2016-2017 Player Grades: The Guards
With the 2016-2017 season coming to a close in Pittsburgh at the hands of the Rhode Island Rams, the Bonnies finished their season with a 20-12 record, a fifth place finish in the Atlantic 10 and disappointingly, no post season berth of any kind.
While most fans were disappointed with how the season ended (be it a failure to reach the A10 semi-finals, a lack of quality wins or an absence of an NIT or NCAA berth) some were satisfied.
With the Bonnies now turning their attention to the off-season, there’s some housekeeping work to be done on our end as well. We’ve recapped the A10’s efforts in Pittsburgh and now unveil our 2016-2017 player grades.
Each players’ grade is based on their play this season alone, as well as taking into account the relative expectation of that player. For example, it would be a bit harder for Jay Adams to earn an “A” than it would be Amadi Ikpeze. At the end of the individual player grades we will also grade Mark Schmidt’s efforts during the season as well as a assign a “Team Grade”.
Today we roll out the grades for the guards, we will have the forwards in our next post along with the coaching staff’s grades and overall team grade (along with some other commentary) in the final post in this two part series.
Jay Adams- Adams finished the season second in the league in scoring, first in assists, second in steals and second in minutes played. Still, his shooting percentage took a huge dip compared to his sophomore season (True shooting percentage down 4%, 3PT% down eight points, FT% down 5 points and effective field goal percentage down 6 points) and Adams struggled to shoot it late in the season when SBU needed wins the most. Was the ankle injury from the Saint Louis game still bothering him? It’s hard to say. He was the focal point of every team SBU played and saw double-teams and junk defenses on a regular basis, and still distributed the ball extremely well as evidence by his 195 assists. Adams really did a good job of scoring without his jump-shoot during the year, getting to the foul line and making a school record 206 foul shots. It would be unfair to say Adams’ season was disappointing, but if you look at his offensive rating in SBU’s losses it’s obvious that as Jay goes, so do the Bonnies. In SBU’s wins Adams posted an averaging rating of 121; in their 12 losses: 94. Schmidt has said that Adams needed to be more of a leader this season and it’s also hard to say whether he took a step in being the “alpha dog” that every club needs. But our take is he did not because he’s simply not that kind of player. Still, Adams has a chance to cap his career as a three time A10 first team player and go down as one of the best PG’s in school history. Grade: B+
Matt Mobley- No new Bonnie, or maybe new A10 transfer, had as much hype and high expectations has Mobley did. The CCSU transfer stepped in right away and was the scorer every Bonas coach and fan hoped he would be. Mobley finished the season fourth in scoring, 13th in rebounding, 2nd in free throw percentage, 10th in steals, 2nd in three pointers made and first in minutes played. He was SBU’s best three point shooter (38%) and carried the team on the glass in several games from the guard spot. Like Adams, he was bottled up vs. some of the best defenses in the league (URI twice, GW and Davidson) but also shined in some big spots; none bigger than the 34 points he dropped against VCU on 9-15 shooting from deep including the would-have-been-buzzer beater. While I cannot say he’s the clutch player Marcus Posley was (yet), Mobley’s numbers were better in nearly every category and that alone speaks volumes about his first season in Olean. Grade: A
Idris Taqqee- Taqqee looked to build on a slight “breakout” sophomore campaign and entered the season with a firm hold on the third guard spot, maybe in part due to Courtney Stockard’s second foot surgery in as many years. Unfortunately, we can’t say that Taqqee took a sizable step forward this year, if any, despite playing nearly 34 minutes a game. While he continues to be known as SBU’s best on-ball defender, his jump shot regressed as evidence by his shooting dips (2PT% down from 52% to 46% and 3PT% down from 34% to 25%). Opposing defenses would dare Taqqee to burn them from distance, especially the short corner three, and he could never seem to make them pay. Still, he did improve at the line (63% to 71%) and was the team’s best 2nd best offensive rebounder and made tons of hustle plays that translated into points. On a really good team Taqqee is a 6th man; but on this team he’s s starter playing major minutes. It will be interesting to see if Stockard is healthy…can he push Taqqee for starters’ minutes? I am not sure Stockard will be healthy enough to do it, but if he is, Taqqee could see his minutes decreased as a senior. Schmidt is a big fan of Idris and we all know why, but he did not have a great season when you consider the increased playing time and sophomore season stats. Grade: C
Nelson Kaputo- News broke days before the Bonnies’ season opener that the sophomore point guard would miss essentially the non-conference schedule due to academic issues. Unfortunately, Kaputo’s season didn’t get much better from there, as he saw his minutes cut in half from his freshman year (16 to eight per game) and was clearly in Schmidt’s doghouse the entire year. Kaputo could muster no more than about six or seven minutes a game, playing in three minute spurts each half to spell Adams or Mobley. When he was on the floor he was only a 37% shooter, but shot 43% from deep vs. 35% his freshman season. Kaputo’s assist/turnover ratio was not what you’d want from a point guard (17/12) but it’s tough to really hammer the sophomore because he clearly was never given the chance to get comfortable, and get in-sync with the team. Surely he is to blame for his academic issues that likely put him in the doghouse for the year, but Schmidt certainly didn’t “forgive and forget” either. Now, Kaputo is at a major crossroads. He was a highly touted point guard coming out of Canada and as a freshman, and looked the part of a future Bonnies star in the back court. But a year later, he’s playing just eight minutes a game, and with Adams, Mobley and Taqqee all back next year, will very likely find himself as a bench player once again. Given this year’s circumstances and the guards he’s behind next year, his junior season, I don’t think it would surprise anyone if Kaputo elected to finish his career elsewhere. Surely that would be a shame as having a senior point guard like him to take over for Adams would be tremendous, but at this point in time it would surprise me more if he stayed in Olean. Grade: C
Tareq Coburn- Coburn came to Bonas as a somewhat-highly-touted (For SBU) recruit, known as a lefty with a sweet jump shot, a knack for scoring the ball and with a high ceiling that Schmidt and his staff crave. To say that Coburn is likely disappointed with his freshman year would be an understatement, but he likely should have seen this coming. Coburn played in 12 games all season, racking up just 27 minutes and scoring four points on six shots. Coburn had to know that he’d find it incredibly hard to find playing time behind Adams, Mobley and Taqqee but I’m sure he’s still disappointed in his court time. Schmidt and his staff will likely need to sell the freshman on guys like Dion Wright, Denzel Gregg and even LaDarien Griffin, all who turned bench-warming freshman seasons into much bigger things. There’s no doubt that Schmidt could have gotten Coburn into some blow out games but the coach elected no to. Will this come back to bite the staff? Who knows, but it certainly doesn’t help a kid like Coburn. We will see if he elects to “‘trust the process” if you will…because if he stays and develops one more year, he will likely be handed a starting job as a junior at shooting guard. Grade: Incomplete