Travis Bader

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March Madness has arrived (VIDEOS)

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The Madness has officially arrived!

Can you feel it in the air? I know Marquette can. They lost one of the wilder games you’ll ever see, dropping a double-overtime game to Providence that featured clutch shots, dumb fouls and a 75-foot buzzer-beater that didn’t actually beat any buzzers.

That wasn’t the wackiest finish of the night, however.

Lipscomb and East Tennessee State went to double-overtime as well. Khion Sankey, who forced the second extra frame with a three with 17 seconds left, put the Bisons up 88-86, but ETSU tied it up on two free throws by Lester Wilson. That’s when things got wild:

That’s Josh Williams, a freshman guard from Lipscomb, fouling A.J. Merriweather with 1.5 seconds left in a tie game. Brutal. Did I mention that game was in the opening round of the Atlantic Sun tournament?

That’s not the only foul call that changed a game, either.

In the Horizon League tournament, the No. 6 seed Oakland Grizzlies survived and advanced past Youngstown State, but it took a little bit of magic. Travis Bader scored five of his 39 points in the final three seconds of regulation to force the extra frame. After a Kendrick Perry free throw put the Penguins up 80-76, Bader hit a three to cut the lead to one. Oakland fouled Ryan Weber with 0.6 seconds left, and Weber missed the first and hit the second, setting up this final play (jump ahead to the 1:57 mark):

I’ve seen that play run hundreds, if not thousands of times. I’ve never once seen the player setting the screen get the call. Kampe’s gotten it before, working his magic against Oral Roberts in one of their Summit League clashes, because he warned the refs about what he was having his player do.

“I go, ‘You got to call it now if he runs him over,'” Kampe told reporters after the game. “He goes, ‘If he runs him over, Bader goes down and he goes down on top of him, I’ll call it.'”

March is here, baby.

Hope you’ve got your seatbelt on.

Late Night Snacks: UMass outruns VCU

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Game of the night: Massachusetts 80, VCU 75

During the Atlantic 10 media day, I spoke with Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg about his team’s three-point dependence. Since he arrived at UMass, Kellogg’s squads were content to jack a high percentages of threes, consistently posting a three-point attempts percentage in the mid-30s. After asking Kellogg whether this trend would continue for the sixth year, he stressed the team would ease their diet of long-range indulgence: “We need to be even more selective from three this year because of the level of play [in the conference].” Against VCU, the Minutemen attempted eight threes, but whiffed on all eight (as he explained in the post game presser, “Once we were 0 for 6, I told my guys to stop shooting 3s. I told them, ‘Why settle? Get to the free throw line'”), the first time since March 2006 that a UMass team has failed to hit a three. As he maintained during the preseason, though, UMass is now more offensively efficient because of their refusal to settle — the squad’s three-point attempts percentage is 25.6 percent, one of the nation’s lowest rates, and just 20 percent of their A10 points come from beyond the arc (compared with the percentage of points, 60 percent, within the three-point line). In the win versus the Rams, UMass both got to the line (20 of 27) and didn’t force their offense (48 percent), scoring .94 PPP against a team that prides itself on wreaking defensive havoc.

Important outcomes

Siena 67, Manhattan 63: If the Jaspers had made little more than half of 42 free throws they attempted versus Siena, Steve Masiello’s team would have secured the victory. The win is significant for two reasons: it muddies the top tier of the MAAC, as Manhattan is now third in conference play with two home games remaining; this is the biggest win for Jimmy Patsos at Siena, and since only ten other DI teams have less experience than this season’s squad, Siena should quickly ascend the MAAC rankings.

Florida Gulf Coast 75, Mercer 61
: Is FGCU ready to make another run? Similar to last year’s squad, the Eagles lost to Mercer in their first regular season match-up before winning the next game (and in the case of the 2013 team, also winning the third game, which was the conference tournament title). Defense is analogous to success for new coach Joe Dooley, and the Eagles strove to limit Mercer to one offensive possession at a time, corralling an impressive 34 defensive rebounds.

Iona 80, Rider 77: With under fifteen minutes remaining in the second half, Iona, thanks to a made three from Sean Armand, led Rider by thirteen points. A scant fourteen minutes later, that lead was cut to three, and the Gaels, rather than let an opportunity to put a game between itself and Manhattan slip away, was forced to desperately hold on to the win. Iona’s usual suspects — Sean Armand and A.J. English — had twenty point games, but the real star was Rider’s Jimmie Taylor, a guard who scored 13 straight points in the final minutes.

Starred
Travis Bader (Oakland)
The 6-foot-5 wing threw off the mental handcuffs Wright State had placed on him during Oakland’s recent loss, converting four of six threes and attempting twelve free throws in a win over UIC.

Jimmie Taylor (Rider)

A budding long-range star, Taylor scored 19 points overall in the loss, and was instrumental in Rider’s comeback.

Jamail Jones (Florida Gulf Coast)

Jones isn’t one to hang out on the interior all game and grab defensive rebounds — the wing has grabbed more than five defensive boards just a handful of occasions in 2014 — but his play on the glass (ten defensive rebounds) helped stymie Mercer’s offense.

Struggled
Briante Weber (VCU)
Weber, whose spent this season transitioning to VCU’s full-time, true point guard, hit a large speed bump, committed six turnovers.

Steven Spieth (Brown)
Referees ruled Spieth had foul a Maodo Lo by impeding his path to a loose rebound, and Lo, an 84 percent free throw shooter, made both attempts to break to tie and give Columbia a home win.


UIC’s offense

Oakland has always been known more for its offensive, and not defensive, schemes, but the former Summit League member limited UIC to just over one point per possession and only twelve two-point field goal makes.

Notables
-It’s possible to make both the struggled and notables list in the same night! When Briante Weber recorded three steals, he became the first Ram to surpass 100 steals in a single season. He is swiping five steals per 40 minutes, and since VCU still has four regular season games remaining (not including the A10 tourney and a possible postseason appearance), Weber should boost this record substantially.

Oakland’s Travis Bader becomes NCAA all-time leader in made three-pointers (VIDEO)

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Now a senior at Oakland University, guard Travis Bader has been one of college basketball’s most prolific perimeter shooters during his career. On Sunday Bader completed his climb to the top of the NCAA’s list for made three-pointers in a career, surpassing former Duke great J.J. Redick.

Bader’s third three-pointer of the first half in the Golden Grizzlies’ 86-64 loss at Milwaukee, a shot from the right corner with 6:18 remaining in the first half, was the 458th of his college career. Redick made 457 three-pointers in four seasons at Duke.

Bader finished the game with six made three-pointers and 21 points, moving his total to 461 made three-pointers. Although the game was on the road, Bader’s achievement was acknowledged by the folks at Milwaukee during a break in the action.

The Chase for 180: A quest to find college basketball’s best shooter

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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. No college basketball player accomplished that feat last season, but Creighton’s Doug McDermott did become a 180 shooter, with his 49.0% 3PT making up for shooting “just” 87.5% from the free throw line.

Below, listed in alphabetical order, are ten returning players likely to merit consideration this season. Later this month, we’ll begin providing weekly updates tracking this.

1) Sean Armand (Iona): 161.2 
2012-13: 16.6 ppg, 43.5% FG, 40.9% 3PT, 76.8% FT

Prior to Stephen Curry knocking down 11 three-pointers against the Knicks in February, who held the Madison Square Garden record for most three-pointers made in a game? That would be Armand, who’s back for his senior season after averaging 16.6 points per game in 2012-13. With Lamont “Momo” Jones out of eligibility, there may be more shot opportunities for Armand and he has the skill needed to take advantage.

2) Travis Bader (Oakland): 166.6
2012-13: 22.1 ppg, 39.4% FG, 38.6% 3PT, 88.6% FT

The field goal percentage is a little low, but keep in mind that Bader is asked to do a lot for the Golden Grizzlies on the offensive end of the floor. Bader finished the 2012-13 season with a shot percentage of 29.2%, leading Oakland in that statistical category by more than five percentage points. He’ll certainly get shots up, and if he can knock them down at a higher clip he’ll be a fixture on the list.

3) Jeff Elorriaga (Boise State): 159.1
2012-13: 10.2 ppg, 44.4% FG, 44.7% 3PT, 70.0% FT

Much of the attention during the preseason has been heaped upon Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks and with good reason, as those two are the feature offensive options for the Broncos. Don’t forget about Elorriaga, who has turned into one of the Mountain West’s best perimeter shooters. The question for Elorriaga: how many free throws will he attempt after shooting just 40 in 2012-13?

4) Corey Hawkins (UC Davis): 171.6
2012-13: 20.3 ppg, 47.4% FG, 40.0% 3PT, 84.2% FT

The son of Hersey Hawkins can light it up, as evidenced by his 41-point outing in a win at Hawaii last season. The junior, who began his collegiate career at Arizona State, reached double figures in 26 of the 28 games he played in. And in Big West play Hawkins shot 53.7% from the field, 52.5% from three and 81.1% from the foul line.

5) Tyler Haws (BYU): 174.1
2012-13: 21.7 ppg, 48.3% FG, 38.1% 3PT, 87.7% FT

Haws will be an All-America candidate this season, due not only to his ability to find (and create) quality looks but to also knock them down at a high rate. Haws dropped 42 on Virginia Tech last season, shooting 14-for-15 from the field (6-for-8 3PT) and 8-for-9 from the foul line. Failing to reach double figures just twice in 2012-13, there will be no shortage of quality looks for Haws this year.

6) R.J. Hunter (Georgia State): 158
2012-13: 17.0 ppg, 43.9% FG, 36.5% 3PT, 77.6% FT

Hunter’s presence is one big reason why the Panthers are capable of winning the Sun Belt in their first season in the league. With a year of experience under his belt, Hunter should be even better-equipped to deal with the different looks opponents will show. And don’t underestimate the impact that Ryan Harrow’s arrival can potentially have on the quality of shots Hunter finds within the GSU offense.

7) Doug McDermott (Creighton): 191.3
2012-13: 23.3 ppg, 54.8%, 49.0% 3PT, 87.5% FT

McDermott is also one of the best players in the country, returning to Creighton to take on the new challenge that is the Big East. And while the level of competition is raised, McDermott will continue to find quality looks within the Bluejay offense. As a junior McDermott failed to shoot at least 40% from the field in just six of Creighton’s 36 games, and given how many shots he attempted (518) that’s rather impressive.

8) Preston Medlin (Utah State): 168.5
2012-13: 47.4% FG, 39.3% 3PT, 81.8% FT

Medlin played in just 16 games last season due to a broken wrist, but he’s healthy now and will once again be primary scoring option for the Aggies. Like McDermott he’ll have to get used to tougher competition, as Utah State makes the move from the WAC to the Mountain West, but he’ll be fine. As a sophomore (2011-12) Medlin shot 49.6% from the field, 42.8% from beyond the arc and 80.1% from the charity stripe.

9) Nik Stauskas (Michigan): 175.4
2012-13: 11.0 ppg, 46.3% FG, 44.0% 3PT, 85.1% FT

We’ve seen the videos of Stauskas’ shooting exploits, and he’s proven to be quite the marksman in game action as well. The Ontario native worked hard to expand his game during the offseason, and if the end result proves to be more quality looks from inside of the arc Stauskas will be a fixture on this list.

10) C.J. Wilcox (Washington): 160.1
2012-13: 16.8 ppg, 41.9% FG, 36.6% 3PT, 81.6% FT

By the time Wilcox’s senior season ends he’ll be Washington’s all-time leader in made three-pointers, and he can score from anywhere on the floor. But Wilcox’s staying power on this list could come down to how some of his teammates perform offensively; if they prove to be consistent threats the fifth-year season will reap the benefits in the form of higher percentage looks.

Five freshmen to keep in mind

1) Jabari Bird (California)

2) Conner Frankamp (Kansas)

3) Aaron Harrison (Kentucky)

4) Jabari Parker (Duke)

5) James Young (Kentucky)

Travis Bader’s nickname is McLovin?

Greg Kampe, Travis Bader
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Travis Bader is a favorite of the folks that write here at College Basketball Talk.

We ranked him the No. 69 player in the country. We slotted him as the No. 16 off-guard in the country. He was a second-team mid-major all-american, mostly because of the strength of the mid-major guards across the country this season. One of our preseason features was on Bader and his pursuit of J.J. Redick’s three point record.

So yeah, we’re fans.

Which only made the discovery of Bader’s nickname that much more awesome.

“The first practice he did something and I couldn’t remember his name,” Oakland head coach Greg Kampe told Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press. “I looked at him, and I go, ‘McLovin, get over here.’ And the players just started laughing, and so that’s what they called him all year and I called him that a few times myself. But he looked like he was 12 years old.”

McLovin? What is he, an Irish R&B singer?

Oakland’s Travis Bader shoots for J.J. Redick’s NCAA career three-point record

Greg Kampe, Travis Bader
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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here.

Travis Bader isn’t a household name, but pretty soon the Oakland senior shooting guard’s accomplishments will be heard across the country as he closes in on J.J. Redick’s career three-point field goal record this season.

The 6-foot-5 redshirt senior from Okemos, Michigan has been knocking down three-pointers at an alarming rate since his freshman season and after knocking in 139 in his junior season, he sits 101 three-pointers short of Redick’s NCAA career record.

While Redick was a highly-recognized sniper at Duke — one of America’s most visible programs — Bader has quietly knocked down three-pointers and expanded his offensive game under Greg Kampe’s rapid run-and-gun offensive approach at Oakland.

The Golden Grizzlies move to the Horizon League in 2013-14 after 15 seasons in the Summit League, but Bader has garnered so much respect among people in the Horizon that he was voted preseason First-Team All-League after averaging 22.1 points per game last season.

Kampe’s offense at Oakland — where he has been head coach since 1984 with a record of 506-366 in DI and DII — is perfect for Bader because they prefer quick and frequent three-pointers early in the shot clock. Bader himself averaged 10.9 three-point attempts a game last season.

“Coming in as a freshman I don’t think anybody ever thought that I would be where I am today,” Bader said. “So that just means I just put in a lot of hard work during my years in Oakland and I’m going to keep putting up shots and trying to be in the gym more than anyone else.”

CLICK HERE to read NBCSports.com’s Horizon League Conference Preview

For Bader to be in position to potentially break Redick’s record, he had to play and succeed early. But that wasn’t necessarily supposed to be the case early in Bader’s college career.

“Nobody really believed in me and that started in high school,” Bader said. “I wasn’t big enough or strong enough, wasn’t quick enough or athletic enough. I’ve just always kind of had that fire burning inside of me just to prove people wrong.”

Oakland was the only Division I program to offer Bader and after a redshirt year in 2009-10, Bader was expected to be a potential role player for the Golden Grizzlies. But after a violation of team rules from some teammates, Bader got an instant chance during the first game of his freshman year.

“Even when I got to Oakland, they knew I was a good player but they didn’t know how much playing time I’d see,” Bader said. “My freshman year a situation happened where a couple of guys were late to the bus and I actually started at West Virginia our first game and just took advantage of the opportunity.”

Bader was 3-for-8 from beyond the arc in the West Virginia game and has been a fixture in Oakland’s rotation since. As a freshman, Bader averaged 10.5 points per game before upping it to 15.9 a game as a sophomore before his breakout junior campaign.

But for as nice as Redick’s record would look on Bader’s resume as he closes out his collegiate career this season, he’s only focused on team success and returning to the NCAA Tournament as a new member of the Horizon League.

CLICK HERE to read through the rest of NBCSports.com’s feature stories

“People talk about the three-point record but making the NCAA Tournament would mean the world to me more than an individual record,” Bader said. “That first year I got to play, and to lose by four to Texas, I’ll tell everyone I know that that’s the best moment of my career here at Oakland. Playing in the NCAA Tournament is great and I try to stress to all the guys on the team the significance it had to me and how much it means to be in the NCAA Tournament. They’re trying to do whatever they can to make it back there.”

Kampe and Bader hope to lead a surprise Golden Grizzlies surge to the top of their new league, but the big question surrounding Oakland is how its high-octane offense will fare in a typically grind-it-out Horizon League? But Oakland’s focus will be running their offense and how the rest of the league adapts.

Greg Kampe joked during Horizon League media day in Chicago that he couldn’t name, “10 players in the league right now,” but the only thing that likely matters to Kampe and Oakland is that everyone in the conference can name Travis Bader when they step on the floor this season. And they’ll have to stop Bader and Oakland from scoring.

“I know it’s a great league, very competitive with good defense,” Bader said. “I don’t know as much as everyone else and I’m kind of the same as Kampe right now. I saw a couple of games on TV last year and just from playing against them in the past, I know a bit.”