Casual wiseman sleepyhoya offers this week's opus: 'In Defense of Nate'
Trolling through the blog this season there seems to be one issue that everyone agrees on: the problem with this year's Hoyas is a working class kid from Massachusetts named Nate Lubick. The handwringing is universal, whether it be here on THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON or on the plethora of other sites devoted to college basketball.
The stories are all roughly the same - Georgetown, fueled by a great freshman class, senior leadership from Jason Clark and the reincarnation of Henry Sims as an actual basketball player, is the surprise team of the Big East. Holding them back from potential greatness is the chronic underperformance of Nate Lubick. Recent history tells us that we should be suspicious of being 10-1 in our non-conference schedule heading into big East play. The last three seasons, with that same record, we've won exactly zero post-season games. Isolating Nate Lubick as the reason for our suspicion is just plain wrong on every level.
More after The Jump:
First, let's take a look at his numbers. Nate is leading the team in rebounds per minute. His time has been squeezed some by the emergence of Otto Porter, but that is actually a good problem. He leads the team in offensive rebounds, is second in assists and has the best assist to turnover ratio on the team.
Lubick rivals only Jabril Trawick as the toughest, hardest fouling guy on the team, plays solid defense, sets the hardest and most effective picks and screens on the team and, most importantly, doesn't have sticky hands in the offensive scheme. That means he knows where he's going to pass the ball before he receives it. That's what makes this offense work.
So why is he the problem child of this team? He's not scoring. In fact, he's not even shooting. Nate seems content with ignoring the basket, concentrating on doing the things he's actually good at, defending, rebounding and passing - all helping the team do something called winning.
So the question comes down to is his lack of scoring the real Achilles heel of the Hoyas? There are some compelling reason why it's not. First, historically, some of the best Hoya teams in history have had major contributors who really had no interest in scoring. Nate this year will statistically outperform Michael Graham of the national championship team of '83-84. Ed Spriggs from '81-82 has a similar line. Those two teams won a national championship and were one jumpshot short of a second.
More importantly, the emergence of Markel Starks as a real scoring threat has limited the liability of Nate's offensive shortcomings. This team has four legitimate scorers in the starting lineup and a couple of really good ones coming off the bench. Having a player who does not need to score is actually a key ingredient to a lot of winning teams.
Finally, there is no evidence yet that opposing teams sloughing off on Nate has caused any problem with our offensive efficiency. As long as the ball keeps moving crisply Nate's lack of scoring shouldn't be a problem. And, if teams decide to totally ignore him on the offensive end, I predict you'll see a significant uptick in his scoring.
We have lots of reasons to be both cynical and delusional with this team given our recent history. Anything is fair after the roller coaster of the last three seasons. Anything that is, other than trying to put all are worries on the shoulders of Nate Lubick.