No one on the Mountaineer basketball team this season received more criticism than Nathan Adrian. Because hey, these guys make millions of dollars each year and it's the fan's right to show how they -- Oh wait.
If confidence truly was Adrian's problem this year, I hope he didn't spend much time on social media. At the heart of the criticism was Adrian's struggles from the three point line.
And there's no denying, the numbers are ugly:
Per sports-reference, the advanced shooting numbers tell a similar story:
Adrian also turned the ball over at twice the rate of his freshman season -- 8.4 TO% as a freshman, 17.1 TO% as a sophomore (that number dropped to 11.4% in conference play).
With that being said, Adrian wasn't without value. With Jonathan Holton constantly in foul trouble, Adrian spent a lot of time over the ball against the press. He wasn't as good as Holton in creating havoc, but he was still able to to disrupt the guy giving in the ball, and was fairly quick to help trap.
In the latter part of the season, Adrian became more aggressive and nearly ditched the 3 point shot (only 0.88 attempts per game in the last 8). He had several key defensive stops, and was making a noticeable impact with the intangible things that don't show up in the box score.
Adrian was one of four players to appear in every game this season.
With Juwan Staten and Gary Browne still out, Adrian had his best game of the year in a home win over Oklahoma State. He was 3-4 from the field for 9 points and 6 rebounds (3 offensive). His only double-figure effort came against Oklahoma at home, when he had 11 in the victory.
Adrian struggled, like most everyone else, in West Virginia's road blowout loss to the Sooners. He was 1-6 from the field and 1-5 from three. He finished with 3 points, 1 assist, and 0 rebounds in 18 minutes.
I'm not a shooting expert, but I think Adrian should spend this summer eliminating that small step forward with his right foot before he releases.
Watch the shot Adrian takes at 1:45 of this video:
That's from his freshman season, and there's a noticeable difference in his release. If you watch the shot he takes at 2:44 of the same video, from his sophomore season, you'll see that right step.
Is fixing his shooting woes as easy as eliminating the step? I'm not sure. But I do know his jumper looked much smoother in year one than year two.
Adrian played 15.4 minutes per game last season, per sports-reference. With star forward recruit Esa Ahmad coming in next season, and all of the other bigs returning (as far as we know), expect that number to stay about that same.
Adrian is not as bad of a shooter as he appeared this past season. When his career in Morgantown is finished, the 2014-15 season will probably look more like a statistical outlier than anything else. Huggins recruited him for his size and shooting ability. There's more data (high school & freshman season) to back up the notion that he can be a stretch four who is a threat from the outside, than there is to show that he's an ineffective shooter. A summer in the gym may work wonders.