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Obviously Rick Pitino has his strengths and his weaknesses as a coach. Where does "player development" fall on the spectrum? Those who say it is a weakness point to the regression of Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith, who seemed to get worse the longer they were in the program. Those who say it is a strength point to players like Ellis Myles and Kyle Kuric. I'd like to discuss Kuric.
photo courtesy www.CardChronicle.com
My fellow Clear Channel host Drew Deener ("The Early Birds", weekdays 7-10am on 790WKRD) has referenced Kuric multiple times as an example of Pitino's player development skills. In fact this morning, he sent out a tweet that said "U can call and tell me this team is underperforming. But if u call and tell me Kyle Kuric hasn't developed, I'm definitely gonna unload on u". That got me thinking... what exactly about Kuric's game has developed? He came in with the reputation of a decent shooter and good rebounder for his size with sneaky athleticism, but had trouble creating his own shot and couldn't really get to the rim. What has changed from that description? How is his game different from when he arrived?
I realize that Kuric has gone from borderline walk-on to potential all-Big East player, but is that about DEVELOPMENT? Or is it simply about getting more PLAYING TIME? I decided to break down some numbers. The chart below ranks Kyle on 10 statistical categories over the course of his college career. Most importantly, I broke down the major stats on per-minute basis, to see if there was a noticeable improvement in performance during his time at UofL.
As you can tell, Kyle's numbers on a per-minute basis have NOT noticeably improved throughout the course of his college career. In fact, there isn't a statistical category other than minutes where he's at his best as a senior... and only two where he was at his best as a junior. More troubling, in both rebounds-per-minute and 3-point percentage, he's having his **worst** season as a senior.
Certainly Kyle passes the "eye test" when it comes to improvement -- he definitely LOOKS like he's a better player than when he arrived and he's a more confident one as well. But the numbers call into question exactly what about his game has developed since he became a Cardinal. It appears the gains in his numbers are just a function of being on the court more.
I'm not making the case that Rick can't develop players... only that perhaps using Kuric as an example might not be the best way to go. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section.