6 NCAA Basketball Stars Still Searching for Their Rhythm in 2012-13
It can’t be easy being a college basketball player today. Between games, practice, training, film study, class and media obligations, there really isn’t much time for anything else.
Throw carrying the team on your back if you are a superstar, and it’s a wonder they ever have the energy to actually perform on the court.
Not to make excuses, but there are some star players that haven’t quite found the consistency and rhythm fans were expecting in the early season. Read on to see six of them.
UCLA, a team with Final Four aspirations before the season started, is one of the most disappointing teams in the country thus far.
The Bruins spent the beginning of the year worrying about the eligibility of star freshman Shabazz Muhammad and struggled against the likes of UC Irvine and Georgia. A loss to Cal Poly had everyone questioning just how overrated this team was.
One reason UCLA is struggling is the lack of production from freshman Tony Parker. Parker was supposed to dominate in the paint and become the third cog in a freshmen machine that included Muhammad and Kyle Anderson.
However, he is only averaging three points and 1.3 rebounds a game and is yet to block a single shot. He has also been terrible at the free-throw stripe and is only earning about eight minutes a night.
If the Bruins are going to contend with Arizona in the Pac-12, they are going to need more production from Parker, especially now that Joshua Smith quit the team.
Mark Lyons has the talent to become an absolute college basketball superstar, and that is exactly what he is on plenty of nights.
However, consistency is an issue with the former Xavier and current Arizona guard.
One game Lyons will score 20 points on 7-13 shooting (at Clemson) and the next he will put up four points with three turnovers (Southern Mississippi) or four points with four turnovers (Long Beach State).
Speaking of turnovers, they have been somewhat of a problem for the shooting guard playing in the point guard position. That was to be somewhat expected, but it will be difficult for the Wildcats to continue their undefeated run if Lyons is averaging three giveaways a game.
In fact, Lyons has an alarming assist-to-turnover rate of slightly below one. That means he has given the ball to the opposition more than he has set up his own teammates for baskets.
Not exactly the winning formula for a point guard.
If Lyons can find some consistency and cut down on the turnovers, Arizona is a legitimate Final Four threat.
If you would have told me Minnesota would be 11-1 and sitting in the top 15 in the AP Poll, I would have assumed that Trevor Mbakwe was a major reason why.
The forward/center received a sixth year of eligibility before the season, which was an important boost for a Gopher team looking for an athletic big man who could dominate in the paint and change games with his defense.
This is not to say he hasn’t been doing this to an extent, only that he is still trying to find his rhythm and is only getting 18 minutes a game of playing time thus far. However, in that limited playing time he is averaging nine points, seven rebounds and better than one block a game.
Tubby Smith always spreads the minutes around fairly evenly, but Mbakwe will once again be a force when he starts to receive more minutes.
We definitely saw evidence of that last night when he grabbed an astounding 18 rebounds.
Point guard is arguably the deepest position in the country, but Lorenzo Brown was in almost every discussion about the best floor general in the game before the season started.
While Brown has demonstrated why he was in those discussions plenty of times this year, his inconsistency has probably taken him out of the hypothetical running for best point guard for now.
He is averaging nearly four turnovers a game and gave it up seven times in a loss to Oklahoma State and six times in a narrow win over Connecticut.
Furthermore, Brown is only shooting 37 percent from the field and is a measly 2-14 from behind the three-point line (14 percent). If he is going to continue to shoot an average of 10 times a game from the point guard spot, those numbers must improve.
Lorenzo Brown isn’t the only point guard that needs to cut down on his turnovers. Phil Pressey is also in that boat.
Pressey is giving the ball up more than three times a game and is clearly missing Michael Dixon in the backcourt. Never was that clearer than in the 23-point loss to Louisville where Pressey turned it over eight times and shot 6-15 from the field.
However, that 6-15 shooting performance was actually better than Pressey’s season average, which currently sits at 37 percent, largely due to a 4-18 night against SE Missouri State.
With no more Dixon on Missouri’s roster, more responsibility falls on the inconsistent shoulders of Pressey. He needs to cut down on his turnovers and shoot significantly better from the field if the Tigers hope to challenge Florida (and possibly Kentucky if the Wildcats turn it around) for the SEC crown.
Adonis Thomas was supposed to be the next star at Memphis, and he very well could become just that. However, he has struggled to find consistency so far this year, and his Tigers team has two early losses.
The 6’7” guard/forward has done alright in the scoring department (10.9 points per game), but he isn’t rebounding like many were hoping he would with that length. In fact, there were two games where he didn't grab a single board, and he is only averaging 3.8 per contest.
What’s more, Thomas is shooting a measly 18 percent from behind the three-point line, and his 44 percent shooting percentage would be much higher if he kept his game inside the arc.
Thomas has plenty of time left to improve his rebounding and shooting, so stay tuned.