The Chase for 180: Billy Baron’s become even more lethal

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Who is the best shooter in the country?

It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? Does being a “shooter” simply mean merely being a high-level marksman from beyond the arc? Can a player who thrives in the mid-range but rarely ventures out into three-point land be eligible? How heavily should we be valuing stats like efficiency and effective field goal percentage when taking all of this into account?

One number that we like to use is “180″. How do you become a 180 shooter? By shooting 50% or better from the field overall, 40% or better from three and at least 90% from the charity stripe. From this point forward we’ll track this until the end of the regular season, providing weekly updates as well as a look into how some of the nation’s best find (and connect on) their quality looks.

In his first season at Canisius guard Billy Baron proved to be one of the MAAC’s best players, posting averages of 17.2 points and 5.0 assists per game. And with shooting percentages of 43.9% from the field, 38.2% from three and 82.4% from the foul line, Baron was also an efficient shooter who ranked in the top ten in the MAAC in both effective field goal (51.5; 8th) and true shooting (57.0; 6th) percentages.

So what would Baron do for an encore? To this point in the season, all he’s done is become an even more lethal scorer while averaging nearly the same number of assists per game (4.9 apg) for a team that’s currently tied for first place in the MAAC.

Baron’s scoring has increased to 24.2 points per game, which is quite the achievement when considering just how much attention he receives from opponents on a daily basis. That’s an impressive number, one that ranks third nationally and second in the MAAC, but what makes it even more impressive is the fact that Baron’s done this while raising all of his shooting percentages.

He’s currently shooting 48.0% from the field, 45.5% from three and 91.0% from the charity stripe, and since shooting just 33.3% in a win over Lamar on December 21 Baron’s shot at least 45% from the field in nine straight games. And in those nine games Baron’s attempted an average of 17 shots per game. And according to Baron’s improved his percentage on two-point jumpers, making 37.6% of those shots after connecting on just 32.1% a season ago.

Add to that his improvements at the rim (62.5% from 57.7%) and beyond the arc, and the end result is a player who’s likely the early favorite for MAAC Player of the Year and possibly some national recognition as well.

THE TOP TEN (Note: Players much be eligible to be ranked in FG%, 3PT% and FT%. And here’s a glossary that includes the stats you’ll see used in these posts. Tempo neutral numbers per

1) Jason Calliste (Oregon) 
53.2% FG, 55.6% 3PT, 88.4% FT = 197.2
Shot %: 15.5
eFG %: 65.9
True shooting %: 73.2

2) Phil Forte III (Oklahoma State)
46.8, 49.6, 91.8 = 188.2
Shot %: 23.2
eFG %: 66.2
True shooting %: 71.0

3) Jarvis Summers (Ole Miss)
51.7, 55.0, 79.1 = 185.8
Shot %: 25.2
eFG %: 59.5
True shooting %: 64.4

4) Billy Baron (Canisius)
48.0, 45.5, 91.0 = 184.5
Shot %: 29.1
eFG %: 58.6
True shooting %: 64.7

5) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
50.0, 43.9, 89.3 = 183.2
Shot %: 37.9
eFG %: 57.5
True shooting %: 62.5

6) Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
46.4, 45.1, 91.2 = 182.7
Shot %: 22.9
eFG %: 57.9
True shooting %: 62.7

7) Anthony Brown (Stanford) 
50.3, 50.0, 81.7 = 182.0
Shot %: 19.0
eFG %: 59.6
True shooting %: 63.4

8) Riley Grabau (Wyoming)
44.9, 45.7, 90.4 = 181.0
Shot %: 17.6
eFG %: 61.7
True shooting %: 67.6

9) Johnny Dee (San Diego)
44.2, 43.0, 93.5 = 180.7
Shot %: 30.8
eFG %: 54.3
True shooting %: 59.8

10) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
58.1, 49.0, 73.6 = 180.7
Shot %: 18.5
eFG %: 66.0
True shooting %: 68.1

Five Perimeter Marksmen (20 or fewer two-point attempts)

1) Kikko Haydar (Arkansas)
50% 3PT; 1-for-9 2PT

2) Anthony Lindauer (High Point)
50% 3PT; 2-for-11 2PT

3) John Gage (Stanford)
50% 3PT; 4-for-10 2PT

4) Ethan Wragge (Creighton)
49.7% 3PT; 2-for-6 2PT

5) Ben Cherry (Charlotte)
49.2% 3PT; 8-for-10 2PT

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4
December 11
December 18
January 8
January 15
January 22

Reports: Rhode Island’s Dan Hurley mulling UConn, Pitt options

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Even before Rhode Island’s NCAA tournament came to an end Saturday in the Round of 32 against Duke, speculation was running wild about the future of Rams coach Dan Hurley.

Stay or go. If it’s go, where to?

There was no clarity, but maybe some progress Monday.

Both Connecticut and Pittsburgh, the prime candidates to pry Hurley away from Rhode Island, spoke with the coach, but no decision had yet been reached, according to multiple reports.

Hurley was set to meet with Rams athletic director Thorr Bjorn on Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Heart Connecticut Media’s Jeff Jacobs reported that UConn was “closing in on an agreement” with Hurley but that Pitt was continuing its pursuit.

Hurley has led the Rams to the NCAA tournament the last two years and signed a seven-year contract with Rhode Island worth approximately $1 million per year last off-season. UConn was paying Kevin Ollie, who led the team to the 2014 NCAA title before being fired after this season, an average of $3 million per season while Kevin Stallings reportedly was due a buyout of nearly $10 million when he was fired by Pitt this season.

What Hurley will have to weigh beyond the financial circumstances will be his ability to win at either UConn or Pitt, should he decide to move on from Rhode Island.

Ollie – well, really Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright – showed you can win a national title out of the AAC at UConn. The league adding Wichita State only strengthens that point. Pitt, meanwhile, may be a tougher job now than it was when Jamie Dixon had it rolling since their move from the Big East to the ACC.

CBT Podcast: Recapping the first weekend of the 2018 NCAA Tournament

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Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic joined Rob Dauster for an epic, two-hour podcast on the first weekend of the tournament. It was so good that we had to split the podcast into two parts. On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the South and West Regions, from Sister Jean to UMBC to Nevada’s comebacks to Kentucky’s chances at a Final Four.

On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the East and Midwest Regions, from Villanova and Duke steamrolling to Michigan State collapsing to Syracuse and Clemson and Texas Tech and Purdue. It’s all in there.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Eight viral heroes from first weekend of March Madness

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One of my favorite parts of the NCAA tournament is seeing who comes out of nowhere to turn into a viral celebrity during this month of madness.

By my estimation, we had eight true candidates for the award of March Madness Viral Celebrity of the Year. Here they are:


He was more fired up for Houston’s success in the tournament than any Houston fan in the history of basketball in the city of Houston.


Jordan Poole is spelled a lot like Jordan Peele, which inevitably led to people tweeting at Peele instead of Poole. Peele’s thank you tweet was a highlight of the first weekend.


Having to answer questions from a bunch of reporters after suffering the most humiliating moment of your life is not an easy thing to do. Having to answer ridiculous and stupid questions could be intolerable, which is why I loved Ty Jerome’s response to a stupid question he was asked:


I loved seeing Robert Williams’ teammate do a panotmine windmill in the background while Williams was throwing down a windmill in real time on Providence:


Nevada head coach Eric Musselman has led his team to the Sweet 16, cussed on live television and gone shirtless to celebrate with his team, but the star of the Musselman family is his daughter Mariah:


He really does have great hair:

2. @UMBCAthletics

This dude lived the dream of every twitter user out there. When your shot is there, you have to take it.


Mic drop:

VIDEO: Eric Musselman celebrates Nevada win without a shirt

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Nevada head coach Eric Musselman went shirtless to celebrate his team’s come-from-behind win over No. 2 seed Cincinnati on Sunday.

I guess this is better than dropping F-bombs live on national TV. Maybe that’s why they had Steve Lappas talking over him …

Penny Hardaway to be named next Memphis head coach

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The worst-kept secret in college basketball no longer appears to be a secret: Penny Hardaway is going to be the next coaching at the University of Memphis.

ESPN is reporting that a deal has been agreed upon. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal is reporting that Penny was waiting for his season to end with East High School before he made anything official. NBC Sports can confirm that an announcement is expected to be made early this week, likely as soon as Tuesday, to introduce the former Memphis and NBA star as Tubby Smith’s replacement.

The truth, however, is that we all knew this was what would be happening the second that Memphis formally fired Tubby Smith. Hell, we knew it a month before that decision was made final. This was always how it was going to play out.

What’s interesting to me is now the discussion of whether or not Penny will be able to handle being a Division I head coach, because it’s been hit or miss with basketball programs hiring legends of their past. Chris Mullin and St. John’s hasn’t exactly gone to plan but Fred Hoiberg was quite successful at Iowa State. Kevin Ollie won a title with UConn then fell off a cliff. Patrick Ewing’s start wasn’t great, but he was better than expected.

Where does Penny fall on this scale?

Well, let me just drop this section of a column from Geoff Calkins in here:

Hardaway isn’t a guy who woke up one morning and decided he’d like to be a Division I head coach. He’s not a former player who got bored with retirement and decided he’d like to do something other than play golf.

Hardaway started coaching at middle school. Middle school! Because an old friend needed some help.

Then he built one of the best AAU programs in the country. Then he spent years coaching a high school team.

Does that sound like someone who doesn’t want to roll up his sleeves and do the work? Does that sound like someone who is just in it for the glory and the glitz?

The truth is, if it weren’t for Hardaway’s iconic stature, he might be characterized as a grinder, as a guy who worked his way up from the lowest levels of basketball on the strength of his relationship with the kids.

I think that this is going to work out for both Penny and Memphis, especially if Penny hires a staff that can help him with the intricacies of running a college basketball program.