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Terrell Brown: Room to Improve

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Just become something is obvious doesn’t mean it’s not true. Honestly, all the Pittsburgh Panthers (12-18, 2-15) have room to improve and you could say that about every player on every team across the country. The reason sophomore forward Terrell Brown is getting his own article is because he’s flashed a fair amount of potential this season, and there’s definitely room for him to improve.

Does that mean he’ll reach that potential and turn into an All-ACC performer or have a starting job next season, no. However, the areas he can improve upon, at least the ones contained in this article, will at least allow him to again become a serviceable rotational player this year, and perhaps next.

We’ve all seen this right? It happens almost every game. Brown doesn’t have the best hands, and when he does get a catch around either block (usually the left), he almost always takes a two-handed dribble if he isn’t completely facing the basket. It’s a power move that allows a player to body their way closer to the basket while simultaneously drawing some contact, which can create space. In Brown’s case it also allows him to get a better grip on the ball after he usually makes a one-handed catch.

This isn’t a bad move if your name is Shaquille O’Neal because no one was ever able to stop it in his prime. For Brown, the combination of his varying posture, generally keeping the ball very low, mistiming a shot attempt as he usually hesitates after the dribble, and habitually using it even when he would have an open dunk all add up to a less than productive paint touch.

This is a dunk if he goes up strong right after the catch. On the plus side, this is the kind of activity that we don’t always see from Brown. Transitioning from setting a screen to the right block, and then fighting his way for post position on the left block is really good here.

The catch is fine as well, but Brown lacks even an average feel for the game and in this case didn’t sense that his defender completely fell off-balance during the post-entry pass and catch.

Obviously, going up strong is something Brown can do. Again, he’s flashed that potential. A big difference here is that he’s facing the basket on the catch and there’s an obvious disparity between his comfort level when facing the basket as opposed to having his back to it. The two-handed dribble isn’t something he should completely abandon, but a better understanding of when to use it and when to not would go a long way.

Brown has turned into a very good shot blocker in his second season. He has always possessed pogo stick athleticism with great length but lacked feel, timing, a little bit of technique (not reaching over the top at the very end), and confidence - all mostly a recurring theme.

The area he really needs to improve is a better understanding of how to defend in space. He is a below average screen-and-roll defender as he’s indecisive about his assignment in those situations. That doesn’t all fall on Brown if there’s no communication going on, but more times than not he just freezes, or worse, reaches.

In the second clip, he concedes a layup because he attempts to get a hand on a pass that he wasn’t even close to instead of staying with the rolling big. The third clip is simply unnecessary pressure, and plays strongly into the hands of the opposing team as Brown took himself very far from the basket. There’s no reason to apply that much pressure in that situation with slapping hands, that’s always going to be a foul.

Becoming a better screen-and-roll defender won’t happen overnight, but avoiding needless fouls is something that could change sooner than later.

This pretty much sums up both areas of improvement. The good news is a lot of this comes down to feel, confidence, and discipline. The bad news is that you can say that about a ton of players and they never get there.

Hope isn’t lost for Brown, and who knows, this could all be a moot point next season with the incoming front court talent. Still, these are rather small things that Brown can improve on to at least give him and Pitt a chance at taking a small step forward this season and into the summer.

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