Henson: Analyzing scouts’ evaluations of some UW prospects

first_imgQuite often, NFL scouts are wrong.They have a challenging job. A job that requires them to predict the future success of collegiate athletes for teams prepared to spend millions.They attend everything from the scouting combine to pro days and private workout sessions, charting every move a prospect makes, hoping to deliver an accurate grade to their respective war rooms.It’s widely understood that there will be inexplicable busts each year. That just comes with the territory of being a scout.But you’d assume all the proper research is done to ensure teams make the best pick possible.You’d assume they know everything there is to know about each player they scout.Well, that’s not always the case.Yesterday, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a story that provided unnamed scouts’ takes on various players from Wisconsin high schools or colleges, leading up to the draft.For the most part, the scouts’ insights made sense. Their evaluations of the former Badgers were in line with what we saw here at UW throughout the past couple seasons.But then I got to Bill Nagy and Scott Tolzien.Both players are expected to be late picks or free agent signees. For them, each scout’s view is critical as they try to get one team to take a chance on them towards the end of the draft. Most coaches and general managers aren’t spending a lot of time studying film of Nagy and Tolzien – it’s the scouts who get paid to find those late-round contributors.But sometimes these scouts’ logic makes you scratch your head.We’ll start with Nagy. Here’s what one scout told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:“There’s just no reason why he can’t come to an NFL team and be a center-guard for at minimum four years, Every time he went into a game he played well. Between that kid and that coach there’s something going on. They don’t talk him up. They don’t seem to think he’s much of a prospect, but the tape to me shows different. I don’t get why he didn’t start at center or guard.”Lets break this down.The scout spoke highly of Nagy, noting his ability to come into games when needed and perform at a high level.Then the scout hints there may have been a player-coach dispute, which explains why Nagy wasn’t named a starter.That’s news to me. That’s news to anyone who covered the Wisconsin football team this past year.Nagy was the odd-man-out for the deepest offensive line in the country. He had a shot to win a starting job at right guard heading into the season but lost out to Kevin Zeitler – one of the top interior lineman in the Big Ten. And as for the center position? Some scouts say Peter Konz was the best O-lineman the Badgers had last season (including Carimi and Moffitt). Nagy wasn’t slighted. He played behind some of the best lineman in college football.What’s worse is the other part of the scouts’ take could be interpreted as one of those “character issues” we always hear about come draft day. What did he do to lose favor with the staff? Why does Nagy have a poor relationship with head coach Bret Bielema?There is no evidence that shows these are questions that need to be asked.Bielema constantly praised Nagy for his hard work and dedication to the team. The senior played three positions for Bielema (guard, center and tight end) and did what he could to get on the field.His performance against Iowa, when he replaced the injured Konz, drew tons of praise.“Billy Nagy pops in, takes off the tight end jersey number and steps in there. Unbelievable, selfless act to give us that win,” Bielema said.Here’s what Nagy had to say after the 31-30 victory: “That’s my role, and I’m doing whatever I can to help the team win.”But that’s not the only questionable perspective I found.Here’s what a scout said about Tolzien to the Journal Sentinel:“He will be a third and smarter than the starting quarterback. He manages the game. He can’t win a championship for you. He couldn’t bring them back against TCU. He’s just not gifted enough to do it.”Everyone agrees Tolzien is probably destined to hold a clipboard in the NFL. He doesn’t have ideal measurables or arm strength, but he’d be a reliable backup quarterback – a guy who won’t make costly mistakes and who’ll know the offense perfectly.No problem with that sentiment.But it’s not fair to say Tolzien can’t win a championship because he couldn’t bring the Badgers back against TCU.You’re going to discount Tolzien because Horned Frogs’ linebacker Tank Carder made an incredible individual play to knock Tolzien’s game-tying 2-point try down? If Carder loses his footing, gets pancaked by the UW O-line and Tolzien completes that pass, does that give him a higher NFL grade?That’s absurd.Point to his mechanics or question his arm strength if you want, but Tolzien proved he could win the Badgers a game with his arm.UW’s running game was so good last year, Tolzien rarely needed to sling the ball around and engineer a comeback.But in that same game in Iowa City where Nagy impressed, Tolzien led a game-winning, 15-play touchdown drive. UW went with an empty backfield, shotgun formation and Tolzien delivered against the Hawkeyes at a point in the season when they still cared enough to try.Takes a pretty gifted signal caller to pull that off.Sure, Tolzien and Nagy aren’t perfect.Neither are the scouts.Max is a senior majoring in journalism. Think Tolzien and Nagy will be prove the doubters wrong? Email him at mhenson@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

Syracuse avoids scare despite 11 points from Battle, Hughes

first_img Published on February 2, 2019 at 8:12 pm Contact Charlie: csdistur@syr.edu | @charliedisturco Comments PITTSBURGH — It was a rarity for Syracuse’s offense. Even without its two-best scorers, the Orange excelled against a strong Pittsburgh defense.Shot after shot, Tyus Battle and Elijah Hughes came up empty-handed. It didn’t matter whether it came from beyond the arc or on drives inside the paint. The ball continually clanked off the rim.But the Panthers had an opportunity to bounce back from a four-game losing streak, playing on their home court, where they’ve been much better this season. They struggled to create offense on Saturday night. Syracuse’s role players provided the spark as the Orange wouldn’t relinquish the lead they established nearly four minutes in. Despite an off night from Battle and Hughes, who combined to score just 11 points, Syracuse (16-6, 7-2 Atlantic Coast) cruised to a 65-56 win over Pittsburgh (12-10, 2-7) on the back of Oshae Brissett’s game-high 18 points inside Petersen Events Center.“I wouldn’t think we would survive a game where Tyus has four points,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s been so consistent for us all year long. He just couldn’t get the ball in the basket.”With the win, Syracuse has begun to separate itself from comparisons of last year’s team, specifically the narrative that the Orange consistently fail to win easy games on the road. After falling at then-No. 10 Virginia Tech a week ago, SU has responded with back-to-back wins over lesser foes Boston College and Pittsburgh.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBattle did not score in the first half for the third time this season. Hughes made just one basket in the same frame. Battle’s first basket came nearly 29 minutes in, after he missed his first 10 shots. The Orange, however, continued to lead by double digits.Battle combatted struggles by playing in his newfound role as a point guard. He drove into the lane to open up shooters and found teammates. Buddy Boeheim nailed two 3s, and Frank Howard said that he’s had more room in part due to Battle’s driving. And when defenders didn’t collapse, sticking with the wings, Battle snuck the ball inside to Paschal Chukwu. Battle had five assists while Chukwu made all four of his first-half shots.Chukwu’s hot start, Boeheim said, led to Pittsburgh keying on the 7-foot-2 big man. That opened an opportunity for Brissett to step up and become the primary scorer.“He had eight points right away and then he was a non-factor after that,” Boeheim said of Chukwu. “Part of the reason is they stay with him and keep him blocked out, which gives Oshae a chance to drive.”Brissett shot a perfect 3 for 3 in the first half and grabbed seven rebounds. That offensive success carried into the second half, as the sophomore strung together his best game – shooting wise – in his career. He finished shooting 67 percent from the field, made 75 percent of his free throws and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.The turnaround from Brissett shooting-wise comes after Boeheim said his sophomore forward needed to “make a friggin’ layup” after the upset of then-No. 1 Duke. It was once an area he had been dominant in as a freshman but his efficiency changed drastically the year after.Before Saturday night, Brissett’s struggles largely came when he resorted to outside shots or looked for contact rather than maintaining control and finishing. The result was a poor field-goal percentage and constant criticism from Boeheim about his shot selection.Recently, however, Brissett knew his shots were not following and that he had been too caught up in drawing fouls. So he started to attack the rim, worrying about finishing first, he said. It started in a blowout loss to Virginia Tech, in a game filled with so many negatives. Brissett was a bright spot, shooting 6-for-13 from the field. The following game, against Boston College, he shot 67 percent inside the arc.“Just being comfortable around the basket,” Brissett said. “That’s my main focus right now.”The change in Brissett’s attacking mentality has given Syracuse yet another weapon to its arsenal. It has given Syracuse an inside presence that has been tumultuous due to Chukwu’s inconsistencies. But more importantly, it has given Syracuse the ability to rely on yet another player if Battle or Hughes struggles.“We are trying to look for (Brissett),” Battle said. “We thought we had a mismatch tonight. They are a lot smaller than us. So we just tried to get him the ball so he could attack, get some layups and get them to foul him.”By half, Battle and Hughes had combined to shoot 1-of-9 with just three total points. The rest of the Syracuse team had shot 75 percent from the field en route to a 35-22 lead over the Panthers.The second half cued a Pittsburgh comeback. The Orange regressed offensively, shooting 32 percent from the field and turning the ball over seven times. SU’s sloppiness allowed Pitt to push transition and consistently find an open Terrell Brown around the rim. The big man shot 7 for 11 and scored 14 points in the second half.As the Panthers chipped away at the lead, the stands began to shake. The fans clad in yellow “Oakland Zoo” shirts jumped up and down, screaming. After Brown’s putback fell through, the SU lead had been cut to just one possession.Syracuse had rarely been in this position all season. Never had the Orange led by double digits only to blow the lead and game. They were normally on the opposite end of comebacks, turning double-digit deficits against Georgetown, Notre Dame and Duke into wins.Battle’s first basket came at an optimal time. Nearly 29 minutes in, the junior guard drove into the paint and floated the ball in to give SU a seven-point lead. After a response by Brown, Frank Howard grabbed the ball on the left wing.Howard let go of a 3 as the SU bench joined him in watching the ball arc toward the net. He nailed it and celebrations ensued. A rare silence amid a Pittsburgh run ensued as Syracuse took an eight-point lead with under 10 minutes left. It began to start a trend where anything the Panthers threw at the Orange, there was an answer.Even if it wasn’t from Battle or Hughes.center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more