Thursday, March 14, 2013

Profile in Conte: Ryan Anderson

As a BC basketball fan who is wildly optimistic about the future, I wanted to do some digging into who I’m actually rooting for. As the second profile in the nine part series, I wanted to profile/critique/understand Mr. Steady Ryan Anderson.

What the Web Says: Ryan Anderson is a 6’8, 220 pound sophomore from Lakewood, CA. He went to Long Beach Poly High, the storied school that produced a bevy of football greats – Desean Jackson, Willie McGinest, Marcedes Lewis, 200 USC football players. Heck the Jackrabbits even produced Tony Gwynn, Chase Utley, and non-board game Milton Bradley for baseball as well. Anderson also played AAU with Lonnie Jackson and Bear (K.C. Caudill) during his high school years. 

Background from 2012: Coming into BC last year, I felt Ryan Anderson had the highest expectations due to his Mr. California award senior year. I still feel this is underplayed – California produces a lot of talent in basketball and Anderson had an incredible frame to fill out (somewhere Jay Bilas is dimming the lights). 

With these high expectations, I was a bit disappointed last year despite the fact that he averaged a 11.2-7.4 his freshman year, started 28 games, and named to the All-ACC Freshman team. He did come along the second half of his freshman year. After averaging 9.3 points per game over his first 23 games, he dropped 16.3 points per game over his final 8 ACC games. Although he had the maddening tendency to whine to referees, I think most BC fans were very high on his future at the Heights.

Ryan Anderson’s 2013 Season as told through the Hype Cycle:

Technology Trigger
As we are all renaissance men (and women) who graduated with a holistic Jesuit education, I thought I’d try to tie a theme from our marketing classes to Ryan Anderson. The technology trigger is the beginning of an emerging technology’s hype cycle, or the point where this initially curve upwards in an exponential way. This was Anderson’s first few games coming out of the gate. Coming into the season, Ryan entered the BC collective conscience as a dangly, skilled, petulant sophomore who clearly had the size and skill set to intrigue.

You heard from our trip to Europe that he looked very sharp, and when he first walked onto the floor you could tell he gained 15 pounds of muscle to his frame. Cue to Bilas licking his lips.
Peak of Inflated Expectations

The first two months of the 2012 season, many believe we even had a potential ACC Player of the Year on the floor. After averaging a robust 22.7 the first three games, he kept the pace up throughout non-conference play. If you exclude the Auburn and Bryant games where he was in foul trouble throughout, he would have averaged 18 per game. His first two ACC games also fed into the hype cycle, after a 22-11 in a near upset of NC State then dropping 26-9 at VaTech for our first road ACC victory since Brown v. Board of Education. 

Trough of Disillusionment

From this Virginia Tech game, Ryan Anderson slowly, almost imperceptibly, started to wear down. From the period of January 12th to February 24th, Anderson was beat down. Much of the blame lies with Clifford playing time cut in half due to injury (from 20.1 to 10.9 minutes per game since the VaTech game). When you are spending all your energy keeping Alex Len of the scoreboard, you tend to conserve your energy on the offensive end). Yet he also seemed mentally disengaged after a streak of particularly close losses versus NC St, Miami, Duke, Maryland, Wake Forest, and FSU.

Whatever the case may be, his poor shot selection led his shooting performance dip to 56-130 (43%) from the VaTech game to the second Duke game. Which leads us to. . .

Slope of Enlightenment

He seemed to bounce back in the Cameron Indoor atmosphere, and carried our team along with Sir Olivier Hanlon. His next N.C. State game was rough but then he proceeded to help contribute healthy performances against UVA, Clemson, and GT (twice). The Clemson game was particularly impressive 18-11 facing off against big men Milton Jennings and Devin Booker. Also to be factored in is Eddie Odio’s impressive rise, aided immeasurably by the double teams Anderson demands.

Plateau of Productivity

Nearing the conclusion of his sophomore season, it is clear to me that Anderson is at least a 3rd Team All-ACC player, regardless of what a few basketball writers from the greater Greensboro, NC decide. In the next couple of years, it is likely he will continue to handsomely fill out the stat sheet and be a perennial 2nd team All-ACC player for the entirety of his career. I've come to the realization that Anderson is not the "drop to your knees" revelation like Sir Olivier is, especially after the 41 point special against Georgia Tech. Is this a bad thing? No! He is still an All-ACC 2nd team-er, someone every other team in the conference would take in a heartbeat.

Look Alike Contest?
Ryan Anderson is just one of those guys that reminds you of someone. I am not sure who it is but he looks exactly like him. I have settle for Drake right now, but am still not entirely sure that who he exactly looks like. If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear.

What the Stats Tell Us: For Ryan, I feel this is the stats paint a disjointed, consistent, and sometimes disquieting portrait. Below are Ryan Anderson’s annualized (per-40 minute) freshman and sophomore year stats, which include everything up to the final two Georgia Tech games.

The old adage says the biggest leap for a player is between their freshman and sophomore years. So with that in the back of your head, do these stats portray a dramatically improved player? Did Anderson just play more this year? Why is he turning the ball over more?

To the first question I say "Yes and No." His 2-PT% and scoring are up but everything else seems to have plateaued. For the other two questions, I'll nervously look around and mutter "I don't know, whatever." 

For leading the team in fouls as well as having a good to great mid-range game, Anderson is also curiously abysmal at shooting free throws. He is the second worst on the team, outside of Dennis Clifford. he's actually gotten worse since last year, from 67% to 63.4%.

Also, in games where Anderson has scored more than 20 points, Boston College is 3-3. You would expect a better record, but I personally feel this stat is a bit deceiving. Even in games where he is cold, I have never felt that he was "gunning" for stats. For example, when Hanlon scored 20+, we are 3-2. Yet, it is still worth mentioning that we don't need Anderson to dominate the ball to win (or not lose)

What the Stats Don’t Tell Us: The statistics reflect his consistency but not his diversified games. His game is like a well balanced portfolio that includes T-Bills, mutual funds, high growth stock, and dividends. Unlike Lonnie Jackson’s 3-point game, whose game is similar to volatile tranches of housing debt, Anderson can score by using his Dirk-ish fade away, back to the basket moves, or slashing skills. It is a joy to watch and guarantees a certain amount of consistency, no matter how much his shot is dropping.

He is also the King of the Cheap Foul. Miss a 3 footer and frustrated? Slap the rebounder on the arm. Think there should have been a call right there? Scream indiscriminately like Tarzan and get a technical. Side tangent: I love how he never looks the ref in the eyes when he yells, even though he is getting a tech anyway. If you’re going to get the tech, than you might as well get your money's worth and embarrass a 50 year old man. You don't have to act like Andrew Bynum, but smirk like Kobe and shake head. Am I right on this? Do I have problem here?

 Finally, (On a Completely Unrelated Note) Our ACC Announcer of the Year: 

Cory Alexander, the color commentator on the ACC Network (aka Channel 38), wins Channel 38 announcer of the year on my card. His insistence that BC played in County Forum led me to believe that I should have checked out the County Fair sometime during my four year stint at BC. He also decided that the Rose Bowl has been supplanted by the ACC Basketball Tournament as the “GrandDaddy of Them All.” Even ACC commissioner John Swofford would have a tough time swallowing that Kool-Aid. Below, is our twitter exchange after the first Georgia Tech game. Let's just say Cory's answer wasn't as thorough as I had hoped.

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