Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We couldn't pass up posting this -- an Adrian Oliver article

At the Parsing the WAC web site, a series has started about underrated players in the Western Athletic Conference. A Louisiana Tech player was the initial subject with Adrian Oliver the second feature. Here you go Spartan fans:

There are a few players in the WAC who aren't getting any love from the media. We're not sure why but it probably has to do with the fact that nobody has seen them play. It's much easier and convenient and certainly understandable to pick returnees to the various pre-season All-WAC teams because they are the familiar.

So the second 'overlooked' player we are featuring is 6-4 Adrian Oliver of San Jose State.

You won't find his name among any of the first or second All-WAC selections from either the media or the league coaches. Yet he went to a top (at least then) PAC-10 program coming out of high school after turning down an offer from Kentucky and declining Kansas and other PAC-10 schools.

So why the omission?

Oliver was the 64th best recruit in the country as a Modesto Christian senior per Bob Gibbons in 2006.

He was the 13th best prospect in Long Beach Press Telegram's "Best In The West" selections as a senior.

Rivals placed him 11th in California during his senior season.

As with Magnum Rolle, nobody in the bevy of WAC beat reporters has seen Oliver play -- that accounts for the media exclusion.

But it seemingly should be a different case for at least a few of the coaches throughout the league. Granted, Oliver was being recruited as a high major as a senior and none of the WAC coaches bothered to pitch any overtures and rightfully so but his talent was still known and there had to be club team games and tournaments where Oliver was seen.

Again, why the omission?

This was Lorenzo Romar on Oliver soon after landing him: “He is an extremely complete guard who can shoot the three and play any position on the perimeter. He brings a high level of toughness and a winning attitude to our program.”

Granted, coaches offer these types of platitudes to every recruit but this actually was the consensus about Oliver as a high school senior.

As a freshman, Oliver played all 32 games for the Huskies, starting 13 while averaging 21 minutes. He scored 4.7 points and grabbed 3.1 rebounds a contest while finishing third on the team in steals. He also posted a 71-47 assist-to-turnover ratio.

But knee, nose and back injuries decimated Oliver's sophomore season early on and that, plus family needs and the sense that Romar wanted him to play more at the point than any other position, lured him back to California.

While Oliver can certainly handle the ball and can create for himself and others, he's more of a scorer and -- very importantly -- one who wants to be scrapping inside for offensive rebounds as often as possible. He jumps very well and physical play is no deterrent to him.

Such isn't the mindset of most points so positioning him as such isn't the most proficient use of his talents. Do note his 3.1 rebounding average as a frosh.

Located in the area, we just had the opportunity to see Oliver play in a San Jose State scrimmage -- our first chance to view him on the court since his senior year in high school.

Our observation: He remains a tough, ultra-competitive and strong-willed player.

Call it a high basketball IQ or the ability to discern a play unfold before it takes place -- whatever description fits best -- Oliver possesses it. He best displayed this when situated on the right side of the floor about 15 feet out defending his matchup. Just as an another opposing guard began a dribble-drive from on top, went into the key and neared the basket for a layup attempt, Oliver sprinted towards the basket and, as if out of nowhere, jumped and blocked the shot. The fans certainly didn't see it coming and neither did the player who thought he was in the mist of racking up a basket.

Oliver also managed a number of tips on offensive rebounds, with a couple being attempted slams off the missed shots of others. He's a quick leaper, needing little time to get in the air.

It was clear to us that as a coach you want him in the mix and not outside as a typical point attempting to prevent or slow down fastbreaks and the like. It's not that Oliver couldn't play such a role, more simply a misuse of one of his major abilities.

Granted, his outside shot wasn't particularly on during this particular scrimmage but worry hasn't set in.

Oliver will be teamed up with fellow sophomore Justin Graham in the Spartan backcourt this season, after sitting out the initial six games due to his transfer. This gives San Jose State two talented playmakers, a description in this use meaning players who can creates for themselves and their teammates.

Expect the San Jose State players to post both higher shooting percentages because of the Oliver/Graham duo's ability to create and resulting greater assist totals.
Graham played the point last year and will again be charged with bring the ball up the floor, thus allowing Oliver to play the game he's been polishing all his life.

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