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Focus 17-18: Eric Curry

Next up in the Focus Series is first year player Eric Curry who had a strong freshman season and has an extremely bright future ahead of him (and a new haircut).

Statistically Speaking

The Good.  Eric averaged 5.2 rebounds a game in 20 minutes a contest.  That is a strong number and with more minutes in future years you can expect Eric to be a regular on the Big Ten’s top ten rebounding leading board.  He also shot an excellent 70.3 percent from the foul line and made 49 percent of his field goals inside the arc.  Eric had more assists than turnovers (42 to 35) and when you look at the other Gopher bigs Curry’s numbers are way out in front in that area.  Averaged 5.5 points a contest, was third on the team in rebounding, fourth in blocks, and had two double figure rebounding games.

The Not so Good.  Took nearly one three a game but made only five all season.  His shooting touch is nice as Eric makes foul shots, has a solid mid-range touch, and he hit some huge long jumpers at clutch moments this last year, but Eric needs to improve that 5 of 29 three point shooting.  His two-point field goal percentage of 49 is not bad but there were a lot of bunnies missed this winter so that needs to go up as well.  The three point shooting and the lay-up misses brought Eric down to 43 percent from the floor overall.

17-18 Focus

Coach Richard Pitino started the year playing Eric as the back-up to Jordan Murphy and Reggie Lynch.  Bakary Konate played few minutes and Eric played all of the back-up frontcourt minutes.  What ended up happening though was that Eric at 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds just had trouble guarding 6-foot-11 and 260 pound players which makes sense.  He’s just not as big as many true centers so Bakary grabbed some of those back-up center minutes when it was needed.

But Minnesota wants Eric on the floor and needs Eric on the floor.  You could see that Pitino would play Eric as the five every chance he could if the opposing center wasn’t too big.  I expect this winter that Curry will play the majority of the minutes when Murphy and Lynch are sitting, he’s just too good to have sitting. 

This will be much easier to do when Eric is a sophomore because he will be stronger, more experienced, and an off-season of work will make that shooting touch more consistent.  If that happens teams will have to pull their big away from the basket to guard Eric and that will be a major issue for the opposition.  Add in Eric playing all of the Murphy back-up minutes and I think we will see a lot of Eric Curry.

So what do we want to see from Eric?  Let’s start with all the the things Eric regularly brought to the court:  a good passing big, an active player who rebounds at a high level, an active feet defender who can move around the screens with good lateral steps and extending length to distract and deflect, and a physical finisher. 

Going forward I believe we will see Eric finish more of the contested shots around the rim as he adds more strength and confidence plus I believe we will see Curry make more shots facing the basket out of the post.  Then you have the jumper.  Curry’s form is good and the touch is soft.  The one three taken a game should be made more and if so, he will take more of them.  I also expect a few more elbow and baseline jumpers out of Curry to fall plus he should be able to use that agility to shoulder turn in the post and quickly finish before the opposition can move with him.

I have very high expectations for Eric Curry as a sophomore and I believe he is going to have a fantastic year on both ends. 

Projected Statline.  The minutes, that’s the first thought on everybody’s mind.  I expect to see Eric play 25 minutes a game.  How?  First off that’s assuming there are no injuries to Murphy or Reggie Lynch.  If that happens Minnesota has excellent insurance with Eric being able to play both spots.  But assuming all are healthy I say you get those 25 minutes by playing the 10-11 that Murphy isn’t on the floor and the 13-14 that Lynch isn’t on the floor.  That would mean Bakary doesn’t play but Bakary will play as their will be foul and/or injury issues.  Eric will play a lot more and while I believe Lynch and Murphy will be in less foul trouble, you know both will be in foul trouble at times.  Eric is always going to play 22 a night at least and on a lot of nights that will push to 25-27 as a sophomore.

With more minutes I expect Eric to put up somewhere between seven and nine points a game and around seven rebounds a game.  Percentages to shoot for would be 70 plus percent from the foul line again and that field goal percentage needs to be around 50 at least. 

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