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Player review: Amar Alibegovic

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Alibegovic returns for a third year with St. John's, and we look at the strengths and flaws of the player.

Wendell Cruz

Going in reverse order of minutes played, we go from the review of Darien Williams to Amar Alibegovic, the Bosnia/ Italian forward who transferred out but came back to the Red Storm after a few weeks of looking around at the opportunities for a 6'9", 235 pound forward with a willingness to fit and improve, but without a consistent track record yet.

The last holdover from Steve Lavin's years isn't an impact player (or isn't yet an impact player, depending on your view of him), but works hard, is generally well-liked, but does he have a huge role going forward? Can he improve more?

Make no mistake - Alibegovic did improve on the court. And not just in those aberration games against Syracuse (15 points on 5/6 shooting) and Chaminade (17 points on 6/8 shooting) or against Villanova, where he scored a career-high 18 in the ten-point loss.

By the numbers

Shooting

Season
G
Min%
eFG%
3PAr
FT Rt
2P%
3P%
2014-15
24
0.208
0.419
0.605
0.163
0.529
0.231
2015-16
32
0.398
0.486
0.606
0.275
0.536
0.302

Rebounding/ Defense

Season
ORB%
DRB%
STL%
BLK%
TOV%
USG%
2014-15
7.2
12.4
1.2
1.6
16.3
14.2
2015-16
3.8
12.6
1.6
1.9
23.4
19.5

Year over year in-conference comparison - Alibegovic, Big East

Season
G
eFG%
FT Rt
USG%
2P%
3P%
2014-15
15
0.409
0.152
12.9
0.529
0.188
2015-16
18
0.421
0.221
20.2
0.475
0.255

Rebounding/ Defense, in conference - Alibegovic, Big East

Season
ORB%
DRB%
STL%
BLK%
TOV%
2014-15
8.2
13.0
1.4
1.3
14.0
2015-16
2.8
11.1
1.7
0.7
21.6

Three things about Amar Alibegovic

He likes to shoot from outside the arc. The one constant between Alibegovic's freshman and sophomore years is that he takes upwards of 60% of his shots from beyond the arc. The modern game certainly has embraced the idea of a forward who can shoot from the outside, even the ones who prove to be mediocre defenders inside the arc.

Unfortunately, Alibegovic's approach as of right now has a pair of flaws - he's not a good enough shooter outside the arc to justify the shot selection and he is a defender that needs a lot of work inside the arc.

The shot improved into more of a threat in his second season, however - and we'll get back to the shot selection.

Alibegovic is willing to change. Last season, Alibegovic was a player who took some shots and otherwise gave up his body on defense for a few fouls, to spell Chris Obekpa. This season, Amar introduced some loud putback offensive rebounds and a decent looking drive from the perimeter that should open up some space for him on the wings. Those changes and a new roster helped increase his usage rate to that of a contributor, and his two-point and three-point shooting percentages went up some.

That rebounding & paint play, tho... Alibegovic grabbed under 13% of available defensive rebounds. It's one thing if he was playing next to a strong rebounder, but he's not. What the Red Storm needs badly is someone to chase down rebounds, provide some resistance to post players who have set up inside the paint other than shot blocking. Alibegovic doesn't yet do that.

And when the outside shot isn't falling, Alibegovic provides a willing body - but with too many fouls.

Looking forward

Overall improvement. On an improving team, Amar Alibegovic has a chance to set a strong example of persistence and dedication, perseverance and determination. He has a lot to work on. His defensive acumen - getting back on defense, slowing opposing forwards before they can set up scoring camp deep in the paint, defending without cheap chicken wing fouls and slapping hands - would be a great skill to learn.

There were nights where that outside shot wasn't falling, and what Alibegovic could provide other than shooting were fouls at a rate of six per 40 minutes (which would have him fouling out of every game) and a fairly high turnover rate for a player whose offense is reliant on catching and shooting (23% of his possessions).

For example - at Georgetown, he played seven minutes, managing four fouls, three turnovers, and three points (plus a single offensive rebound, none defensive).

At Creighton, he played 17 minutes in the blowout, fouling four times, scoring 3 points, and turning the ball over once. (There was also an assist and a steal.)

Better days may be ahead in limited time for Alibegovic, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was the kind of player who found his stride his senior year as an energy role player, the kind of player who plays all-out because he has nothing to lose.