Marquette Wire

Sam Hauser coming into his own this season

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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Jay Wright had every reason to fear Markus Howard more than any other Marquette player. His Villanova Wildcats team was facing Howard and the Golden Eagles in the first game after Howard scored 52 points in an overtime victory against Providence.

Even though Howard was as good as advertised, scoring 37 points in a 100-90 Marquette loss, another player had Wright squeamish entering play.

“Going into our game with them, we feared Hauser going for 30,” Wright said. “He just hasn’t really had to.”

Hauser seems to have that effect on BIG EAST coaches. Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard made sure to keep an eye on him too when the Pirates came to Marquette.

“I think Hauser doesn’t get talked a lot about,” Willard said. “He really complements (Howard and Andrew Rowsey) extremely well. He moves without the ball, you help off him a little bit and those two guys find him.”

Hauser’s progression is often lost in the excitement of the two guards’ frequent scoring outbursts. Since last year, Hauser’s points per game has increased from 8.8 to 15.1. He’s the consensus third scoring option on Marquette’s loaded offense — a reliable shooter that can consistently take advantage of defenses that over-commit to Marquette’s ballhandlers.

“He’s such a great shooter and he’s got a great basketball sense,” Willard said. “When Hauser’s on the court, he just makes everyone so much better.”

The praise hasn’t gotten to Hauser’s head, though. “It’s cool to hear that, but you still have to go out and play every game like it’s just another game,” he said. “It’s great that they said that, though.”

One of the most common ways Hauser gets involved in the offense is through the “pick and pop” with Rowsey. Hauser sets a ball screen for Rowsey, who has the ball. Rowsey ducks behind it, usually taking both defenders with him because they fear his 3-point shot. That leaves Hauser, an equally adept shooter, in position to separate from the defense and catch a return pass for a clean attempt.

“It’s not really a play. It’s kind of in the flow of our offense,” Hauser said. “If they send two guys to me, the point guard is going to be open, and if they send two guys with him, I’m going to be open.”

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Unlike Howard and Rowsey, Hauser doesn’t typically create his own shot, preferring instead to linger beyond the line and receive a pass. According to Yale Sports Analytics Group, 26.4 percent of all Marquette’s assisted buckets are scored by Hauser, even though he only takes 18.5 percent of the team’s shots.

“Overall, I’m trying to expand my game a little bit and obviously, if they’re taking away my shot, I can do other things as well,” Hauser said.

With Howard and Rowsey performing below their established norms in the last two games, Hauser has stepped up, tying a career-high 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting against Butler and dropping a team-high 19 points against DePaul.

There isn’t much shooting for Hauser in practice, though. Instead, he spends most of his time and energy on the defensive end, where he matches up with smaller, quicker players like Rowsey, which are tough to guard for a hybrid forward like Hauser.

“Our two little guards are the hardest guys to guard in our league,” Hauser said. “Having to go against them every day, it really helps me.”

Those two “little guards” may average more points per game than Hauser, but that doesn’t mean other BIG EAST teams are taking him any more lightly.

“It’s so impressive, the development he’s had since last year,” Willard said. “When Hauser’s on the floor, there’s so much pressure to defend him.”

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