Returning almost your entire rotation of players is reason for celebration. Of course, the optimism that comes with getting everybody back has to be dampened at least a little bit by who has departed. The integral cog that left the team was burly post Markhuri Sanders-Frison, a starting big and a huge emotional leader on the squad. Losing him is a bigger loss than most would think by some of his numbers.
Sanders-Frison posted a 110.5 offensive efficiency (definition here) while taking 20.8% of the shots while he was on the floor. With 101.3 being the average, Sanders-Frison provided a player 9% above average shooting at a rate that exceeded every single player on the San Diego State roster except for Kawhi Leonard. And while he was scoring like that, he also provided shot blocking, a post player who drew tons of fouls, and the best rebounding on the team. Now to be quite fair, Richard Solomon provided similar rebounding numbers, similar efficiency, a better block rate, and drawing fouls at a better rate. He did this in 22% less minutes than Sanders-Frison, so if he can sustain it over more playing time will determine if he can do the same or better than Sanders-Frison in the numbers department.
There’s also what he brought to the offense. While nobody will ever confuse him with Ray Allen, Sanders-Frison could spread the defense with an occasional mid-range jump shot. He also provided solid post moves with a left handed hook, even though one would struggle to call his post moves diversified. Sure, he often did the same move over and over again, but no one can deny that it worked. On the defensive end, he provided an immovable object in the post, albeit one that struggled when forced to move out on the perimeter. That kind of impact cannot be replaced easily.
Richard Solomon is a very good young power forward, and more than good enough to fill a starting slot. He’s provided similar numbers to MSF, albeit in lesser minutes. If he can sustain that impact, then the Golden Bears should be just fine. However, if he doesn’t develop a more complete post game and get stronger on the low block, then the one loss the team had could be tougher than many have anticipated. Only time will tell if Solomon can fill the void, although I (and many others) believe he’s the man for the job. His limited exposure to Pac-10 play a year ago was encouraging, and this summer should have been good time for his development. We’ll see what Solomon has to offer in a leading role soon enough.
Markhuri Sanders-Frison will be missed, there is no doubt about that. But lingering on his loss too long isn’t worth it; there’s plenty to look forward to this season, and the group filling in for him is a very intriguing one. How the replacements do should be one of the most interesting parts of the early part of the season. Go Bears!