For Fordham this season is going to come down to how fast three young players can develop and make an impact. Understandably that means the offense has struggled a bit through the first four games. Tuesday night against Colgate, a 79-69 win, was the first time Fordham had cracked a point per possession on offense all season. Still, four games into the season is enough to at least start getting a feel for the young guys.
First a table that summarizes a bunch of what I’m about to talk about. Fordham as a team has used 289 possessions. Three of the players in the table below have essentially the same usage rate – around 27%. Brendan Frazier is a tick below at about 21.3%.
I included Chris Gaston in this table because he’s the the guy who controls the Fordham offense right now. Thus, he makes for the best comparison. Unfortunately he’s a front court guy and we’re looking at a bunch of guards. Note: No one else on Fordham has even used 15 possessions this season. These are the guys who are taking the ball and running with it.
Still, the first thing I came away impressed by was the early-season efficiency of Bryan Smith. He’s got the highest usage of all the players, but also the best per possession scoring average. Nothing really stands out except the fact that he’s taking threes on 52% of his field goal attempts and shooting 28% from beyond the arc. He’s also shooting 56.5% on his two-point attempts. The latter is really good for a 6’1″ freshman guard. Smith could be even more effective if he was shooting better than 53.3% (8-15) from the free throw line.
Branden Frazier is playing a lot of minutes again (87.5% of the possible), but that doesn’t mean he’s improved offensively. His turnover rate is way down though. It’s his shooting thus far that’s holding him back. Last season Frazier had an effective field goal percentage of 47.9%, this season it’s down to 39.6%. Because Frazier attempts a lot of threes and doesn’t go to the free line often it’s imperative he shoots well. Last season he shot 34% (55-162) from three this season he’s down to 16% (4-25). One of those samples is much larger than the other, so I’m not too worried.
Then there’s Devon McMillan, who is basically the opposite of these two guys. He’s going to the basket, getting fouled and making things happen. Of course that’s why his turnover rate is 19.8%, which it’s worth noting is still below the team average. It’s also why his free throw rate is 72.5%, which is awesome. McMillan is a big reason why Fordham is currently 75th in the nation in free throw rate at 45.2%. Now, he needs to shoot better than 62.1% (18-29) from the line.
Putting the four players together actually makes a lot of sense on offense. Smith and Frazier are the spacers, who in an ideal world give Gaston room to work in the paint and McMillan room to drive. The fifth guy provides some offensive rebounding, avoids turnovers and plays solid defense. (That guy is Kervin Bristol here.)
That’s the formula for Fordham this season and it’ll be interesting to see if Tom Pecora’s young team can surprise some teams in the Atlantic 10 using that formula.