2014 NCAA Tournament: Ex-Ohio State G Jordan Sibert's worth to Dayton

Mike Lawrie

What's become of former Ohio State transfer Jordan Sibert? We look at the growth of his game and what he means to the Flyers.

When Jordan Sibert left the Buckeyes in 2012, no one knew what would become of him. It was clear that he had an awful lot of offensive talent, particularly shooting the basketball, but transferring is always a bit of a gamble. Would he bottom out like Anthony Crater upon transferring to South Florida, or would he mature and develop like Walter Offutt did in helping the Ohio Bobcats reach the Sweet 16 in 2012?

Luckily for Dayton and for Sibert himself, his development has been one of the many reasons why they were not only able to go on a run at the end of the season to gain an at-large bid, but also play well against many NCAA Tournament-bound teams throughout the season. He was the leading scorer of the well-rounded Flyer attack at 12.5 points per game on an efficient 61.3% true shooting percentage. Mostly, he was utilized as an off-ball shooter, but from time to time he was utilized as an on-ball shot creator, particularly in the pick-and-roll. He's also turned into a pesky defender that can stay in front of defenders and force turnovers with quick hands.

Let's take a more specific look at some of the things he's become better at since leaving the Buckeyes.

Off ball movement and shooting

This is by far the strongest asset that Sibert brings to the table. Dayton runs a motion offense that tends to rely on a lot of scoring from their wings and from the perimeter. One of the ways they do this is by constantly running Sibert off of screens in order for him to get open three point looks. Sibert is incredibly efficient from behind the arc, shooting 43.5% on three point opportunities. He does a majority of that damage on catch and shoot opportunities, either coming off of screens or leaking into the weak space of the defense on offensive rebounds. Here's an example of Sibert's ability to run off of screens and get a catch-and-shoot three.

Jordan_sibert_off_ball_3_1_medium

First off, let's just discuss the way Dayton used the floor space on this play. They start with perfect spacing with Devin Oliver in the post, Sibert in the corner, and Matt Kavanaugh at the top of the three point line. Kavanaugh isn't a threat out there, and his man knows it so he stays in the post. Sibert runs the baseline here around a screen from Oliver, and gets space on his man. He fakes like he's going to receive a pass in the post (which he actually is open for), but once he feels his man recover and nearly front him in the post, he immediately spins back around the baseline that he came from. There, Kavanaugh waits after having dove down for a screen in the paint. Sibert runs directly off of his left shoulder, directly off of Oliver's shoulder, and does a hop step to set his feet while presenting a nice target for Dyshawn Pierre. Pierre hits him, Sibert's feet are set and pointed directly at the hoop, and that's pretty much a lay-up.

Next, here's an example of Sibert leaking into a soft spot in a zone in order to get an easy three.

Sibert_leaks_into_space_medium

This may not actually seem like much, but it points to an excellent understanding of where the defense is on the floor, and where he knows it will be difficult to close out on. That's Kevin Pangos in the lower left corner of the screen. By shooting up to the wing after seeing where Gary Bell (#5 in the middle of the paint) is going, Sibert pretty much guarantees himself an open shot if the post player can get it out to him. It's almost sneaky with how Sibert can leak into open areas for catch and shoot opportunities.

What happens whenever someone plays close on him? Let's take a look.

Sibert_off_ball_cut_1_medium

Another example from the Massachusetts game. Massachusetts has started face guarding Sibert all over the place. So once Trey Davis plays right up on him and the post clears out, Sibert sees a perfect opportunity to make the defense pay. He makes a simple backdoor cut before Davis can react and gets an easy lay-up at the rim. Plays like this make it difficult for the defense to play tight on even the best shooters.

Pick-and-Roll Skill

Now that we've seen how strong his offensive instincts are off the ball, let's look at his on-ball skill. I think it's probably fair to say that both in the scheme of Dayton's offense and in his own skill set, this is a secondary skill that is somewhat limited. Having said that, he does do a decent job with it and he can make the defense pay in those rare pick-and-roll situations when he's utilized that way. Here's an example of him getting to the rim with the ball.

Sibert_pick_and_roll_medium

Against the tough man defense of Saint Louis, Sibert gets the ball on the wing, and goes around the screen. The Billikens play it straight up, and Sibert uses his quickness to get to the rim. I don't think you'd call Sibert a "great" ball-handler by any means, but with his quickness he's able to turn on the jets and blow by Dwayne Evans. Once he gets into the paint, he does a pretty good job of protecting the ball by lifting it over the outstretched hand of Austin McBroom, and then hangs in the air as Evans tries to recover. After he waits for Evans to go past, he puts the lay in up off the glass and in. Sibert only took 60 shots at the rim this season, but was able to convert at a strong 67% rate partially because of his patience, and partially because of desire to get efficient looks.

Finally, let's take a look at Sibert in passing situations in the pick-and-roll. Sibert isn't particularly great at creating shots for others – he did only average 1.5 assists per game – but he's a smart player in the pick-and-roll that at least looks for others and doesn't take unnecessary shots. Sibert's turnover percentage of 10.1 was extremely strong for a player with a 23.1% usage rate. Here's an example of a smart, skillful play in the pick-and-roll.

Sibert_pnr_pass_medium

Here against Baylor, he gets the ball in the corner and Kavanaugh comes over and sets a screen. Now, I understand the match up zone that Scott Drew runs, but I'm not going to pretend to know all of its intricacies (hell, half the time I'm not sure Drew does). However, I feel reasonably certain on this one that Drew probably doesn't want 6'8, 270 pound Rico Gathers a foot away from the three point line having to defend Sibert like that. Once Sibert recognizes the Gathers mistake, he sees the pocket where Kavanaugh is and makes the pass. It's a rather simple pocket pass, but that's all Sibert is asked to do with the ball. He makes the smart play, sets up Kavanaugh for a shot at the rim, where he gets fouled.

★★★

Now, with this post I don't mean to say that Sibert is infallible. His skill with the ball is definitely somewhat limited, and he's a pretty average defensive player. He's active on that end and has good hands, but ultimately his lack of strength holds him back against stronger opponents. But if you don't think that Thad Matta would kill to have a guy who can shoot like Sibert can, you are sorely mistaken.

Oh, and another thing about Sibert: he's stepped up in a big way in the ten games he played against NCAA Tournament teams this season. Instead of his stats slightly falling against the tougher competition, both Sibert's counting stats and efficiency rose across the board.

PPG FG% 3P% TS%
Sibert Full Season Stats 12.5 46.2% 43.9% 61.3%
Sibert vs. NCAA Tournament Teams 15.0 48.5% 50% 66.8%

With strong production like that against good competition and the desire he'll most likely have to show out against his former team, it's probably fair to expect Sibert to bring his "A" game against the Buckeyes on Thursday.

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