Report Card: Laval Lucas-Perry

Dylan Burkhardt

Previously: Stu Douglass (B-), Zack Novak (B)

Laval Lucas-Perry Drives
101.9 20.8% 18.2 6.5 1.7 1.2 49.6% 34.4%

The Good

  • Three Point Shooting
    Laval teased us with his shooting stroke in the non-conference season — he came out blazing hot which caused Michigan fans to start drooling. Laval clearly can shoot the ball, despite his slump he shot 34.4%, the same percentage as Zack Novak and only worse than the departed point guards. Those who have seen him in practice claim that he is every bit the shooter we saw in December and I think we will see a very good three point shooter down the road.
  • Penetration
    After appearing to be almost strictly a three point shooter early on, Laval started to show the ability to get in the lane. It seems like he can get there but he really struggles with what to do in the lane. If he gets fouled that’s good but he didn’t seem to be much of a finisher, nor did he seem to be much of a passer. The ability to get in the lane in itself is valuable for this team because no one else besides Manny Harris ever seemed to penetrate.
  • Getting to the Line
    Laval posted a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 43.7% which was good for second best on the team. Considering there were only fourteen teams in the country that got to the free throw line less than Michigan this year, getting to the stripe should probably be encouraged. Using KenPom numbers (explained here) Laval drew 4 fouls per game, this would have been a respectable top 20 in the conference had Laval played enough minutes this year.

The Bad

  • Confidence
    There is no denying that Laval came into a tough situation. He was thrown into the fire and expected to be the third scorer. Things came easy early on when he was playing against teams like North Carolina Central and Florida Gulf Coast but the Big Ten season was another animal. The sudden change put a dagger in Laval’s confidence which eventually forced Beilein to cut his losses and go with Stu almost exclusively down the stretch.
  • Defense
    I was disappointed in Laval’s defense this year. In hindsight it was probably a foolish prediction but I expected Laval to be a good defender after reading about his strength as well as the fact that he played football. It didn’t really turn out that way. Laval consistently struggled on the defensive end of the court in conference play and I think this is one of the biggest reasons that Stu passed him on the depth chart.
  • Learning the Offense
    By the end of the year it became clear that Laval just didn’t have the same understanding of the offense as some of the other guards. When there were open cutters he typically hesitated to make the pass and either didn’t make it or made it too late. Laval played huge minutes in the first half of the Michigan State game and I think that played a huge factor in Michigan’s inability to score. Different kids understand the offense at different speeds so I’m sure this is something that he will continue to work with Beilein on. The bottom line is that I don’t want Laval playing the “point guard” if he isn’t comfortable passing the ball in the flow of the offense.

The Future

I think Stu Douglass is a better candidate to get some minutes at the point guard next year because of his understanding of the system but I wouldn’t be shocked if Laval got a shot. This summer it will be important for Laval to continue to get comfortable as well as work on his defense and ball handling. Hitting a wide open jumper is one thing but doing it while not affecting the flow of the offense is another.

The beauty here is that this was only Laval’s freshman year because he won his appeal with the NCAA. I would feel a lot less comfortable with his role in the program if he had sophomore eligibility rather than freshman eligibility this year. The way this year played out was probably frustrating for Laval but I think it definitely will help him understand what he needs to get done this off-season.

Shining Moments

  • vs. Oakland — 16 minutes, 14 points, 4-6 3pt
    Laval’s debut came with an unfair amount of expectations. Tim McCormick and yours truly had been hyping Laval’s addition to the lineup since long before the season even began. Laval didn’t do much to dampen the enthusiasm, he came out on fire and put on a show for the pro-Michigan crowd at the Palace. It was one of the best offensive performances of the year from Michigan and LLP spearheaded it with his early three point bombs.
  • at Minnesota — 21 minutes, 19 points, 6-7 shooting (3-4 3pt)
    This was one of the most heroic and unexpected performances of the entire year. Despite making only 6 shots in the last 8 games, Laval stepped up with the season on the line. Laval not only found his stroke but he also found it at the best time. Michigan appeared to be dead in the water facing a double digit deficit on the road but a few three point shots from LLP and Michigan was back in business. In many ways the Minnesota game was a microcosm of the entire season and it certainly put a nice bookend of Laval’s freshman season.


Final Grade: C. Laval had to deal with unfair expectations from day 1 and his season is definitely a bit disappointing. After averaging 12.7 points in his first six games, Laval averaged only 4.6 points in his final twenty. If you take out his 19 point performance against Minnesota that number falls well under 4 points per game.

Still, Laval was instrumental in two of Michigan’s season saving comebacks (at Indiana & Minnesota) and showed enough of his potential to not be discouraged. His stroke is pure but after they started missing, his confidence plummeted and eventually started affecting the rest of his game. I am confident that he comes around next year but his final grade has to represent a mostly disappointing season.

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  • Ken in Vegas

    I think that’s the perfect grade for Laval here. If it wasn’t for his season saving performance against Minnesota I would probably place him at a C-. I’m still going to stick by my earlier prediction that Eso Akunne contributes more over his 4 years, but I am no Nostradamus.

  • Dave

    i really feel this is a kid that could be very much improved by next year………….i think he could suprise a lot of people come next season

  • gpsimms

    i’m pretty sure he will be the best point guard since robby reid

  • gpsimms

    which is not to say he will be bad…i liked robby reid, i just don’t really see him as a point guard. maybe beilein’s 2 guard share ball handling responsibilities system will be just right for him…

  • Kenny

    I would give him a C+ for showing up at the most critical moment of the most important game when the entire season was on the line. I except him being the most improved player on the team the next season.

  • I was close to giving a C+… Almost even went with a C/C+ but that seemed like a cop out. I think that Laval certainly has the ability to make a huge stride before next year.

  • Adam

    Laval came into a tough if not impossible situation of being expected to perform right away with the Oakland game. While he did have a pretty solid non-conference season, I feel like the toughness of the conference got to him a bit. When he is able to get back into the flow of things along with everyone else next year, I expect much better things.

  • Tom Too

    It was a shame the pressure on this guy. Suffering through the 10-win season, we all talked about LLP like he was going to be the savior….add McCormick’s comment about being the best PG at AA since RR, well…. I hope he gets the game stroke going.

  • Dennis

    LLP came through both times when we needed someone to step up. That Minnesota game was nothing short of amazing to watch, especially if you count in the fact that he made six shots the past eight games. He should know the offense better next season, and we get him for potentially three more years? He should turn out great.

  • Paul

    More power to LLP. Lets see when he gets comfortable in the system and it lites a fire. I feel the kid will make a comeback from a rough season. I’m very happy Manny will return cause they’ll need him.

  • I beleive LLP has the potential to come out next season and be much better than this year. Hopefully Beilein can help him this summer in driving and finishing at the basket. The team needs another player to penetrate.


    Nicely put Dennis

  • Mith

    Dennis, that’s not quite accurate to say he stepped up both times we needed him. We could have used him more than 2 games!! It just happens that he did step up twice.

    Not to totally downplay that, though. I had pretty much given up on LLP until the Minnesota explosion. That game gives me hope going forward.

  • Brick

    I think too much is expected of freshman nowadays. The biggest improvement for a college bball player is usually from freshman to sophomore year. Jumping to college basketball from HS is a huge adjustment and in normal programs, freshman are given less minutes and less expectations than ours were this year. LLP played like a freshman sometimes because he was a freshman. I was very encouraged by how he stepped up in some of the big games though. I expect to see actual player development (unlike the Amaker/Ellerbe tenure) and a big improvement over the next few years.

    Ken, I’ll bet you a beer on LLP-Akunne. LLP is a much better shooter and Akunne seems to have more of a forward game in a guard sized body.

  • Gavin Groninger

    I think he was a C- until the Minnesota game, personally. We heard a lot of buzz about what he could do in practice, but I think LLP could have overlooked the coaching mess in Arizona if he was actually going to get run there. ‘C’ seems fair; good job.

  • Sam

    I too expect some big things out of LLP next season. I talked to him for a minute at lunch the other day (great kid by the way), and he sounds really excited for next season. He also said that he is gonna play some PG for us. It is going to be very interesting, but I would be willing to bet that he will shoot the highest percentage from downtown for us next year. And that’s no small statement with the guys we’ve got coming in and coming back. I just watch him warm up before the games and he doesn’t miss. That will eventually carry over to all the games.

  • Mason

    Completely offtopic but…this is Crisler, right?

    Sorry, just made me chuckle a bit.

  • KainKitizen

    I could see Laval averaging 10pts next season with the improvement of finishing drives down the lane and his 3pt shooting. That would make him a consistent 3rd scorer for the team.

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