One of the Achilles heels of Pitt's basketball team this year is the lack of a great shooter - there's little question about that. An interesting stat popped out at me, while actually doing some digging on a separate topic.
Hoop-Math.com, if you've not heard of it before is an excellent resource. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes type of stuff there and just a lot more information that you'll find practically anywhere else for college basketball info.
Not only does the site calculate field goal percentages, but they track players' shots at the rim, jump shots, and three-point shots (as well as even more information). In looking at Pitt's best jump shooters (by the percentages, anyway), you might be surprised at who popped up.
The Panthers' best jump shot artists, if you will, are Jamel Artis and Cam Wright.
Artis checks in at an incredibly healthy 52.6% of his two jump shots that are made. The oft-maligned Wright is making 44.5% of his. Both are significantly above the NCAA average of 35.7%. Stephen actually made this point at the bottom of one his articles a while back, but I was interested to see that it's still holding up.
Here are the numbers for the entire team, according to the site:
Artis - 52.6%
Wright - 44.5%
Randall - 42.9%
Jones - 41.7%
Newkirk - 40.0%
Robinson - 39.1%
Zanna - 34.3%
Patterson - 34.0%
Young - 31.8%
Johnson - 31.2%
Before I go into a few observations, a few things to keep in mind here:
Jump Shot Definition: One thing to consider is what exactly counts as a jump shot. There are, essentially, shots at the rim and jump shots. I couldn't find a definition on the site, but my uneducated guess is that a jump shot can be something as short as even four or five feet away. Since that's generally not as difficult as a 15-footer, you have to take that into consideration.
Limited to Jump Shots: Another thing is that this also focuses on jump shots. Hoop-Math has a metric called True Shooting % that I don't delve into here. This factors in jump shots, three-point shots, and free throws. I just looked at the more general/focused category of jump shots.
Sample Size: The case of someone like Derrick Randall presents a good reason you have to take these numbers (in and of themselves) not entirely at face value. You also have to consider the sample size and fortunately, Hoop-Math does some of that, too - it just doesn't show up above. It's true that Randall has made nearly 43% of his two-point jump shots, but only 15.6% of all of his attempts have been those types of shots. Randall has only 45 total field goal attempts of any type all year and when you talk about 15% of those being two-point jump shots, we're really only talking a handful of those.
So with that out of the way, here are some observations.
Artis' numbers, unlike Randall's, are a little more credible. He has 87 total attempts on the year and nearly 45% of his shots have two-point jump shots. He's actually knocked a good number of them down at that clip. The really interesting thing about Artis is that he's the only player on the team (or probably most teams) that makes about as many shots as he does outside (52.6%) as he does at the rim (53.1%).
That percentage at the rim, by the way, is the lowest on the team among regulars. And when you think about the numerous bunnies he's missed, well, it all starts to make sense.
Also in the 'How is that Possible?' Category is that Zanna even edges Patterson in this area. There's even a reasonable sample size for Zanna, who has had more than 1/3 of his shots categorized as a two-point jump shot, so that's a little surprising, too. And along those lines, it's also surprising to see Robinson so far ahead of a guy like Patterson. Like Cam, he isn't a great three-point shooter. But he's really improved as I've pointed out recently and that shows here.
Then there's the whole Cam thing. He's a horrible three-point shooter - we know that. But in terms of a two-point jump shot, he's actually knocking more of them down than most probably realize. He's far above the NCAA average and the highest-ranking guard on the team.
Lastly, we've got Durand Johnson, who checks in dead last. I was a little surprised by that. I wrote before that he's not a great (or even a very good) shooter, not even cracking the 41% mark this year. That said, last place for a player fans often equate to being 'the missing link' really shows that he's not missed probably as much as most think he is. Johnson's three-pointers are missed to some degree, but when you factor in that he was only making a dismal 34% of them this year, it's hard to even make that case too strongly.
The biggest thing Pitt misses is ability to score points off of the bench due to his willingness to shoot the ball. The bench has gone cold at times this year and Johnson was a guy that could come in with some energy and give you 8-10 points if you needed them. There's value there - real value. However, it's also hard to look at his loss and say he's the reason Pitt doesn't have a few more wins under their belt since his shooting has just been so spotty.
All in all, though, some interesting stuff.