Tale of the Tape: Calvin Brock

With the basketball season over, and no more travelling, I finally had time to sit down and watch the game tape that Hoops McCann sent me of the Chicago Public League Championship Game between Westinghouse and Simeon. Instead of watching the game just as a fan, I watched the game specifically to evaluate Calvin Brock. <br><br> Read more on Brumby's thoughts on Calvin Brock in this update from IlliniBoard.com.

Since the Chicago Public League Championship game was on February 23rd, I thought it would be a good idea to actually watch the game on Monday evening. Monday night's tape watch was the first time I had ever seen Illinois' only recruiting target for this Spring, Calvin Brock, and a possible, but not likely big man target in the Class of 2005, DeAndre Thomas. Westinghouse defeated Simeon for the city championship 60-48 by doubling up Simeon in the fourth quarter 24-12, but the score was not at all what I was looking for.

My whole point in watching was not to really watch the game, but it was to watch Calvin Brock and see if I could tell from just one viewing why exactly he exploded onto the scene receiving the Chicago Sun Times Player of the Year Award. I discovered exactly why he received the award: he is a very good player that right now is deserving of all the accolades being thrown his way by the press.

I am going to try to break down his game in a few different categories based on just the performance in the city championship. I have not seen Calvin in any other situation, so this evaluation is based off just one game, and thus is no where near complete.

Every fan of basketball, no matter if they are a casual observer of the game, or if they prefer the technical aspects of the game still loves to see a high flying acrobat perform tricks with the basketball. It is always visually appealing to see a player that can control their body in the air and finish shots. In this game, Calvin was a player that had that body control, and used it to get shots off in traffic around defenders.

Offensively, Brock spent most of his time on the wing, either deciding to drive to the basket, or pulling up for the mid range jump shot. He did not look for his outside shot until the end of the game when Simeon was playing catch up.

Penetration: Despite being a right-handed shooter, Calvin seemed much more comfortable driving to his left than his right. I would say he drove to the left about ninety percent of the time. He would even use a stutter step right to set up the defender, and then go left. When he was penetrating, Calvin showed the ability to stop and pop from about fifteen feet, as well as finish around the basket.

Jump Shooting: Brock's mid-range game was the most polished of his jump shooting repertoire. His mid range game was on display for all to see when the city championship became the Calvin Brock Show early in the third quarter. On four straight possessions Calvin scored eight points as Simeon they took the lead. Calvin was scoring off the dribble with a pull up from the free throw line (twice), a one-step dribble move for a seventeen footer from the wing (once), and a back door v-cut that led to the signature dunk of the night.

Ball Handling: Coming into tonight, I was thinking that Calvin would be a decent ball handler on the perimeter, but that was not the case. When Simeon was breaking the Westinghouse press, Calvin would not really help outside of the initial inbounds pass. Other times on the perimeter, he just did not seem to have solid control of the ball, unless he was driving to the basket. If Calvin was slashing and penetrating, the ball seemed to be an extension of his hand. It was weird to notice the dichotomy of how he handled the ball between the perimeter and when he was slashing. Luckily, Brock will not be a team's main ball handler, so his lack of ball handling skills will not hamper him on the court.

The two images below is Calvin Brock's shot chart for the game that I took down as I watched the contest. Most of the shots that Calvin took were off a dribble drive (4 first half, 4 second half) or off the pass (2 first half, 3 second half). The other shots that you see, especially those close to the basket were created by his defense, were tip ins, or second chance opportunities.

First Half

Second Half

A made shot is designated with a filled in box. A missed shot is designated with an empty box.
This court was designed and posted on IlliniBoard by ijustkrushalot earlier this year.

Since Simeon always plays a 2-1-2 zone, it is really tough to see how a player will play in an actual man-to-man defense. Unfortunately for Simeon, but fortunately for me, they were forced out of their zone at the end of the game, so I could look at some of Brock's abilities in a man-to-man environment. I do realize that man-to-man defense is not what Hambrick coaches at all, so this was pretty much raw instinct that Calvin displayed.

When Simeon was forced to man-to-man defense to increase the pressure on Westinghouse to get back into the basketball game, Brock was guarding a multitude of different players (it seemed to switch on every possession). When Brock was facing an opposing big man, he would stay in the lane and play it like a zone, but would often times lose sight of either man or ball, normally man when he turned his body to see the ball, or help out a teammate. On the perimeter, Brock did a little better staying with his man, but he was almost face guarding the offensive player and nearly always had his back to the ball.

The problems I described with how he played man-to-man defense do not scare me in the least, though. Defense can be taught to someone, and in fact it is taught to ninety-five percent of all incoming freshman in college. So, while Calvin is not used to playing man-to-man defense, he has the tools to be a good, if not very good defender, lateral quickness, agility, and a nose for the basketball. Everything else like position and good defensive fundamentals can be and will be taught by a coaching staff during spring drills.

Rebounding: Brock is at best 6-3, but he was always underneath the basket for Simeon during the game. It was not rare to see Calvin pull down the rebound in traffic over Westinghouse's big men, including DeAndre Thomas. To get the rebounds over the bigger players, Calvin used a combination of quickness and agility to meet the ball at its highest point instead of waiting for the ball to come to him.

  • Calvin Brock played the whole game for Simeon and the one consistent place he was in, was the inbounds passer for Simeon. This is a good sign to me because normally the player that is keying the inbounds plays is the player on the team with the highest basketball IQ.
  • The Sports Center play of the night in this game definitely had to go to Calvin Brock. There was a play when he was at the wing, and made a beautiful back door V-cut that would have made Pete Carril smile. He received the pass from his teammate and threw down the wide open slam dunk to start a Simeon run.
  • The gaffe of the night spoiled what was an otherwise very impressive performance from Westinghouse junior center, DeAndre Thomas. Thomas was on a breakaway and went up for a slam dunk, and just missed it off the back iron. As far as Thomas' game goes, he was listed at I think 6-8 when the announcers were commenting on his height, but he was no more than three inches taller than Brock. Thomas showed some solid footwork inside for a guy that weight 280 pounds. If he dropped about twenty-five to thirty pounds, Thomas would be a serviceable big man in the Big Ten by his redshirt junior season. I think he should be someone that the Illinois coaches keep an eye on just to see how he progresses as a possible back up plan to the other big men the Illini are recruiting in the Class of 2005.
After just one game I can now easily see what every one saw in Calvin Brock. Brock is an athlete on the court, and will fit in well at either Illinois or DePaul. Since I do not like comparing players style's of games with other players, I will refrain from doing that, but I think what I said above characterizes Brock for those that read the story.

My overall opinion is that Calvin is a raw talent right now that could use some molding by the right coach. Coming into college, especially if he were to play at Illinois, which I think it likely, I would think Calvin would be best served by red shirting for a season. The redshirt season will allow Brock's frame to fill out, and give the coaches a chance to work with him on the slight hitch with his jump shot, and teach him defensive fundamentals.

The only question I had after watching this game was: Where I would see him fitting in at Illinois? Initially, I see Calvin as a solid Big Ten player by the time he is an upper classman, someone who will show flashes while his game continues to improve. The one thing that interests me a lot about Brock is that he is such a new name and a late bloomer, so his overall skill set it not yet mature, so he could turn into something much better than I expect, but right now I am thinking he will be a solid Big Ten player, but not quite an All Big Ten caliber player.

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