Was Anthony Raffa really that good?

(one week until tip-off and the last of our backward looking posts- onto the 2010-1 forecasts next week!)

I forgot that Raffa settled on the Abraham Lincoln beard for while

Let’s be honest, no one thought the departure of Anthony Raffa would hurt that much. Raffa, who reportedly had a scholarship pulled out from underneath him at Coastal Carolina, was the third option on offense during an inconsistent 2008-9 campaign. His transfer, but with Tim Ambrose and Will Harris returning, the coaches still predicted Albany to finish 3rd in the AE.

Just how much of the precipitous decline can be attributed to Raffa? Raffa’s transfer hurt the Danes in multiple ways, but perhaps the most obvious was how often he controlled and shot the ball.  He had no aversion to the spotlight and always erred on the side of shooting. In his freshman year, he used a higher percent of possessions when on the court than Will Harris (25.1 to 24.7). As it turned out, the absence of a third high usage player exposed weaknesses in the games of both Tim Ambrose and Will Harris. Tim Ambrose proved to be a player willing to shoulder a larger load (increased minutes by 5% and maintained 30% of team possessions), but not was not able to do so effectively (his offensive rating dropped from 100 to 95). Will Harris on the other hand, proved his ability (upping his offensive rating 8 points to 106), but showed that he was not willing to shoulder a heavier load (his % of poss used actual dipped from 24.7 to 23.8).

A scan at the Raffa’s stat-line does not properly value as a player (most problematically his improvement over the season) and ultimately offers little answer for just how “good” of a player Raffa was but it does help show points of need for this years upcoming team.

Also, the slight dip in offensive production (O Rtg 95.7 to 94.1) for UA was so disappointing because of the expected offensive increase, but the bigger cause of the last seasons collapse was defense. UAlbany’s defensive rating soared (in a bad way) from 103.3 to 108.9. The loss of any semblance of team defensive identity can be traced to the graduation of Jerel Hastings and Brian Connelly. Connelly hardly did anything in the way of steals or blocks, but he played 75% of minutes and was a team first, glue guy despite not developing into a threat on offense. Jerel Hastings, an under-appreciated and under-utilized player, was a great athlete who could defend and was the most efficient offensive player UA has had since Brent Wilson- his offensive rating went up to 109.9 from an already very respectable 102.8, yet his minutes fell from 51% to 41%. The easy answer is Will Harris demanded minutes at the three spot, but, at the same time, Jerel was a low turnover, high energy, hustle player who grabbed the highest portion of offensive boards of any Great Dane.

A clear oversimplification, but it does give an idea of the pieces that need to be plugged in to at least return to 2008-9 level of “success.”

Logan Aronhalt should be able to shoulder the main scoring possessions load and if he does so, Tim Ambrose could find himself in a more manageable offensive role and work his way back into the good graces of the Purple and Gold Nation. Will Brown has signaled that Russell Moore will be called upon to be a desperately needed defensive stopper, but he also could make a big contribution on the offensive end. If he is an efficient third/fourth offensively like Hasting-level, the Great Danes could have a well rounded attack that was lacking last year. And finally, if Luke Devlin can even stay on the floor for Connelly type minutes, that a steady presence on both ends could be a big boost to the team overall even his numbers aren’t gaudy.

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~ by TheMidRangeGame on November 5, 2010.

2 Responses to “Was Anthony Raffa really that good?”

  1. I see it as an oversimplification.

    Raffa was GOOD end of question.

    His up & down year was his freshman year and the dip at the end was mainly due to injury.

    Remember he was a freshman and he would have developed in time. From all I have read it seemed that CB tried to keep him but he wanted guarantees.

    When he didn’t get what he wanted he bailed like the spoiled kid he actually was.

    I think it’s too easy to judge a freshman against Jr and Sr. He had flaws but he really attacked the game.

  2. Bill,

    The title was a bit sensational- I was hoping for an interesting lead in. My focus was not to evaluate Raffa, but rather that: “the absence of a third high usage player exposed weaknesses in the games of both Tim Ambrose and Will Harris.” I’m trying to make that more clear with some edits.

    I suspect that if I controlled Raffa’s stats as I did for Black’s, we would see a substantial improvement.

    It would have been best posted side-by-side the 2009-10 recap but didn’t have a chance to get it up until now.

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