USA TODAY Sports
Angel Rodriguez is far from a perfect point guard, but he's definitely doing some things very right.
Generally, a point guard is doing quite well when he has 3 assists for every turnover. Chris Paul, who I believe to be the best point guard alive, leads the NBA with nearly 4.5 assists for every turnover. Rajon Rondo (may his recovery be fast) does a lot of other things that make him a remarkable player, but even he comes up just short of the 3-1 ratio.
In college basketball, UCLA's Larry Drew II leads the way at about 4.5-1, and Michigan's Trey Burke (my pick for POY as of now) isn't too far behind that at almost 4-1. Phil Pressey, who faces the added challenge of playing with offensively challenged teammates, doesn't quite even average 2 assists per turnover, even though he is sometimes more magical than anyone.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because in his last five games, Angel Rodriguez has 34 assists compared to just 4 turnovers. Let that 8.5-1 ratio sink in for a moment.
Of course, that's a ridiculously small sample size, and of course I'm not saying Angel is better than any of those guys I mentioned in the first two paragraphs. In fact, there's hardly any difference between some of the shots Angel takes and a turnover, to be quite honest.
But despite all of that, those stats do serve to show us Angel is currently playing at a very high level. Well, when he's playing, at least. *Cough* Iowa State *Cough*.
He's not as good of a scorer as any of those aforementioned players, though that's not to say he can't get to the hoop with surprising frequency and finish well, especially when his most absurd looking shots are falling. But honestly, with Shane Southwell's emergence, Rodney McGruder's leadership, and the occasional scoring bursts of Will Spradling combined with some production by everyone else, K-State doesn't need points from Angel.
All we need is for him to play aggressive but smart defense (I know, this is an issue) and make sure the ‘Cats are running the break and executing on offense. He's done those last two things spectacularly well lately, even though he apparently has the false notion that he needs to be a scorer.
I don't mind him shooting his 3s when they're open in the rhythm of the offense, but 28% makes it rather obvious that's not happening. Basically, the only time I want Angel shooting beyond the arc is when he's set and catches a pass with no one around him, or if teams are guarding him like some defended Doug Gottlieb in his Oklahoma State days.
Really, though, I can handle some stupid shots, or even the occasional stupid foul if Angel can continue the remarkable passing and ballhandling we've seen from him over the last five games. It's not like he's turned down the difficulty level either, as he's still dribbling or throwing ridiculous one-handed passes into plenty of traffic.
Just to emphasize again how crazy this is, recall that he had 4 turnovers (and just 2 assists) in one game at West Virginia before this run of awesome started. It may not be a coincidence that was a one-point win against a clearly inferior Mountaineers team.
So keep in mind this remarkable streak could come to an end at any time, and sit back and enjoy it while it lasts.
By the way, this should all make you feel much better about K-State's chances of winning at Norman, since Angel didn't play in the loss there last season. In fact, foul trouble (surprise!) limited him to only 16 minutes in the loss at Bramlage, so the formula for beating Lon Kruger may actually be as simple as keeping Angel on the floor.
The reason for that, of course, is the comparative lack of turnovers when he's on the floor and playing well, not to mention the turnovers he adds on the other end. Take care of the ball Saturday and K-State should be able to put itself in a good position to come away with a win.
It sure would be nice, though, if K-State could grab some more rebounds this time around. I think we can also safely assume the ‘Cats probably aren't going to hit 10 threes at the Lloyd Noble Center, though I'd love to be proven wrong.
I was shocked to discover Oklahoma is 3-21 in February over the past two years (both games vs. KSU were in January in 2012) so I'm taking that as another good omen. Also, the Sooners are in the middle of a brutal 5-game stretch that started and ends with KU and includes road games at Baylor and ISU, so that can't be good for them.
On the other hand, OU did survive a shaky finish for its biggest win of the season Wednesday at Waco, so we should be wary. As if we needed that reminder. Let's take care of business, ‘Cats.