Tyler Haws

Justin Anderson, Jordan Price

Chase for 180: So far, so good for Virginia’s Justin Anderson

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The “Chase for 180″ is back for a second year, and for those who may not be familiar with the project it’s our attempt to identify some of the best shooters in America. But what makes one an “elite shooter?” For some it’s merely the ability to knock down perimeter shots at a high rate, but that isn’t the case for all players. High-level shooting requires proficiency from three, the field overall, and from the foul line. 

“180” refers to the resulting number when adding a player’s field goal, three-point and free throw percentages, with the best shooters either approaching or surpassing that mark. 50 percent or better from the field overall, 40 percent or better from three and 90 percent or better from the foul line. This achievement has occurred more often in college basketball than it has in the NBA, where just six players (Steve Nash did it in four different seasons) have done it in the history of the league. 

This season we’ll update this list weekly, with players also needing to qualify to be ranked by the NCAA in each of the three percentage categories in order to be considered. In order to qualify to be ranked a player needs to have played in at least 75 percent of his team’s games and have averaged: 

  • five or more field goal attempts per game;
  • two or more three-point attempts per game;
  • 2.5 or more free throw attempts per game.

To read prior installments of the Chase for 180, click here

Despite returning three starters from a team that won 30 games, an ACC title, and made the program’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 1995, Virginia had some important questions to answer in advance of the 2014-15 season. Chief among those questions was how they would account for the loss of Joe Harris (12.0 ppg), who despite seeing his role within the Virginia offense change some was still the team’s second-leading scorer in 2013-14. Without Harris the Cavaliers were left with one double-digit scorer, Malcolm Brogdon, meaning that at least one of their supplementary offensive pieces from a season ago would need to step forward if Tony Bennett’s team is to defend its ACC crown.

Enter Justin Anderson, who in each of his first two seasons was a valuable reserve and won ACC Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2013-14. While the Montrose Christian product may not be considered a “lights out” shooter, the strides he’s made offensively are a major reason why Virginia is currently 9-0 and ranked sixth nationally.

After shooting 40.7% from the field and 29.4% from beyond the arc in 2013-14, Anderson’s gotten off to a hot start in 2014-15. Currently shooting 57.0% from the field and 58.8% from beyond the arc, Anderson’s more than doubled his scoring average from a season ago (7.8 ppg) to 15.8 points per game. Thus far Anderson’s reached double figures in eight of Virginia’s nine games, and while he managed to do so on 15 occasions last season Anderson’s been far more efficient this season.

According to Kenpom.com Anderson’s effective field goal and true shooting percentages have jumped substantially, with the former going from 47.0% to 68.6% and the latter from 51.6% to 70.8%. As a result Anderson’s offensive rating has gone from 100.9 to 135.2, but it is early in the season. That leads to the question that was asked in our weekly National Player of the Year rankings: can Anderson sustain this level of production?

Obviously things are going to get tougher for Anderson and the Cavaliers when they get into ACC play. However what needs to be considered are the team’s willingness to work for quality looks regardless of who takes the shot (Brogdon and Anthony Gill are also averaging double figures, and Mike Tobey isn’t far off at 8.4 ppg), and Anderson not taking the increased opportunities as a license to fire away from the perimeter indiscriminately (39.8% of his shots this year have been taken at the rim per hoop-math.com, compared to 30.5% last year).

The percentages for Anderson are likely to change as the season wears on. But given the fact that thus far he’s been a more efficient player in terms of the shots he’s taking, Anderson has the ability (and talent) to ensure that any decrease isn’t too drastic.

50-40-90 Club

1. Marcus Marshall (Missouri State)
56.0% FG, 57.1% 3PT, 93.5% FT = 206.6

One of the best scorers and all-around shooters in the Missouri Valley Conference, Marshall’s scored 18 points or more in five of the seven games he’s played in this season.

He’s Really Close 

2. Tyler Haws (BYU)
49.7%, 43.4%, 90.1% = 183.2

Haws was in part of the “50-40-90 Club” in the last installment, and the concern for BYU is how long they’ll be without him thanks to the ankle injury suffered over the weekend.

Nine More “180” Players

1. Sean Sellers (Ball State)
51.7%, 62.5%, 89.3% = 203.5

December hasn’t been as kind to Sellers as November was, as he’s shot 38.9% from the field in three games, but the three-point shooting (3-for-5) has remained solid.

2.  Marc Loving (Ohio State) 
54.9%, 53.8%, 87.5% = 196.2

The sophomore’s been quiet over the last two games for the Buckeyes, scoring a total of eight points on 1-for-5 shooting from the field (6-for-6 FT, however).

3. Justin Anderson (Virginia)
57.0%, 58.8%, 80.0% = 195.8

4. Austin Richie (Western Michigan)
52.8%, 56.8%, 84.4% = 194.0

In two games this month Richie’s shooting 9-for-19 from the field, 7-for-13 from beyond the arc and 7-for-8 from the foul line, averaging 16.0 points per game.

5. Derrick Marks (Boise State)
51.8%, 53.3%, 85.2% = 190.3

With Anthony Drmic struggling with back problems, a more efficient Marks has stepped forward for the Broncos.

6. Alec Peters (Valparaiso)
53.2%, 50.0%, 86.1% = 189.3

After struggling in a loss to New Mexico (4-for-14 FG) the sophomore bounced back in a three-point win over Ball State on Saturday, scoring 23 points (7-for-16 FG, 3-for-8 3PT, 6-for-6 FT) and grabbing ten rebounds.

7. Milton Doyle (Loyola-IL)
58.2%, 63.6%, 66.0 = 187.8

While the free throw percentage can use some work, keep in mind that Doyle (15.6 ppg) is playing with a torn labrum in his right (shooting) shoulder.

8. Atif Russell (Pepperdine)
52.1%, 55.0%, 80.0% = 187.1

Russell (9.6 ppg) isn’t among the three Waves averaging double figures, but his play is one of the reasons why Pepperdine is off to a 7-2 start.

9. Corey Hawkins (UC Davis)
52.5%, 54.2%, 79.5% = 186.2

Already one of the Big West’s best shooters, the senior has improved his percentages across the board from last season and he’s also scored 18 points or more in six of the 7-1 Aggies’ eight games.

BYU starting guard has a sprained ankle

Tyler Haws
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source: AP

BYU can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief on Monday as starting senior guard Tyler Haws, the nation’s third-leading scorer this season, only has a sprained left ankle and will miss a few weeks.

According to a report from ESPN‘s Andy Katz, BYU head coach Dave Rose hopes that Haws can return in time for the Dec. 27 game against Gonzaga, which is the Cougars’ West Coast Conference opener.

Haws sustained the injury with 3:29 remaining in a Saturday win over Weber State and had to be helped off of the floor without putting pressure on the injured ankle. He did not return to the contest. BYU is also dealing with injury to starting senior forward Nate Austin, as he’s expected to miss at least three-to-four weeks with a hamstring injury.

Both losses leave BYU depleted and in need of younger players to step up the next few weeks to close out the non-conference schedule. The 6-foot-5 Haws is averaging 23.8 points per game this season and is also shooting 43 percent from the three-point line and 90 percent from the free-throw line.

After Haws had to be helped off of the floor, this injury looks pretty light compared to what it could have been and hopefully BYU can be back at full strength for conference play. With fellow senior guard Kyle Collinsworth coming off of an ACL tear earlier in 2014, three of BYU’s seniors will have to stay healthy for the Cougars to once again make the NCAA Tournament in 2014-15.  The Cougars are 8-3 on the season.

Injury bug bites BYU as starting guard injures ankle, starting forward to miss even more time with hamstring injury

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Injuries are beginning to creep up on BYU as the team was already without starting senior forward Nate Austin. Senior guard Tyler Haws also left Saturday night’s Cougar win over Weber State as the nation’s third leading scorer sprained his left ankle in the second half and did not return to action.

Haws sustained the injury with 3:29 remaining in the game and had to be helped off of the floor without putting pressure on the injured ankle.

According to Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune, BYU is saying Haws has a sprained ankle and he’ll have an MRI to look into further damage.

“We’re hoping it’s a sprain and we’ll get that checked out and find out and see how he can recover from that,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said of Haws after Saturday’s win. “We’ll probably have an MRI and we’ll be really cautious with this because ankles have not been good to us, so hopefully we can catch a break here.”

Austin has been battling a torn hamstring the last few days and it was originally reported that he would likely miss “at least two weeks” with the injury.

Things appear to be a little bit worse for the 6-foot-11 Austin as Greg Wrubell, BYU basketball’s play-by-play guy, spoke to head coach Dave Rose. Rose expects Austin to be out “at least probably three or four weeks, maybe longer.”

Players such as freshmen Isaac Nielson and Corbin Kaufusi should see more minutes as a result of Austin’s injury.

Austin’s injury was bad enough because of BYU’s limited front court depth but if Haws goes down for a few games, the Cougars will need to replace his dynamic scoring ability and rebounding from the guard spot. BYU still has seniors Kyle Collinsworth and Anson Winder but losing two additional senior starters might be tough in the short-term for the Cougars. Hopefully Haws’ injury isn’t serious and Austin’s prognosis improves.