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ESPN asks Steve Lavin, "what's with all the mid range jumpers?"

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

As we get closer and closer to basketball season, the previews sometimes touch on "real talk" for the St. John's hoops team. Today, real talk falls right on the sore point for many of our regular readers and writers - the Red Storm's surprising shot selection.

Two stat-based bits of real talk from ESPN:

1. "The Storm seemed to settle for shots rather than dictating to the defense last season. As a team, St. John's spotted up for a jumper on 497 possessions last season, per Synergy Sports Technologies. Of [D`Angelo Harrison's ] 290 shot attempts, 239 of them were either jumpers or runners. Even the taller [Jakarr Sampson] took jumpers on 172 of his 361 shot attempts. So St. John's two most used offensive options were taking jumpers or runners on 68.5 percent of their shot attempts, and they hit just 20 percent of them." - from the ESPN team preview ($)

John Gasaway, he of the Basketball Prospectus fame and now a property of ESPN, where his wordiness and sage analysis can be used to bolster the Worldwide Leader's ability to be actually factual, does one better by asking Steve Lavin about the shot distribution.

2. John Gasaway Q and A with Lavin

"Q: why did your team attempt so many 2-point jumpers last season?

...This season, we're finally to the point where we feel like we're three-deep at just about every position. The numbers that you're looking at? They're going to change but it's not like we're going to be doing anything so very different. It will be because we finally have some balance, including a perimeter attack.

Q: Do you think your young team could have benefited from trying to create a few more looks at the rim? Some of the jumpers we're talking about came early in the shot clock.

A: Unfortunately, finishing at the rim was a challenge for our guys, and so was perimeter shooting, as you've indicated. Numbers aren't going to drive or dictate everything you do, but they sure are a reflection of the strengths and weaknesses of your team. That's what you saw with us last year." - ESPN Metrics Fixes ($)

Now, we'd be remiss in not pointing out that the Red Storm shot 60% at the rim last year in Big East play - and 67% at the rim all year. So finishing at the rim wasn't a challenge for the guys who tried it, but the group of players who took more than 40% of their shots at the rim (dunks/ layups/ tip-ins): Amir Garrett and Felix Balamou.

So they team didn't necessarily have trouble finishing at the rim, they had trouble getting to the rim.

As Gasaway points out, some of the jump shots were early/ mid-shot clock. Phil Greene IV and JaKarr Sampson are huge culprits here, though they were also the players who were able to get shots off - which can't be disregarded on a team that struggled mightily on offense.

That said, for a team this athletic, there has to be a way, scheme-wise, to get players to take shots at the rim outside of the fast break. And the addition of Orlando Sanchez + the return of God`sgift Achiuwa has to add a bit of an inside presense to an offensively unbalanced team.


Do you think this flaw will hold the potential-filled Johnnies back? Or will Max Hooper's shooting, a year of maturity, and better defense get the Red Storm better shots? Or is the shot selection issue not a big deal?

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