Tyler Haws, Damyean Dotson

The Chase for 180: Taking Tyler Haws for granted

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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.

After returning from his two-year LDS mission a few months before the start of the 2012-13 season, BYU junior guard Tyler Haws had some adjustments to make. From a personnel standpoint gone were Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery, with Fredette taking the nation by storm with his prolific scoring ability during the 2009-10 season and Emery also being a valuable cog in that particular team’s attack. That change not only meant that Haws (11.3 ppg in 2009-10) would have more opportunities to score, but also that BYU would need him to hit the ground running.

Add in the school’s move from the Mountain West to the West Coast Conference, and Haws would also need to do this while adjusting to new opponents and styles of plays. It’s safe to say that Haws handled his return to college basketball very well, scoring 21.7 points per game while shooting 48.3% from the field and 38.1% from beyond the arc. It became commonplace to see Haws scoring 25 points or more, and the same can be said for Haws’ production in 2013-14.

Now averaging 24.6 points per game, Haws has become a much better three-point shooter (up to 46.5%) while maintaining his field goal (47.8%) and free throw (88.0; 87.7 last season) percentages. Through 22 games (Haws missed two games in November) Haws has scored 25 points or more in ten games, most notably racking up 48 points in a triple-overtime loss at Portland on January 23, and of those ten games he’s scored at least 30 in seven of them.

Given how good Haws has been for BYU it makes you wonder if his production has been taken for granted, and this is something head coach Dave Rose mentioned after his junior guard scored 33 in a win over Saint Mary’s on Saturday.

“That’s amazing that he’s been as good and consistent as he’s been,” Rose said. “I think even you guys (the media) are starting to overlook (that).

“He’s always been really good for us in closing out games,” Rose said of Haws, whose number was retired at Lone Peak High last Friday night. “He was good again (Saturday). You’ve got to give so much credit to Ty because of the work he puts in, the skill level that he has, and the consistency that he plays with. The rest of our team — you look at Matt (Carlino) and Kyle (Collinsworth), they deliver the ball to him in the right spot at the right time to do what he does.”

Haws, while certainly a proficient shooter from beyond the arc, tends to do the majority of his work inside of the three-point line. According to hoop-math.com just 19.5% of his shot attempts this season have been three-pointers, with two-point jumpers making up 60.2% of his shot attempts. Haws has made 39.5% of those shots, and when combined with the fact that he converts when at the rim (70.3% shooting on those looks) the end result is a player who’s both an elite shooter and an elite scorer.

Haws is the first line (if not paragraph) on every opponent’s scouting report and with good reason. The various ways in which he can score makes for a tough matchup night in and night out, and that will continue to be the case. The task for us observers is to not take that for granted.

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 kenpom.com.)

1) Jason Calliste (Oregon) 
52.9% FG, 51.4% 3PT, 88.2% FT = 192.5
Shot %: 17.0
eFG %: 65.9
True shooting %: 72.5

2) Riley Grabau (Wyoming)
45.7, 48.0, 91.7 = 185.4
Shot %: 17.4
eFG %: 63.7
True shooting %: 69.7

3) Phil Forte III (Oklahoma State)
45.8, 47.3, 91.8 = 184.9
Shot %: 22.0
eFG %: 64.2
True shooting %: 69.0

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

5) Max DiLeo (Monmouth)
55.1, 53.1, 75.0 = 183.2
Shot %: 15.9
eFG %: 67.3
True shooting %: 69.5

6) Billy Baron (Canisius)
47.4, 44.6, 90.7 = 182.7
Shot %: 28.4
eFG %: 57.9
True shooting %: 64.3

7) Tyler Haws (BYU)
47.8, 46.5, 88.0 = 182.3
Shot %: 31.0
eFG %: 52.3
True shooting %: 60.1

8) Johnny Dee (San Diego)
44.6, 43.9, 92.9 = 181.4
Shot %: 30.5
eFG %: 55.4
True shooting %: 60.8

9) Brett Olson (Denver) 
48.1, 40.6, 92.5 = 181.2
Shot %: 22.0
eFG %: 56.9
True shooting %: 63.5

10) Jarvis Summers (Ole Miss)
50.8, 52.2, 77.8 = 180.8
Shot %: 25.1
eFG %: 58.1
True shooting %: 632.8

Inside the Arc (zero three-point attempts) 

1) C Sim Bhullar (New Mexico State)
66.7% FG, 1.76 points per shot

2) F Steve Forbes (IPFW)
66.5% FG, 1.77 points per shot

3) F Curtis Washington (Georgia State)
65.3% FG, 1.57 points per shot

4) Jameel Warney (Stony Brook)
64.8% FG, 1.55 points per shot

5) Marquise Simmons (St. Bonaventure)
63.7% FG, 1.56 points per shot

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4
December 11
December 18
January 8
January 15
January 22
January 29

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.