This is part of Paint Touches’ series breaking down each players’s 2011-2012 campaign and looking forward to next year. A big thank you to assistant coach Aki Collins, who provided exclusive, in-depth analysis on each player.
What he did well: Juan Anderson’s development was sped up by Chris Otule’s and Davante Gardner’s injuries, but he held his own in spot duty. Anderson was an above average rebounder and wasn’t afraid to get his nose dirty inside. He had high energy in spurts off the bench and grew as a player thanks to the minutes off the bench.
An early season injury and two-game suspension halted that growing process, but Anderson kept a positive attitude through it all and understood that his time in the spotlight will one day come. He played his role as well as Marquette could have hoped for from a true freshman.
What he could have done better:Even as a true freshman, Anderson seemed rattled at times. The game seemed too fast for him when he got in pressure situations, and more times than not it led to a turnover or negative play. With such a thin frame, Anderson had a tall task of sometimes playing in the post and battling with forwards much bigger, stronger and usually taller.
Anderson didn’t get much of a chance to spread his wings offensively because of his role, but there was little evidence of an outside game that he had in high school. It’s there, and he will have more of an opportunity to score next year, but it would have been nice to see him show off that jumper. Anderson did not attempt a 3-pointer his freshman year.
Aki’s analysis: “He and (Jamail Jones) tag-teamed at times. If we needed a guy to rebound more, we put Juan in because he’s a really good rebounder. If we needed a guy to defend, we put Mello in. Not that Juan’s not a good defender, but Mello understood it a little bit more,” Collins said.
“I think his spring will figure that out, because now roles on our team are starting to get defined. We have everyone back but Jae and Darius, and we know what we have coming in for the most part. Juan can be a ’3′, but he has to continue working on his jump shot and his handle. In order to be a ’4′ he has to bulk up, so April, May, June, July, August are huge for him,” Collins said. “When we get to September we’ll have a better feel for where he needs to go, but he can go either way. If he can play both in the future we’re more than happy to do that.”
Best performance: at Wisconsin (2 points, 5 rebounds, 7 minutes)
With Jae Crowder battling foul trouble, Anderson was called upon to help against the Badgers. He responded in a big way, grabbing five rebounds and finishing on an athletic reverse layup in the first half. He ran the floor well, held his own on the defensive end and helped Marquette outscore Wisconsin by three points when on the court. The eight minutes he provided at Providence was a close second, but his stat-stuffing performance in just seven minutes against Wisconsin was his best contribution of the year.
Worst performance: at Cincinnati (1 rebound, 1 personal foul, 0-1 FG)
Marquette’s 72-61 loss at Cincinnati was a struggle for everyone not named Darius Johnson-Odom, but Anderson really had a rough night. His only shot was swatted against the backboard by Cincinnati’s Chiekh Mbodj, he failed to get back defensively on more than one occasion, and fumbled a Jae Crowder pass right underneath the basket. It was overall a night to forget for the freshman.
2012 outlook: Like most of the younger reserves, Anderson’s role was defined and he was not able to spread his wings much. He arrived on campus as a lanky, raw prospect, but another year in the weight room will do him wonders. In high school, Anderson had the capability to handle the ball and create his own shot, and as he progresses and the game slows down for him, both aspects of his game should come around.
With the departure of Jae Crowder and the arrival of Simeon’s Steve Taylor, Anderson will battle with Jamil Wilson, Jamail Jones and Taylor for minutes at the ‘switchable’ position. Assuming Wilson has earned his minutes for next year, Anderson’s skill set relates closest to what Marquette lost in Crowder. His rebounding and versatility to guard three positions could make him the eighth player in the Golden Eagles’ rotation.
Anderson may have the most to gain this off-season, both in the weight room and on the court. He gained valuable experience last year but will be asked to do more, specifically on offense, when he hits the court in 2012.