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The Chase for 180: Nic Moore’s hot start

Dec 18, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT

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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