#31 / Guard / Washington St. Cougars
Scouting report: One of the things you may remember about the previous coaching era was Tony Bennett's penchant for finding tall, skinny dudes who can flat out shoot. Abe Lodwick is that kind of player. Lodwick turned heads before he was even eligible to play; as a true freshman Lodwick used his picture-perfect form to drain threes from just about any location in shootaround before the games. Lodwick wouldn't play that season - he redshirted - but hopes were high for him going into 2008-09 as a perimeter shooter with the opportunity to take some of the pressure off Taylor Rochestie and Klay Thompson.
Did he do it? No. Lodwick and fellow towering perimeter-shooting specialist Daven Harmeling simultaneously struggled mightily and faded into the background. Have a look at the numbers, compiled over a meager 6.3 minutes per game.
|2008 - Abe Lodwick||21||6.3||0.3||1.9||17.9||0.1||1.3||10.7||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.2||0.7||1.0||0.3||0.5||0.1||0.1||1.1||0.8|
At first glance... well, really at any glance, these stats are awful. 10.7 3pt% from a three-point shooting specialist? That's enough to drive everyone away from the Abe Lodwick Fan Club I was intent on founding. And it's a shame, too, because we could've worn Abe Lincoln hats to the games and fake beards to match. It would've been so cool.
So what happened? Was I just flat out wrong thinking that Lodwick had a future as a shooter and contributor off the bench?
Two responses: First, I'm never wrong. That goes without saying. Second, I think I have an explanation for why Lodwick was just so spotty with his shooting last season. Take a look at his game log from a pretty representative five game stretch last season:
vs. Pitt: 1 min, 0/1 FG, 0/1 3pt
vs. Idaho State: 6 min, 0/3 FG, 0/1 3pt
vs. Baylor: 3 min, 0/1 FG, 0/1 3pt
vs. Gonzaga: 7 min, 0/2, 0/1 3pt
vs. Montana State: 2 min, 0/0 FG, 0/0 3pt
Wow, that's a lot of zeros, you may be thinking. Yes, but remember that shooters need to get in rhythm. They need attempts, especially from behind the arc, where you're doing well if 2 out of every 5 hit the bottom of the net. If you're a shooting specialist, and I throw you in the game for 5 minutes, and let you take one or two shots before I pull the plug and sit you back on the bench, do you really have a chance to get in rhythm? Doubtful. Tony Bennett would bring in Abe off the bench, let him shoot a three or two, and then when he missed it put him back on the pine. Not exactly the best way to instill confidence in a redshirt freshman.
Maybe it's the adjustment to the speed of the Pac-10 game that threw him off. Maybe it's the lack of meaningful open opportunities provided by his teammates. Maybe - and it kills me to say it - he's just not that great of a shooter.
It's just that I doubt it. I still believe Abe Lodwick can have an impact for the 2009-2010 Cougars.
Best Case Scenario: Under Ken Bone's quickened offense, and with the green light to shoot given more often than under Bennett, Abe lights it up. He comes off the bench to the a Josh Akognon-style three-point threat, and takes a good deal of pressure off Klay Thompson, Reggie Moore and Xavier Thames at the guard positions. Abe also shows off his underrated ability to rebound, giving him the versatility to play the 3 and possibly even the 4 in a smaller lineup. Abe tops 40% from distance, scores 8.9 points per game and has us daydreaming of what he could provide for us in the future.
Worst Case Scenario: 2009-10 Abe Lodwick is 2008-09 Abe Lodwick.
Likely Scenario: Is Klay struggling to find his shooting stroke? Are the Cougs missing threes and falling behind? Are we lacking height in a three-guard lineup? Then Abe Lodwick is your man off the bench, able to provide some decent production just as long as Ken Bone is actually willing to play him in longer stretches and give him 4 to 5 shot attempts instead of the 1 to 2 Tony gave him. Lodwick is likely around a 5 point per game contributor, and shoots threes somewhere in the thirty to forty percent range. Abe can shoot well from inside the arc as well, and provide the occasional putback off an offensive rebound. If the Cougs need some life out of their shooting game, Lodwick is a worthwhile option. And with Ken Bone's looser system, he may turn out to be a perfect role player for his new coach.