Friday, July 4, 2008

TKR Breakdowns: Ira Brown

At this time last year, Gonzaga nation was gripped with Ira Brown fever. Everyone had seen "the dunk", and many people thought that we had the second-coming of Erroll Knight. However, because of a variety of issues, Ira hardly ever saw the court. I often wondered, how on a team short of toughness and leadership, why Ira saw the court as little as he did? But with a new season comes new opportunities for Ira. As we learned from Ira in our interview, he is as determined as ever to establish himself on this team, and help lead the Gonzaga program to great places. The hope is that Ira can put behind him this past season, and emerge as a leader and vital part of the team's success this next season.

Strengths: All you have to do is take one look at Ira Brown and you realize that his greatest his strength. Ira is one of the more physically developed athletes you will ever see playing college basketball. His great strength allows him to be a menace on the defensive end, and should allow him to be effective against both smaller guards and some of the bigs he will go up against. For the team to succeed to its highest potential next season, Ira must use his strength to be able to play the PF position. If Ira can emerge at this position then the depth at the PF and C position will improve dramatically. Having played professional baseball for a couple of years, Ira is much older then the typical college athlete. Because of his background as a professional athlete, and his age, Ira knows what it takes to be a leader for this team. There has never been anyone questioning Ira's work ethic and determination, and hopefully this drive for success can carry over to the rest of the team. If you ever get a chance to see Ira with his teammates, you will instantly notice the leadership and maturity that he possesses, and also how much respect his teammates have for him.

Weaknesses: The main issue for Ira, is what position will the coaching staff put him at? Will they play him as an undersized PF? If this is the case, then Ira must be able to guard opposing players who will be 5 to 6 inches taller then him. No matter how strong Ira is, there is nothing he can do to change the dramatic height difference that he will be facing. One advantage Ira does have, is that with his great strength, he maybe able to push his man away from the basket. If he were to play PF, then Ira would also need to develop a post game. We all know the great dunks that Ira can throw down, but we have not seen Ira make a post move in a half-court set. If Ira is going play the PF, then he needs to be more then a body on the court. The other issue with Ira is his shooting. If the staff is going to play Ira at the SF, then he needs to be able to consistently his either the mid-range or 3 point jump shot. As we saw with LG last season, no matter how strong you are on the defensive end, if you are a huge liability on the offensive end, you will not see much action. I have no doubts about Ira's ability to guard any of the wing positions, but for him to see the court and be able to contribute, he must be able to contribute on the offensive end.

Projected Role: The ideal situation for both the team and for Ira is for him to play the backup PF role. With the ridiculous amount of talent at the wing positions, it is no likely that Ira would be able to get in the rotation at that position. However, the PF and C situation is entirely different. Ira could fit in perfectly as a backup for either Daye or Heytvelt at the PF. I believe that with his strength, he can make up for a lot of the height he would be giving up on a game to game basis. The key for Ira is to use his strength to get the offensive player as far away from the basket as possible, as well as using his strength to really block-out the offensive player. Proper fundamentals on the defensive end and with rebounding can eliminate any issues with height that Ira may have. Having another player who can contribute in the post would be so important towards the success of the team this next season.

Summer Assignment: Ira has two fairly clear tasks this summer. The first is to join Meech, Pargo, and Bouldin in shooting 100's of jumpers a day. Ira can be such a unique player at the PF for us, if he can establish a face up jumper and some relatively basic post moves. But if he continues to only be a dunker, then he will be a liability on the offensive end, and will see his playing time suffer dramatically. The second thing I would do with Ira is give him tapes of Dennis Rodman. I would have Ira study these for hours a day, so that he can see how much an undersized PF can contribute on the defensive end and with rebounding, if he gets in proper position. Obviously I don't think that Ira will be averaging 10+ rebounds per game, but with his body type and athleticism, I think he can really be a strong force on the glass. As I mentioned earlier, rebounding is more about being in the proper position and being fundamentally sound, then it is about being tall. If Ira can work on these two tasks, then I think he can be an incredible spark off the bench, and give great contributions to the team throughout his senior season.

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