Remember that time that the Dragons were beating JMU 9-0, and then scored 26 points for the rest of the game? Yeah, that was cool. It was also a microcosm of Tavon Allen's season. At some point this year, I turned to my neighbor and said, "He looks decent in the first five minutes of games. Like every time. If that's true, how bad must he be the rest of the game to be one of the worst shooters in all of Division I?" With the snow this weekend and some downtime, math was done. But please, don't just follow the math, because there's much more than that here.
First the math:
There are 424 players in Division I basketball that have attempted more than 10 shots a game this year. Of those 424, Tavon is 423rd in effective field goal percentage at 37.7%. It's the 8th worst shooting percentage for any player in the last 5 years. Is this due to injury? Maybe partially, but last year's 42.9% effective field goal percentage was good for 453rd of 473.
Many are frustrated by this. That has been made clear. Included in that are the Drexel coaching staff. So they stepped up and worked with him this offseason. They discontinued his ambidextrous shooting to give him a more consistent approach. Tavon responded by shooting worse. In the long term a more consistent approach should work, so lets applaud the staff for attempting to fix his shot. But here's what the coaches didn't do: change his approach. He's still taking the same shots, and that's the problem, just not his problem. I left a stat out in the previous paragraph:
Of the 4,536 college basketball players who have taken 10 or more shots in a game in the last decade, Tavon Allen's effective field goal percentage ranks 4,522nd or in the 0.5 percentile. Put another way: 14 players have posted a worse effective field goal percentage, and 4,521 have posted a better effective field goal percentage. But here's the thing: He has company.
Scott Rodgers 2008-09 season was 4,518th. Current Drexel assistant coach Kenell Sanchez's 2005-06 season was 4,513th. All played the 3 in Bruiser's offense. You read that right: Drexel 3 guards have 3 of the 25 worst shooting seasons of the last decade. Unbelievably, all three of those players were in their fourth year at Drexel during the seasons that they made that list. Only once did any of those players eFG% increase from one year to the next (Scott Rodgers freshman to sophomore year). Rodgers eFG% dropped every year after, and both Kenell and Tavon had straight down slopes from their freshman year on.
The coaching staff tried to fix Tavon's shot but they never looked inward to fix their offense. Coming off of a poor shooting season last year, Tavon opened this year at Colorado by taking 17 field goal attempts. Only 1 came in the paint, a fast break layup. Within Bruiser's offense, he attempted 16 jumpshots. Here's what Bruiser said postgame, per Adam Hermann of the Triangle:
“Got to make baskets,” Flint explained. “I thought today we got great looks"
We've heard that before. As a matter of fact, if you Google Bruiser Flint and "Open shots" you'll find 940 results. If you Google Bruiser Flint and "High Percentage shots" you'll get 53... and the first result is this Blog. The seemingly minuscule difference between "open" and "high percentage" is the difference between the video based coaches of yesteryear and the "Moneyball" statheads of today. It's also why the Drexel three guards will keep winging up long 2 point attempts, while opposing defenses keep giving it to them. Looking at these numbers as an opposing coach, wouldn't you ensure that Drexel three guards had open looks from 18 feet?
Tavon does have poor shot selection. He will take an off balanced shot, he will take shots without setting his feet, and he doesn't get to the rim nearly often enough given his 6'7" frame. Here's what else he will do: Go 37 minutes on a bad leg, hobbling and staying in the game til the end, even during a double digit blowout. He uses his length and is a solid defender badly needed on a poor defensive team. He was asked to be a scorer for this team and Lord knows he's tried, even when it looks like he can barely walk. He's been asked to be a leader and a captain in his fourth year on the team, and he's constantly communicating on the floor. Tavon is statistically the worst offensive regular on this team, but he is not the problem. He's doing what he is being asked to do.
Just like the other wing guards before him.