It's summertime and for most college students the living is easy. For college basketball players, however, this is their chance to hone existing skills and come up with new and exciting ways to put the ball into the basket. Over the next few weeks I'm going to take a look at the returning Boilermakers, and the former Coach Schneider (J.V. girls basketball, baby) is going to be handing out summer school assignments.
Last week I gave Biggie a few things to work on over the hot summer months; my second pupil is Isaac Haas, the largest man in college basketball. The former 4* recruit from Alabama showed solid improvement last season. He diversified his offense playing behind Purdue stalwart (and current Dallas Maverick) A.J. Hammons, and improved his free throw shooting. Much will be expected of The Mountain Who Hoops (patent pending nickname) this season as he takes over the post for the Boilermakers.
First, let's take a look at what Haas does well: (all stats from sports-reference.com)
2 Point Field Goal Percentages - 2015-2016: .594% (5th in the Big10)
Player Efficiency Percentage - Career: 24.7 (13th in the Big10)
Usage Percentage - Career: 30.9 (2nd in the Big10)
When Haas is in the game, he gets the ball and does an efficient job of putting it in the basket from close range. He also draws fouls like my toddler draws hot chicks at Target, but I can't find that stat.
Summer School Assignment:
Last Season: Tied to the floor
I get it: Haas is roughly the size of an old Ford LTD, and that's quite a bit of mass to get off the floor. That being said, Haas's inability to overcome gravity really holds his game back. While he is efficient in the post, I'm almost certain that Haas led the nation last season in missed 2 footers. It felt like he would spin out an open 2 footer once a game instead of bringing down much wrath and fury on the helpless rim. He has a hard time catching, gathering, and finishing strong because he can't—or at least doesn't—bend his knees and explode up at the basket. The man is 7'2", so it doesn't have to be a big explosion, just enough to get the ball over the rim. If Haas could regularly dunk the ball, instead of flipping it at the goal, he would be nearly unstoppable and would spend more time finishing and 1's at the free-throw line than Kardshians spend taking selfies.
Jumping just a little would also help Haas's shot blocking immensely. Right now, Haas just stands in the middle of the lane with his hands up. Sure, that's quite a large barrier between the opposition and the rim, but once they get calibrated, a simple flip shot over his outstretched fingers beats Haas almost every time. Isaac averaged .8 blocks per game over the course of last season, and only .3 blocks per game in the Big10. Purdue needs a rim defender with the departure of A.J., and Haas has yet to show that ability. Sure, he alters shots, but he rarely sends them the other direction. If the Pacers taught Roy Hebert how to jump and block shots, Purdue can teach Haas how to jump (just a little, I'm talking inches here) and block shots.
Last Season: Good but not great
2015-2016 - 3.7 rebounds per game
Haas isn't a bad rebounder, but he's also not a dominant rebounder. His total rebounding percentage of 15.5 puts him in 13th for his career among current Big10 players. Thirteenth isn't bad, and with Biggie and Vince playing beside him, that's probably good enough to be one of the best rebounding teams in the nation. Haas's problem, however, is giving up offensive rebounds when he rotates. Moving his feet, defending, and then turning around to secure a rebound is difficult for Haas. The ball literally has to land in his hands for him to secure it. A little to the left, or a little to the right, and he's left reaching while his man punishes the rim. Some of this goes back to has sheer size, but just a little improvement in his ability to rebound outside of his area (which is a rather large area, to be fair) would help push Purdue over the top on the boards. If Haas has designs on being an NBA player, he's going to need to rebound just a little better.
Last Season: Too damn many
Haas has a tendency to pick up fouls in bunches, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Last season it wasn't that consequential, because Haas in foul trouble just meant more minutes for A.J. This season, things will be a little different with Biggie and possibly Taylor backing him up at the 5. Isaac's 14 minutes a game is going to need to turn into somewhere between 25-30 minutes a game, and that won't be possible picking up fouls on every other possession. Part of his problem is the terrible officiating he runs into in the Big10. I swear he got called for an offensive foul last season while his defender was using a grappling hook to climb up his back. The refs are absolutely terrible at officiating big man play, and Haas picks up at least a foul per game for just being big. The technical foul his picked up in the NCAA tournament for rebounding a basketball and having his man run into his elbow was one of the dumbest things I've seen on a basketball court, but such is life for big men these days. That being said, Haas tends to bring fouls upon himself. He needs to learn to establish position by planting his feet, bending his knees, and getting low, instead of flailing his arms and hand fighting with his man, inevitably drawing the attention of the referee. Purdue needs Haas on the floor next year, and therefore, Haas needs to figure out how to stay out of foul trouble, regardless of terrible officiating.
Purdue needs Isaac Haas on the floor for 25-30 minutes next season. When he is on the floor he needs to dominate the glass, punish the rim, and send shots back from whence they came. Last season he got a little closer to that goal, this season he needs to reach it.