Big Ten Geeks:
Maybe Penn State Really Does Have Best Backcourt in the Country
A year and a half ago, Penn State coach Pat Chambers made a bold statement:
“Can’t wait! I think we’re going to have the best backcourt in the country! You heard me, in the country,” he exclaimed, referring to Newbill and Frazier. “The reason is because those two together.”
While Chambers’ excitement clearly damaged his sentence structure, it also raised eyebrows. Could Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill, a low-usage transfer from Southern Miss, actually comprise the nation’s best backcourt?
It took a year longer than expected to find out, but the answer appears to be a surprising “maybe.”
To look at this objectively, I took KenPom’s list of the top 100 offensive ratings in the nation (minimum 24 percent usage and 40 percent minutes played – we want high usage, high efficiency starters, not great role players). I then filtered the list down. First, since we’re looking at duos, I eliminated players that did not have a teammate also in the top 100. Then, I eliminated duos that included a player that is clearly a forward and not a guard in the context of his team.
We are left with this list:
Player Team Ortg Usage Russ Smith Louisville 121.6 31.1 Tim Frazier Penn St. 120.9 28.7 Jordan Adams UCLA 134.6 28.3 D.J. Newbill Penn St. 120.0 25.2 Kyle Anderson UCLA 118.3 25.0 Chris Jones Louisville 121.2 24.7
Admittedly, this is a quick and dirty approach. Defense is not considered, nor is schedule strength. We’re also only a third of the way into the regular season, so there’s a lot of basketball left to be played.
With those grains of salt taken, we’re left with three contenders for the nation’s best backcourt (so far): Russ Smith and Chris Jones at Louisville, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson at UCLA, and Frazier and Newbill at Penn State. An argument could be made that UCLA’s 6-9 Anderson isn’t really a guard, but his assist rate and lineup usage suggest otherwise.
It doesn’t appear that Chambers was completely insane when he made that bold statement. There’s a long way to go, but Frazier/Newbill has a chance to be the best backcourt in the country, at least on the offensive end.