clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The incredible efficiency of Reshanda Gray

Analyzing the new, take-charge version of too-tall Beast Mode.

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Put simply: Cal would be in deep, deep trouble without Reshanda Gray.

Over the last two years, Gray maintained a role as an ideal bench player - high energy, opportunistic scoring, energetic defense - behind two very, very good starting post players. She shot a bit above 50% from the field, rebounded the ball well, and could potentially step up and play more minutes if necessary. Her biggest weakness - fouling too often - didn't come in to play because she only averaged about 19-20 minutes a game.

Now, suddenly, Gray has at times been the only post player available on the roster. Talia Caldwell's graduation, Gennifer Brandon's absence, Justine Hartman's concussion and Kyra Dunn's transfer ineligibility left the Bears with just one veteran post player. Prior to the season Cal's coaching staff acknowledged that they expected a jump in production from Gray, but even the biggest optimistic wouldn't have predicted this, right?

After eight games, Gray is averaging 16 points per game on 66.2% shooting, and has recorded double digit points in every game on the schedule. In case you were wondering, there are only 50 other players who are shooting 60% or better so far this year. Only eight of those players are averaging more points than Reshanda. Those are elite numbers when you look at them in isolation. When you consider that she is putting up these numbers without another consistent inside threat next to her, or without Cal hitting any outside shots to stretch the defense, her production is astounding.

Perhaps the biggest change in Gray's game is her fouling. As a freshman, she averaged one personal foul for every six minutes of court time. That number didn't change much as a sophomore, rising to a foul every 6.3 minutes. After eight games, she's averaging a foul every 8.25 minutes. That might not sound like a huge difference, but it's the difference between fouling out of a game in 30 minutes and fouling out in 41.25 minutes. Coach G has already asked Reshanda to play the full 40 minutes once this year, and it wouldn't shock me if it happened again. If nothing else, it's nice to have that option.

Can Gray keep this pace up? As amazing as she is, probably not. Hitting 2/3rd of your field goals just isn't something that happens. And while Cal's non-conference schedule is solid, Pac-12 play will be tougher and the defenses will be stronger. Talia Caldwell was the model of efficient interior shooting, and even she ‘only' managed to shoot 57% as a senior, good for 2nd place in the conference behind Chiney Ogwumike's 58.6%.

Nationally, only five players shot better than 60% for the 2012-13 season, and of those five, four were low volume shooters who didn't have nearly the same responsibility on offense as Reshanda Gray currently has for Cal. The fifth player? Brittany Griner.

It strikes me as unlikely to expect Reshanda Gray to continue to put up offensive numbers that are essentially Chiney Ogwumike/Brittany Griner lite. More and more teams will have either the defensive personnel or positional discipline to stop her from getting off 10-12 good shots a game, and the burden will shift to Cal's guards to hit shots that are open because two players will be blanketing Beast Mode.

Still, Reshanda's production could take a significant dip and still be elite. I'm going to enjoy watching opposing defenses throw everything they have at her, and I'm going to enjoy watching to see how she responds.