Sunday, March 4, 2007


Just a quick post, and probably my last one for a little while, as I'll be out of town for a few days, but this was sticking in my craw from yesterday's Virginia-Wake Forest game. During that broadcast, Tim Brandt, whose broadcasting skill (or lack thereof) probably deserves its own post, kept going on about how Kyle Visser is the most improved player in the ACC this season. Much like everything that comes out of Brandt's verbal diarrhea, this one needs debunking.

Looking at Visser's raw numbers, it's easy to see why one would think that he's improved. His scoring output more than tripled (5.0 ppg in '06 to 16.9 in '07), and his rebounding nearly doubled (4.3 to 7.2). The differences in scoring (2.7 to 15.3) and rebounding (2.8 to 6.4) were even more pronounced in ACC play. But what that leaves out is that his minutes per game almost doubled this season, and, as the least-bad option among a number of really, really bad options, he became the focus of the Wake Forest offense essentially by default.

None of this is to say that Visser didn't improve this year. PAPER rated him among the worst players in the league at -23.08 points last year, while this year he was right at league-average. In other words, he'd have cost an average team almost a full win in 2006, but this year a league-average team with Visser in the lineup would've been a .500 team. That's nothing to sneeze at; a league-average player in the best conference in college basketball is, in a relative ssense, a damned good basketball player. I don't think it's accurate, though, to call his improvement the most impressive in the league. Several players have been more improved than Visser.

J.R. Reynolds and James Gist went from being league-average players to being worthy of All-ACC consideration. Josh McRoberts and Jared Dudley built on solid 2005 campaigns to become two of the 5 best players in the league. Brian Asbury improved by leaps and bounds. Sean Singletary and Al Thornton each made The Leap from very good to great. All improved more, from an analytical standpoint, than did Visser. None of them, though, was the most improved player in the ACC this season.

That honor belongs to Boston College's Tyrese Rice. In his freshman season, Rice rated just above Visser with a PAPER of -21.53. This season he was among the five best offensive players in the conference, and produced a total PAPER of +43.51, and is deserving of mention on an All-ACC ballot. The fact that Rice plays a million miles away from everybody else up in Chestnut Hill and plays in the shadow of Jared Dudley can at least partially explain why Rice has escaped notice, but his improvement has been extraordinary.

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