Rashad Madden

Rashad Madden’s play a factor in No. 25 Arkansas’ first 6-0 start since 1997-98

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After winning 22 games with five players averaging between nine and 12.2 points per contest in 2013-14, there was optimism in Fayetteville that No. 25 Arkansas had the pieces needed to take the next step and make the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008. And with five of their top six scorers from last season back on campus, an NCAA tournament bid is a realistic expectation for Mike Anderson’s bunch.

Sunday afternoon the Razorbacks used their depth and rebounding prowess to take down Iona, 94-77, moving to 6-0 for the first time since the 1997-98 season. While the Gaels, the preseason pick to win the MAAC who in their last outing scored 126 points on an overmatched Delaware State team, prefer to play fast they don’t have as many options to turn to as the Razorbacks.

That proved to be an issue for Tim Cluess’ team in the second half, as Arkansas went on a 17-4 second half run to push a two-point lead out to 15 with 3:26 remaining.

Michael Qualls and Anthlon Bell scored 20 points apiece to lead the way for Arkansas, but if there’s a player to focus on with regards to the Razorbacks’ 6-0 start it may be senior guard Rashad Madden. Against Iona, Madden accounted for 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and through six games he’s been far better as a distributor than he was a season ago.

In 2013-14 Madden accounted for 2.8 assists and 2.3 turnovers per contest, which worked out to an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.2. By comparison, Madden’s averaging 6.0 assists and 2.3 turnovers per game through six games in 2014-15 (2.6 A/T ratio). As a team Arkansas entered Sunday’s game leading the SEC (and the nation) in assists, and they dished out 18 more with just 11 turnovers against Iona.

Qualls and forward Bobby Portis may be the headliners for the Razorbacks, but this is a group that gets things done by committee. But if Arkansas is to take the next step, their efficiency when it comes to distributing the basketball needed to improve. With Madden leading the way that’s been the case through the Razorbacks’ first six games, which included a win at previously ranked SMU.

But outside of that win and Sunday’s victory over Iona, Arkansas’ schedule hasn’t provided the tests that would make those on the outside believe. Next up for Arkansas is a game at No. 13 Iowa State, and if Madden and company can continue to play as they have in front of a tough Hilton Coliseum crowd look for the bandwagon to add some passengers.

The Chase for 180: Nic Moore’s hot start

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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 their second season under Larry Brown the SMU Mustangs are off to an 8-2 start, and while they may not be mentioned with the likes of Louisville, Memphis and UConn in the American Athletic Conference there’s no denying the fact that the program has taken positive steps since his arrival. With five returning starters and some talented newcomers, SMU is expected to improve upon its 15-17 mark of a season ago.

One of the biggest reasons for the Mustangs’ 8-2 start is a transfer from Illinois State whose also the lone player under six feet tall. 5-foot-9 point guard Nic Moore was one of the best freshmen in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2011-12, earning MVC All-Freshman Team honors and helping lead the Redbirds to the MVC tournament title game. During that season Moore averaged 10.0 points and 3.9 assists per game but his shooting percentages were low, as he shot 39.6% from the field and 38.9% from beyond the arc.

That year in residency spent by the majority of transfers (yes, despite all the waivers that get handed out that rule does still exist) can be highly beneficial, because while it’s a nuisance to sit out players can also use the time to further refine their skills. For Moore, from a statistical standpoint he’s become a much better jump shooter at SMU. Per hoop-math.com, Moore made just 41% of his two-point jumpers in his lone season at Illinois State. Through ten games at SMU, that percentage is up to 56.5%

Overall Moore’s shooting 55.8% from the field, and he tied for seventh nationally in three-point percentage (60%). Moore’s failed to shoot at least 44% from the field in just one game this season, shooting 4-for-11 in the Mustangs’ season-opening win over TCU. A point guard’s primary responsibility is to run his team, but you have to be able to make shots as well.

Moore’s arrival is one of the reasons why SMU has experienced a sharp improvement in offensive efficiency (up to 68th nationally per Ken Pomeroy after ranking 215th last season), effective field goal percentage (20th compared to 207th) and three-point percentage (17th compared to 130th). And if he can keep on the current track that he’s on, Moore has the ability to finish the season as a “180” player while also leading the Mustangs to greater success than they experienced a season ago.

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.)

1) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
67.1% FG, 64.0% 3PT, 78.6% FT = 209.7
Shot%: 18.3%
eFG%: 78.1%
True shooting%: 78.8%

2) Anthony Brown (Stanford)
58.3%, 60.0%, 77.8% = 196.1
Shot%: 19.6%
eFG%: 70.8%
True shooting%: 72.7%

3) Michael Frazier II (Florida)
50.6%, 52.0%, 93.3% = 195.9
Shot%: 20.1%
eFG%: 66.7%
True shooting%: 69.2%

4) Nic Moore (SMU)
55.8%, 60.0%, 79.2% = 195.0
Shot%: 20.4%
eFG%: 73.3%
True shooting%: 74.4%

5) Rashad Madden (Arkansas)
56.8%, 60.0%, 73.1% = 189.9
Shot%: 18.8%
eFG%: 70.5%
True shooting%: 71.9%

6) Drew Windler (Belmont)
56.6%, 56.0%, 73.5% = 186.1
Shot%: 22.1%
eFG%: 73.5%
True shooting%: 74.1%

7) Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
47.4%, 47.4%, 91.1% = 185.9
Shot%: 24.2%
eFG%: 61.1%
True shooting%: 65.9%

8) Steve Glowiak (Sacred Heart)
46.8%, 47.5%, 90.9% = 185.2
Shot%: 22.1%
eFG%: 64.6%
True shooting%: 66.5%

9) Shabazz Napier (UConn)
50.0%, 57.1%, 78.0% = 185.1
Shot%: 22.0%
eFG%: 58.9%
True shooting%: 63.0%

10) Joab Jerome (Winthrop)
53.6%, 59.1%, 71.0% = 183.7
Shot%: 22.6%
eFG%: 63.0%
True shooting%: 65.1%

*Tempo-neutral stats courtesy of kenpom.com.

Five Perimeter Marksmen (attempted ten or fewer two-point shots)
1) Jeff Elorriaga (Boise State)
60.0% 3PT (5-for-6 on two-pointers)

2) Norman Hobbie (Brown)
58.3% (1-for-3)

3) Jaylen Shaw (South Carolina)
58.3% (3-for-4)

4) Eli Harrison (Dartmouth)
55.6% (1-for-5)

5) Naz Long (Iowa State)
55.0% (6-for-9)

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4
December 11

Arkansas suspends junior guard Rashad Madden for rules violation

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With Arkansas losing their top two scorers from a season ago in guard B.J. Young and forward Marshawn Powell, there are some questions head coach Mike Anderson has to answer entering the 2013-14 season. Who will his feature offensive options be? Forward Coty Clarke (7.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and guard Mardracus Wade (6.5 ppg) are the Razorbacks’ leading returning scorers, and junior guard Rashad Madden is another possible option.

Unfortunately for Madden, he won’t be able to show the coaches that he’s ready for a greater role in game action, as a violation of team rules has resulted in a three-game suspension. Madden with miss both exhibition games, beginning with tonight’s contest against Northeastern State, and the Razorbacks’ regular season opener against SIU-Edwardsville on November 8.

If everything goes well, Madden’s first game action of the season will come against Louisiana on November 15, with a home game against SMU to follow three days later. Arkansas will also participate in the Maui Invitational, opening play against California on November 25.

“Holding our student-athletes accountable on and off the court is a big part of my philosophy as a coach, and also in helping them grow up to be men,” Anderson said in the release. “Rashad will be suspended for our two exhibition games and the season opener. I’m certainly disappointed in Rashad, but he understands that he’s not only letting himself down, but he’s also letting his teammates down because we are all one family.”

Madden started 10 of the 31 games he played in last season, posting averages of 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per contest. Seven of the returnees (including Madden) averaged double-digit minutes last season, and the addition of big men Moses Kingsley and Bobby Portis will help as well.