Ben Cherry

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The Chase for 180: Joseph Young climbs into Top 10

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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.

When Joseph Young made the decision to transfer from Houston to Oregon during the summer, it was known that the Ducks would be gaining a player more than capable of putting points on the board. As a sophomore Young averaged 18.0 points per game, shooting 45.8% from the field and 42.0% from beyond the arc. Different programs mean getting used to different systems, and for much of the 2013-14 season Young has adjusted well offensively. Young’s raised his field goal percentage up to 48.2%, and one reason for the increase has been the increase in the number of shots he’s attempted at the rim.

According to hoop-math.com just 19.3% of Young’s shot attempts last season were at the rim and nearly 42% of his shots were two-point jumpers. In his first season at Oregon, 36.3% of Young’s shot attempts have come at the rim and 20.9% of his shots have been two-point jumpers. And with that change his offensive rating (131.6), effective field goal (57.2%) and true shooting (63.9%) percentages have all increased while his shot percentage has remained about the same (26.9; 26.6 last season) per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers.

However it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Young (or his teammates, for that matter) this season, as evidenced by a four-game slump he was mired in last month.

Beginning with a loss to Stanford on January 12 and ending with a win at lowly Washington State on January 26, Young shot 11-for-39 (28.2%) from the field and 5-for-20 (25.0%) from beyond the arc. On the season just over 41% of Young’s field goal attempts have been three-pointers. During that four-game stretch the percentage rose to 51.3%. When attacking the opposition Young has proven to be a difficult matchup, something that wasn’t the case during a stretch in which the Ducks went 1-3.

Young got back on the right track, shooting 50% or better from the field in four of the seven games that followed that rough patch. And while the schedule has helped Oregon win three straight games ahead of their trip to Los Angeles this week, the improved offensive production of players such as Young has also been a factor. Can a team that was at one point ranked in the Top 10 fight its way into the NCAA tournament? If Young (Sunday’s 4-for-12 night against Washington State notwithstanding) can continue to perform at the rate he has for much of this season, the Ducks will most likely hear their name called on Selection Sunday.

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)
50.7% FG, 51.2% 3PT, 91.0% FT = 192.9
Shot %: 18.8
eFG %: 58.5
True shooting %: 63.1

2) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
60.5, 53.0, 73.6 = 187.1
Shot %: 18.8
eFG %: 68.9
True shooting %: 70.4

3) Jason Calliste (Oregon)
51.5, 48.4, 85.0 = 184.9
Shot %: 17.1
eFG %: 64.6
True shooting %: 70.4

4) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
52.1, 44.3, 88.4 = 184.8
Shot %: 37.6
eFG %: 59.2
True shooting %: 64.3

5) Brett Olson (Denver)
47.5, 43.0, 92.6 = 183.1
Shot %: 22.1
eFG %: 57.5
True shooting %: 63.6

6) Johnny Dee (San Diego)
44.0, 43.8, 93.8 = 181.6
Shot %: 29.9
eFG %: 54.8
True shooting %: 60.6

7) Phil Forte III (Oklahoma State)
45.5, 45.8, 89.5 = 180.8
Shot %: 22.2
eFG %: 63.1
True shooting %: 67.7

8) Trevor Releford (Alabama)
50.8, 40.4, 88.6 = 179.8
Shot %: 27.7
eFG %: 60.5
True shooting %: 65.5

9) Joseph Young (Oregon)
48.2, 42.1, 89.5 = 179.8
Shot %: 26.9
eFG %: 57.2
True shooting %: 63.9

10) Jay Hook (Tulane)
46.7, 49.6, 83.3 = 179.6
Shot %: 22.3
eFG %: 60.0
True shooting %: 65.6

Five Perimeter Marksmen (25 or fewer two-point attempts)

1) Ethan Wragge (Creighton)
50% 3PT; 2-for-6 2PT

2) Anthony Lindauer (High Point)
49.2%; 8-for-25

3) Ben Cherry (Charlotte)
47.7%; 9-for-24

4) Jeff Elorriaga (Boise State)
46.9%; 8-for-17

5) Kikko Haydar (Arkansas)
46.3%; 2-for-10

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4
December 11
December 18
January 8
January 15
January 22
January 29
February 5
February 12
February 19

The Chase for 180: Brett Olson and Denver’s turnaround

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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.

The Denver Pioneers had some adjustments to make after winning 22 games and a share of the WAC title in 2012-13. From a program standpoint the school was making the move from the WAC to the Summit League, meaning that there would be new opponents to scout with North Dakota State, South Dakota State and IPFW proving to be strong programs.

And from a personnel standpoint the Pioneers would be without forward Royce O’Neale, who transferred to Baylor. O’Neale was the team’s third-leading scorer, and his status as the team’s most versatile player (he led the team in rebounding and assists) meant that more would be asked of guard Brett Olson and forward Chris Udofia.

After some early season growing pains and an 0-2 start to conference play the Pioneers have won five of their last six, with Olson being one of the key reasons why. Over the last six games Olson’s averaged 17.8 points per game (scoring 30 in a win over South Dakota), shot 57.6% from the field and 56.0% from beyond the arc. Olson was a good shooter last season, making nearly 48% of his shots from the field, 43.4% from three and 95.0% from the foul line, playing more than 34 minutes per game.

But that was with Denver having three double-digit scorers. Without Neale more would be required of Olson, and to this point in the season he’s stepped up. Olson’s raised his percentage from the field (49.1%) and has remained consistent from both the three-point (43.0%) and free-throw (93.0) lines while raising his scoring average up to 15.3 ppg.

One of the factors in Olson’s improved field goal percentage is the fact that he’s attempting more shots at the rim and fewer three-pointers. According to hoop-math.com 19.5% of Olson’s shot attempts last season were at the rim, and he’s increased that percentage to 29.8% this year. As for the three-pointers, he’s attempted just 50% (down from 66.8%) of his shots from beyond the arc this season.

More plays inside of the arc have resulted in a substantially higher free throw rate, and given how well Olson shoots from the foul line while this isn’t a guaranteed two points (on shooting fouls) it’s pretty close.

Denver plays four of its last six regular season games on the road, including a game at IPFW and games at South Dakota State and North Dakota State to finish the year. And Denver looks better equipped to handle those tests now than they did to start Summit League play, with Olson’s improved production being a key reason why.

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)
49.7% FG, 50.0% 3PT, 90.2% FT = 189.9
Shot %: 18.8
eFG %: 56.9
True shooting %: 62.1

2) Jason Calliste (Oregon)
52.3, 50.0, 86.1 = 188.4
Shot %: 17.0
eFG %: 65.0
True shooting %: 71.2

3) Riley Grabau (Wyoming)
46.4, 48.4, 92.2 = 187
Shot %: 17.8
eFG %: 65.0
True shooting %: 70.3

4) Brett Olson (Denver)
49.1, 43.0, 93.0 = 185.1
Shot %: 22.2
eFG %: 58.8
True shooting %: 65.1

5) Phil Forte III (Oklahoma State)
45.1, 46.2, 92.5 = 183.8
Shot %: 21.8
eFG %: 63.2
True shooting %: 68.3

6) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
49.9, 42.7, 89.4 = 182.0
Shot %: 37.9
eFG %: 56.9
True shooting %: 62.2

7) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
59.0, 49.1, 73.4 = 181.5
Shot %: 18.3
eFG %: 66.5
True shooting %: 68.3

8) Billy Baron (Creighton)
46.6, 44.8, 89.8 = 181.2
Shot %: 28.1
eFG %: 56.9
True shooting %: 63.4

9) Johnny Dee (San Diego)
43.9, 44.2, 92.2 = 180.3
Shot %: 30.8
eFG %: 54.7
True shooting %: 59.9

10) Nic Moore (SMU)
49.3, 45.4, 85.5 = 180.2
Shot %: 21.6
eFG %: 60.5
True shooting %: 64.7

Five Perimeter Marksmen (25 or fewer two-point attempts)

1) Micah Mason (Duquesne)
59.7% 3PT (10-for-21 2PT)

2) Ben Cherry (Charlotte)
50.0% 3PT (9-for-22 2PT)

3) Ethan Wragge (Creighton)
49.4% 3PT (2-for-6 2PT)

4) John Gage (Stanford)
48.8% 3PT (4-for-11 2PT)

5) Luke Moyer (Campbell)
48.3% 3PT (6-for-22 2PT)

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

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

Tom Wolf Imaging/Canisius Athletics
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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 hoop-math.com 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 kenpom.com.)

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

The Chase for 180: Tale of two games for Stanford’s Anthony Brown

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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.

When looking at the improvements made by Stanford redshirt junior guard Anthony Brown, it’s best to compare this season’s numbers to the ones he produced as a sophomore in 2011-12. Brown played just five games last season due to a hip injury, leaving the Cardinal without a key option in their attack. As a sophomore Brown, who was a Pac-10 All-Freshman Team selection in 2011, averaged 8.7 points per game while shooting 39.6% from the field and 35.0% from beyond the arc.

According to hoop-math.com Brown attempted just 17.2% of his shots at the rim, making 56.5% of those attempts. And one of the big reasons why his overall field goal percentage (51.9%) has improved are the increased number of opportunities he’s found in that area of the floor. Through 15 games nearly 35% of Brown’s field goal attempts have come at the rim, and he’s converted 61.7% of those shots. Brown’s percentage at the rim may also provide a clue as to why his two performances in Oregon last week were so drastically different.

Against then-No. 17 Oregon on Sunday afternoon Brown was outstanding, shooting 10-for-12 from the field and scoring a game-high 24 points to go along with six rebounds. Four of Brown’s 12 field goal attempts could be classified as layups and he made all four to go along with hitting six of his eight jumpers (1-for-2 3PT). That wasn’t the case in Stanford’s 81-72 loss at Oregon State on Thursday night, as Brown shot 1-for-10 from the field and scored just seven points.

Brown shot 0-for-7 from two, with three of the misses being layups. On some nights things just don’t click, and missed opportunities at the rim can certainly add up when that’s the case. Was that game an anomaly for Brown? It likely was, because the junior’s shot lower than 40% from the field in just five of Stanford’s 15 games to date. If Brown can continue to get to the basket and, just as importantly, continue to convert those opportunities other parts of the floor should open up for him.

While scoring options such as Chasson Randle and Dwight Powell receive the majority of the attention and rightfully so, Brown’s return (especially with the loss of Andy Brown to another knee injury) was an important development for a Stanford program looking to break through and reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.

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) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
63.5% FG, 60.0% 3PT, 71.2% FT = 194.7
Shot %: 18.4
eFG %: 71.8
True shooting %: 72.4

2) Jason Calliste (Oregon) 
48.8, 56.1, 88.8 = 193.7
Shot %: 13.9
eFG %: 61.4
True shooting %: 71.5

3) Riley Grabau (Wyoming)
48.1, 51.9, 89.8 = 189.8
Shot %: 16.5
eFG %: 67.0
True shooting %: 71.9

4) Matt Kennedy (Charleston Southern) 
48.6, 52.3, 86.8 = 187.7
Shot %: 18.2
eFG %: 59.7
True shooting %: 64.5

5) Anthony Brown (Stanford) 
51.9, 52.9, 81.3 = 186.1
Shot %: 18.9
eFG %: 61.9
True shooting %: 65.3

6) Keawe Enos (Utah Valley) 
48.8, 50.0, 85.0 = 183.8
Shot %: 15.0
eFG %: 65.5
True shooting %: 67.9

7) Michael Frazier II (Florida)
49.2, 47.3, 86.2 = 182.7
Shot %: 21.5
eFG %: 65.4
True shooting %: 67.8

8) Doug McDermott (Creighton) 
49.5, 43.4, 89.6 = 182.5
Shot %: 37.3
eFG %: 56.8
True shooting %: 62.3

9) Nic Moore (SMU)
50.4, 51.5, 80.0 = 181.9
Shot %: 20.1
eFG %: 63.7
True shooting %: 66.3

10) Jarvis Summers (Ole Miss)
52.4, 51.8, 77.4 = 181.6
Shot %: 26.0
eFG %: 61.1
True shooting %: 65.1

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

1) Ethan Wragge (Creighton)
50.0% 3 PT (2-for-6 2PT)

2) Jeff Elorriaga (Boise State) 
50.0% 3PT (5-for-9 2PT)

3) Ben Cherry (Charlotte)
50.0% 3PT (5-for-15 2PT)

4) Brady Heslip (Baylor) 
49.4% 3PT (7-for-20 2PT)

5) Jordan Potts (UNCG) 
47.9% 3PT (9-for-15 2PT)

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