Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sixth Man of the Year Award: Niels Giffey

Heading into the season, the bench was a major concern for UConn.  They were going to have to lean on some players that barely had playing time, transferred, or had underperformed so far in their short careers.  Neils Giffey was the only player on the bench that Coach Ollie could rely on game in and game out.  Neils isn’t the most athletic or physical player on the bench, but what he brings to the team is a versatility that is hard to find.  He can slide into three different positions and has the tools to play them all effectively.  His numbers won’t wow you, just 5 points and 4 rebounds per game, but it is the hustle plays, defensive intensity, and other intangibles that he also brings to the court that earned him the Sixth Man of the Year Award.

His minutes doubled this year from around 11 last season to 21 minutes per game this year and for the most part his numbers doubled as well.  The only stat that dipped was his 3-point percentage, which took a big hit down from 43 percent to 30 percent.  Judging from the eye test though, Giffey has a nice stroke but just gets streaky at times.  The good thing is that he has done a much better job of mixing up his game and not relying on his outside jumper for a majority of his offense.  He’s shown a better understanding of the dribble drive and angles and avoided those pesky offensive fouls while driving that plagued his previous two seasons.

The biggest contribution that Giffey provided this team was on the defensive end.  He has surprisingly quick lateral movement and uses his length to bother jump shots.  He is good at funneling his opponent where the help is and he isn’t overwhelmed physically against bigger players.  His rebounding has also improved this year and did a adequate job on the defensive boards, averaging 3.6 a game.  Unfortunately his offensive rebounds went down this year.  He snagged 16 offensive boards last season and only had 14 this year. That’s not a good sign considering the increased minutes he was getting.  It might be the scheme that Ollie has installed, but he could do a much better job of crashing the glass on the offensive end.

Every good team has a Giffey on their squad.  An unheralded player that hustles, plays solidly, and does all the little things that don’t always show up on the stat sheets.  He might never become that sharpshooter and double-digit scoring threat that he was supposed to be, but he has matured into one of the most versatile and reliable pieces on UConn’s bench and deserves the 6th Man of the Year Award.

No comments: