College basketball is suffering a historic drop in offensive efficiency in the early stages of this season.
Texas lack of offennse goes beyond the absence of Myck Kabongo.
In the past few weeks, on the big stage of national television big-time games featuring the nation’s best teams have been downright unwatchable. Georgetown vs. Tennessee set college basketball back 50 years in ineptitude. Yes, both are solid defensive teams but a halftime score of 18-16 is not an example of how the game should be played in the shot clock era. The game ended up a barn burning 37-36 victory for the Hoyas as both teams shoot less than 37 percent and they combined to go 4-for-23 from behind the arc.
A week later the same Hoyas faced Texas at Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V classic. The Hoyas eclipsed the 40 percent mark while going 4-for-18 from three-point territory in an easy victory where the opposing Longhorns shot less than 30 percent and was 2-for-13 from behind the arc. Yes, Texas was missing Myck Kabongo due to a lingering NCAA investigation but their futility goes beyond his absence, as the Longhorns are No. 168 in offensive efficiency, their worst in a decade by leaps and bounds.
The problem is more than just these one or two games.
Offensive efficiency is at a decade low, in fact, it’s over three points lower than last year and up to seven points from the 2007 and 2008 seasons. The top five teams in offensive efficiency are a combined 36-1 on the season with the one defeat being No. 5 Ohio State’s loss at No. 2 Duke. Why are Florida State, North Carolina and Kentucky not performing up to standards? North Carolina’s offensive efficiency has dropped from 114.7 to 109, Kentucky from 122.9 to 112.7 and Florida State from 107 down to 105.4. The Seminoles have truly struggled, hitting a stretch where they are shooting under 40 percent in back-back-back home losses to Minnesota, Mercer and Florida.
In all likelihood, FSU’s football team could outscore its basketball team.
Point guard play has taken a step back and a look at top prospects across the nation sees an alarming trend in terms of turnovers and poor shooting.
Guard play has a direct effect on offensive efficiency and college basketball is void of the truly great guard. The numbers don’t lie. The college game misses the half dozen best underclassmen college guards from last season that opted for the NBA and the feeling is mutual. Those six guards selected in last June’s top 15 picks all have downright struggled on the next level. Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters, top five draft picks are shooting 34 percent and 36 percent respectively. Austin Rivers is shooting below 30 percent and Jeremy Lamb and Kendall Marshall have both been sent down to the NBA Development League while Terrence Ross is playing sparingly. ESPN’s first month rookie ratings has this group of guards rated 13-16-25-32 and two that didn’t place in the Top 50- Ouch!
The college level shows the inconsistency of guard play as well.
Trey Burke has been the most productive underclassman guard leading Michigan to a top five ranking in the current polls. Burke has improved his effective field goal percentage (combination of two’s and three’s) from 50.2 percent to 55.9 percent this season. Burke is projected as a first round pick and the prospect of him staying is bleak. Therein lies the problem. Thinking that any top college player will turn down first round cash and continue to develop on the college stage is in and of itself pointless and for that the college game will continue to suffer. These top point guards will follow the money and never truly develop. The cycle continues.
Leigh Klein was formerly on staff at Texas and Rhode Island and now owns Five-Star Basketball Camps, the nation’s top basketball camp. He contributes to 247Sports' coverage of college basketball. Klein can be followed at @LeighAlanKlein