Analyzing The Two Sides Of Matt Humphrey
By Austin Tedesco
Matt Humphrey took a season high 18 field goals, shot a season low 17 percent from the field, and went 2-for-9 from the three-point line against the New Mexico Lobos in a 75-57 loss during the 5th place game of the 76 Classic. But, although the stat line doesn’t show it, Humphrey had his best game of the season due to a stellar second-half turnaround Sunday night. Humphrey turned into the player the Eagles desperately need him to be in order to be successful this season, but only after struggling for most of the first half. Humphrey switched from drastically hurting the offense to straight up igniting it. Here are breakdowns of “Bad Humph” and “Good Humph”, and why he matters so much to Boston College.
From the opening tip the Lobos had one goal defensively, and that was to make sure at all costs that Patrick Heckmann didn’t beat them. They forced the ball out of his hands after a 32-point outing against UC Riverside, leaving Humphrey with the opportunity to step up and carry the scoring load. Early on, Humphrey didn’t handle this role well.
While Ryan Anderson and Dennis Clifford are still developing their young post presence down low, Humphrey is the only option other than Heckmann when it comes to playmaking. When Heckmann is being shut down, Humphrey needs to create chances. After driving to the rim and missing a contested layup on his first touch, Humphrey opened up the game with frustrating decision-making. On his next three shots, Humphrey took deep, contested 3-pointers early in the shot clock. These shots are frustrating for a few reasons. They are extremely low-percentage shots given the distance from the rim, the defender’s hand in his face, and the fact that Humphrey had no rhythm yet and was shooting cold. Shooting this early in the shot clock is settling for a low-percentage shot before an opportunity for a high-percentage shot can open up. Head coach Steve Donahue’s offense has defenses very tired after defending all of that motion for 20 to 25 seconds, at which point a good shot usually opens up like it did for Humphrey later in the game. Forcing a defense to think and rotate for that amount of time will eventually result in a breakdown and a good time to attack. Over and over again this season, Humphrey has jacked up 3-pointers instead of moving the ball and working for the best shot on each possession.
The next time Humphrey touched the ball he was double-teamed and proved his poor decision making yet again. Instead of remaining calm and finding a wide-open Gabe Moton in the corner, Humphrey chucked the ball across the court at the first sign of pressure, resulting in a turnover. After the turnover, Donahue called a timeout with about four minutes left in the half and “Good Humph” replaced “Bad Humph”. This sparked the Eagles to eventually cut the New Mexico lead from 17 points to eight.
At his best, Humphrey’s game closely resembles that of the Houston Rocket’s Kevin Martin. He’s a deadly scorer with a killer jumper, great range, and a knack for getting to the rim. Coming out of the timeout the Eagles moved the ball well until late in the shot clock when Humphrey drove past his man, making the defense collapse, and hit Lonnie Jackson for a wide open three that fell through the net.
Humphrey has proven he can get past his man with ease and he made the right decision here by finding Jackson who was on fire from beyond the arc.
On the very next play, BC took their time again and Jackson eventually drove and found Humphrey on the arc for another uncontested three which also counted. Instead of forcing up a shot early, Humphrey took advantage of his defender sagging off him and nailed an easy three. He set up Gabe Moton a few possessions later the same way he set up Jackson, and he hit another uncontested three off good ball movement.
Humphrey was then invigorated on both ends of the floor. He played great defense, forced turnovers, and got to the rim at will. He still has trouble converting layups and close-range shots, but he hasn’t played in over a year because of transfering and I think that, with time, he’s going to start knocking those shots down. It’s a great sign that he’s finding these high percentage shots.
Boston College would have won this game if “Good Humph” showed up for all 40 minutes. He’s the catalyst for efficient offense. Heckmann can’t do it all on his own, and the other guys need someone else to help set them up. Humphrey has all the ability to be that guy; he just needs to be more effective and more consistent. Great play from Heckmann and Humphrey can hide this team’s youth and lead to success. The rest of the team can thrive off them and grow from their play. It starts with “Good Humph” phasing out “Bad Humph” as this season goes on.
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