Arkansas big Daniel Gafford needs more touches, just not when he’s camped in post
SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at email@example.com.
Question of the Day: Friday, Jan. 19, 2018
This is a common refrain right now. The Arkansas basketball team is struggling and the Hogs go stretches without Gafford, the team’s 6-foot-10 center, touching the ball.
A big difference lies between Gafford going without a touch and Arkansas feeding him. The best way for coach Mike Anderson, the MA referenced above, to get Gafford involved in the Hogs offense is to get him the ball in transition or, if that’s difficult, while in motion.
The days of a back-to-the-basket post players are gone. Long gone. A handful remain in both college basketball and in the NBA. They’ll never totally disappear. But as the game speeds up, as possessions speed up, bigs who need the ball for seconds at a time on the block are going the way of the dodo. At least, offenses that incorporate such tendencies are going away.
Gafford need not set up on the block and demand the ball every possession. Say he were to get it there, when the ball goes inside like that, there is a tendency for perimeter players to stop moving. That’s the biggest problem with the Razorbacks offense in the first place – too much standing around. Throwing the ball to Gafford, who has made camp in the post, is a surefire way to slow down ball movement more often than not.
Now, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an occasional option. Occasional. A handful of times a game. More often, Arkansas guards should find him in motion. Either they should be penetrating and dishing or he should get a touch while he’s moving, as a product of the motion offense the Razorbacks run.
Contrary to popular belief, though, it’s not as though Gafford is being underplayed. He averages 12.1 points per game. What’s more, he’s actually eclipsing that in league play, dropping 12.8 a game. He is third on the team in scoring, which makes sense given, on a whole, he is the third best offensive option on the roster. Gafford also leads the SEC in field-goal percentage, which means Arkansas is doing a good job of giving him the ball in the right spot.
The counter is, yes, maybe they aren’t getting him the ball enough. He does deserve to touch the basketball most possessions. It just shouldn’t be while he’s set up shop down low as often as pre-2000s style hoops would suggest.