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Bearcat Retrospective: Sean Kilpatrick

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No spring Football at all today so lets get started breaking down individual players and their performances and impacts for the 2010-11 season. I suppose the smartest thing to do would be to start with Yancy Gates. But I am not that smart, and certainly not that conventional. Instead let's talk about Sean Kilpatrick. As you should know by now Kila was a part of that 2009 class with Lance Stephenson and Jaquan Parker. Stephenson stole the headlines because that is what Born Ready does. But SK was always the gem of that class, to me at least. He graduated from White Plains High School so he shares an Alma Mater with Matisyahu which is baller. Anyways, Kilpatrick graduated from White Plains but opted to spend a year prepping at Notre Dame in Fitchburg MA. That gave him an extra year to prepare, to get stronger and tougher. The end result is that Kilpatrick was physically read to compete in the Big East as a Freshman. However the presence of Stephenson though meant that not red shirting him would basically waste a year.

I think that everyone who follows UC was aware that Kilpatrick had to have a big year for this team to succeed within the conference. SK is the type of player who is built for Big East Basketball, the wide shoulders, the somewhat plodding gait, the deceptive athleticism all of it is a Big East hallmark. He clearly fit the part and passed the looks test. It was only a matter of putting it together on the court, and there were questions about that. Deveroes Summer League aside Kilpatrick hadn't played competitive, non practice Basketball in a while. The tools were there, he just had to put it together on the floor. That line can be a death knell for UC players, past and present, but SK put them quickly to bed this year. He was the most consistent offensive threat on a team by and large devoid of offensive consistency. In fact by the end of the year he had the highest usage rate of all Bearcats, but more on that in a minute. Lets hit the basic stats.

261 114 43.7 122 46 37.7 90 65 72.7 9.7 3.2 1.2

Traditional Statistical Overview

I would say that the numbers Kila put up in 2010-11 more than surpassed expectations. 9.7 points for a red shirt Freshman is very good production. What makes his performance even better is that Kila produced at a very high, ever efficient rate in limited minutes coming off the bench. I think that the best thing about his performance this year though was his demonstrated Basketball IQ. The last few Bearcat teams have not been awash in guys that play the game in a very cerebral way. Rashad Bishop plays defense in a very smart and calculated way, but that level of intelligence seems to go out the window at times on offense and Bishop has been known to take some really bad shots in his time. But offensively guys with Kilpatrick's intelligence haven't exactly been flocking to wear the Red and Black. I am sure that his age had a lot to do with that, you have to keep in mind that after taking a year to prep and red shirting here at UC Kila was a 21 year old Freshman. But even taking that into consideration he made a lot of plays on offense that other guys just didn't or couldn't see.

For example, one of the staple sets for the UC offense this year called for the wing to curl into the lane off the screen from the big man. From there the wing has three options, keep driving into the lane and create space for the shot, bail the ball back out to Cashmere Wright or use the curl as a defacto pick and roll and hit the big flashing to the front of the rim. For the most part that action would result in a makeable, but still highly contested 10 foot jump shot in the lane or a re set of the offense. But when Kila would run that same action the results were almost universally positive for two reasons. One he was less likely to settle for the jumper and more likely to attack the tin and get, at the very least, two free throw attempts out of it. Two he is the only wing who would at least look for the big every time that series was run. He wouldn't always hit the dump down Kila was the only wing who viewed that curl action for what it is, a defacto pick and roll.

Advanced Offensive Metrics

Whatever you might happen to think of advanced basketball statistics I would implore you to shelf your preconceived notions of them for a moment. In a traditional statistical sense SK had a good year, but its when you dig a little bit deeper, looking at the things that the traditional metrics miss that his impact on the game comes to bear at little bit more.

Usage Rate % of Shots Effective FG% True Shooting % Assist Rate Offensive Rating
24.2 26.3 52.5 55.8 16.2 112.4
*note: All Advanced Metrics are are found on the scouting report for UC. I presume these to be somewhat self explanatory and if not common to, then at least within the sphere of knowledge for most college Basketball fans. If clarification is needed let me know.

These are the offensive meassures that I find to be the most useful in evaluating a player. The first thing that jumped out at me when I hit Ken Pom's site today was that Kila had the highest usage rate on the team, despite playing just 51 per cent of the available minutes for his position. The next thing was that SK ranked either first or second in all of the above metrics. Kilpatrick was just phenomenally effective and efficient with his time offensively. I think this stems from the development of his game. SK played his high school ball in an area that is renowned for competition, the greater New York area and then he went a spent a year with Notre Dame playing what was in effect a national schedule. As the cheesy Chrysler commercial says its the hottest fires that make the hardest steel.

Advanced Defensive Metrics

**note: I have included rebounding with the defensive metrics, including offensive. No overarching reason, it just makes more sense for me to think of them in this way.

OR% DR% Block% Steal% FC/40
6.9 11.8 .3 2.3 2.5

Kilpatrick was not a great defender this year. That's not entirely surprising to me. The Big East is such a guard dominated league that unless a player has unreal John Wall level freakish athletic ability they won't make a defensive impact. Kila is an above average athlete, but the step up in defensive requirements for a guard in this league, in this system was a bit too much to swallow. He got better as the year went on, but his defensive short comings were on display early in Big East play. That being said he does have quick and active hands in the passing lane and he finished the season among the team leaders in the catagory.

If SK was an average defender this past year for a guard he was a great rebounder. His offensive and defensive rebounding rates were both the best on the team among perimeter players. The defensive rebounds are great but I was really impressed throughout the year with his ability to read misses and sift his way through traffic to get offensive boards. That is the kind of thing that you can't teach. If a guy has a knack for it it is a boon for your team because it isn't something that can be replicated or taught. It also has the convenient ability to give a team hidden possessions throughout the course of a game. Just another example of his very high Basketball IQ.

The Final Word

Sean Kilpatrick's Bearcat career started off with a bang this year. Through most of the year he was far and away the most consistent arrow in Mick Cronin's quiver. He still has some work to do on his game, I would like to see him get to the line more often next year, but for a Freshman he is very advanced offensively. I think he needs to spend some quality time in the weight room this off season. He doesn't need to get bigger, at 6'4" 215 he is already a load. But he needs to work on his quickness and general explosiveness, that plus building on this years experience will make him a much improved defender in 2011-12. Like I was saying above I think that he is an above average athlete. But he wasn't as productive as he was in 2010-11 because he has some sort of innate athletic advantage. SK has a very developed, and very advanced game. He loves to attack from off angles that a defense won't suspect and he has a bevy of nifty moves at his disposal, he absolutely loves the Eurostep and pulls it off with ease. Kilpatrick is one of the guys who doesn't need to overhaul his game, it is good as is right now. What SK needs to do this off season is hone his game. The ability to attack the rim is there, and his outside shot is arguably the best and most consistent on the team. But to become a complete offensive player he needs to work on his mid range game.

What do you think of the Kila's performance this year? Leave your thoughts and give your grade below.