter. Interestingly, Martin was over one board per 20 minutes better than Saunders and had twice as many blocks.

I don't know if any of the players will match the players career numbers who I compared them to, but it does help illustrate that given the minutes, these guys will look better on paper and in the end can help this team win games. When Damian, BJ, and Bill were at similar stages in their careers, more minutes were available either because of system like the 10/40 or because of lack of depth. These younger guys aren't sitting because they are worse necessarily, but rather because they actually have to compete for minutes with more established players. This is a good thing. Datt, Kadeem and Jones all stand to play more minutes next year. They will all need to be more aggressive, take more shots, draw more fouls and improve their defense. However, next years team stands to be more disciplined and shoot better than the current incarnation even if the guys picking up minutes haven't been big time contributors so far. This should give us all a little hope after a tremendously deflating loss to George Washington.