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Wisdom of Crowds Part II: Cats' Offensive Underachievers

In Wisdom of Crowds vs. Reality: Part I, we reviewed the accuracy of the predictions we made last summer with regard to each player's offensive output (i.e., PPG) during the 2010-11 season. Our initial analysis looked at the the data by team, position, and class. This week, we look through a different lens -- the accuracy of our predictions at the player level.

Who were the Cats' top five offensive underachievers of the season? To make that determination, we made the leap of faith that our predicted PPGs were reasonable expectations based on each player's ability and potential. With that assumption, we identified the underachievers based on the variance between our predicted PPG for each player vs. his actual PPG, expressed as a percentage of our predicted PPG. The results are summarized in the table that follows. Messrs. Pinkston, Armwood, Sutton, Cheek and Pena top our list (or is it bottom?).

Player Predicted PPG Season PPG Variance Variance %
Pinkston 4.6 0.0 -4.6 -100%
Armwood 6.0 2.5 -3.5 -59%
Sutton 4.0 2.4 -1.6 -41%
Cheek 9.4 5.7 -3.7 -39%
Pena 12.7 9.8 -2.9 -23%
Fisher 17.4 15.4 -2.0 -12%
Yarou 9.3 8.4 -0.9 -10%
Bell 2.4 2.5 0.1 +4%
Stokes 13.2 15.0 1.8 +14%
Wayns 12.2 14.0 1.8 +15%
Totals 91.4 75.7 -15.7


JayVaughn Pinkston ▼-4.6 PPG… predicted 4.6 PPG; actual 0.0 PPG

What we were thinking last summer: A powerful athlete with the athletic skills to prosper on the interior or the perimeter … The range on his jumper extends to 3-point territory … His strength allows him to operate in close quarters … Should be a factor as a freshman. Jay Wright: "We’ve been pleasantly, pleasantly, surprised with JayVaughn," who reportedly has great hands. "One of the questions that still has to be answered is whether at 6’6″, 240 he can play on the perimeter. Right now it looks like he can, which will get him more playing time."

What happened? OK, I admit it, "underachiever" is not quite the right label for Mr. Pinkston. As we all painfully remember, in early November, Pinkston was formally charged with assault for his involvement in an altercation at Sig Ep fraternity in Upper Merion Township. Villanova suspended Pinkston for the year, ending his season before it began. He continues to live near campus and is expected to return next year with four years of remaining eligibility (and presumably a touch of better judgment).


Isaiah Armwood ▼-3.5 PPG… predicted 6.0 PPG; actual 2.5 PPG

What we were thinking last summer: Long, bouncy forward with great athleticism and upside … Has a huge wingspan and aggressively attacks the rim for explosive dunks and put backs … Does a solid job of staying within his comfort zone as a hustle forward that provides energy defensively and on the glass … Shows decent touch on his mid-range shot, but rarely attempts it … Mainly plays on the block and crashes the glass and nearly all of his shots are within 6-8 feet of the basket … Has the foot speed and quickness to develop into a 3 … Ball handling and passing are significant weaknesses in his game … Must become more confident and comfortable in his offensive game , as he often rushes shots and is inconsistent finishing around the rim … Must also extend his shooting range. Finally, needs to add bulk and strength.

What happened? In need of rebounding and defense, Jay gave Mr. Armwood 17.4 MPG during the regular season, an increase of 58% over last season. However, the added time did not translate into added offensive production (2.5 PPG vs. 2.3 PPG last season). As was the case in his freshman year, Armwood lacked confidence with the ball and rarely shot (only 55 FGA attempts vs. 53 last season). However, when he did, he converted almost half , with the fourth best FG% on the team, behind Sutton, Pena and Yarou. Armwood's passing remains a liability, and he sometimes demonstrated critical lapses in judgment late in important games (e.g., Pittsburgh) that resulted in technical fouls that had a direct bearing on the outcome of games. When Armwood is not in the gym this summer, he should be working on his handle and mid-range jump shot.


Maurice Sutton ▼-1.6 PPG… predicted 4.0 PPG; actual 2.4 PPG

What we were thinking last summer: Possesses athleticism and the ability to run the floor at 6-11 … Excellent instincts as a shot-blocker … Rebounds well … Needs to add bulk and strength. Gained valuable experience as a freshman, appearing in 26 games with seven starting assignments … … His 25 blocked shots were tops on the Wildcats in 2009-10."

What happened? Unfortunately, Mr. Sutton added neither bulk nor strength since his freshman campaign, and was manhandled by opposing centers. His MPGs increased only slightly over 2009-10, playing 285 minutes all season (followed only by freshman James Bell). Although Sutton's output fell short of our expectations, there were some positives -- his PPG was 33% higher than his freshman season, and his FG% was 54%, tops on the team. His best game came on January 22 in Villanova's 83-72 victory at Syracuse, when he scored 8 points and was 2-2 from the floor. However, in most games he was ineffective in the low post, and attempted only 39 shots all season. Some of us were critical of his apparent lack intensity on the court and lapses of judgment when off it.


Dominic Cheek ▼-3.7 PPG… predicted 9.4 PPG; actual 5.7 PPG

What we were thinking last summer: A top 20 recruit out of high school, some considered Mr. Cheek the next coming of Kerry Kittles, a 2-guard with excellent size, speed and scoring ability. He had a smooth offensive game with a picture perfect release and great range on his shot … good body control and finishes well around the rim … plays within himself and rarely gets out of control … However, like Sutton and Armwood, he desperately needed to add size and strength. He also needed to tighten his handle and develop his passing skills as well as move better without the ball.

What happened? Like Messrs. Sutton and Armwood, there were little evidence to suggest that Mr. Cheek had much success in the weight room during the off season. While Jay increased his playing time by 50% to 19 MPG, the added time did not translate into offensive production. Cheek mysteriously lost confidence in his shot and often appeared out of synch on the offensive end. More troubling, perhaps, was that his FG% decreased 9% year-over-year to an abysmal 36%, and he posed little threat from beyond the arc, shooting only 31% from that distance.


Antonio Pena ▼-2.9 PPG… predicted 12.7 PPG; actual 9.8 PPG

What we were thinking last summer: Mr. Pena had developed into a decent interior scoring threat for the Wildcats over his three seasons and was the team’s leading rebounder during the 2009-10 season. With Mouph healthy, we hoped that Pena would blossom as a senior, playing his natural position of power forward.

What happened? During the off-season, Mr. Pena dropped some bulk to add quickness and worked on his 18' jumper. He hoped to diversify his game the way Dante Cunningham had done two years earlier. However, his jumper proved to be not nearly as sweet or consistent as Dante's. He favored the jump shot to the detriment of his inside game, reducing his field goal percentage from 58% to 50%. More significantly, he had only 79 free-throw attempts all season, 42% less than the year before and the fewest over his career. Pena's offensive output trailed off as the season wore on, an important reason the Cats slipped into their late-season funk. Over the last seven games, his scoring dropped to 7.0 PPG, and he got to the charity stripe an astonishingly low 12 times, converting only five.