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StJ08 Year in Review Part XII: Good Luck, LarryWright

Slightly out of order so I can address questions + write an homage about Larry Wright's ability and skills.

Part 0: Opening | Part I: Team stats | Part II: Boothe | Part III: Burrell | Part IV: Cavataio | Part V: Dele Coker | Part VI: Sean Evans | Part VII: Paris Horne | Part VIII: Tomas Jasiulionis | Part IX: DJ Kennedy | Part X: Eugene Lawrence | Part XI: Anthony Mason Jr

Larry Wright: B.I.P. (Ball In Peace)

(stats taken from, Statsheet, Ken Pomeroy's Basketball Prospectus, and my own calculations)

2007-2008: Sophomore
Position: Guard
Height: 6-2
Weight: 172 lbs
Age: 20 (06/11/1987)
Home: Saginaw, MI

Larry Wright shoots against West VirginiaLarry Wright 2007-2008 Highs

High Points 20 (WVU (h))
High Assists 3 (Pitt)
High Rebounds 6 (Rut)
High Minutes 32 (St. Fr)
High 3P Att 9 (WVU (h))
High 3P Made 6 (WVU (h), FDU)
High FT Att 6 (WVU (a)) 6 made
High FG Att 13 (St. Fr) 7 made
High FG% (+6 Att) 78.5% (So. Fla)
Low FG% (+6 Att) 11.1% (Miami)
High Turnovers 2 (So. Fla, Pitt, Syr)

I am writing this as both a basketball eulogy and as an aid to the fine folks at UM; Michigan is one of the schools that may be interested in Larry Wright, and rightfully so.

St. John’s fans are pissed. PISSED, because we’re losing Larry Wright. He was on his way to becoming a cult hero; but unlike other fan favorites, this isn’t a case of that scrappy walk-on kid who plays tough defense and just makes plays. Larry Wright was possibly the team’s best scorer and certainly the most accurate shooter, and the justifiable focus of the fans/ message boards’ "Free Larry Wright" posts.

One would think that, on a team that was near the bottom of all of NCAA’s Division I in scoring and field goal percentage, a team that was one of the least offensively efficient of all D1 teams, a team that was held under 50 points 5 times, a team with two double digit scorers, could find room and time to play their best outside shooter regular minutes. Especially when that shooter was the third leading scorer in half the time as the first two leaders.

Instead, right before conference play (specifically before the Virginia Tech game), Larry Wright lost his starting job for good to DJ Kennedy and at times, Malik Boothe. In fact, he was often not the first player or guard off the bench; he was often subbed in after 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, St. John’s score was, on multiple occasions, in the single digits. That is not a misprint.

Why bench an actual shooter for a glue guard/ forward or a non-scoring point guard? Why keep a guy on the bench when your team couldn’t throw water in the ocean? On a team where the point guards aren’t reliable scorers, only one post player can score and he’s double-teamed, why wouldn’t a coach let the other scorer play to loosen that double team?

I don’t know either.

Did you know that Wright was 12th in the Big East in 3-pointers made? In 19 minutes per game.

Larry Wright vs CincinnatiDid you know that if he qualified with enough (2) attempts, he would have been 4th in 3-point FG percentage over all? And 3rd in conference play?


Why did Larry Wright need more playing time? Let me illustrate by whipping out the scoring stats from the Big East games where he got 20 or more minutes:

* West Va (away): 20 minutes, 15 points, 3-6 3 pt, 3-7 overall

* South Florida: 25 minutes, 17 points, 3-3 3 pt, 7-8 overall

* Rutgers: 26 minutes, 10 points, 1-3 3 pt, 4-9 overall

* Providence: 30 minutes, 16 points, 2-6 3 pt, 6-11 overall

* Cincinnati: 27 minutes, 14 points, 3-7 3 pt, 4-12 overall

* West Va (home): 25 minutes, 20 points, 6-9 3 pt, 7-10 overall

Those aren’t bad results. And, to be fair, there were games where he wasn’t good, with Miami being the prime time ugly example: 27 minutes, 2 points, 1-9 shooting, 0-6 3-pt. And there were games, especially blowouts where he came off the bench late, where he couldn’t find his touch. But shooters have bad days unless they are Salim Stoudamire or JJ Redick in college. It happens. And a good coach gives a good shooter time to find himself in the flow of the game.

Wright has his faults. Rumor has it that he was not the best practice player; though no one claims he dogged it like former Red Storm players (who were booted by the current regime) are known to have done. And his defense wasn’t the best; he seemed to struggle with anticipating his man’s move in the halfcourt.

But if he wasn’t a lockdown defender, he also didn’t turn the ball over, which led to run outs/ fast breaks, i.e., more points on the board for the other team. The only players with fewer turnovers than Larry are Rob Thomas, Dele Coker, Mike Cavataio, and Tomas Jasiulionis, all of whom played about half as many minutes and didn't shoot nearly as much. Those fast break moments were brought to you by Lawrence, Kennedy, Mason... et cetera...

Larry Wright vs Smalligan at West Virginia

Most teams have to sacrifice a little defense for offense. Wright should have been starting the whole season, instead of picking up spot time and getting that mystery "injury" DNP against Marquette. Everyone knew he was unhappy, being yanked around, playing a strong stretch with minutes midseason and then back in the dog house until the Seton Hall and West Virginia games. Every player wants to play, and anyone who watched basketball knew that some scoring punch was sitting on the bench, checking his number of splinters. I don't blame Larry for leaving. He can play more than this.

Larry’s Game:

As for Larry’s game, he shoots deep shots in the flow of the offense and doesn’t overdribble. If he doesn’t have his shot, he looks for the next man. He tends to shoot from around the top of the key, but last year his some of his memorable shots from the corner (I think the Notre Dame game, his last shot was from the right corner? Correct me if wrong). When he gets the ball, he seems ready to shoot or drive, and if he’s blanketed, he doesn’t force it. he doesn't take his man off the dribble often, but he's probably quick enough to do so.

He can be bothered by physical defense, but he doesn’t play much with the ball in his hands. Larry Wright drives to the hoopHe did seem bothered in the Miami game when he got hit a bit, but he has learned to play better against physical team; every team is physical in the Big East.

He’s quicker on offense than defense, but isn’t an above the rim player. He’s solidly athletic, and might prove to be more in a better offensive system that isn’t clogged in the middle.

He uses screens decently, but I can’t say that the Red Storm set a lot of crisp screens, so he might be better than I think. He can curl around a screen and get into the lane for a floater that improved his 2-point game immeasurably; he shot 49% inside the arc this year vs 28% in ’07, and few of them were layups.

He doesn’t hide from big moments; his shots were instrumental in big runs at South Florida, against Seton Hall at the end of the game, and against West Virginia at home.

I think he could have been the back up point guard for St. John’s next year. He brought the ball up once or twice, isn’t a moron with his dribble, and though he doesn’t pass, isn’t inept with the basketball. On another team, though, he’d be better suited to the shooter role.

Larry Wright isn’t the second coming. He is a role player, for sure, and limited in some ways; but that role is an essential one for every single basketball team; the guy who can score in bunches and won’t hurt you in other ways on the court. He could be a potential star and with more regular time, I expect his outside shooting percentages to go up.

He deserves to go to a better program than Davidson (which I’ve followed for a couple of years) or U of Detroit; he can hang with the big boys like Michigan.

All Conf
Minutes Per Game 18.9 17.4
Effective FG Pct 56.3% 59.7%
FG Pct 43.4% 45.4%
3pt FG Pct 40.2% 41.3%
FT Pct 75.0% 77.3%
FT Rate 21.4% 20.4%
Points Per Game 9.1 8.6
Rebounds Per Game 1.3 1.3
Off Rebs Per Game 0.3 0.2
Def Rebs Per Game 1.1 1.1
Assists Per Game 0.5 0.5
Steals Per Game 0.5 0.6
Turnovers Per Game 0.6 0.7
Assist-Turnover Ratio 0.8 0.7
Blocks Per Game 0.2 0.1
Fouls Per Game 1.8 1.7