Monday, August 16, 2010

Deciphering Laval Lucas-Perry's Game

The big news over the weekend was of the transfer of Laval Lucas-Perry to Oakland from the University of Michigan. The 21-year-old guard comes to Rochester with a scattered college basketball history which includes a five game stint at the University of Arizona and the one-and-a-half seasons he played with the Wolverines. Due to the fact he has already redshirted as a transfer student, Lucas-Perry will sit out the 2010-11 season for the Golden Grizzlies and lose a year of his eligibility. He'll then play out his one and only season in black and gold in 2011-12 as a senior.

Lucas-Perry brings with him to Oakland a bit of baggage, mostly resulting from his mysterious departure from Michigan. Off-the-court issues aside, LLP also underperformed while at Michigan, though Oakland fans will surely remember the three-point show he put on against the Grizzlies in 2008-09. In an effort to learn more about what the Flint-native did between that Oakland game (which was his first as a Wolverine) and now, we reached out to a few folks with an intimate knowledge of UM basketball. Their thoughts on the embattled guard's strengths, weaknesses, psyche, and overall talent are below.

Dylan Burkhardt of the venerable had this to say of LLP's game:
Laval was an enigma during his two years in Ann Arbor. He was so up and down that is was frustrating to watch. His surprisingly good performances almost all single-handedly won Michigan games. The problem is that so many other games he would be almost invisible on the court.
Offensively he prefers to shoot, about 2 out of every 3 of his field goal attempts were from three point range, but he shot only 29% from distance last year. He has worked on becoming a point guard but didn't really make that shift in Ann Arbor. A lot of his struggles are mental, that much is clear as you could see his confidence disappear game by game. Laval isn't a great defender, mostly because he has the habit of picking up cheap fouls. He is a capable athlete for the Summit League though and should be fine. Hopefully Laval can land on his feet at OU. It seems like it should be a good fit and he might be able to find that confidence and put together a great season.
Maize n Brew Dave of, SBNation's Wolverines blog, had this to offer on LLP:
It's tough trying to describe LLP's game. Not because he didn't play or because there's too much to get into. It's because LLP was just so maddeningly inconsistent. LLP was mostly a perimeter player who would occasionally go to the hole, but would look for the outside shot the majority of the time. If he possesses a mid-range jump shot, he never displayed it at Michigan, and for the most part he was a "live by the three die by the three" kind of player. As you can probably guess, that meant his on court lifespan was fairly short. LLP is an adequate defender, but not the type of player I'd want in crunch time defending anyone with a jump shot.

Here's the thing: I don't think he was a good fit for John Beilein's system so it's really hard for me to fairly evaluate him for any other type of system. The one thing I will say is that his jump shot is not good, from anywhere. If he can develop any kind of mid-range game I think he'll be able to contribute. But if he starts chucking threes that never find the net, I can't say that he's going to improve. Hopefully a year in a different system where he can get to the hoop a little more will help him contribute to the Grizzles. The biggest thing for Laval is confidence. If he's confident, he can be a good player.
Ryan Pravato, who spent some time as the Summit League correspondent for Rush The Court and has contributed UofM articles to, finalized the picture of Laval:
LLP probably will be a slightly worse version of Larry Wright. He is a very streaky shooter, definitely a shooting guard in a point guard's body. At the end of last season his confidence was shot, and in basketball (especially being a shooter) that's not good at all. He will either thrive at OU or continue just to be a mediocre/situational bench player at best, hard to see an inbetween for a guy with a limited skill set. If he ever gets that shooter's confidence back he can be an asset.
In reading the thoughts from several people who have spent much time analyzing Lucas-Perry, it is clear that he's suffered from inconsistency as a guard, largely due to lacking that mental confidence which strong shooters desperately need. If there is anything we know about Coach Greg Kampe's handling of shooters, it's that he continues to tell them to shoot. We've seen guys like Blake Cushingberry and Larry Wright slump in the past, only to rebound well after Kampe instructed them to "keep on shooting." Lucas-Perry has the chops to make a difference for Oakland in his one season, but the level of his impact will assuredly rest on how well he is shooting, especially from deep. Hopefully a year of practicing with the guys will help him find what he needs to prove his doubters wrong in 2011-12 while leaving college basketball with a renewed legacy.

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