J'Covan Brown makes these kind of shots all the time. Thats the problem. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
On paper the Bearcats have the advantage over the Texas Longhorns. The Bearcats are bigger, stronger, older and more experienced across the board. Particularly when you get down to the rotation that Mick Cronin has settled on of JaQuon Parker, Yancy Gates, Dion Dixon, Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright and Justin Jackson. In the NCAA tournament experience matters. It's always best to have some guys who have been around the block a couple of times. The Bearcats have that. Texas doesn't not really. Since Texas lost Alexis Wangmene to injury just two seniors are in the rotation for Rick Barnes. Clint Chapman is one, J'Covan Brown is the other.
Chapman is a nice player. The kind of guy who does the little things. He is in short a coaches dream. But he doesn't pose any sort of existential threat to the Bearcats. Because this Bearcats team has already faced players of similar dimensions with similar skill sets. Think Henry Sims but without the passing ability.
Brown on the other hand is a real threat to this team and this defense. For all the Big East battles this team has been through this year UC has yet to face a pure scorer on the order of Brown. Malik Wayns comes closest and he had 39 against UC in the first Villanova match up and he followed it up with 26 in the regular season finale. But game to game Brown is more consistent.
Consider this Brown has scored 20+ points in 12 of the last 17 games. But its not just the consistency that worries me. Its the way that Brown scores his points, off jump shots. 80 per cent of Browns field goal attempts have beenFor as long has Mick Cronin has been the coach here at UC the defense has been designed to force opposing teams to win with jumpers. UC isn't a great shot blocking team, and while the shot blocking is better this year compared to last it still isn't exactly elite. Even though this team isn't a great shot blocking team the way they crowd the paint keeps opposing teams from simply waltzing to the cup for layups. The exception to that was the first Syracuse game and really both Louisville games. But in the end the best outcome in terms of opposition shot selection is the contested 15 foot to three point line jumper. Thats' why Brown scares me.
J'Covan Brown will make a handsome living shooting contested jump shots for the next 10 years, 8 at the very least. Brown only shoots 36.5 per cent on jumpers which is a little bit above average. Or it seems above average to me without context. But the sheer volume of shots he takes makes that 36.5 per cent number worrying. Brown shoots 12.5 jumpers per game, 6 and change of those being three pointers, of which he makes 37 percent. And that's just the average. When he gets hot he is capible of dragging this Texas team into contention in games they really have no business being in. Ask Missouri, or better yet ask Baylor.
Dion Dixon and Sean Kilpatrick have become very good defenders during the course of this season. But its not because either one of them is a smothering on ball defender of the Rashad Bishop genus. They are becoming good defenders because they force the shots that they want from the spots where they want the opposing player to take them. But what happens when you play a guy who wants and will gladly take those contested looks. And worse yet is capible of rattling off a 30 point night taking and making nothing but contested jump shots. How do the bearcats deal with that?
I don't know and that's the concern with this Longhorns match up.