If you’ve read this week’s player power rankings, you already know the answer to the question this article will attempt to answer. But Nysier Brooks leapfrogging Tre Scott on what amounts to a weekly ranking of individual performances doesn’t mean all that much. What would mean quite a bit is if Brooks has suddenly surpassed Scott as the No. 1 big man off the bench.
Mick Cronin has always ridden his starters hard and as we get into the meat of conference play and March winks at us on the horizon, that will likely become more of the norm. On Wednesday against Temple, Jarron Cumberland was the only non-starter to play more than 10 minutes. That is also likely to continue as the freshman has clearly carved out the role of sixth man, at least for now.
Brooks came in second in minutes played by a reserve against the Owls, filling in for nine minutes. He scored two points and blocked two shots in that time. After playing only two minutes against SMU (while Tre Scott played 15), Brooks has been utilized more than Scott in back-to-back games. That’s a small sample size of course, but it piqued my interest a bit.
On the whole, Brooks (14.2) is averaging six minutes less per game than Scott (14.2). However, on a per 40 minutes basis, Brooks is outplaying Scott. He is averaging more points (13.8 to 12.8) and blocks (4.3 to 2.3) while shooting 55.9 percent from the floor to Scott’s 53.2 percent. To his credit, Scott has the better projections in rebounding (11.0 to 7.0) so its not a complete runaway.
Another small point for Brooks comes at the foul line where has also been the better player (.591 to .500). Now that part is largely negligible. Both players have taken 22 foul shots this season and Brooks has made 13 of those while Scott has made 11. That’s pretty much a wash. Still, those projected numbers can’t be ignored, especially the blocks.
Since neither Scott or Brooks is ever going to be asked to carry the offense, it doesn’t matter as much who can score more. Scott has a better defensive rating (87.6) but its not as if Brooks has been bad (90.7). And, when you look at just conference play, Brooks actually has a slight edge in that category (82.3 to 83.0). Plus, as he showed with his five-block outing against East Carolina, the 6’11” freshman is a human eraser, which is illustrated in the advanced stats since he leads the team in block percentage (11.9), which is nearly twice what Scott has produced (6.4).
There’s real no conclusion to be made here other than that Cincinnati has two young post players to lean on for the next few seasons. Getting an answer to the question of Brooks or Scott will largely play out in front of us the next few weeks, especially as big games against Xavier, UConn and SMU crop up in the next month. But, for now, Brooks seems to have the upper hand.