Cheikh Mbodj played pretty well on the defensive end in 2011-12. Less so on the offensive end. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Cheikh Mbodj had a rough first year of Division 1 Basketball. Injury kept him on the bench for the start of the season. When he finally got healthy after the first three games and was starting to get his proverbial feet under him for the close of the non conference slate in December. Then Xavier happened. It was another 6 games on the bench on account of the suspensions. After that suspension he seemed to be back to square one. To call Mbodj's 2011-12 season disjointed would be a massive, massive understatement. And it basically cost him a season. This was his lost season. How else do you explain a guy that everyone had penciled in as major factor in the rotation playing double digit minutes down the stretch of the year just once in the final 7 weeks of the season? Or how about Mbodj having an offensive rating of ZERO 12 times in the last 13 games?
Now Mbodj is never going to be a double digit scorer in the Big East. It's just not happening he is too raw and too unpredictable. He can't make a living with 20 foot rainbow layups. But where he can assert his impact on a game is on the defensive end. When he did get playing time he was an effective defender. The logical way to think about him, at least defensively, is as a bigger less athletic Justin Jackson. To wit.
Note: I included plus minus to give an indication, however crude, of the impact Jackson and Mbodj have on games.
The biggest difference between the two? Justin Jackson is a better perimeter defender and has quicker more active hands. Mbodj is an effective defender in the post. But his defensive range is limited to about 10 feet. With hard work he can push that defensive range to maybe 15 feet. But some of his problems defensively will only appear in the pick and roll.
It will be interesting to watch how Mick Cronin goes about fitting Mbodj into the rotation next year. Defensively he and Justin Jackson compliment each other perfectly, as a Center and Power Forward always should. In theory. But he can't play both of them together without the offense grinding to a halt*
* unless one of them makes a great leap forward offensively. Jackson being the most likely to do so in that highly unlikely scenario
My feel is that the role of the posts from now on will be to, in order, defend, defensive rebound, offensive rebound and finally score. I think that Mbodj is capible of fulfilling that role, but Jackson already is that role.
So what's your take on Mbodj's 2011-12 season?