Saturday, March 12, 2011

2010-2011 Season in Review: Bryce Cartwright

Bryce Cartwright came out of nowhere for Iowa fans. Literally, nowhere. The point guard (who announcers loved to remind us was straight out of Compton) showed up on campus mysteriously for a visit last June. Four days later, he verbally committed to the Hawkeyes. He wasn't very hyped, and I, like most Hawkeye fans, didn't have high expectations for Cartwright this season. I mean, he committed in June, and everyone knows there aren't any good players waiting to sign in June. Well, Cartwright was a pleasant surprise. The expectations bar was set low, but Cartwright didn't just walk over it. He launched himself over it. Iowa's incumbent starting point guard, Cully Payne, went down for the season, and Cartwright was the only healthy point guard on the roster. He wasn't really anything special in November or December, but once Big 10 play kicked off, Cartwright exploded onto the scene. His 43.01% assist rate, finished number one in the Big 10 in conference play (he finished number two, overall, in the Big 10 in assist rate, behind Darius Morris). He wasn't perfect, as he was not the most efficient scorer, and did have a bit of a turnover problem. However, he exceeded all expectations that anybody had of him coming into the season. Coach McCaffery found a diamond in the rough.

  • Passing the Ball- Cartwright became one of the best passing point guards Iowa has had in a long time. I have vivid memories of him threading that bounce pass into a streaking Jarryd Cole vs Purdue, throwing up close to half-court alley-oops to Eric May vs Michigan State, and delivering beautiful bounce passes on pick and rolls to Andrew Brommer for easy dunks. 
  • Transition- Cartwright was at his best this year, when he was in transition. Like I mentioned above, the bounce pass to Cole and the alley-oops to May, all came in transition. Cartwright also seemed to be at his best when he brought the ball up court, and immediately tried to get into the paint. That left him the option of taking the high percentage shot or finding Basabe or Cole for an easy layup.  
  • Shooting- Cartwright could put points on the scoreboard, but as his 42.08% eFG% shows, it often times took him a lot more shots than many would have liked. As you will see below, that also probably had a lot to do with the kinds of shots he takes. It still remains funny to me how an inefficient shooter like Cartwright, is Iowa's go to guy at the end of a game. I'm not a big believer in somebody being "clutch" (I use the term, but don't actually think that clutch is a talent), so I would prefer someone like Gatens taking the shot (who everybody says is the most unclutch guy on the team), since the percentages say he is the better shooter. However, Cartwright did hit key end of game jumpers at Indiana and vs Purdue. Not to mention, that he did hit six buzzer beating shots at halftime this year. He would have had seven, if he would have gotten that full court heave against Michigan off in time. This is nothing against Cartwright, I just don't believe in "clutch." I believe that one guy shoots a disproportionate amount of end of game shots, so he is more likely to make a few, and have the "clutch" label applied to him. Just my opinion. Now, back to your regularly scheduled program.
  • Turnovers- Cartwright had a propensity to force some passes into guys who weren't open at times. His 24.05% turnover rate, was second worst only to Ohio State's Aaron Craft, in turnover rate by Big 10 points guards. I can't complain a whole lot, though, because that same aggressiveness that led to a few too many turnovers, is also the same aggressiveness that allowed him to rack up his conference play leading 43.01% assist rate.

As you can see, Cartwright's points per minute dropped slightly during Big 10 play, but he shot the ball almost exactly the same way he did in non-conference play. Cartwright was known as a scoring point guard, but his points per minute are pretty low for someone who is known for his scoring. Why's that you ask? Well, it's because he isn't the best shooter in the world, as is evidenced by the fact that he averaged less than 1 point per every field goal and free throw attempt he took.

Looking at Cartwright's shooting tendencies, he really loves the mid-range jumper. He took almost half of his shots from the area inside of the three point arc, but outside of the paint. Watching him play this year, he seems to really love the baseline jumper, especially. This tendency probably explains why Cartwright's shooting was so low. Those long two's are low percentage shots. That would explain why, even though, most of his shots were jump shots outside of the paint, he gets most of his offensive value inside the paint. Shots in the paint are higher percentage shots. Let's look at his shooting stats, to confirm this.

Yep. He only made 26.22% of his two point field goal attempts outside of the paint. That's a big deal when 164 of his 272 two point field goal attempts came on jump shots outside the paint. Iowa, as a team this year, made only 28.17% of said field goal attempts. But, the fact that Cartwright was a 66.67% shooter inside the paint, but only a 26.22% shooter on two point shots outside of it, explains why he gets more of his value inside of the paint. Take the ball in the paint more Bryce!

Cartwright continued to struggle as he got farther away from the basket, as he only connected on 27.54% of his three point attempts. His 69.33% free throw percentage was pretty good, for a post player that is. I would like to see at least 75% from the starting point guard on my favorite team. However, it's pretty clear that shooting wasn't Cartwright's real strong point. So what was?

Bryce may not have been the most efficient shooter, but holy hell, was he good at passing the ball. As the season went on, he turned the ball over at about the same clip, but he got better and better at finding his teammates. His 43.01% assist rate, was number one in the Big 10 during conference play. Here is another graph showing his improvement in dishing out assists:

Every single month, Cartwright upped his assists per minute. He really seemed to get comfortable in Fran's offense about halfway through the season, and his assists are what improved as a result. He averaged 0.16 assists per minute in the non-conference portion of the schedule, and 0.20 assist per minute during Big 10 play. If you neutralize the fact that Cartwright averaged seven more minutes per game in conference play, then that is an increase of almost 1.5 assists per game more in Big 10 play than in non-conference play. That's a big increase, especially when you consider that the level of competition got much harder. Cartwright started the season as an inefficient shooting, decent passing, turnover prone point guard. He ended the season as an inefficient shooting, awesome fucking passing, turnover prone point guard.

Expectations for Next Year:

The 2011-2012 season, will be Cartwright's senior year. He will most likely face some playing time competition at the point guard position. Considering, Cully Payne should be healthy next year, and Coach McCaffery is working on bringing in another point guard in this incoming recruiting class. However, with what Cartwright showed this year, he has earned the right to be the leading candidate for the starting point guard position coming into practice next year.

Stats-wise, I would like to see Cartwright shoot a little better than the 42.08% eFG% that he put up this year. That could also mean that he should try to up the amount of two point field goals he takes in the paint compared to the amount he takes from outside of it. The higher percentage shots should help his points per minute go up as well. Not to mention, the more Cartwright is in the paint, the more opportunities that gives his teammates for open shots, as the defense collapses on him.

It would also be nice if Cartwright could lower his turnover rate next year. During the regular season schedule, the average turnover rate for a starting point guard in the Big 10 was 19.11%. Cartwright finished this season with a 24.05% assist rate. However, if it is going to come at the expense of him not putting up such awesome assist numbers next year, I can live with the turnovers.

Overall, Cartwright should be the third best scorer on the team next year, behind Basabe and Gatens. He should also continue to be one of the best point guard's in the Big 10 at handing out assists. I mean, he was the Big 10's best assist man in conference play this year, all while playing on the worst shooting team in the conference. Let that bounce around in your mind for a little while. Hopefully, next year he'll keep that assist rate up while turning the ball over a little less. Either way, Cartwright should make the point guard position a strength for Iowa again next year. This time, though, he won't take the Big 10 by surprise. After this season, he's on everybody's radar now.

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