This fourth installment of Quick Hitters is noticeably missing a quick hitter breakdown entirely. Expect more in the near future, but for now you can check out past installments here.
1. Nigel Hayes makes it four games in a row in double figures for Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin freshman scored 15 points in 25 minutes yesterday for Bo Ryan. “Freshman” and “Bo Ryan” don’t usually mix well together. Hayes is having a nearly unprecedented impact for a freshman in Madison. In February, Hayes is seeing minutes similar to what Sam Dekker saw in his freshman year last season. For Hayes, however, it’s not just about minutes.
Hayes has been used on 25.5% of Wisconsin possessions this year. That’s not only the highest among recent Wisconsin freshman, but leads the entire team this year. Hayes does it by getting to the foul line. He draws 7.8 fouls per 40 minutes of play, good for 10th in the nation. Check out the usage of notable Wisconsin freshman in recent memory:
Hayes’ minutes are only going up from here. He appears to have Bo Ryan’s full trust on both ends. Hayes surprisingly gambled for a few steals in the backcourt last night against Minnesota. That’s uncharacteristic of Wisconsin’s normally sagging man-to-man defense. The Badgers have struggled on that end of the court at times this season. Hayes could be a difference maker on both ends in March.
2. UC Santa Barbara likely knocks Long Beach State out of Big West contention.
Michael Bryson’s putback at the buzzer kept UC Santa Barbara tied atop the Big West with UC Irvine. In the loss, Long Beach State moved to two games behind the leaders. LBSU is now 0-4 against the two first place teams and 6-0 against everyone else.
It’s nearly impossible to talk about the Big West without bringing up the forever underappreciated Alan Williams. You can make the case that there’s not a single player in the country that means more to his team than Williams. His overall impact plus early foul against LBSU got me thinking: Just how far should Williams go to avoid getting into foul trouble?
Santa Barbara played a 3-2 zone for the majority of the night, helping Williams avoid picking up costly fouls. However, Williams hesitance on the defensive end showed after picking up his first foul. Contesting an easy two simply isn’t worth the risk for Williams.
I went through the play-by-plays of UC Santa Barbara’s eight conference games entering last night. First, I created a crude method to determine foul trouble for Williams. The idea here is to determine times when Williams is either on the bench due to foul trouble or in the game and playing cautiously. Check out the efficiency splits below:
Remember this is a small sample size of course, but the splits are pretty crazy. UCSB has been a completely different team defensively with Williams not having to worry about foul trouble. I didn’t go back to see how Bob Williams has handled substitutions with Big Al in some foul trouble, but it doesn’t seem to be working. I did check to make sure that Williams wasn’t simply getting in foul trouble against the best teams (thus making it unfair to compare efficiency splits), but that’s not the case.
Of course, Williams has the ability to get the opponent’s big men into foul trouble early too. But if you’re game-planning for UCSB, going right at Williams early and often has to be at the top of the list. Santa Barbara will have to live with giving up some easy baskets early in games to keep their star both in the game and aggressive.