It’s being reported around Twitter that LaShay Page will be ineligible for the remainder of the season, thus ending his college career. LaShay’s tenure as a Gamecock was extremely brief, and I’m sure both he and the coaches wish it had gone better. But, the door is closed, and the team moves on.
As for its impact on the team itself, let’s look at what LaShay has done thus far this season:
|*Minutes for games played|
LaShay’s biggest strengths have involved getting to the free throw line and making those free throws, and avoiding turnovers (especially relative to his teammates). His turnover rate of 16% is the only player under 20 percent, and while the Gamecocks sharply improved on that number the last time out against PC (turning it over on 13% of possessions), there’s no reason to think that game is more representative of current form than the immediately preceding game against Manhattan, where the ‘Cocks coughed it up on 32% of their offensive possessions. With one player who found consistency in this facet of the game gone, and with Bruce – a guy who has turned the ball over on almost 20 percent of his possessions in his career – likely picking up most of Page’s slack, the rest of the team collectively needs to prevent a bad problem from getting worse.
That said, he was shooting entirely too often (a point I’ve harped on), especially given his eFG. Page was very frustrating to watch in his last three outings, where he was collectively 3-22 from the field, with only five trips to the free throw line to help justify the number of shots. There’s no reason to think he couldn’t have resolved this issue over the course of the season (and given Carolina’s prodigious offensive rebounding, it’s worth remembering that while a missed shot has a 45% chance of Carolina retaining possession, a turnover has a 0% chance, so it’s far better to miss shots than turn the ball over), but I for one was starting to become annoyed, because so many of the shots were forced, early in the shot clock, and to my eye not a high-usage player taking shots because his teammates couldn’t find one, but someone simply not operating under the same rules and regulations as the rest of the guys on the floor, who didn’t have the talent to justify it.
One of the struggles the Gamecocks will have is finding guys to take those missing shots, but given the emergence of Brian Richardson as a capable back-up to Brenton Williams (or a player capable of starting alongside Brenton, as he did last game), the problem may well take care of itself with minimal damage to the team.
It will also certainly limit further the Gamecocks depth, especially with Ellington still getting up to speed. The biggest beneficiary of this development may well be Damien Leonard, who had his best game of the season thus far against PC after playing a virtually invisible offensive game against Manhattan the time out prior. If Leonard can continue to develop, the loss of Page gives him the space to emerge, as he was at risk of getting lost in the shuffle of our four other guards (Smith, Bruce, Richardson, Brenton).
All that aside, it’s important to remember just how low-risk the Page acquisition was in the first place. With only a year to play, he didn’t take up a scholarship we could have otherwise used with a freshman, since we’re playing under the scholarship limit as is right now. Martin was clearly hoping for the guy who helped lead Southern Miss to the NCAA tournament (and a near upset of his own K-State team, a game which, while close, I’ll always remember for watching from Vegas with money on K-State and having the final eight possessions swing the winning bet before K-State finally covered on a few late made free throws). Instead, he got an eight-game rental to help us through the period before Bruce Ellington arrived.
Goodbye and good luck, LaShay.