Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Focus on Adam Gore

As a special feature to The Cornell Basketball Blog, one of our Ithaca-based contributors, T.J., provides us his analysis of Cornell sophomore, Adam Gore's performances-to-date and Gore's projected future role with the Big Red.
Adam Gore is one of the main keys to Cornell's success this year. Although some fans have suggested that he has experienced a drop-off from the pace he set two years ago as the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Second Team All-Ivy League selection, I believe Gore has in fact improved significantly as an all-around basketball player. Although his three-point shooting (including percentage as well as shots made and attempted) seem to have slightly declined, his total contribution to the Red certainly has blossomed.

Two years ago during his freshman year, Gore shot 41.9% (83 of 198) from three, whereas this year after 14 games, he is shooting 36.9% (24-65). But what may seem like a staggering decline actually is a difference of only about three more made 3-pointers (e.g. 27-65 would amount to 41.5%). As such, the difference is not statistically significant (P=0.29698, which is well over the threshold of P=0.05 for statistical significance). In other words, the difference in Gore's shooting percentage is attributable to chance and is not a viable difference. Statistically, Gore is shooting just as well as he did two years ago when he won the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and earned Second Team All Ivy League Honors.

Certainly Gore attempted more 3-point shots two years ago (198) than this year (presently 80 attempts, on pace for 154). But this difference reflects the different role he had on the team two years ago, rather than any reluctance to hoist one up from deep.

During 2005-2006, Gore was the leading scorer for the Red at 12.9 ppg. He was a close second on the team in minutes played (32.3 to then-senior, Lenny Collins' 32.8). He and Collins provided the one-two dcoring punch for the team (with Collins scoring 12.6 ppg, a close second to Gore). On the present roster, Ryan Whittman (14.2 ppg) and Louis Dale (13.5 ppg) are providing that very one-two lead scoring punch. Few would argue that Wittman and Dale should not be shooting as much (both are hitting over 45% from the floor and over 42% from deep). Even discounting the now-departed Collin Robinson, there have been fewer shot attempts to go around for other players such as Gore. Nevertheless, it is very likely that Gore will be shooting a bit more the rest of the way, now that Collin Robinson has left the basketball program.

To me, the most telling statistics of Gore's overall improvement are in the other categories outside of scoring. Despite averaging fewer minutes per game (24.6 this year, compared to 32.3 as a rookie during 2005-2006), Gore is picking up more assists and steals, and more importantly, he is producing far fewer turnovers. In 2005-2006, Gore had 25 steals, 37 assists and 40 turnovers. Already this year Gore has 17 steals, 23 assists, and just 13 turnovers. Projecting his present statistics over the remainder of the season, he will finish with at least 9 more steals, 9 more assists, and 14 fewer turnovers. Additionally, his assist-to-turnover ratio has improved from 0.925 to 1.769, a remarkable improvement in this essential area.

The numbers clearly show that Gore is shooting at virtually the same effectiveness as he did two years ago. He is taking (and therefore making) fewer shots because other players around him can be counted on to shoot the ball efficiently. But he is also playing excellent defense, taking care of the basketball, and setting up his teammates for hoops. Meanwhile his foul shooting is fifth in the country (91.2%, though he does not qualify on the official leader board by one attempt).

Statistics aside, what I have seen on the floor is a total and complete basketball player. When Gore was a freshman, he was mainly a shooter--a hired gun. Lenny Collins was the better all-around player. But now I see a new player in Gore. He has put all of the components of his game together and has been giving an extraordinary effort at both ends of the floor. I expect that he will be picking up more playing time as the Ivy season continues, due to Robinson's departure, and the Big Red will benefit greatly from Gore's increased opportunity.


Anonymous said...

Great article and I respect the work and research you've done. However, I disagree with some of the points youve made, and would argue that Gores overall shooting has been down dramatically. Your 24/65 vs. 27/65 3 pt shooting figure is interesting, but deceiving. its important to remember that two years ago, he had a much greater role than he does now. Because he was the #1 or 2 scorer on that team, he was forced to take a lot more shots, probably many which weren't wide open. Now, as the 4th, maybe 5th scoring option, the number of shots hes taken have gone down, but his shot selection has improved. if you look at the threes hes attempted, many have been on fastbreaks where hes open on a wing or in a situation where one of cornells penetrating guards got in the lane and dished out. to clarify my example, think about the bulls with steve kerr. he shot a ridiculous clip with the bulls from beyond the arc, but was largely a role player. i doubt he could sustain those shooting figures if he was a #1 or #2 option.

You talk a lot about his steals, rebounds, and assists being up, but that, too, is also deceiving. in terms of assists, there is improvement, but that doesnt necessarily mean hes a good passer. two years ago, he averaged a dismal 1.3 apg for a guard, and now he averages 1.6 apg. if shaq goes from shooting 50% from the ft line one year, and then goes to 55% the next year, there is improvement, but you wouldn't argue he has become a great ft shooter. If you don't buy that argument, compare that years roster to this years roster. wittman, dale, and cornells generally superb shooting efficiency may be inflating his assist numbers. I must admit, though, I am impressed with his few turnovers.

what concerns me most about gore are two cracks under pressure. against lehigh, up by 3-4 very late in the game, he missed a completely wide open layup, which im sure he could have made in practice with his eyes shut. against columbia, up by 3, he missed the first of two free throws very late in the game. now, of course, everyone misses free throws, but he is a 91% ft shooter, and he missed dismally. theres no true scientific way to gauge if hes not the same player under pressure, but just seeing his facial expression after he missed the ft was very telling. its difficult being the favorite in the ivy league because all the other teams put a big X on your back. could gore continue to falter late in games because of this? One thing is for sure: if cornell wants to take the ivy league crown, gore is going to have to really step up his game.

Kevin said...

if you actually watched the game, gore went 5 for 6 from the line in the last couple of minutes. He also demanded the ball and worked hard to get open because he wanted to take the free throws. That's not faltering, its being confident and sealing the victory for your team.
Also,his ft misses have come late in games because that is when he shoots most of them, when the other team is fouling and Gore works to get the ball in his hands.

TJ said...

I appreciate the thoughtful anonymous post. But I disagree with you on a few points. Your post implies that Gore's 3FG-Pct should be much higher than his Freshman year because he now is getting mostly open shots. I guess you're looking for maybe a 50% mark or higher from him? Sure, that would be terrific. But, as I pointed out in a comment elsewhere, the Red as a team already is shooting at a better percentage (both FG and 3FG) than they have for as far back as the online archives go (2000-01). If Gore was shooting 50% or better, our 3FG-Pct would be even higher as a team. That would be nice too. But it sure seems like your expectations are overly inflated.

Your point about assists is well taken. My point should have been that he has been playing an excellent floor game all year. Statistics didn't really help me make that point in this case.

However, your point about his missed crucial free-throw seems off the mark. He has the fifth-best FT-Pct in the nation. The NATION! All those teams on ESPN (and NOT on ESPN!). But you want more from Gore.

I agree with Kevin. Gore is clutch. He will miss sometimes. That's ok. I'm very happy with what I've seen from Gore so far this year.