Last Week, we spoke to The UConn blog to find out what kind of player Terrence Samuel is, and how they viewed him fitting into our team. This week, we compare Samuel's stats while at UConn to Geno Thorpe's and see where they compare/contrast.
The first, and most obvious similarity is that both players had a similar trajectory in terms of playing time. They eased their way into the line-up the first year, while seeing their playing time increase substantially in their second year. Another popular comparison is that both players served their respective teams primarily on defense, while their offense was a work in progress. Let's see what else we can get from looking at their raw stats:
A few things jump out upon first glance. While Samuel's time on the floor increased almost as much as Thorpe's, he had almost 6% less possessions than Thorpe did, and took 8% less shots. On the defensive side of the ball, stats do seem to confirm the belief that Samuel is as defensively capable as Thorpe. Samuel's and Thorpe's rebounds and block rates are almost identical. Another stat that jumps out is the assist rate, something Samuel is slightly better at than Thorpe. In fairness to Thorpe, however, his assist to turnover ratio is much better than Samuel's. On the offensive side of the ball, on the other hand, you see the stark difference between the two guys. Thorpe's eFG%, turnover rate, free throw percentage, and the much-discussed 3-point rate are all higher than Samuel's. The only stat where Samuel has a clear advantage over Thorpe is 2-pt field goal percentage, and that itself is not by much.
Overall, at their respective points in their careers, Thorpe's game seems to be more complete than Samuel's. In terms of overall program health, there are a few gains and losses to consider.
What we lose
Thorpe was a central piece of the offense by the time last season ended, and was expected to become a key part of continuing the trajectory the program wants to go in moving forward. Last season saw the most wins since the 2011 NCAA squad, and Thorpe had a lot to do with it. Geno Thorpe made great strides toward becoming a more complete player, and it showed on the field. Keeping these types of players is essential to making those strides.
While both players have experience playing against college opponents, Thorpe had experience not only with the system, but with the teams we play every year. Losing that kind of experience unexpectedly hurts, especially because of who the player is.
Probably the most impactful aspect of this loss is how it will affect depth. You can gain experience with time, and Samuel has a ton of it, but the fact of the matter is that he won't be able to suit up this year. Unless we get a last-minute transfer (or a midseason transfer, for that matter), Thorpe's production isn't going to be replaced by anybody else in terms of numbers. Maybe Foster, Banks, or Washington will surprise all of us, making us forget about Thorpe while doing so, but I wouldn't bet the house on that being the case.
What we gain
A proven winner
Even if Samuel can't play this season, we know what we're getting with him. He's been to the NIT. He's been to the NCAA tournament. He's won it all. He's been on stages big and small, and played against tough opponents. While playing in the Big Ten will present its own challenges, there's very little Samuel hasn't seen and experienced himself. That type of experience could prove very useful in practice, as he gets ready to become a Big Ten player.
As cheesy as it may sound, buying in is a very important piece of the puzzle. Chambers recruited Samuel out of high school, and even at that point he was interested in what Chambers had to say. Getting a player that knows what kind of coach Chambers is makes the transition easier. And given point 1 above, this isn't going to be a big surprise, unlike high school kids who are first experiencing college.
This is more beneficial to Samuel than it is to the program overall, but being able to sit back and watch the game from the bench could very well help Terrence Samuel in the same way it helped DJ Newbill. Samuel will have a year to be coached without any pressure to perform. He'll be able to learn, get to know his teammates, form bonds, and assimilate to the culture, all knowing that he doesn't immediately have to make an impact.