Before the season began, Virginia Tech sophomore Jarell Eddie was asked to describe just how good of a shooter he could become this year.
The Charlotte native barely flinched, even though the highlight of his previous year in Blacksburg was his pregame warmup routine of shooting three-pointers close to two hours before tipoff, when many of his teammates hadn’t arrived at Cassell Coliseum yet.
“I don’t think I’m a streaky shooter,” Eddie said. “I’m confident in my shooting ability and I’ll shoot the ball when I feel like it’s a good shot. I know I can shoot the ball. That’s all it is.”
As the Hokies prepare for Tuesday’s crucial ACC home opener against Florida State, Eddie is making it look even easier than it sounded a couple months ago. After going 4 of 6 from three-point range in Virginia Tech’s 58-55 loss at Wake Forest this past weekend, the 6-foot-7 forward is now shooting three-pointers at a 54.3 percent clip, which ranks ninth in the country.
Perhaps more importantly, he has emerged as a dangerous scoring complement to point guard Erick Green, especially because senior Dorenzo Hudson’s consistency has been hampered by a nagging knee injury. Eddie is currently third on the team in scoring, averaging 9.7 points and five rebounds per game.
“Jarell is a world-class shooter, I really believe that,” Coach Seth Greenberg said Monday. “You’ve got to understand, he’s basically a freshman. He played limited minutes last year and he’s gotten better, he’s getting better. He’s helping us rebound the ball and I’m very optimistic about where he is.”
Greenberg would like to see Eddie move without the ball better and be more “shot ready” when he comes around screens. As the coach put it, “Really good players get open and that’s an aspect of his game he’s got to continue to work on.”
Eddie’s productivity has also been hampered by his inability to stay out of foul trouble. For instance, even though Eddie was torching Wake Forest’s zone defense this past Saturday, he only logged 18 minutes because he was saddled with four fouls much of the second half.
Though he hasn’t fouled out yet this year, Eddie has picked up four fouls in seven of the Hokies’ 15 games.
But trying to quantify Eddie’s impact on this year’s team got me thinking about who has been the most valuable player for Virginia Tech basketball through 15 games. So using a combination of the Web site statsheet.com and my own final box scores, I tabulated each players’ plus/minus rating for the season.
If you’re not familiar with plus/minus, it’s a common statistic in hockey to measure goal differential. But it has gained popularity in basketball circles in recent years because it’s a straightforward measurement to determine the effectiveness of a certain player based on how many points his team scored and allowed while he was on the floor.
Here are the plus/minus ratings for Virginia Tech’s significant contributors this year, from best to worst:
Dorian Finney-Smith: plus-148 when he’s on the floor; plus-17 when he’s not
Dorenzo Hudson: plus-128 when he’s on the floor; plus-37 when he’s not
Erick Green (14 games): plus-118 when he’s on the floor; plus-36 when he’s not
Jarell Eddie: plus-102 when he’s on the floor; plus-63 when he’s not
Robert Brown: plus-90 when he’s on the floor; plus-75 when he’s not
Victor Davila: plus-79 when he’s on the floor; plus-86 when he’s not
C.J. Barksdale: plus-62 when he’s on the floor; plus-103 when he’s not
Cadarian Raines: plus-60 when he’s on the floor; plus-105 when he’s not
Tyrone Garland (eight games): plus-26 when he’s on the floor; plus-56 when he’s not
Marquis Rankin (eight games): plus-2 when he’s on the floor; plus-92 when he’s not
A few notes based on these statistics:
***Freshman Dorian Finney-Smith is tied for fifth on the team in scoring, averaging just 7.1 points per game, but his strong plus/minus is a reflection of everything else he does on the court. At 6-8, he can guard every position but center when he’s on defense and he leads the team with 8.1 rebounds per game. He did, however, only attempt one shot in the Hokies’ loss to Wake Forest. Greenberg would like to see Finney-Smith be more assertive on the offensive end, looking for his own shot and creating for others.
***Victor Davila’s plus/minus is better than both Cadarian Raines and C.J. Barksdale, but the number is a bit misleading. Raines was ahead of Davila until he was a combined minus-24 in the Hokies’ past two games against Oklahoma State and Wake Forest. Barksdale, meanwhile, has been very productive considering he’s getting just 11 minutes per game right now. Greenberg said Monday he needs to give Barksdale more playing time. Both Raines and Barksdale are averaging more rebounds per minute than Davila through 15 games.
***Though Hudson took some heat for his play during a December mini-slump, he’s the team’s second-best player in terms of plus/minus. He is coming off a dreadful eight-point showing against the Demon Deacons, when he shot just 4 of 13 from the field, including 0 for 5 from three-point range.
***Based on plus/minus, the Hokies’ most potent lineup would be Green, Brown, Hudson, Eddie and Finney-Smith. That, though, would leave Virginia Tech without a legitimate post presence. Davila has started every game this year for that reason, while Brown has usually been the first player off the bench.