A little over a week ago, we had quite the spirited debate regarding Abe Lodwick's role in the offense. It was sort of a tangent of the general question: What does Ken Bone see in Lodwick? Why does a skinny, undersized forward with a questionable offensive repertoire get so many minutes?
Intrepid Spokesman-Review beat writer Vince Grippi watches a lot of practice, but last night he got a rare up-close view of Lodwick in game action (when games are on TV, Grippi and the other writers are relegated to the concourse), and here's what he saw:
Abe Lodwick isn't the most athletic guy but he's the leader on the defensive end. You can't play good defense at this level (or even the elementary school level) if you don't talk. Lodwick never stops. When his man is screening, the guard knows it. When it's time to go under or over a screen, everyone knows. If he's in help, everyone knows. I don't have the stats in front of me, but it wouldn't surprise me if WSU's defense isn't quite a bit better when Lodwick is on the floor, no matter who he is playing with.
This jives with what I see from my comfy spot on my couch. Obviously, I can't hear the communication aspect, but it's clear that Lodwick is one of the team's most valuable defenders. He's active, jumping out to hedge screens and rotating to shooters, and always seems to be in the right position.
Additionally, I think most people don't understand how good of a defensive rebounder Lodwick is. It was easy to overlook his 17.0 percent DR% last year when he was only playing 26 percent of the minutes. But now that he's playing 54 percent of the minutes, you can no longer overlook his 17.5 percent, which is 18th in the conference. He might only be 6-foot-7 and 208 pounds, but he's tough as nails in the interior.
I understand people want more out of Lodwick offensively. But you simply cannot overlook his contributions on the defensive end, which is where he's most valuable to this team.