Yesterday was an awful loss, no ifs, and, or buts. The loss also shouldn’t be pinned on any one person and the entire team from top to bottom should take the blame for this one. But there have been moments this season where the two graduate transfers haven’t performed up to snuff, especially since both of them were heavily praised going into this season. And with no other seniors on this team, no one who had been in the program for a long time has taken the reigns as the undoubted leader of this team.
On the court, the leader appears to be freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey and junior Davide Moretti. Neither one of the seniors has stepped up enough this season and although TJ Holyfield has played better, the good play ABRUPTLY stopped against Oklahoma State, where he was in foul trouble and could not stay on the floor.
I also understand that Chris Clarke is not 100% and is recovering from an injury. I’m not questioning either one of these guys’ ability or effort, but what I am questioning is whether or not them being on the team is worth it compared to instead recruiting another freshman that can grow over the years.
Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens played in starring roles on this team last season and they have both now played in the NBA. The main difference between them and the two graduate transfers on the team is that both of the guys that came in last season were elite in at least something. Owens was an ELITE rim protector and Mooney was an ELITE scorer of the basketball, even if it didn’t show early in the season.
Both of these guys showed their elite talents by the time the tournament came around. Owens set the single-season block record for Texas Tech and Mooney scored in double-digits in every game but the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Chris Clarke is a great player in his own right, but he is not elite in anything. Some would argue that he is an elite passer and there is an argument for that, but another reason I think these two aren’t working out is that the skills they are very good at are not needed too much on this team. TJ Holyfield is a great player as well, but name one thing he has been elite at this season (besides getting in foul trouble).
It’s time to now analyze the question in the title... Should Coach Beard hesitate in the future because of the output by the two guys this season?
That question is hard to answer. Both Holyfield and Clarke were coming off of seasons in which they didn’t play. I think this has hurt both of them this season and will continue to hurt them as the season goes on. You see how good they can be some nights and also how bad they can be. A combined 27 minutes is NOT good when the team is counting on them.
The production, as I stated before, has been inconsistent at best. Chris Clarke was huge for this team in the non-conference season but in his last five games, he has been anything but productive. He’s had 4 turnovers in 2 of the last three games including the one against Oklahoma State. TJ Holyfield has not been much better on the consistency factor. This team needs him to play 25+ minutes to be successful and he has often not given them the minutes because of foul trouble.
I am not one to tell Coach Beard what to do and not do, but I have seen some things that others may not have keyed in on. Both Mooney and Owens had elite stats at their other schools where Clarke and Holyfield did not.
Mooney averaged over 18.5 points and 2 steals per game in his two years with South Dakota. While the competition was not as good, those stats are elite. Mooney’s stats did go down a bit, but he was playing a more complementary role compared to the main scorer. Owens didn’t have an amazing stat line except for the 2.8 blocks he was averaging while at Saint John’s. This translated and his defense anchored the Red Raiders on their way to a Final Four.
This can be compared to the output by Holyfield and Clarke. Holyfield averaged 12.9 points in his last season at SFA, good but not elite. He also rebounded the ball 6.4 rebounds per game, 1.3 blocks per game, and 1.1 steals per game. All of these stats are good, but nothing sticks out as elite. Clarke has similarly good stats. 8.2 points per game, 3.0 assist, 6.3 rebounds, 0.9 steals are all good stats. But none of them are elite.
This should cause Coach Beard and his staff to hesitate in the future but not abandon the graduate transfer market entirely. Looking at what has happened the past two seasons here, it is obvious to see why this is so hard to pin down.
With the statistics I have, I can say this: If the player has an elite component such as Owens’ rim protection or Mooney’s scoring may be taking a chance is worth the risk. If the player is good enough to make an impact but not take your team to the next level with an elite attribute of some sort, pass on the player.