He’ll be doing a lot of this.
Say what you will about Cal’s defense-minded teams, through five games, Nerlens and Co.’s iteration of the Wildcats are absolutely scorching offensively.
For some of the struggles we’ve seen on the other end, like blockers jumping too soon and too often, post players getting woefully out-rebounded, etc., a sixth of the way through the regular season, it looks like a lot of the offensive questions have answers.
The Cats are currently scoring 85.2 points per game, good for 12th in the country. For a team that’s learning an entirely new offensive scheme, and has to adjust to not being the focal point of the offense (unless you’re Archie Goodwin), that’s a remarkable number. Granted, they’ve played a few cupcakes, but they didn’t exactly slack against the pair of ACC opponents they opened the season against, in which they averaged 70 points. They’re also sharing the ball at a very good rate, even without Ryan Harrow (who thankfully will be back very soon). The 17.4 assists per game are good for 22nd nationally, and stacks up favorably (roughly 1.5) against the 11.6 turnovers per game. Again, those numbers are good, but when you consider that they came without the starting point guard, they’re great.
The best number so far, even more than average points scored and assists per game, is the shooting percentage. This is a very smart offensive team, for their age, and the 55.8% clip at which they’re shooting is proof of that. That number, by the way, is good for the top spot in the country. For their rebounding struggles, the three big guys (Poythress, Noel, and WCS) are all shooting over 60%. Even the wings, Wiltjer and Goodwin, are shooting over 50%. That’s pretty impressive, but when you factor in that those two are also at 50% or higher on 3-pointers, it gets a little ridiculous.
The only glaring offensive stat that this team can improve on is actually one that’s easily improved: free throw shooting. This team shoots an average of 25.4 FTs per game, but only makes 68% of them. Imagine the offensive output they’d be capable of if that number improved to even 75%.
Morehead State, Duke, and Maryland all showed this team things they can improve on defensively. Even LIU scored more than we would have liked. Those issues on D are there, and I can only imagine that practice is hammering it out of them in preparation for Thursday’s trip to South Bend. Meanwhile, though, this team is humming along offensively, and putting on quite a show doing it.
And when the defense finally does catch up to the offense, look out.