The past two games for Jeremy Lin, on Fri 11/20 against Division-II Bryant and two days ago on Mon 11/23 against Army, have been slightly depressing when it comes to his stats.
Last year, Jeremy had his worst game in the first of a home-and-home early in the Ivy League round-robin, against eventual and perennial champion Cornell. It should come as no surprise that Army also bottled up JL4 because this year’s new head coach at Army, one Zach Springer, was an assistant at Cornell last year.
The first half of the Army game was not only a nightmare for Jeremy, but also one for the entire Harvard squad. They did not come to play. They committed 20 (twenty!) turnovers and 15 of them came before the 10:00 mark of the first half! Still, they were only down by 4 points at the half. Army wasn’t exactly on point, either. They should’ve blown away Harvard, the way Harvard played.
The former Cornell coach made it a point to his players that whenever Jeremy drove, there had to be help. But some of Jeremy’s turnovers were unforced. Also, Army had a smallish quick guy at about 5′9″ who bothered Jeremy outside, causing Jeremy to force the issue.
Now, in the NBA, you recognize the mismatch and you exploit it. You put JL4 down low on this 5′9″ kid and you punish him. Then he starts thinking about that, even when 20 feet away from the basket, guarding Jeremy the next sequence.
Ah, but this is the NCAA. I’ll just stop it right there and say this: you don’t see many NBA coaches vying for NCAA jobs, do you? It’s a different world, son. A completely different style of basketball. A completely different methodology. Heaven help us if an NCAA team would ever run a play designed for one star player!
But JL4 also was hitting anything. It was a bit of a perfect storm. You know how it is when there’s a lot of chaos on the floor and you’re not receiving any passes off penetration for a wide-open trey? That’s what Jeremy faced and he just couldn’t nail one of those “forced” attempts (since no one else on the team can draw a double-team).
Furthermore, he was cold from the free throw line. We’ve seen this before, though. I’ve mentioned his unorthodox stroke that really needs to be fixed. Still, if you go to the free throw line, whatever your style is, you should be able to concentrate and make a few.
To make matters worse, the Army color commentator, who happened to be a guest replacement for their regular guy, was their athletic director and it was clear that his homework on Jeremy involved nothing but stats.
Both the announcer and the athletic director on commentary repeatedly referred to Jeremy as a “prolific” three-point shooter. “I don’t see it. Look at that release. I just don’t see it,” said the color guy, at least three times.
This is what happens when you are a “novelty”, like Jeremy is, being an Asian-American.
What they didn’t know is that the only reason why Jeremy has a 40% shooting mark from trey-land and was averaging around 20 ppg is because, well, he has to. Steve Nash would do the same. But you don’t call Nash a “prolific” scorer. Playmaker yes, prolific scorer no.
Apparently, they also glossed past Jeremy’s assists average. Name me one “prolific scorer” not named LeBron James who averages more than six assists per game. Surely, that would’ve clued you in on what kind of player Jeremy was?
Both announcers were surprised when, on the post-game show, Springer mentioned in passing that Jeremy is a first-team all-Ivy Leaguer. Guys, all you had to do was ask the coach if Jeremy is a “prolific” scorer or not. Shame on you!
At least Jeremy was still getting to the line at a more-than-healthful clip. Had he made all his free throws, he would’ve scored a respectable 13 points. Something’s definitely of concern with his free throw shooting, now at a paltry 65.8%. He had a bump in the road in this category last year, as well.
So anyways, Jeremy ended up forcing the ball at times and making just boneheaded turnovers. For example, bouncing a pass into a defender’s foot. Dribbling into two people and leaving the ball vulnerable, right in front of his body.
He ended up with 8 turnovers, the same number as last year’s debacle in Ithaca, home of Cornell. He’s got to outsmart his opponent. First, he’s got to realize they’re out to get him. Then, he needs to adjust. He needs to let the game come to him. A pull-up jumper would be nice too. Still, he makes his free throws and it’s a different ballgame.
It might also be worth noting that, down 3 with 7 seconds left, Jeremy took the ball the length of the court and dished off to Andrew Van Nest, a 6′10″ forward who can shoot, who clanged what would’ve been a game-tying trey to send the game into overtime.
It’s disconcerting because, despite how bad he played, Jeremy is still far and away the best player on Harvard. If Coach Tommy Amaker’s play was to get the ball to Van Nest, then I must disagree with that strategy. Sure, Jeremy was cold, but all it takes is one shot and he’s cured. Instead, you’re asking a freshman in Van Nest, compared to JL4 the senior, to jolt the team into overtime. Also, if JL4 hits it, then Army is worried heading into overtime. Is JL4 back, after we just spent 40 minutes shutting him down?
Now, if Amaker didn’t call that play for Jeremy, then I have concerns that, as a mentor in the NBA recently told me, “an inch of doubt grows to a foot”. If JL4 knowingly didn’t want that shot, then by then, he had lost confidence in himself. If so, he will just have to learn never to doubt himself.
Friday’s toying with Bryant (in the 2nd half, no less) didn’t do much for Jeremy’s stats, either. He ended up with just 10 pts but still had 6 assists. There were times when he faced up his defender and it was like he was trying to decide how to slice and dice him, only to settle for an open jumper (since the guy was giving him a big buffer) or passing the ball away with no consequence.
Well, everyone is entitled to a bad game here or there, I suppose. After all, that same night, not only did Brandon Jennings only score 12 points, but also Baron Davis was 0-for-9 from the floor before getting a game-winning layup on a drive to give him just 2 points for the entire game. [ASIDE: Also, didn't Mike Dunleavy call the play for Baron, the best player on the Clippers? I'm just saying.]
Last year, Jeremy came back from his terrible outing and it was almost forgotten that he had such a bad game. Let’s hope he overcomes this and, for future reference, cures himself of the Cornell curse. We’ll see, real soon (in a few minutes actually as Harvard goes up at home against UNH!).
Oh, Harvard still has to play Cornell at Ithaca later in the Ivy League. I have a feeling that may be where there were racial slurs, btw.
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