Its clear that our lack of experience and talent in our backcourt is causing some… issues. We had the same issues last year until Derrick, Ramel and Joe started executing the system. Last year in SEC play, we averaged 12 assists and 14 turnovers a game. (I’d give you non-conference values, but the UK Athletics statistics for the 2007-08 season are only focused on the SEC schedule, for some odd reason…)
Right now one might think that if Derrick Jasper had stayed, we might be much better off. In some ways Derrick would definitely be helping. Derrick was pivotal with helping getting the ball up the floor and helping set up the offense. Derrick may not significantly cut into the amount of turnovers we produced (he averaged roughly 2 turnovers per game during the SEC campaign last year), but he probably would have been smart & experienced enough not to force crazy over-the-top passes in transition. Last year, he did what you’d expect your small forward/third guard to do — rebound, play the defensive system fairly well & drain the open 3 pointer (13 of 26 in SEC Play last year).
But could we plug him in as a lead guard in this season and run the offense much better than Porter and Liggins? It would be better, but probably not significantly better. Under pressure, his height and athleticism would probably help him from being completely trapped, but it would not be a saving grace every possession. For most teams we played last year — and I am speaking generally, feel free to tell me I’m wrong — Jasper was not quicker than the opponent’s point guard. This limited his ability to drive and produce a good layup or a foul. Furthermore, I remember Derrick being a great open-floor ballhandler, but not a spectacular ballhandler when driving to the basket. I seem to remember a significant portion of Derrick’s turnovers coming from trying to dish on the drive. Derrick had the ability to be a point-forward, but lacked the breakaway quickness and ball-handling needed in the offensive system. (Which was finally fulfilled by B-Hova.)
Even so, does that make him better than our current point guard situation? Perhaps. Would it have been enough to keep Kentucky from losing to VMI? Possibly not; Jasper could have been sucked into the up-tempo style and lack of concentration, just like his (now former) teammates. And Jasper couldn’t have turned the North Carolina game around by himself.
Still, as I joked in the liveblog: If Vinnie Zollo’s parents can move to Kentucky, why couldn’t Derrick Jasper’s?