St. John's basketball in review: 2008-09 Malik Boothe

#3 - Malik Boothe

St John's logo2008-2009 Class: Sophomore

Position: Point guard

Height: 5'9"

Weight: 180

Age/ DOB: 20/ April 30, 1989

Home: Rosedale, NY

stats taken from Statsheet, kenpom.com, and my own calculations

2008-2009 Highs

High Points
14
(Cornell)
High Assists
9
(Cornell)
High Steals
4
(Beth-Cook)
High TO
8
(Marquette)
High FG Att
12
(Seton Hall)
High FT Att
7
(Beth-Cook)

Malik Boothe on floor vs Louisville

Last year fans got to see what a ship without a rudder looks like - a coughing, sputtering, errant passing basketball team that sank itself with ill-timed, rally-killing turnovers. The Red Storm entered the season with one point guard, one sure ballhandler; none of the other players had proven that they could get the ball upcourt under pressure. And when Malik Boothe tore a tendon in his left thumb against Marist (and played the next game against Virginia Tech)...

The ballhandling was ugly with Quincy Roberts and TyShwan Edmondson at the point. And St. John's played, often, to the pace of their opponents; quick point guards would get their shots off and make plays, leaving the defense scrambling to cover at times. Having Boothe back on the court did not spark a streak of efficient offensive games or stop blowouts; the team continued to be victimized by the better lead guards in the league.

That said, this team needs Boothe to realize his potential. Overall, Malik enjoyed a slightly better year than his freshman campaign, but that owes to having some success against the creampuff part of the schedule. When comparing his freshmMalik Boothe drives vs Georgetownan and sophomore season within Big East play there are declines:

  • Malik took fewer shots while on the floor.
  • His 3-point field goal percentage remained about the same (3 of 22 in 2009 and 3 of 23 in 2008) and his 2-point field goal percentage declined from 39.5% to 34%.
  • Boothe got to the line a little less per attempt.
  • His assist percentage (percentage of field goals assisted while on the floor) declined from 30.3% to 21.2%.
  • Boothe's steal percentage increased slightly, to 2.8% from 2.4%.
  • The turnover percentage only improved slightly, to 31.3% from 32.6%.

Boothe is not a scorer, but he needs to improve in that area to allow him to use his quickness and strength to penetrate, draw fouls, and attract the defense.

More importantly, the turnovers are very high, even for the main ballhandler. If this were a team where Boothe was the only facilitator, didn't turn the ball over on traps, and was generating more shots for his teammates, the turnovers could be condoned. But the major work of the Red Storm as a whole has to be to not allow possessions to end without a shot. On a team that cannot score, possessions - both keeping and extending them through offensive rebounding - is vital.

Boothe also needs to improve his defensive control. For him, it has to be less about steals and more about anticipation - being able to control where the opposing point guard goes, bulldogging the opponent into bad places and bad shots, and generally being a pest.

Impact on the 2009-2010 Season

Malik Boothe shooting vs MarquetteEven with the signing of Malik Stith, Malik Boothe is going to be the main ballhandler. He knows the offense, he is strong and tough, and the coaching staff believes in him as a floor leader. That said, Boothe has to be a better performer on both ends of the floor to make this team a highly functioning squad. Boothe and the team are soon off to Canada to play against some solid competition. Here are some things he needs to work on:

Keeping the Defenses Honest. Malik has to find a way to score enough to be a threat. If a defender can simply sag off of him, it cuts down passing lanes for the gifted Rosedale baller. Whether it's getting his3-point percentage above 25%, or getting a mid range jumper that is reliable, or working on converting in the paint and drawing fouls, Malik has to get better at putting the ball in the basket. If he can get his man close and then beat that defender, we can see the creative playmaking that St. John's fans love to see from their point guards.

Keeping Possessions Alive. At times the coaching staff used the 5'8" point guard as the inbounder. Virginia Tech quickly put their tallest player on him. Turnovers ensued. There, the staff put Boothe in a bad position and his teammates didn't help him out; but Malik has to find ways of not turning the ball over on traps, in corners, and the like. He has to get better about knowing when and how to force passes; and his receivers have to get better at catching those balls. It's not just Malik, but he is the one to whom the turnovers are credited.

Keeping Defenses Frustrated. With his strength and quickness, this blog would like to see Malik Boothe make more of an impact on the defensive end. He has had moments of great, frustrating defense that does NYC proud, and at other times he seems to struggle to keep up with the speedier guards in the league. The Red Storm defense needs to harass the opposing point guards and stay in their jock for at least half the court.

Malik Boothe won't suddenly become a scoring force, but he can get a few more shots in the basket. One hopes to see him make 2 three-pointers in a game. Additionally, Boothe needs to play more efficiently when he has free run at the basket as he did against Seton Hall both times, where he went 3-12 and 1-7, though he had 6 and 5 assists, respectively. Boothe is a tough player, and his thumb injury may have impaired him for much of the year.

 

Still, like Justin Burrell, he needs to show more development. Here's to a renewed and creative Malik Boothe; having a player to actually spell him may help make Boothe a better player, fresher, and more aggressive.

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