Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Welcome aboard, Malik Smith

Because apparently Coach Pitino doesn't believe in every slowing down, there's even more Gopher news to report in this weird last 24 hours with Malik Smith transferring from FIU to join his former coach with the Gophers.  Smith is a true chucker who does very little else, but is a good athlete and is familiar with the system Pitino runs in which he did manage to average 14 points per game last year while shooting 36%. 

The hope is that Smith's game will be able to fit next to the other pieces the Gophers have so that rather than be the guy who has to carry the entire team's offense he's merely another cog in the great magnificent machine and his percentages and efficiency should go up, and hopefully he'll consider an assist here and there and maybe even grab a rebound if it bounces right to him.  One would think he could at least play some defense considering FIU was one of the best in the country at forcing turnovers last year, but he had the 2nd worst steal percentage on the team, a number that was only higher than Mo Walker and Elliot Eliason among Gophers last year. 

I realize this probably makes me sound like I'm pretty down on this, and maybe I am a bit, but not completely.  Smith is a scorer, pure and simple, and those don't grow on trees (I don't believe) so picking up a guy who can put the ball in the basket and is aggressive with it to join a team who was an offensive mess last year is probably a positive move.  His efficiency wasn't terrible last year despite the poor shooting percentage, and if he can take on a more complimentary role both of those should go up since in theory he won't be needed to jack up a ton of shots.  I do have concerns that he can't modify his behavior, as well as wondering if he'll be effective against better competition (FIU played Louisville and nobody else at all last year), but those things are for the coach to figure out.

Since Smith is a senior he only has one year left to play and he is supposed to be eligible right away so there's no waiting involved and another scholarship will be open for 2014.  Basically Pitino traded Joe Coleman for Smith and an additional scholarship that year.  He's clearly come in and decided to rebrand this team as his own and obviously his guy Smith fits his vision better than Coleman so he made the swap (no, I haven't seen anything definitive but the pieces and timing fit).  No doubt this move will probably rub some people the wrong way, just as letting Coleman go (meaning no more Minnesota born players are on the roster) will rub some the wrong way.  Me?  I was a fan of the hire from the get go and so naturally I believe in Pitino and generally support what he's done thus far, including jettisoning Tubby's recruits for next season and bringing in his own guys (by the way, Alex Foster is following Tubby to Texas Tech).  This move - the Coleman for Smith swap - however, has me feeling a bit unsure.  I liked Coleman's potential within the system Pitino was going to install.  Hopefully I love Smith.

No comments: