Two of the players who generated the most reader mail the past few days were Mike Moser and Savon Goodman, for similar-yet-different reasons.
In Moser’s case, fans know what kind of player he is, and they want to know why he’s not performing at that high level anymore. With Goodman, they don’t know what kind of player he can be, but they wonder why he’s not getting a chance to prove himself.
Both topics are covered in this edition of “Words with Fans.”
(Note: Some questions have been tweaked to clean up Tweet-speak)
WORDS WITH FANS
Why doesn’t Rice press and trap more? With UNLV’s length, depth and athleticism, it would create turnovers and lead to easy offense.
I think it’s more difficult to be build a good pressure-defense team than people realize. That’s why few teams do it effectively. You have to recruit a very specific type and stuff the roster with smaller, quicker, more interchangeable players, with an emphasis on long, athletic wings. The way the Rebels are currently constructed, two of their three best players are big men Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch. Playing full-court would probably mean cutting back on their minutes, and I don’t think the coaching staff is willing to make that trade. They’d rather play defense straight-up (and the Rebels are quite good at that) and get the most out of their star bigs. Next year could be a different story, however, with Bennett in the NBA, Roscoe Smith becoming eligible and Savon Goodman ready to earn regular time.
What’s the status of Savon Goodman? How is he progressing? Will he be seeing any playing time the rest of the year?
Goodman was a hot topic when I went through the mailbag, even though he’s played just three minutes in the past nine games (with seven DNP-CDs). The freshman clearly made an imprint in the collective memory of Rebel Nation with his early-season hustle plays, but the bottom line is that he’s just not ready for significant minutes. He’s making the transition from high school power forward to college small forward, and his perimeter skill set isn’t up to par quite yet. His turnover rate of 18.2 percent is the third-worst on the team, behind only Anthony Marshall and Bryce Dejean-Jones, and Goodman isn’t asked to handle the ball nearly as much as those guys. And his true shooting percentage of 0.487 is also third-worst, behind Mike Moser (0.468 percent) and Justin Hawkins (0.469), two guys who have also had their minutes drastically reduced recently. He’s the definition of “raw talent.” If Goodman can improve his offensive game over the offseason, he could be in line for big minutes next year. For the rest of this season, I don’t expect him to contribute much.
Mike Moser isn’t playing like the Mike we know. Is he still recovering, or is it a tough fit playing with Bennett and Birch?
As I just mentioned, Moser’s true shooting percentage is the worst on the team, and I think most of that can be attributed to injury. Last week, both Dave Rice and Moser himself acknowledged that he’s not 100 percent, and won’t be for the remainder of the season. Rice said one of the reasons Moser saw just two minutes against New Mexico was because he didn’t think the forward could hold up against the Lobos’ physical front court with the current state of his elbow. Moser can’t take the pounding, and the stats bear that out — just 27 percent of his shot attempts have come near the rim, and 44 percent have been 2-point jumpers (the highest rate on the team). For comparison’s sake, 43 percent of Bennett’s shots have come at the rim, with 32 percent being 2-point jumpers. Moser’s elbow isn’t allowing him to play his natural game, and the result is the reduced role we’re seeing now.
Are the Rebels done recruiting or offering 2013s as a way to show Moser he is wanted back next year?
The fact that the Rebels were recruiting 2013 forward Jermaine Lawrence up until he chose Cincinnati last week leads me to believe that they’re still looking to add another recruit from the Class of 2013. The plan all along has been for Moser to leave after this season, and there’s been no indication that things have changed, despite his injury. As Rice said last week, NBA teams have tape from last season, and they know what kind of player he is. It’s unclear whether sticking around for his senior season would actually improve his stock, so until Moser himself says otherwise, I still expect him to turn pro. That would open up another scholarship for next year, and the Rebels have given every indication that they’re still recruiting to fill that roster spot.
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