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

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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

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.