In this latest installment of what I like to call, "You Get What You Pay For Around Here..." I will basically be reviewing the first half of non-conference performances of our Mr. Ratliffe. (Excuses, excuses...).
Some interesting trends are emerging with this Tiger team, in regards to No. 10. Let’s start with the oft-discussed "rebounding." If a pundit had told me that Ricardo would be averaging 6.6 rebounds per game at this point in the season, minus Bowers, I might be a little concerned about the Tigers.
But when you look at the stat sheet, you can tell that Haith’s staff has really emphasized the idea of Team Rebounding. Marcus Denmon: 5.7 rpg. Kim English: 4.4 rpg. Matt Pressey: 4.3 rpg. The Steve Moore/Kadeem Green "Other-Center": 5.2 (combined). This team isn’t cherry-picking, or running the guards out in some crazy helter-skelter attempt to ratchet up pressure. (Ahem.) This is a team that is confident on the offensive half of the court and is willing to use everyone on the floor to limit opposing possessions.
In 4 of the 7 games, though, Ricardo has been or has tied for the team-high in rebounds. Throw in a block and a steal per game, and Ricardo seems to be "doing what is asked of him" (or more) for the Tigers’ defense.
Now on the other end of the court...
It’s crowded. Flip is the flashy point. Marcus is playing All-World, right now. Kimmie refuses to miss a 3. Dixon refuses to miss a FT. So what does Ricardo Ratliffe do? He’s attempting to not miss from the field. In the last 5 games, he’s missed 6 FGA. He’s shooting SEVENTY FOUR PERCENT from the floor. Ridiculous.
His supremely effective 14 points per game sits third on the team. And he’s doing it just over 21 minutes per game. Haith can obviously see the writing on the wall, and knows that the 4 guard lineup will eventually take its toll on the starting center, especially once the conference big bodies start banging.
Again, if someone had told me that a Bowers-less Ratliffe stat line would be 14 and 6.5 on the season, I would be a tad worried. However, I would have pegged him for closer to 30 minutes per game (putting him at nearly 21 and 10, on a per minute basis) and I would not have foreseen the effectiveness of the baby-hook shot and the shooting percentage from the floor.
Moving forward, Ricardo will need to continue to help Flip Pressey "Start Parties" in Bowers’ absence (cue SportsCenter music), as well as really focus on making those minutes count. While the rebounding production from the wings has been nice and will continue to be necessary, #10 will need to step up his boards if the Tigers are going to keep winning in places like NYC, Norfolk and into the conference slate.