Looking back, looking ahead to 2021-22

As I wait for it to get a little warmer outside, I had some time to look at a few things, particularly at conference play, since the non-conference was so atypical.

In league play, we gave away about 7 possessions per game on offensive rebounding differential and turnover differential. That undid basically everything we did well.

The good news is the two leaders in turnovers are presumably leaving (though G Williams led in TO/40 min). The bad news is so is the leading rebounder by far, but Carlyle was also the low man in rebounders. So we don’t need to find a 9 rpg guy, we need to find two guys that can average 7.5 reb/40 min. Cue the “replace in the aggregate” scene from Moneyball.

One thing that really changed in conference play is the role of Jalen Williams. For the full season, he averaged 2.3 assists and 4.1 free throw attempts. In league play, he was at 3. 1 apg and 5.3 FT/pg. He basically became the point guard in all but name. That was a big adjustment that was made during the season.

Justice has throughout his career been a very ball-secure player. Having him for more games in the league certainly would have helped. But does he play the 3 or the 4? The answer might make a big difference in the season.

Pipes doesn’t figure to be either a big help or a big harm to ball control, and of course he does add outstanding shooting and should be a big upgrade to offensive efficiency over Carlyle (the worst starter in off eff by some distance). Relying on freshmen might lead to some turnovers, but it’s important to be better in that area.

Djuricic might help in both areas. He was not quite as good a rebounder as Vrankic (9.5 reb/40 in 2019-20) but with improvements elsewhere, is certainly decent. And he had a positive assist/turnover and averaged just 1.1 turnovers/40. That would be a big improvement over any SCU big. And he can stretch the defense (36% from 3 on 5.0 3 attempts/40). If his 20 mpg numbers can be extended to 30 mpg, he could be very good.

If I was looking to add something else, it would probably be another big to make it easier to play Justice as a 3, Djuricic as 4, and either Caruso or new guy as 5, with new guy ideally able to play 4 or 5. Maybe that guy is in the recruiting class. Hard to say about that.

We are also presumably replacing Mitchell’s bench production as well, which was as a shooter quite good, and as anything else not as much (decent rebounder but not good enough for a 4). Likely either a freshman or transfer, no one on the current roster looks likely.

And now it’s warm enough to bike without a jacket. I’m gone. Hope this is informative to someone.


Just to add one thing, nothing on Caruso’s social media would lead you to believe he’s not coming back. Still lists himself as “Santa Clara '22”. If he is back, that might change some priorities as far as possible transfers go.


I agree on Caruso. Hopefully that is the case. In my eyes, why not finish your last year at SCU, get yourself a valuable degree, develop your game in the new state-of-the-art facility and weight-room, and have the chance to be an all-conference player. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Plus we really need him to make some noise this upcoming season.

If he gets offered an attractive contract by a club in his home country which has a good domestic basketball league, I think it will certainly be understandable if he takes it. There’s merit to what you say as well. All depends on what he wants and what his options are.

Of course we did not know when i wrote this that Vrankic was returning. But we got that new guy anyway in Braun, probably more of a 4 than 5 at least initially.

I wonder if the plan is to play Vrankic as the 5 next year. Offensively it would be the best, but I don’t know about defense and rebounding. Probably won’t know until at least December, and could be a fluid situation even after that.

Why is Vrankic playing a five the best offensively? Love the guy, but IMO, he isn’t big enough or athletic enough to push his way around the blocks, is almost one-dimensional going to his left and has a soft, not intentional finish.

I will give in on this with other evidence, but a 5 doesn’t seem to be the best fit. Would be great if he could hit a reliable 3 or a mid-range jumper (which I know is a bad shot given the percentages) to make him a good 3 or 4 threat.

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I think Vrankic might play some minutes at the five but I hope he doesn’t start at the five. I really hope Bediako gets the main start at the five and plays the most at that spot because we need someone who can protect the rim. This offseason will be crucial for him to develop and grow stronger. I also can somewhat picture Jacob Holt manning some of the five and taking on that Caruso stretch five shot blocker role. I think Holt’s updated height is 6’ 10" and he probably played the five during his grade school days. He also seems to have the longest wingspan out of the new recruits (maybe Tongue has a similar one) giving him the ability to be a decent shot blocker. He definitely has to bulk up if he wants to guard the bigger centers we face but I feel like he has the same body type and skillset as Caruso. But also tough to expect that for his first year. Maybe a couple years down the road.

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Fair question, weave. And it’s not a given, but I’ll take you through how I get there.

Assumption 1: djuricic and braun are better 4s than 5s or 3s. They might be able to play 5 in a pinch or to take advantage of a matchup. But if vrankic was the 4, they probably wouldn’t be 25 mpg options as 5s.

Assumption 2: vrankic, djuricic and braun are all better offensively than bediako.

Assumption 3: freshman bigs aren’t going to be ready (would be happy to be wrong, but usually true of first year bigs, more often than guards).

So basically I get to dju/braun and vrankic 5 vs. Vrankic 4 and bediako 5 as the choices. And I think dju/braun will be better offensively both as individual contributors and how they fit into a team offense (spacing and decision making).