Saturday, July 08, 2006

Is Sue Bird REALLY Being More Aggressive?

The word out of the Storm coaching staff this season has been that Sue Bird needs to be more aggressive. Jayda Evans reported this summer that when Sue Bird contacted Anne Donovan this past winter to ask what she needed to do this season to prevent a repeat of the Comets playoff win in Key Arena, she was told to "be more aggressive."

We have heard this all season long, and have heard that Sue went back and watch game tape of her rookie year and saw the difference in her play. We have heard that she is trying to get back to that style. We have heard that she has struggled to do so but is making progress.

Well, here is her report card for the first half of the season.

The problems with Sue's game last season that I pointed out in this blog back in September, 2005 were around the drop in the number of 3 point shots she took, and how often she got to the free throw line. Let's take a look at where she stands now.

Percentage of shots from 3 point range
2006: 42.94%
2005: 35.03%
2004: 44.79%
2003: 38.04%
2002: 37.87%

Sue is approaching the championship year numbers in terms of how many of her shots are three pointers. The only problem is she is shooting her worst percentage from three since her sophmore year. She is about 4 points below her career average.

2006: 35.71%
2005: 43.69%
2004: 43.84%
2003: 35.00%
2002: 40.14%

It isn't going to help the team much if she is shooting them, but missing them. In 2004 she mad 2.25 three pointers per 40 minutes, she is down to 1.76 this year, which is the same number she was hitting last year. She needs to get that percentage up to make the aggression more effective. The defense won't respect your three point shot if you don't hit it, look at Ticha Penicheiro.

The good news is that her 2 point shooting at 46.24% is above her average of 45.18%, but still a little below her 2004 championship season mark of 48.33%.

She is being more aggressive with her shooting overall, she just needs to increase her percentage to be where the team needs her to be. Keep shooting Sue!

My next complaint was Sue's lack of free throw attempts last season. Sue is a fantastic free throw shooter and she can penetrate on the break or off the pick and roll any time she wants, yet her attempts dropped off in 2005. Her percentage here is much better, she is shooting 100% for the season which is 10 points above her career average, but sadly, she is shooting less free throws this year than she ever has.

2006: 1.76
2005: 2.71
2004: 2.99
2003: 2.43
2002: 4.00

Sue got to the line the most in her rookie season, but since she broke her nose in the 2004 playoffs, Sue has seemed reluctant to take the ball right in at those bigs like she used to. This is the part of the game Sue still needs to find. This will get her close to the basket for high percentage shots, it will open up passing lanes and her team mates as it forces the defense to collapse on her, and most importantly, it will get this FANTASTIC free throw shooter to the line.

It is a simple rule of basketball. Take the ball to the basket, attack, attack, attack and you leave the defense off guard and disrupted. This is what the team needs from Sue. This is the part of her game that we are all missing.

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