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Breaking Down Mislav Brzoja

From Jonathan Schuette…

(I find it funny that the ball they are using in what appears to be a game says “Game Ball,” silly Europeans).


It’s no secret around college basketball that John Calipari has a bit of a reputation for recruiting the best of the best.  After winning Kentucky’s eighth national title this season seven players departed (6 to the draft, 1 graduated), so to say some replacement to the roster is necessary is a bit of an understatement.  At a normal school the fans (and probably coaches too) would be short circuiting about the potential lack of players to field a team, not Kentucky.  Calipari has recently reeled in his fourth straight recruiting class so the cause for concern is virtually non-existent.  Even though this class is absolutely loaded with talent it hasn’t gained a reputation for one of the most important aspects of basketball, perimeter shooting.  Last season with Doron Lamb, Darius Miller, and Kyle Wiltjer surrounding the outside it made for one of the best three point shooting teams in Kentucky history, but two of the three dead eye shooters are gone so some rather large shoes need to be filled.  To give some insight on how big those shoes are Darius Miller was a career 37.8% three point shooter and Doron Lamb finished as Kentucky’s all-time leader for career three point percentage at 47.5%, so I think it’s safe to say our three point efficiency will take a dip next season despite Kyle Wiltjer (a career 43% shooter) returning for his Sophomore season.  Since there will be a void in the perimeter shooting area next season Mislav Brzoja may be the answer to filling that empty space that Miller and Lamb left.


Brzoja, the 6’5” shooting guard from Whitestown, Indiana/Croatia, recently played in the 2011 U18 European Men’s Division A Championship and put up some respectable numbers. In nine games while averaging 32.6 minutes he put up a very respectable 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per-game.  By looking at those basic numbers the most impressive thing to take away (other than the obvious 13.7 points per game) is the fact that a shooting guard was pulling down 5.7 rebounds per game.  This gives an indication that he is very capable of tracking down back his own misses and getting second chance shots.  Also, in the nine games played in the Euro U18 Championship he connected on a very respectable 38.6% of his threes (17-44). Granted those aren’t Doron like numbers but if he were to suit up for the Wildcats he would aid in the perimeter shooting department immensely.  If he were to accompany Kyle Wiltjer from three-point land that would present a very difficult set of match-ups for a vast majority of our opponents.  If your team is unbalanced (see Kentucky, 2010/11) that allows the opponent to focus on taking away individual strengths like post scoring without fear of repercussion.  Effectively guarding the perimeter while defending excellent wings and forwards is a daunting task that requires man-to-man defense or a tough match-up zone to limit efficiency from all corners of the floor, since most teams lack the athletes to play against such balance it creates a huge mismatch.  This is why Brzoja (or a player similar like Mark Lyons or Torian Graham) is so important, they stretch out the defense preventing double teams down low.


Brzoja, while a skilled perimeter shooter, does have some areas where he could improve.  Two of the areas where he could use the most improvement are interior shooting and ball handling.  During the 2011 U18 European Men’s Division A Championship Brzoja only shot an average 45.6% from the interior (26-57) and turned the ball over an average of 3.4 times per-game.  His sub par shooting in the interior is not much cause of concern though as this is only slightly below what an average Shooting Guard would shoot form the interior (for perspective Doron Lamb only converted on 48.1% from two last season).  While that’s not too concerning his turnover rate is cause for alarm.  Granted I haven’t ever seen a full game of his so I don’t know the full context of the turnovers or the tempo of the team he was playing on but 3.4 per-game is quite a few.  Why is this so concerning?  A few months ago I did some research and found that Calipari’s best teams don’t turn the ball over on offense.  His three most recent Final Four teams have been well below the national Turnover Rate average (This year’s team while not on the chart fit the profile as well).  If Brzoja were to become a Wildcat he would in all likelihood be sharing primary ball handling responsibilities when Ryan Harrow is out of the game (Harrow has proven he does not turn the ball over at a high rate based off his Freshman stats), and given the fact that Mislav has a bit of a turnover problem, he may not be ready for significant minutes at Kentucky.


If Brzoja were to receive a scholarship offer from Kentucky I could see him being a very serviceable player over the course of his career.  Since his position on the team would be a spot up shooter who moonlights handling the ball when Harrow is unavailable, his minutes could be limited given his turnover problem.  If he were to sign with Kentucky I can see him playing the Kyle Wiltjer role of quirky music video maker/outside shooting specialist his Freshman season.  At the current juncture I think the better option would be Mark Lyons, Xavier transfer.  Given the fact that Lyons shot 38% from three last season while turning the ball over only 2.2 times per-game against stronger competition I think that Brzoja should be the second option at this time.  I certainly would love to have him at Kentucky over the course of multiple seasons, but there is a player available now that gives you a much better chance at winning immediately in Mark Lyons.


Follow me on Twitter @SchuetteKSR


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26 Comments for Breaking Down Mislav Brzoja

  1. Sean
    12:31 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Didn’t you guys already run this article? Slow news day?

  2. barn
    12:41 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    “one graduated”? i thought miller and vargas both graduated.

  3. cracka
    12:42 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    at least somebody finally called him a shooting guard

  4. Alan Badillion Trahern
    12:45 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah, was on ksr college a couple days ago.

  5. CatDaddy
    12:48 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Dont want him we have enough white dudes on roster already!!

  6. Yeah Right
    12:48 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    That guy won’t see the floor next year. I take that back… he’ll see about the same amount that Twany Beckham got last year.

  7. Walter Sobchak
    12:54 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    “…recently reeled in his fourth straight recruiting class..” – yes, that is mighty impressive

  8. Hoss_Cat
    12:56 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    My goodness was this awful on so many levels. SMFH

  9. Doug
    12:56 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    It has been reported that Lyons wants to be “the man” at point guard. He will be auditioning for the NBA with no interest in a team concept. Plus he is a thug. Why would we take a chance on this guy? All other options are preferable.

  10. KSRCollege
    1:12 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    I thought this experiment was over? The worst thing that came out of KSR College was full time Ally Tucker on KSR. Thanks, but no thanks. Moving on to another site.

  11. GrungyUndies
    1:16 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    As my coworker would say: This is stoop-it

  12. MKG Fan
    1:24 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Just one guy’s opinion here, but if you are insulting writers on a free website, you have too much time on your hands and you are a jerk. Please do move on to another site.

  13. rn9uer
    1:26 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    12- go eff yourself. this is amurrica

  14. BingleJells
    1:32 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    I just don’t like anyone whose surname has vowels in the wrong place.

  15. Sean
    1:41 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    7 – LOL, I thought the same thing. Impressive!!!

  16. Mkgistebow
    1:43 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Dont provide analysis of a guy you’ve never seen play. This guy would not be on cal’s radar if he wasn’t better than those “respectable” numbers. Cal is obviously intrigued by him and is deciding if the guy is as average as the “experts” think he is or if cal sees something there that makes him think the kid could be a world class player. Trust me cal isn’t gonna give any 4 year rides to kids that will never have the potential to start for a final 4 team.

  17. world class playa
    2:10 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    #16 I don’t think Cal has any illusions this kid is a “world class player”. It’s simple. We need a perimeter shooter next year. More likely, Cal is trying to decide if his shooting ability ONLY will make him worthy enough to overcome all the other average aspects of his game. By the way, there is no such thing as a 4 year ride. As Kevin Galloway, Donald Williams and others foundout, schollies are good for 1 year at a time. Cal would certainly give the kid a schollie planning to fill a need for next year ONLY.

  18. Mkgistebow
    2:18 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    I understand what you’re saying but I think your underestimating the humanity of cal. He’s not bringing in some kid to hit 3s for 1 yr. it’s not worth the headache and if the kid isn’t a premier athlete he won’t be able to guard well enough to get any minutes anyway. I’m right in this and that’s why I don’t think we will offer him because cal doesn’t think he’s quite good enough/worth the risk/time.

  19. nate knight
    2:42 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    I think hes a backup plan just in case we dont get Patterson or Lucas

  20. Smyrna_Cat
    2:44 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    12 … this site makes money from us coming here. The more hits they get, the more we visit their sponsors, the more we buy their stuff … all of that makes money for the founders of this site. “Free” is a misleading word.

    And we, who come to this site, are customers. We expect a certain quality of product. If we don’t get it, we complain. If our complaints aren’t heard, we will go to the latest, greatest site, and this site will disappear. Then what will you do, sit and stare at a blank screen?

    The founders of this site want people to come here. It is to their benefit. They need to know that just loading this site up with a bunch of crappy writing and retreads isn’t going to cut it.

  21. MKG Fan
    3:23 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    So many internet tough guys… One of the first rules of being a decent human being is to criticize in private. Send the moderator an email if you have complaints if you are genuinely interested in constructive criticism. Grow the f up.

    And yeah, everyone knows this website, and basically all websites, make a little money by having advertisements. Here’s hoping someone comes into your workplace and ridicules you in front of all your coworkers…

    3:36 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    That’s why they can delete the comments if they don’t like them. Criticism comes with the comments section, it’s the nature of the beast. All websites deal with it.

    Now,you better run along because Matt Jones doesn’t like to wait long for his dates to get ready.

  23. BNClay
    3:54 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    20… If you don’t like what this site is offering do your clicks somewhere else and make that site some more cash.

  24. STEVE!
    4:34 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    From the limited reports we saw about his play during his campus visit, it sounds lie he can’t yet play the type of defense Cal wants. With that said, I can’t see him and Wiltjer on the floor at the same time for outside shooting, unless Kyle’s defense improves dramatically.

  25. Smyrna_Cat
    5:09 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Some of you need to realize that the comments section is for comments.

  26. Grevey35
    5:18 pm May 2, 2012 Permalink

    Im from Ohio, Hamilton to be exact and Ive watched Lyons since he came to Cinti…My ‘Cats dont need this kid. And this doesnt stem from just the UC-XU game this season. He has been a punk since he came to this Jesuit school. Entirely way too much baggage for just one kid.