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The need for Joey Hauser has never been greater for Michigan State Basketball

What we would give to have him back.

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© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Another game of poor shooting for Michigan State basketball tells us one thing: this team sorely misses Joey Hauser.

Michigan State basketball dropped another disappointing loss, this time to Wisconsin at the Breslin Center by double digits. It was out-toughed on the boards 36-22, an uncharacteristic performance from a Tom Izzo team. The lack of aggressiveness on the glass has been a troubling trend over the last four years of some truly mediocre teams by MSU standards.

The most puzzling thing outside of rebounding is the continued shooting woes of the team. At the end of last season, MSU finished No. 3 in the country at 41.2% from deep. Through eight games this season they are a dreadful 27.7%, which is No. 324 nationally.

Life without Joey Hauser

I’ve seen a lot of tweets from people (myself included) who deeply miss sharpshooter Joey Hauser. The beloved stretch-four shot a blistering 46.1% from three-point range and a respectable 43.8% in mid-range 2-pointers in his final season at MSU.

Many wondered if Joey’s absence could really be the reason that this team is shooting so poorly with a quarter of the season in the books.

Let’s look at his on-off numbers from 2022-23, courtesy of hoop-explorer.com.

Chart A shows the shooting numbers with Hauser on the floor, and Chart B shows the numbers with Hauser off the floor. Lastly, Chart C shows the numbers from this season with a full roster.

(A)

(B)


(C)

A note of caution as I pull these stats: Joey played in 1,888 of 2,234 offensive possessions, good for 84.5%. So the numbers with Joey off the court in 2022-23 are a relatively small sample size of 15.5%. Thus, it’s hard to draw any definite conclusions on his impact on and off the court. But the trends are still interesting to observe, so here it goes.

Looking at the shooting numbers from 3P% and Mid%, it’s evident there was a drop-off when Joey left the floor. The numbers went from 41.2% (3P) and 40.1% (Mid) to 27.0% and 37.3%, respectively. Compare that to this season’s numbers, and the 3P% and Mid% look nearly identical at 27.7% and 36.6%.

Izzo’s most productive offenses have utilized a big who can stretch the floor with both pick and roll as well as pick and pop situations. A.J. Granger, Goran Suton, Draymond Green, Adreian Payne, Jaron Jackson Jr., and Xavier Tillman all come to mind as power forwards who could help space the floor with their shooting. Hauser filled that role to perfection in offensive sets last year.

Limited options at power forward in 2023-24

MSU’s options at power forward this year are somewhat limited offensively from deep. Malik Hall is effective in the low post (11-of-14 for 78.6%) and mid-range (13-of-25 for 52.0%). But his outside shooting is far from consistent (3-of-18 for 16.7%). Coen Carr was not known as a shooter coming out of high school and has yet to attempt a three so far this season. He is 3-of-6 from midrange. Lastly, Xavier Booker has not proven to Izzo he warrants significant minutes on the floor. In his limited playing time, he has shot 3-of-13 for 23.1% from deep. He is probably more of a project than Michigan State basketball fans realized after being the highest-rated recruit in Izzo’s 2023 class.

Simply put, those three put together will clearly not fill the shooting hole that Joey left at his position.

What about the guards?

Obviously, the power forward is not the only shooter on the team. The guards are also to blame for this offensive slump. At the end of last year, Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins were shooting 41.5% and 42.2%, respectively. Those were the highest marks on the team behind Hauser. They are 32.4% and 27.3%, respectively, so far this year. Some of that can be explained by them not getting as clean of looks due to the floor spacing. However, there have been many possessions with wide-open looks that have just not dropped. I’m seeing this more so from Akins than from Walker.

Even Hoggard, one of the less reliable shooters for MSU last season, still shot 32.9% from deep compared to 21.1% this season.

The one bright spot has been Tre Holloman, who most would not have expected to be the best shooter on the floor. He is leading the team at 45 percent (9-of-20) in backup point guard minutes.

Summary

The fact of the matter is you have to make shots to win games. Eventually, fans need to stop assuming that water will find its level and accept that MSU may just be a really poor shooting team this season. What I do know is if they shoot less than 30 percent from deep in conference play, they will be lucky to scrape together a .500 record and make the tournament.

I graduated from MSU in 2016 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. I met my wife there, and we now live in Madison, WI with our two boys (ages 3 and 1). I write on here and spew on Twitter as an outlet for my useless MSU sports knowledge.

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