Down The Drive
John Brannen, head coach of the UC Men’s Basketball team, made a coach’s decision to sit standout player Jarron Cumberland just before the matchup with Alabama A&M. After the team’s win, Brannen did not offer much as to a reason why Cumberland did not see the floor, but did say that his status for the next game will be re-evaluated.
A non-injury benching is typically something to keep an eye on going forward. Often times, players have found themselves in trouble off the court or with the coaching staff when news like this is reported. I don’t want to assume that, however, because there’s always a chance that the player is going through some personal matters that take their mind away from the game of basketball.
How did the team respond on the court without their scoring leader from the previous season?
It took them a second to gather themselves without Cumberland in the first half, but a 50 point second half seems to have solidified Brannen’s turnaround of the program’s offense. And to be completely honest, it didn’t seem like Cumberland’s absence affected the team too much. A 32 point victory over Alabama A&M is nothing to go crazy over, but the team looked sound on both sides of the floor.
Don’t get me wrong, Cumberland makes the team much better. There is a part of me wondering if he fits into Brannen’s offense, though. In the first two games, the star guard averaged just 12 points on 42% shooting. The 42% shooting isn’t bad at all, he’s just not getting the shots off like he was used to under Mick Cronin.
I personally think John Brannen is having a tough time fitting Cumberland into the offense. Guards constantly moving and passing the ball around is very different from what Jarron had been accustomed to with Cronin. In prior years, Cronin let players like Cumberland put up a substantial number of shots and run the offense through that. Creating opportunities on the offensive glass seemed to be a big part of Cronin’s scheme. Brannen’s offense is quicker, moves the ball around more, and looks for the best possible shot on each possession. It doesn’t run through a certain player at all times and spreads the wealth very well.
Because of the big change, I would guess that Cumberland is having a difficult time getting used to the very different coaching style. He is still the best pure scorer on the team and didn’t get the opportunity to showcase that in the first couple of games. A problem on the court can be fixed and hopefully soon. Brannen is going to re-evaluate Cumberland for the upcoming game against Illinois State. I’d anticipate him back on the floor unless there are underlying issues that can’t be resolved within that time. I look forward to seeing Jarron find his place in this offense because he could thrive with an offensive-minded coach like Brannen. Go Cats!