Justin Brownlee, a man of versatility and heat checks - Red Storm in Review 2011

Brownlee, emphatically stuffing it against the Blue Devils.

One of the great indictments of Norm Roberts' tenure as head coach of St. John's was his inability to coach an offense that could score every other time they had the ball like a normal basketball team.

Another indictment was the sometimes-curious personnel choices that favored defense far more than offense, on a team where the defense wasn't even that notable.

Cases in point: the junior college players Roberts brought in, Justin Brownlee and Dwight Hardy.

Justin Brownlee was needed when he came. The team lacked scoring athleticism. And yet, he languished on the Red Storm bench while Sean Evans rebounded... but provided little else. In Brownlee's second/ final year, Steve Lavin gave Brownlee playing time, and he logged the second highest number of minutes on last year's team.

But in the Big East season, he was out of position; the mismatches that worked for him early didn't work as well as the season went on.

Justin Brownlee's versatility helped power the Red Storm attack early. With what looked like a decent stroke from outside the arc and some agility inside the arc, he could operate inside at 225 pounds. He was bouncy and could dunk on fools who got in his way. Justin II even had a little handle, was willing to pass - he only had six games all season without an assist - and was willing to play down low and stay there for Steve Lavin.

Lavin and Mike Dunlap's work also limited the Brownlee shots, defined here as:

...the ill-conceived jump shot with no defender in a player's face and 20 seconds left on the clock. It's the shot that makes coaches and fans cringe, and should be reserved for video games.

You could call it the "heat check." It was always a shot the team didn't need. It's not the play that loses the game on its own, but he didn't connect enough to make it a smart basketball play.

Sometimes, that player who looks great coming off of the bench actually isn't cut out for the second-most minutes on the team. Sometimes they are.

But in this case, maybe Norm Roberts had the right idea, limiting his minutes.

Double the Brownlee

At first blush, it seems that Brownlee was freed from Robertsian shackles by Steve Lavin in his final year. But his game actually didn't change much - he just saw more time on the court:

All Games
ppg
sh%
mpg
2009-10 
6.8
23.5
18.6
2010-11
12.3
24.5
30.2
Big East
ppg
sh%
mpg
2009-10 
5.4
22.0
15.9
2010-11
11.1
24.0
31.8

Doubling Brownlee's time also doubled his points. That breakout campaign was just a breakout in terms of time on the floor; and being on the floor more close to the basket was detrimental to Justin Brownlee's game in Big East play. Brownlee struggled a little more to convert inside the arc; and he regressed a little outside of the arc. With a turnover rate that was acceptable but not great, and an offensive rebounding rate that one expects out of a guard, maybe the paint wasn't the place to showcase his abilities.

Justin Brownlee - All Games
All
g
gs
mpg
poss%
ortg
2p%
3p%
3pRa
ft%
ftr
or%
dr%
ast%
stl%
to%
blk%
2010-11
33
31
30.2
22.4
104.1
52.4
34.0
16.2%
67.7
28.3
6.1
15.1
14.3
2.2
18.0
3.6
Justin Brownlee - Big East Games only
Big East
g
gs
mpg
poss%
ortg
2p%
3p%
3pRa
ft%
ftr
or%
dr%
ast%
stl%
to%
blk%
2010-11
18
18
31.8
21.3
97.0
48.6
31.0
16.4%
67.4
24.2
5.2
17.0
15.0
1.9
19.4
2.7

A player is not on a team only to showcase themselves; they are there to win for the whole. Brownlee certainly gave of himself to create a winner.

But there were slower, uglier games, games like January 22nd against Cincinnati, where Brownlee picked up zero rebounds. Or the contest against Rutgers, where Brownlee couldn't get many shots off. There was the 1 of 9 game against UCLA. All of which makes a viewer think that his game is not made for the paint on this level; he struggles playing against height, where strength is not enough to give him space to score.

Justin Brownlee is a heck of a player, and had some nice dunks when given a little space (against Duke, for example). He is versatile. But sometimes "versatile" means that a player gets played out of position. Would Brownlee have been better as a power wing player? It's unknown; the best part of his game is his interior touch, not his dribble/ attack ability or his deep jump shot. We will never know, since he played a de facto center for the Johnnies, and gave up his body and game for the cause.

Here's hoping he carves out a nice career; Justin Brownlee might fall under the height restrictions in the Philippines and dominate over there (and if you don't know, read Pacific Rims to get a sense of how that all works).

Justin Brownlee - All Games
g
gs
poss%
ortg
2p%
3p%
3pRa
ft%
ftr
or%
dr%
ast%
stl%
to%
blk%
2009-10
32
3
20.1
107.0
53.3
21.2
25.7%
74.2
15.3
9.7
18.1
10.6
2.3
12.7
3.8
2010-11
33
31
22.4
104.1
52.4
34.0
16.2%
67.7
28.3
6.1
15.1
14.3
2.2
18.0
3.6
Justin Brownlee - Big East Games only
Big East
g
gs
poss%
ortg
2p%
3p%
3pRa
ft%
ftr
or%
dr%
ast%
stl%
to%
blk%
2009-10 
17
2
19.9
103.3
50.0
25.0
19.0%
68.8
19.0
10.2
16.9
10.9
1.6
14.9
1.1
2010-11
18
18
21.3
97.0
48.6
31.0
16.4%
67.4
24.2
5.2
17.0
15.0
1.9
19.4
2.7

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Previous St. John's Red Storm in Review posts: offense/ defense | dele coker | dwayne polee | malik stith | sean evans | the risky coaching pick | the roster shakeup | malik boothejustin burrell | paris horne | dj kennedy

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