The Chase for 180: Riley Grabau utilizing increased opportunities

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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.

As a sophomore, Wyoming guard Riley Grabau started 30 of the 32 games in which he played but averaged just 6.0 points per game while shooting 35.2% from the field and 32.3% from beyond the arc. With seniors Derrious Gilmore and Leonard Washington leading the team in scoring and both boasting shot percentages around 26%, Grabau was in the position of being a supplementary piece for the Cowboys.

With those two out of eligibility it was clear that there would be more opportunities for players such as Grabau, and to this point in the season he’s taken advantage. Averaging 11.5 points per game, Grabau’s raised his shooting percentages to 45.4% from the field, 46.7% from three and 90.8% from the foul line. According to hoop-math.com nearly 74% of Grabau’s shots have been three-pointers, and he’s avoided taking many of the two-point jumpers (14.3% of his shots) that he hasn’t converted at a particularly high rate thus far (26.9% FG on those shots).

The key for Grabau down the stretch is whether or not he can build on the two games he put together last week, averaging 17.5 points per game in wins over then-No. 5 San Diego State and San Jose State. Against the Aztecs Grabau connected on five of his nine shot attempts from the field, shooting 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Grabau followed that game up with a 5-for-11 afternoon against San Jose State, performing well offensively in a game that was anything but an offensive masterpiece (Wyoming won, 46-38).

So why would those games be so important moving forward? Wyoming’s lost leading scorer Larry Nance Jr. for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, which he suffered in their win over Fresno State on Tuesday night. Nance leads Wyoming in shot percentage (27.0%), and the Cowboys will need to find a way to account for the 15.4 points per game (and 8.6 rebounds/game) that he provided if they’re to build on their current three-game win streak.

Among the players who will be asked to do more is Grabau, who scored just six points on Tuesday night (1-for-6 FG). But even with that effort, overall the junior guard has made strides within Larry Shyatt’s system. Can he take another step forward? The Cowboys certainly hope that will be the case.

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) Matt Kennedy (Charleston Southern)
51.0% FG, 51.9% 3PT, 90.8% 3PT = 193.7
Shot %: 19.2
eFG %: 59.0
True shooting %: 63.8

2) Jason Calliste (Oregon)
52.9, 51.2, 84.8 = 188.9
Shot %: 17.0
eFG %: 66.3
True shooting %: 71.9

3) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
51.3, 44.4, 90.1 = 185.8
Shot %: 38.0
eFG %: 58.5
True shooting %: 63.6

4) Brett Olson (Denver)
48.0, 42.5, 93.4 = 183.9
Shot %: 22.6
eFG %: 57.7
True shooting %: 64.0

5) Riley Grabau (Wyoming)
45.4, 46.7, 90.8 = 182.9
Shot %: 18.0
eFG %: 63.2
True shooting %: 68.9

6) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
59.3, 50.0, 72.7 = 182.0
Shot %: 18.7
eFG %: 67.4
True shooting %: 69.0

7) Johnny Dee (San Diego)
43.9, 43.9, 93.3 = 181.1
Shot %: 30.4
eFG %: 54.6
True shooting %: 60.3

8) Trevor Releford (Alabama)
50.5, 40.1, 90.5 = 181.1
Shot %: 27.5
eFG %: 60.0
True shooting %: 65.5

9) Anthony Brown (Stanford)
49.1, 49.4, 81.8 = 180.3
Shot %: 18.9
eFG %: 58.3
True shooting %: 62.8

10) Tyler Haws (BYU)
47.8, 44.2, 87.2 = 179.2
Shot %: 31.2
eFG %: 51.8
True shooting %: 59.4

Inside the Arc (zero three-point attempts)

1) F Curtis Washington (Georgia State)
66.9% FG, 1.59 points/shot

2) C Sim Bhullar (New Mexico State)
66.1% FG, 1.71 points/shot

3) F Marquise Simmons (St. Bonaventure)
64.1% FG, 1.56 points/shot

4) F Jameel Warney (Stony Brook)
63.9% FG, 1.54 points/shot

5) F Marshall Bjorklund (North Dakota State)
63.6% FG, 1.54 points/shot

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4
December 11
December 18
January 8
January 15
January 22
January 29
February 5
February 12

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.