Jordan Loveridge has had a tough go of things this season. I have seen plenty of bloggers and fans ask during games, “When is Loveridge going to show up?” He has. Jordan Loveridge is the player we have been seeing all Pac-12 season.
Still, Loveridge has been missing for big chunks of basketball games and fans need to prepare for this to continue. JLove has statistically regressed this year and it all has to do with one person: Jason Washburn. Washburn was the main part of the offensive and defensive scheme last year for the Utes. This also made him the focus of the other teams’ game plans. These game plans allowed for Loveridge to play a great role as a stretch power forward who could also get to the paint. Then Washburn graduated and is playing overseas. Now what?
Loveridge lost some weight and did very well against the weak non-conference schedule. But, since hitting the conference schedule, he has been doing a disappearing act. All of this because Loveridge is no longer a stretch power forward.
To be a stretch four, JLove needs to play alongside a scoring offensive post player. This would allow the Utes to capitalize on the double team and the Utes could just swing the ball to find the open shooter. (Insert a JLove three pointer here.) This also allows for more trips to the hoop as defensive over-rotation leaves a player one pump fake away from a layup. Finally, If the opposing bigs are focused on a dominant post player, there are plenty of open rebounds on the weak side. (I seem to remember that JLove had a skill at getting the big rebounds late in games last year. This was because the other team focused so much on Washburn.) All of these points can be seen in the numbers (the stats below are per 40 minutes averages versus PAC-12 conference):
(If you think two rebounds is no big deal look at the offensive rebounds against Stanford,)
Without a consistent post threat, Loveridge will continue to disappear in games. There is also a growing trend when comparing his good scoring games with his bad games. In the games my aging memory recalls, JLove has played better when he avoids starting the game shooting a three-point shot. As many have said, get that first easy bucket and the rim gets wider.
What do you think we can expect from Jordan Loveridge in the future? Some food for thought: With Brekkott Chapman, Kyle Kuzma, and Chris Reyes coming in next year along with all the players returning who could play the 4 or 3 spot, could it be that even Loveridge will be fighting for minutes?