For today's player review, we take a look at Ryan Luther. The 6'9" forward started out early in the season as a firm member of the rotation, but lost his playing time as the year progressed. The local prep star has some skills, and has a bright future here with Pitt. Once again I have JD here to help me take an extend look at the freshman forward.
Final Stat Line - 1.9 Points. 1.0 Rebounds. 51% Field Goal. 45% Three-Point. 42% Free Throw
Best Game - 13 points 2 rebounds 2 assists in a 70-47 win over Kansas State in Maui.
Worst Game - Luther did not play in 8 games during conference play.
JD, what do you make of Luther's disappearance in the rotation in the second half of the season?
I think Luther simply wasn't 100% ready for play against ACC opponents. I think it was pretty clear Dixon had intended on redshirting Luther this year, but with the lack of quality depth at center (and eventually power forward as a result of moving Young down) led to Luther getting forced into action early.
Luther wasn't a highly recruited prospect, but he does fit into the classic Dixon mold of a player who develops over his four/five years at Pitt. Similar to what happened to Cam Johnson, he just may have been exposed too early.
When Luther was playing early in the season, he looked pretty good. How would you rate his performance as a true freshman when he was on the floor?
He certainly showed promise. Dixon commented at one point that Luther was Pitt's best big man on defense. Given Pitt's season, I'm not sure how much of that is a compliment to Luther or a statement about the team's defense overall at the front court positions.
He certainly showed he has an outside touch by hitting some threes. The thing I liked most about Luther was he seemed to do the fundamental and simple stuff well, which doesn't seem great at first, but so many players struggle with the fundamental aspects of the game. He just needs to develop off that great base.
Luther's big performance came in a big win over Kansas State. He knocked down three three-pointers, and finished with 13 points in one of Pitt's better wins all season. Is that the type of player we should hope to see going forward?
I will take any player that can score 13 points on 7 shots against a Power 5 team. I think any time you get a player that can bang down low, but step out and hit a three every once in a while really opens your offense up. It creates mismatches similar to the ones Artis was able to exploit this year. Luther is at a lower level than that, but being able to take smart shots along with being in the right place with Dixon's offense will get him some great opportunities to be successful. He simply needs to build some experience.
A lot of this would depend on how the roster is built by next year, but some have suggested a redshirt for Luther in his second season. Is that something you would be in favor of, or would you rather see him play through his struggles?
As you mentioned, this will depend heavily on the roster's make up. I think Luther would feel slightly frustrated. He somewhat had his freshman year wasted, and then has to sit out another year. That might be the best option though. If he did redshirt, he would have a full three years left when Mike Young and Jamel Artis enter their final seasons (barring an unexpected early exit to the NBA by either). That would be a great opportunity for him to get game experience before being an upperclassman with a chance to start on the team.Obviously incoming recruits could always pass him, but that's the case no matter what he does redshirt wise.
I'd say I'm partial to him redshirting, but I'd love to see what he can do with some more minutes. He doesn't take bad shots, and it'd be interesting to see what he does when he has the confidence to take a few more.
Finally, from what you saw of Luther, what are some areas you would like to see improve before the 2015/16 season?
As I just mentioned, I'd like to see him shoot a little more. He only took around 35 shots for the year, and a lot of those were single shots in just a few minutes of action. If he was able to get into the rhythm of a game and take a few more shots, I think he'd be successful.
I'd also like to also see him work on his rebounding a little. His numbers were a little low for a Pitt player at his position, but then again Pitt's rebounding was much worse than we're used to seeing this year. Hopefully he can improve his defense as I hope the rest of the team does. Having a big man actually able to defend would help out a ton, especially on dribble penetration from opposing teams.