Behind the benching: Was men’s basketball actually better without Reed?

Nobody would dispute Jordan Reed’s standing as Binghamton’s best — and, probably — most important player.

But Tommy Dempsey pulled Reed at the 2:48 mark of the first half of the Bearcats’ 67-47 loss at Stony Brook last night, and the sophomore did not see the floor again before the final buzzer sounded.

“He just didn’t get off to a good start,” Dempsey said of Reed, who scored zero points on 0-of-4 shooting and turned the ball over three times in nine minutes. “I didn’t think he had a really good couple days of preparation. I just wanted to see how we looked without him.”

No one in attendance would have confused the Bearcats with a juggernaut — Stony Brook held a 39-29 advantage after Reed’s benching — but Binghamton played a more efficient game on both ends of the court with Reed sporting his warm-up top.

In 13 possessions with Reed on the floor, Stony Brook outscored Binghamton, 20-8, at 0.92 points per possession. At that rate, the Seawolves would have won by 57 in the 62-possession game.

Instead, they won by 20.

Stony Brook held a sizable advantage even with Reed on the bench, outscoring Binghamton by 0.17 points per possession (10.5 points per 62 possessions). But the Bearcats were significantly more efficient on both sides of the ball, as they precluded the Seawolves from eclipsing their season average of 1.08 points per possession, allowing 0.97 per trip, while depositing 0.79 points per possession on offense (compared to 0.57 with Reed).

With the 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman guard Ahmad Walker defending him early in the game, Reed couldn’t attack off the dribble. He struggled in transition as well, committing an offensive foul and forcing a layup in a 1-on-3 situation — a poor choice, the referees’ bailout call notwithstanding.

Ill-advised decisions have accompanied the sophomore’s year-and-a-half as a Bearcat like clouds have appeared in Binghamton lately, but an unfair onus has been placed on Reed because of his starring role as a freshman. He’s still growing as a player, and a young one at that.

With more offensive weapons around him this season, Reed’s field-goal attempts per game have dropped precipitously from 15.1 to 11.2. He’s shooting slightly better at 40 percent, compared to 39.1 percent last year, but for all the time he spent working on his jumper, the results have shown little, if any, progress.

After nailing four of his first six 3-point attempts, Reed is just 6-for-19 on the season. That 31.6 percent clip is significantly higher than his 13.7 percent mark from a year ago, but Reed has actually been less efficient on 2-point jumpers (24.7 percent in 2013-14; 32.3 percent 2012-13) despite launching at a lower rate from within the 3-point arc (40.5 percent of total shots in 2013-14; 52.8 percent in 2012-13).

His turnover rate has dipped to 16.7 percent from 18.2 percent, less significant of a drop than his raw turnovers (3.4 per game in 2012-13 to 2.5 this year) might have suggested, but with everything accounted for, Reed has been a more efficient offensive player this season—his 95.7 Offensive Rating bests his 86.6 mark from last year.

Nonetheless, with the core-four freshmen also battling bouts with inconsistency, Reed needs to be a beacon of stability for the Bearcats to make a push at fifth or sixth place in the America East. He cannot turn the ball over once every three minutes, like he did last night, or go scoreless in the final 13 minutes of a game, as he did against UMass Lowell.

This wasn’t the first benching of Reed’s career at Binghamton. When Dempsey pulled him from the Bearcats’ blowout loss to Colgate, Reed responded with the third-most efficient outing of his season to date, and Binghamton beat Mount St. Mary’s by four. Reed scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while grabbing eight rebounds and avoiding a single turnover in 37 minutes of play, good for a 146 ORtg.

The Bearcats’ next opponent, Albany, frustrated Reed into four turnovers each time the teams met in 2012-13. When he did not cough up the ball, Reed did not fare much better, shooting 38.5 percent for 13.5 points per game, more than three points below his season average.

But the Great Danes, who lost in overtime at UMass Lowell last night, are banged up. They’ll visit Maine on Saturday before returning home to host Binghamton on Monday.

Knowing Reed’s personality — he spoke in the preseason about the chip on his shoulder after, in his opinion, he was slighted with third-team all-conference honors as a freshman — you can count on him circling Jan. 20 as an opportunity for redemption.

Statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com, Kenpom.com and Hoop-Math.com.

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