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Just The Sports: Chris Lofton

Just The Sports

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chris Lofton

Go to UTsports.com, the official home of the University of Tennessee men's athletics, and you will see on the top banner a picture of senior Tennessee shooting guard Chris Lofton, who is described as being an All-American candidate. If Lofton is indeed a candidate for All-American honors, he is only one in the way in which Dennis Kucinich was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the President of the United States in 2004 and 2008. In other words, Lofton is a candidate in name only because nothing he has done on the court this year even whispers All-American talent.

What makes the banner's proclamation that much more ironic is the fact this is the only season where Chris Lofton has not been one of the country's superb players. In his previous three seasons, Lofton had true shooting percentages and points per shot attempt marks of 65.9 TS%/1.32 PSA, 64.7 TS%/1.29 PSA, and 65.0 TS%/1.30 PSA. This year, Lofton is shooting a statistically significantly worse 55.0 TS% on 1.10 points per shot attempt.

The way in which he has declined would not be as noticeable if he had another viable skill to help his team, but all Lofton can really bring is his shooting prowess and when he is not shooting well, he is unable to make up for it in other facets of the game. In fact, he is falling into some of the same ruts he was able to climb out of in putting together his junior season, which has been his best so far. Lofton's junior season has been the only one during which his three-pointers made comprised less than 60% of his field goals made (51.4%) and he attempted more free throws than he made three-pointers. His freshman season three-pointers were 63.1% of his made field goals and he shot forty-eight fewer free throws than he made three-pointers. During his sophomore season, he relied even more exclusively on the three-pointer, with 65.5% of his made field goals being three-pointers and shooting fifty-four fewer free throws than he made three-pointers. Head coach Bruce Pearl is no doubt disappointed to see Lofton reverting back to his former bad habits; Lofton's senior season is seeing 73.4% of his field goal makes coming up off three-pointers and he has two fewer free-throw attempts than made three-pointers.

For Lofton to rely so heavily on the three-pointer when he is struggling so mightily to shoot well shows both a lack of adaptability and perhaps even a lack of confidence that he can get any other kind of shot, by actually using the dribble. His shooting slump has certainly not made him into a better passer as his 12.3 assist rate/8.5 turnover rate suggests nor has he become a better rebounder (6.1 rebound rate) so he has been a real liability to his team.

If Lofton desires to have an NBA career, he will need to develop better point-guard skills since a 6'2 shooting guard is not in high demand in the NBA, especially one who is only a catch-and-shoot player and cannot help the team in any other way. There are taller players with the same skill set who will actually be able to shoot over defenders, making him completely unnecessary to any team. Therefore, he will need to get out of his slump quickly if he does not want his career to end on a sour note. One thing is for sure, though; unless his last two games are a harbinger that his shooting slump is over, then he will not need to clear his calendar in order to make time for any All-American ceremonies.

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1 Comments:

  • just wondering if you saw the articles out today on Chris Lofton. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the end of the 2007 season (caught by the NCAA's drug test), and underwent radiation prior to the season. No one at UT knew except the coach and trainer. This explains a lot.

    By Blogger Linda, at 1:16 AM  

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