Sneak Peek: Minnesota’s Malik Smith

Sneak Peek: Minnesota’s Malik Smith …and other notes
September 27, 2013

Minnesota’s Malik Smith on the big screen

It’s been a long and winding path for Malik Smith. At different points in his life, the idea that he’d be a key player for a Big Ten program wouldn’t have appeared very realistic. Nonetheless he’s made it.

Smith averaged 14.1 points per game during his first season of D-I basketball while playing for Florida International and first year head coach Richard Pitino. Now both at Minnesota, Pitino will look for Smith to provide leadership and scoring in 2013-14.

We won’t get into a full preview at this point in time, but here’s a sneak peek at 6’2” guard Malik Smith.

Malik shot 36.2% 3FG last season. Considering the average NCAA team can be expected to shoot around 34.0% to 34.5%, Smith’s performance was good.

Can he improve his accuracy a bit? With better shot selection and the Hollins guards as teammates, it’s achievable.

Smith has shown for years that he isn’t afraid to shoot the ball. The roster dynamics this season are going to be quite different than what he’s seen anytime over the past 5 years. Coach Pitino may give Malik (and others) a long leash and we’re especially interested to see how the coaching staff responds to what might be considered ill-advised shot attempts.

When he’s feeling it, Malik can dial in from 25 feet with ease. Don’t be surprised to see a couple of games where he racks up a ton of points. He’s a good shooter. However, he’s not an elite shooter and we’ll likely see some games in which his stat line looks pretty rough.

Selected Shooting Statistics for Malik Smith:

Year School eFG% 3FG% 2FG% 3FGA/FGA
2009-10 South Plains (TX) College 48.4% 33.0% 45.2% 75.8%
2010-11       —          –                –                –                  –
2011-12 Jacksonville (TX) College 49.7% 34.3% 42.9% 79.5%
2012-13 Florida International 49.3% 36.2% 36.8% 71.4%

A few comments on the table above:

– His effective field goal percentage has stayed in the same general range.

– Last season Malik’s shot attempts were from 3-point range “only” 71.4% of the time (it’s still a very large percentage), down modestly from prior years.

– His 2-point field goal percentage dropped to 36.8% – unacceptably low. We believe a lot of this was due to Smith forcing things on the offensive end. Few of his 2-point field goals were assisted and a key for him this year will be deciding when the shot is there and when it’s not.

– Despite the low 2FG% last year, we like Smith’s physical build and toughness and would encourage him to get into the lane and to the foul line.

It’s pretty simple: take smart shots and the accuracy figures should follow the lead. Smith could play a very big role with regard to Minnesota’s scoring in 2013-14.

A Malik-Peek – Smith’s Background
Malik represents himself well and Gopher fans should find him charismatic and very likable. Coming from Bromley-Heath in Boston, though, it’s safe to say he’s not a wide-eyed kid just learning about life. He’s been through struggles and to be where he’s at is impressive.

Prior to attending his first college, Smith spent two years at Notre Dame Prep. Also during his prep years he ran with BABC and teammates like Alex Oriakhi and Phil Pressey. (This year’s BABC team featured 2014 Minnesota target Bonzie Colson.)

With both Notre Dame Prep and BABC the earlier year(s) behind others on the depth chart and in his final year was a top player. Even when coming off the bench Malik would regularly show off his scoring ability by providing instant offense.

Indeed, Smith has played on big stages before. Going back even further to his first high school, Madison Park, his team was followed by camera crews filming a documentary.

Push: Madison versus Madison chronicles the stretch run of the team’s 2006-07 season during much of which they were ranked #1 in the state. Head coach Dennis Wilson alone is worth the price of admission.

The documentary focuses on the team’s stars: current Gopher Malik Smith and Raheem Singleton (who later played at Maine).  We won’t give up any more of the details from the film. It’s no Hoop Dreams, but it’s worth your time to view it if you’re a fan of the Gophers, basketball or documentaries in general.

Other LNH notes:

  • Malik’s little brother Damion was expected to attend Lee College (JUCO) in Texas last we heard. They’ve got a good basketball program and if Damion stays on track we could see him playing D-I basketball in a couple of years.
  • The Gophers may be one of the NCAA’s oldest teams in 2013-14 (by average age of scholarship players). Malik Smith leads the way as he had 5 years of high/prep school and this year marks the start of the 5th year since first enrolling in college. He’ll turn 24 on Selection Sunday. Redshirt junior Oto Osenieks is a close second as he’ll turn 24 just three days later.
  • Back in July we offered some recruiting thoughts and would echo the same thoughts at this time. By the way, we very much like 2014 Carlos Morris (Chipola College) and believe there’s a good match for him with Minnesota. Great length and potential.
  • No word on any progress regarding a formal basketball practice facility although Coach Pitino and staff should be applauded for making good use of what they have. In case you missed it, we felt Norwood Teague’s master facility plan and its $190 million price tag (for phase one) was set up for failure.
  • With Minnesota rather quietly continuing to pay Joel Maturi big bucks, perhaps he’ll be able to help on the fundraising front. Then again, his time may be tied up with responsibilities for his new volunteer/unpaid duties with the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions.

@LateNightHoops is on Twitter.

Video: Push: Madison versus Madison Trailer


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