What's the Point?

By Chris Lauderback on January 22, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Judging from yesterday's poll, the majority of you agree with us that poor point guard play is the biggest concern facing the basketball Buckeyes as they head into the final 12 regular season games.

Sure, Lighty's injury was a major setback but without an effective floor general his absence is not the reason the Buckeyes find themselves 3-3 in conference play while ranking 9th in Assist/TO ratio and 8th in scoring offense.

The juco transfer duo of Jeremie Simmons and P.J. Hill have combined to shave years off my life thanks to erratic, yet contrasting play.

Though a small portion of you continue to disagree, Simmons is clearly the lesser of the two evil's and by far the more productive player. Considering this team struggles to put the biscuit in the basket, his ability to actually get off his own shot is reason enough for Matta to give him the bulk of the PG minutes.

Those in the Hill camp point to his defense and intangibles which is usually a veiled attempt to ignore the numbers. I agree Hill plays hard but I don't think he's playing any harder than Simmons - it just looks like it because his dreads are flopping all over the court. I will never change my opinion that some are confusing his spastic bouncing around at the top of the key as good defense. He's moving, but he's not really doing anything.

Of course, no argument is worth anything without some type of proof so let's take a look at the numbers.

Since there's a wide disparity in minutes played due to Hill rightfully riding the pine before Crater's mom derailed her son's hoops career, I broke the stats down by minute instead of by game.

Name Minutes Pts/min Asst/min TO/min Asst/TO Stl/min Reb/min FG%
Simmons 439 .28 .12 .05 2.3 / 1 .03 .07 32.7
Hill 115 .12 .10 .10 1.1 / 1 .02 .09 28.6

As you can see, Simmons has the edge in every statistical category excepting rebounds per minute which is really inconsequential since nobody from the school of logical thought is concerned about the number of rebounds provided from the point guard slot.

In the stat that matters most when it comes to PG play, Simmons is far superior in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.3 to 1 compared to Hill's paltry 1.1 to 1.

This is important in that many of the Hill supporters love to incorrectly prop Hill for being a true point guard claiming he's on the floor to distribute the ball whereas Simmons is just a gun.

The PredatorHill: "He plays hard!" (D. Harker)

Cue Lee Corso - not so fast my friend. The truth is Hill is incapable of scoring so the perception is that he's out there looking to distribute when in reality he adds virtually nothing to the offensive cause. The object of the game is to score points and he neither scores points nor sets up his teammates to score at a rate that effectively offsets his turnovers. How's he been lately? Try one assist and six turnovers in his last four games.

Conversely, Simmons not only more than doubles Hill's A/TO ratio but he's also capable of at least making the defense account for him in the half court. Simmons' .28 points per minute dwarf Hill's .12 and for those that jump on Simmons' shot selection, he's actually making a higher percentage of his shots (32.7%) compared to the Predator (28.6%).

In conclusion, I want to make it clear I'm not attempting to sing the praises of Jeremie Simmons. The fact of the matter is Simmons is really a legit juco combo guard trying to play point guard at the D-1 level but he's still a much more effective player at this level, and on this team, than P.J. Hill. It's not hate, it's fact.

Therefore, I think it's indisputable Matta is correct in giving Simmons the bulk of the minutes because he is clearly a bigger asset and has far more potential. We've seen Hill's ceiling and it's not as good as the current version of Simmons and he'll likely improve somewhat with continued minutes.

The bottom line is we must live with the fact this team will likely, ultimately, be undone by poor point guard play until Matta can bring in a more suitable option but for now Simmons is the best he's got.