This is the first part of Paint Touches’ 12-part series breaking down each Marquette players’s 2012-2013 campaign and looking ahead to what may come next year.
What he did well: Juan Anderson is the kind of player coaches love to have on their teams. He has high intensity on the court and is willing to sacrifice himself for any loose ball. He possesses a strong basketball sense (IQ), knowing where to position himself on offense for open looks and on defense for rebounding purposes. He also has an infectious personality, smiling at all times on the court and cheering the loudest when he’s on the bench. He started the final 21 games not just to protect Jamil Wilson from an early foul, but because coach Buzz Williams trusted him.
That is not to say he’s unskilled, as those types of references usually foreshadow. Juan’s skill set is tremendous for a guy of his length. He has some of the best court vision on the team, a trait that has yet to manifest itself regularly but one he showed in spurts, as when he fed Junior Cadougan from the top of the arc with a beautiful bounce pass that led to a wide open layup against Butler in the NCAA Tournament. The Oakland native has an uncanny ability to rebound, grabbing a team-high 18.8 percent of available boards while on the court. As a comparison, Jamil Wilson had the next highest mark, a full three percentage points lower.
Finally, Juan is a fantastic, not just good, open court player. Marquette’s style didn’t suit him much for running the floor this season, but the limited opportunities he did have showed his potential. He’s quick, times his runs perfectly and is very adept at using those long arms to finish from some awkward positions under the rim.
What he could have done better: Remember how I said Juan does well to position himself for open shots? The next step is to start hitting them. Anderson shot a meager 28.6 percent from 3-point range, taking at least one long-range shot in all but six games this season. Having reviewed the film on him, there were only a handful of shots that were “bad.” Most were open looks from the top of the arc or the elbows that will be open again all next season. I’m not saying he has to be the next Steve Novak, but simply raising his average by five points to 34 percent will add a whole different dimension to his game and Marquette.
Similarly, Anderson has to become a better finisher around the rim. He hit 16-32 from within two feet, an OK mark, but one that could truly be spectacular with a little more strength. He does well to get past defenders, but still isn’t composed around the rim, much like Vander Blue his first two years. Continuing on this, Juan shies away from contact too regularly. His free throw percentage of 56.7 is downright awful for a guy with a good looking shot, making only 17 of 30 free throws. Just focusing on finishing at the rim and at the line could catapult Juan from a fifth option to a legitimate second or third option next season.
Defensively, Anderson still has a ways to go. He has decent lateral quickness guarding smaller players on the perimeter, but he gets abused by bigger 3s and 4s down low. That’s a strength issue that should be addressed now that he’s finally healthy during the offseason, knock on wood. More troubling is his tendency to ball-watch on defense and lose track of his man. Again, the skill set is there, it’s just a matter of becoming more comfortable in Buzz’s defense.
Best performance: Juan had a very promising start to the season, busting out of the gates with a career game in the opener against Colgate, where he scored nine points and snagged nine rebounds, both season- and career-highs. You could see his maturation right in front of your eyes.
It turned out to not be a harbinger of things to come this season, but simply a taste of the skills Juan can bring to the table once he finds his comfort zone. For a deeper analysis of the game, I highly recommend checking out the story we wrote on Anderson’s performance in November.
Worst performance: Unfortunately, there are a number of games that could easily headline this category. I was tempted to go with his game against Syracuse where his only tallies were one point and one turnover in two minutes, but it wasn’t his bad play that had him on the bench; Jamil Wilson’s tremendous presence instead kept Anderson sidelined.
I believe Juan Anderson’s play at Cincinnati on Jan. 19 was his worst of the year. In a half where Marquette was searching under every rock for someone who could provide an offensive lift, or even some much needed energy, Anderson let the moment pass him by. Having registered its lowest scoring half of the season, 13 points, the Golden Eagles went in a different direction in the second half, one that included Anderson for a mere two minutes at the start, and scored 50 points to send it to overtime.
Anderson finished the night with 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 turnover and 1 foul in 9 minutes of play. He missed the only two shots he took, both from long distance, and recorded a season low offensive rating of 0. This wasn’t the only time he struggled to make an impact on both ends of the court, but missing a golden opportunity to provide a lift previewed the offensive slump that was to come.
2013-14 outlook: Despite starting 31 of 35 games this season, Juan will not be a lock to start net year. If Jamil follows the Jae Crowder mold, he will get the nod at the No. 4 spot his senior year with Chris Otule, if he returns, and Davante Gardner controlling the No. 5 spot. Depending on what Buzz wants to do with an influx of guards, we could see a return to a few smaller lineups early on.
The challenge for Juan will be staying ahead of Steve Taylor and newcomer Jameel McKay on the depth chart next year. Trent Lockett does graduate, opening a “3″ spot, but it is not a given Juan will get a chunk of those minutes. Taylor’s offensive rebounding prowess is nationally ranked and McKay is known for his rebounding and motor up and down the court. Neither shoots the ball as well as Juan, though, a key point when a particular lineup might feature Derrick Wilson and Otule.
Having a full offseason to increase his strength will be a key factor. Juan has the tools, it’s just about putting them all together consistently at this point.