If you've stepped outside at any point in time during the last month or so, there's no doubt in your mind that summer is in full swing. While that is wonderful for people who like recruiting news, baseball, and a slow, painful death by dehydration and heat stroke, it does mean things are a little slow in terms of actual basketball news to report.
What it doesn't mean is that the Xavier players are sitting around twiddling their thumbs or updating their "Countdown Until Basketball Season" charts. Instead, they're playing summer ball, hitting the weights, and participating in skill workouts. That means we're bringing back out critically acclaimed Summer Camp series, which takes a look at where Xavier's returning players lay skill wise at the end of last season and what progress we're hoping to see out of them beginning this November. Dee Davis started us out, so it's nearly a full swing of the guard spectrum that brings us to Brad Redford.
Brad Redford is the kind of player that fans love and most YMCA ballers want to be. The senior from Frankenmuth, MI combines nearly limitless range with a release that is so quick often times seems the ball is merely redirected off his hand. Despite his reputation as nothing but a gunner, Redford is also comfortable with the ball in his hands or, rarely, even initiating the offense. Offensively, Brad Redford is a bench weapon almost without compare. Why, then, is he entering his senior year with seemingly little to show for his Xavier career?
The first thing that has limited the 6'1" guard is a lack of lateral quickness that has been further degraded by injuries. It only takes looking at Tu Holloway or Mark Lyons to see how much speed and quickness can change a game. Lacking those two attributes, plus catastrophic damage of a torn ACL, has not helped Redford see the court.
That lack of quickness hurts Redford on both ends of the court. Offensively, he struggles to create his own shot or get free without the benefit of a screen or defensive adjustment. This means that for Redford to get open looks, a set play must be executed or he must relentlessly run to find space (something he does extremely well). Defenses scheme to prevent Redford from catching the ball on plays designed for him, so those plays have to become more and more elaborate. This can result in stagnating an offense that isn't exactly a model of fluidity anyway. This essentially limits Redford to hunting for open space in hopes of a quick pass.
Defensively, Redford has even more issues. At 6'1", he's not tall enough to guard a combo guard on the post or close out on a particularly effective long range shooter. The aforementioned injury and quickness problems limit Redford's effectiveness when matched up against a slasher or a primary ballhandler with a good first step. However, when Xavier plays the 3-2 zone that was very effective at times last year (particularly against Charlotte) Redford's knowledge of the game allows him to fit in well and even become a plus defender.
The main thing Redford needs to add to his game this year is that bit of quickness. While that may sound like something that is just a physical gift, it is possible to improve on it. Near the middle of last season is was evident that Brad had regained a bit of confidence in his knee and felt comfortable in a defensive stance. A never-ending diet of slides, shuttles, rope drills, and focused lifting are probably all Redford sees right now. While it may only make an incremental improvement, that could be all it takes.
Secondarily will be the addition of some sort of offensive weapon other than the three pointer. Redford averaged .4 of a two point field goal attempt per game last year. Despite that not even being half of a whole number, it represented a career high. For Redford to be a consistent offensive presence, he has to be somewhat less one-dimensional. Part of the thrill with Redford is that the instant he hits the court, the crowd knows what to expect. Unfortunately, that means the defense does as well. Against Richmond last year, Redford debuted a step back jumper from the baseline. That threat alone will buy him the instant he needs for his bread and butter.
You'll know it's working when: Redford gets off four shots per game. When Brad shoots four times per game, he averages 4.6 points per game. That's not a massive amount, but the way he gets them frees up the rest of the offense to run more smoothly. Nearly five points per game off the bench is the mark of a weapon that forces defenses to adjust in the middle of the game. If Redford is moving smoothly and getting his looks, he can change a game in seconds.
You should worry if you see: Redford looking slow. ACL reconstruction is nothing to sneeze at, even in this day and age. Still, Redford must bounce all the way back from it if he is to crack a backcourt that is crowded with younger players desperate to make an impact. If Brad is sluggish or a step slow, he will be lost behind a talented wall of Myles Davis, Semaj Christon, and Dee Davis.
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