Saturday, January 22, 2011

Actual In-Season Improvement: Melsahn Basabe

There are a number of reasons for Hawkeye basketball fans to be excited about the player they have in Melsahn Basabe. The most obvious, is that he is just a freshman, and Iowa has three more years of him presumably only getting better. As a true freshman he has been Iowa's most consistent rebounder (outside of Archie who doesn't get regular playing time) and one of Iowa's best offensive threats.

I want to look at three categories for Basabe: scoring, offensive rebounding, and defensive rebounding to see if he has made any in-season improvements during his freshman campaign.

First, scoring:

His points per game have increased pretty consistently as the season has gone on. His Big 10 numbers also prove this point, as he is averaging 11.83 points per game compared to the 8.5 he put up in non-conference games.

Like with Cartwright, let's look at his shooting to see if he has improved that.

His effective FG% is slightly trending upward. Overall though, he is shooting 54.17% in Big 10 play compared to 54.93% in non-conference play. The Purdue game clearly hurt his Big 10 effective FG%.

Just as I did with Cartwright, I want to look at how many shots per game Basabe is taking.

I would say that that's a pretty big increase. In non-conference play Basabe averaged 5.92 field goal attempts per game. So far in Big 10 play, he has put up an average of 8 shots per game. Just like Cartwright, Basabe is putting up two extra shots per game, at the expense of another player's shots (:cough: Eric May :cough:). So, Basabe is scoring more points, but that isn't really the result of him improving his shooting. He's just the same scorer he was before, only now, he is taking more shots per game.

What about offensive rebounding?

Holy crap. Basabe has seen his trendline move from about 8% to about 17%. That's a rather large increase in the percentage of offensive rebounds he has come down with over the season. During non-conference play, Basabe pulled down 10.38% of all offensive rebounds available while he was in the game. In Big 10 play, that number increased to 18.52%. If your curious, that dip around the Drake and Louisiana Tech games is when Fran said Basabe was terribly sick with the flu.

Defensive Rebounds tell another story though.

His defensive rebounds have actually declined by about 2% over the course of the season. Looking at his Big 10 defensive rebounding rate of 22.73% compared to his 20.28% defensive rebounding rate for non-conference games, though, it looks to be the opposite. That is because the Northwestern game where Basabe grabbed 47.62% of all defensive rebounds available while on the court, is inflating his Big 10 defensive rebounding rate. Otherwise, Basabe has seen a slight decrease in defensive rebounds, but nothing too large to be worried about. He has pretty much stayed the same in this regard also.

Overall, Basabe is similar to Cartwright, in that he is shooting the same but scoring more points because he is taking more shots per game. But, he has actually improved in one of the categories that is important to a player who plays Basabe's position. His offensive rebounding continues to get better as the season goes on. His defensive rebounding has dropped off a little bit, but is still over 20% which is very good. The total package of  double digit points per game on an above 50% effective FG%, coupled with an offensive rebounding rate around 13% and a defensive rebounding rate around 20% is a very good player. Especially, for a true freshman. I look forward to seeing Basabe's improvement as the season goes on, but I also look forward to seeing his game get even better over the off season. Considering he is only a freshman this year, the Big 10 better watch out for the next three years.

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