Tyrese Rice: Barcelona’s answer

2016-07-27T20:34:30+00:00 2016-07-27T23:35:11+00:00.

Aris Barkas

27/Jul/16 20:34

Eurohoops.net

What Rice has and what’s been missing from Barcelona for the last six years is the title of European champion. An accomplishment the American guard achieved with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2015

By Panos Katsiroumpas/ info@eurohoops.net

Barcelona are going through their most transitional period in the last ten years, with the changes being significant and at all levels. Following Xavi Pascual’s departure and the hiring of Georgios Bartzokas, the Catalan team replaced Tomas Satoransky – who crossed the Atlantic – with Tyrese Rice, a player who has very little in common with his predecessor.

But what Rice has and what’s been missing from Barcelona for the last six years is the title of European champion. An accomplishment the American guard achieved with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2014, also winning the MVP title of the Final 4 that had taken place in Milan. Barcelona insert in their machine a player with great firepower, who fits the Spanish style of basketball and who is expected to do exciting things on the court if he adapts quickly to the new environment.

Who he is

Rice became known from the college championship, where he had four great years at Boston College, with very good numbers, leading his team to consecutive final tournaments, something he has accomplished again since then. The fact the Rice is rather small prevented him from being drafted and sent him to Europe, where his first team was Panionios.

Medium caliber teams followed, such as Artland Dragons, Lietuvos Rytas and Bayern Munich. He made his big step in 2013 when he went to Israel for Maccabi, a team he led to the top of Europe. Khimki offered him a lot of money to add him to their roster and won the Eurocup with him, while last year he led the Russian team to the Top 16 and just one win away from the top 8 of the Euroleague.

What he can offer

In offense, the American guard can literally do everything and be a constant threat for any defense he faces. He can create and execute in isolation situations and finish plays either with a drive to the basket, or a shot from the perimeter or even from mid-range.

Last year, he essentially perfected his pick-and-roll game, having an amazing collaboration with James Augustine. The problem for every defense that is going to face Rice is that they can’t control the American in any pick-and-roll situation. And this is because at any moment he can stop, plant his feet and execute, he can go all the way and finish the play from inside the paint, a part of the game that, despite his size, has worked on and is highly efficient in. He can also pass at all times, either from the start when he penetrates the big man’s key, or from mid-range inside the key or the short roll, or when he’s inside the paint, even between big bodies.

Also, he can see the passes along the sides if there is help from the defense along the wings, while, after Delaney, he was the second best passer in clear split out passes, creating in this way many open shots for his teammates. He’s also a pretty good shooter from the top as well as the sides, which forces defenses to focus their attention on him. If we add to all this his ability in offensive transition, then we realize that we’re dealing with a great offensive weapon.

On the other end of the court he plays more with his brain than his ability and skills. Without pressing too hard on the ball he’s able to make many steals, a characteristic that he’s had throughout his career. He has very good hands and we don’t just see this from the ability he has in passing and stealing, but also from the way he’ll put his hands on the ball, even if he finds himself in the way of bigger and stronger players.

He clearly has weaknesses as well. Otherwise we would be talking about a guard who could play in the NBA. His small size makes him quite vulnerable when defending in the post, an area of the game in which several coaches struck him last year, and this certainly has to concern coach Bartzokas, in order to find ways to address it. In team defense he often slacks off, especially when there is running and turning required.

The mental aspect is important as well, one in which he has shown clear improvement throughout his presence in Europe. If he keeps calm and focused, especially in pressure situations, he has nothing to fear and is going to contribute a lot to his new team. If anything, his signing is one of the most important of the season and Barcelona are expected to present something quite different compared to previous years.