After a three day absence due to a computer virus (100% protection guaranteed my a$$), we continue our player recaps with a look at the injury shortened season of forward Rakeem Buckles.
Heading into the 2010-11 season, Rakeem figured to see a lot of minutes, certainly much more than his 11.3 per game as a freshman. But with the injury to Jared Swopshire, Rakeem was set to see the bulk of the time at the power forward spot. He did see the majority of the minutes, but due to team rebounding issues and the improved play of Stephan Van Treese, Rock did not see as many as initially expected. On the year, he played 18.8 minutes per game and was held to only 16 games played because of a broken finger and ultimately, torn ACL.
When he did play, Rakeem scored 6.8 points per game on 48% shooting from the field, including 42% from three point range and 61% from the foul line. He grabbed 6.1 rebounds per game and also produced 1.5 assists per contest. Not a great statistical year, but with so many injury issues, he was really never able to get it going.
I think Rock’s best game of the season came in the season opener against Butler. The Yum! was electric on that night and so was Rakeem. He recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds and led the Cards to an 88-73 win over the 18th ranked Bulldogs. In that game, Rakeem shot 6-12 from the floor and showed improved outside shooting by draining 2-4 from deep. It was a great night for both the Cards and the sophomore from Miami.
This was a disappointing season for Rock, but not because of his play on the court. It was disappointing because he just couldn’t stay on the floor. He missed 12 games in the middle of the season because of a broken finger and returned for the Cards’ match-up with Syracuse on February 12. However, his return only lasted four games because in his fifth game back, Rakeem tore his ACL against Pittsburgh on February 27, which ended his season much too soon.
For the upcoming season, I’d like to see Rakeem continue to improve his jump shot. His shot, while still looking a bit awkward, definitely improved from his freshman year and even though I don’t think he will ever become a knockdown three point shooter, if he can develop a reliable jump shot and be a consistent threat, it will present a difficult match-up at the four spot. Rock already has the ability to put the ball on the floor and make a move towards the basket. If defenders have to worry about a jump shot, it will cause them to play up on him, which should open up the drive for Rakeem to get to the basket, which is where I think he’s at his best.
In addition, I think Rock needs to improve his passing. Rakeem threw some passes this past season that literally made me speechless for several seconds in which I was trying to comprehend what I just saw. To be fair, it wasn’t the thought of passing. In many cases, the teammate Rock was trying to find was open and he made the proper play by trying to make the pass, but the execution left a lot to be desired. Luckily, none of those poor passes were in crucial, late game situations that cost the Cards a game, but they could in the future. I think Rakeem has a good basketball IQ and as I said, he had the right idea most of the time, it was just a lack of execution. If he can become a decent passer, it will make the UofL offense much more effective.