Adams has been shaky since enjoying a nice opening stretch to his college career. That continued in the game against Howard, where he struggled to impact the game on either end throughout the first half and never found his offensive rhythm thereafter.
The Bison field one player over 6’9″, Alphonso Leary, and Adams outweighs him by almost 50 pounds, so it looked like a matchup ripe for the taking. A combination of Adams’ lack of offensive awareness and team mates not looking for him (or possibly not trusting him) in the post led to a 2 points performance, shooting 1/4 and only getting to the line a solitary time.
Adams is an extremely solidly build 7 footer, and he knows it. He uses his body well defending the post and boxing out, often creating rebounds and blocks for team mates who can fly in while Adams takes a couple of the opposition out of play. He showed good effort on the boards in the 2nd half, nabbing 5 of his own in relatively limited minutes whilst also creating those easy caroms for his fellow Panthers.
He remains an intimidating shot blocker and while he only got one in the game tonight, his presence in the paint does appear to affect the quality of opponents shots. This is most noticeable when Adams is out of the game, as driving lanes seem more readily available and opposing players far happier to utilise them.
After 7 games, Adams still looks to only have a tenuous grasp on the offensive and defensive schemes coach Jamie Dixon is trying to execute. It’s the typical story with a raw young big – when he is directly involved in a play, setting a screen or posting up or playing on-ball defense, Adams looks engaged, active and effective but when he isn’t, there are often-times entire possessions of drifting in no mans land and occasionally actually disrupting offensive sets by getting in the way. It’s still too early to worry about what this lack of awareness means long term, but it might not be too early to wonder whether Adams is a lock to return to Pitt for his sophmore year. He has a long road ahead.
Adams relaxed and self-deprecating way of dealing with the attention that comes with being a big time college recruit has been refreshing in how it contrasts with the typical prep school star’s attitude entering college. The fact that it looks to be having an effect on his play, however, is less ideal. On the court, Adams’ body language doesn’t scream confidence and while he often posts up and calls for the ball, there isn’t the type of aggression of determination to get the rock that we see from other top college bigs. As a physically dominant player, there should be easy buckets available to Adams backing in on far shorter and lighter players. So far, that avenue has gone largely unexplored.
In the end, Adams’ physical gifts and willingness to use them can only go so far. If he doesn’t make himself a bigger part of the Panther’s offense, Adams’ impact will be limited and his minutes may well stay in the 20-25 range he is in currently. Part of this will be gaining recognition of where he’s supposed to be in different situations, but aggression is lacking from his game at the moment, and that needs to change.