Golden Spotlight on Cal Men's Basketball: The Post Players

Harper Kamp:

MPG PPG FG% 3FG% FT% APG RPG BPG SPG
33.15 14.7  52.6   22.2    82.5   1.7    5.85   0.3  0.63

Offense:
  Pretty darn amazing how well he's developed his ball-handling, footwork, and post moves after having to sit out a year rehabbing his knee.  He shows the ability to set up on either post and hit the baby hook in the lane or on the baseline.  He can also use a drop-step as a counter-move which allows him to finish off the backboard on either side of the rim.  It's very fundamentally solid footwork right out of the Pete Newell manual for big men on the low post.  He's also versatile enough to put the ball on the floor and score off the bounce, including a nifty spin-move.  His outside shot is a little more streaky, but he hits it often enough that opponents can't just play off of him.  The only time I've seen him struggle is when matched up with an agile shot-blocker who has superior length and height.  He either needs to learn how to go more into the body of the shot-blocker, or dial up some extra pump fakes from Jamal Boykin's playbook.



Defense:
  Harper is tough, strong, has great feet and works really hard.  He doesn't gamble and go for a lot of steals.  However, he shows good anticipation with beating guys to spots for ball denial in the low post.  He's not as effective when he has to cover a guy on the perimeter who can both shoot from deep and put it on the floor.  I think he's much better as a man defender than in zone.  I'm a bit surprised that he doesn't have higher rebounding numbers.  I thought that it might be related to the switch to the 2-3 for most of conference play;  it sure seemed like Kamp and MSF did a really nice job of boxing out and protecting the defensive glass earlier in the year.  The stats don't bear that theory out, however.  He's rebounded very similarly throughout the year regardless of the defense.  It could also be that Kamp focuses more on boxing out than pursuing balls out of his area.  This team approach relies on the other guys being able to recognize and take care of their assignments - which could explain why we've struggled at times with our younger guys keeping the opposing players from crashing the offensive glass.

Overall: 
For a guy who was supposed to be our designated low post bruiser focused mainly on defense and rebounding, it's been a pleasant revelation how adept Harper has become as a versatile scorer.  The fact that none of the ball-handling or clever post moves were evident during his first two years is a real testament to how hard he worked to develop his game while also rehabbing his knee.  There were rumors from practice last year that he was playing some serious ball, but you never really know what you'll get from a guy coming off a serious injury and starting for the 1st time.  He may not dominate guys physically or be able to jump out of the gym, but he gets it done with a combination of intelligence, toughness, and solid fundamentals.  He has set the bar high for himself to improve as a senior.  I'm not going to bet against him.

Full stats here:

PPG:

NCAA Basketball

 



RPG:

NCAA Basketball







Bak Bak:  

MPG PPG FG% 3FG% FT% APG RPG BPG SPG
9.65   2.5   52.0     0.0    61.9    0.04   2.6   0.12  0.27

Offense:  He's much more comfortable as a face-up perimeter player than he is as a true post.  In a team with more depth in the post, I wonder if Monty would try to develop him as a wing.  He's shown some signs of having a decent touch around the basket.  However, he hasn't made that next step yet where his shooting touch from practice translates into the same accuracy during real games.  That aspect is all mental.  I think that he's a better shooter than we've seen.  With improved experience and confidence, they'll start dropping for him.  He also has to learn how to finish strong and take direct paths to the basket.  He still gets bumped out of position very easily which translates into a much higher degree of difficulty on his layup attempts and shots around the basket.

Defense:
  This is probably the area where he has the most room for improvement.  Although he's got some athleticism for a taller player, he seems to lack the lateral quickness that would let him guard quicker players on the perimeter.  In the post, he lacks the strength or bulk to hold his position and still seems a bit tentative about knowing how to use his body to keep guys out of the paint.  He does a better job when he can use his length to deny the ball or close out on shooters.  In some ways, he's more suited physically to playing one of the baseline wings in a zone.  However, he's still learning where and when to rotate which often makes him play a step slow.

Overall:  Still a bit of tweener until he gets stronger and develops his game.  I don't know if he's going to ultimately be a 4 who has the ball skills to take guys outside, or if he'll develop more of a back to the basket low-post game.  Against certain match-ups, he might get away with being a 3.  Most teams go with three guards, however, so it would be a question of which mismatch is preferable.  It usually takes a while for bigs to develop, so it's no surprise to see Bak Bak going through his growing pains this year.  It's all about confidence.  We're not seeing the full extent of his ball skills and athleticism because he's over-thinking things right now.  Here's hoping he keeps working and the light turns on sooner rather than later.



Full stats here:



Richard Solomon:

MPG PPG FG% 3FG% FT% APG RPG BPG SPG
14.7  5.33  55.3   33.3    53.6    0.6   4.15  0.74  0.67


Offense:
  He doesn't exactly have a go-to move or a defined post game.  However, his touch around the basket has greatly improved as the season has progressed.  He's at his best when he makes instinctive, athletic plays and uses his length and hops to just go up and score.  He's not quite as effective when he over-thinks and hesitates.  With time, he'll develop better footwork which will allow him to pump-fake and employ a variety of counter-moves.  For right now, I'd rather he just focus on going up strong through contact and dare the other team to stop him from stuffing it on them.  He's also shown a soft touch all the way out to the three point line.  Free throws have been inconsistent in limited opportunity, but his form looks good.  Quite honestly, this is pretty darn nit-picky.  Big men take longer than most positions to develop.  For a true frosh, he looks great.  If and when the light turns on, he has all the athletic gifts to be a special player.

Defense:  He does lead the team in blocks despite limited time.  However, this is the area where he's taken most of his lumps.  Solomon just doesn't have the strength or experience to deal with some of the more formidable post players in the league.  In zone, he's still learning his assignments and is sometimes a step slow with finding a guy to box out.  In man, he's prone to getting bodied out and out-manuevered.  You can't deny that he's a smart player, though, who has the instincts and the agility to get much better.  Most Cal bigs from previous years waited until they were upper classmen before being able to play five minutes without picking up two fouls.  He doesn't have the bad habits of reaching or trying to block every shot.  After a year in Blasquez' weight room, he's going to be a completely different animal.

Overall:
  A bit of up and down in terms of overall production.  Although his scoring has been up a little from the beginning of the year, his rebounding numbers have slipped.  It's not due to a lack of minutes as he's been pretty steady at 13-15 mpg during conference play.  I think it's more a combination of our predilection for zone as well as matchups.  He's been getting more time when our starters have to go out with foul trouble.  So, instead of rotating in against backups, he's had to hold his own against some frontliners who tend to have a physical edge on him for now.  I really like how he's been able to adapt to Monty's constructive criticism to keep his head up and continue to work on his game.  5ppg and 4 rpg in 15 min is fantastic production for any bench player, much less a freshman big.  Good kid and a good player.  You can't coach height, but he'll be able to learn everything else.

Full stats here:

PPG:

NCAA Basketball

 

 

RPG:

NCAA Basketball Stats

 







Markhuri Sanders-Frison:


MPG PPG FG% 3FG% FT% APG RPG BPG SPG  
26.7   11.15 60.4 100.0   59.5   1.0   7.35  0.65   0.5

Offense:  Has there ever been a Cal player with a sweeter lefty hook?  We know it's coming.  The other team knows it's coming.  But, he knows how to clear space for himself and has been able to score consistently even over taller players.  He also has a nice drop-step counter to the baseline and a serviceable jumper out to 15'. (Yes, I remember the back to back 3's he dropped on 'sc)  I'm less enthused when he goes to his step-back or fade-away.  Besides showing a deadly touch in and around the rim, it's his positioning without the ball which is really impressive.  He does a nice job getting rooted, setting a wide base, and then sealing the defender.  It's hard to double him because he has the passing skills to find cutters and wide-open jump-shooters.  Considering that he played most of the year without much lift because of plantar fasciitis, his consistent production is really impressive.  

Defense:
  Body bias!  Markhuri has shown huge improvements in his conditioning, recognition, and lateral movement from last year.  He still has a tendency to pick up more than his share of fouls, some deserved and some we just won't talk about.  During some parts of the year, he was noticeably slowed by his injuries.  Most of his fouls come when playing guys who are driving.  This isn't always MSF's fault as our younger guards/wings aren't really adept yet at stopping dribble penetration.  In the low post, he does a nice job forcing guys out and is more agile than you'd think at denying the ball.  He's been solid on the glass all year.  I suspect his numbers would be higher with healthier feet and if we played more man.

Overall:  It's not easy to lose 10 lbs, much less 40+.  Give the man credit - he knew what he needed to work on and he got it done.  This season could have been a disaster if MSF hadn't transformed himself from a role player into a stalwart.  It's really unfortunate that plantar fasciitis bothered him for much of the year.  As steady as he's been, there have been games where he's clearly been limited, especially defensively.  I suppose you could quibble over the free throw shooting, but he's been consistently productive offensively and better-than-expected on the glass.  He's a solid team guy who's unselfish and has underrated passing skills.  In some ways, he's spoiled us as fans because when he gets the ball down low, it's a surprise when he doesn't score.  I really wish we had one more year.  As much as this has been a break-out year, I feel like he could be even better with more time under Monty.  


Full stats here:

PPG:

College Basketball

 

 

 

RPG:

NCAA Basketball Stats



Group Summary:  Any time you have two new starters who are both coming off of injuries, you really don't know what you're going to get.  Similarly, young big men tend to be all over the board with their readiness to compete at Pac-10 level.  In keeping with the team's theme song this year, I'd have to say that Harper, MSF, and Solomon clearly exceeded expectations and I'm not displeased with Bak Bak's progress.  We knew that Bak Bak was raw and would take some time to develop.  He's still learning and we'll just have to trust that Monty will continue to coach him up.  In many ways, the inside tandem of Kamp and MSF really carried the team until Crabbe got his Pac-10 legs under him and Jorge/Smith got settled at the guard spots.  While we'll really miss MSF's near-automatic hook and low-post scoring, the future looks bright here.  Kamp will be a wily, grizzled senior, and a stronger, more experienced Solomon should be one of the best young big men in the league.

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