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2018-19 Marquette Basketball Player Preview: #10 Sam Hauser

Can he be even more efficient?

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Marquette
We’re looking forward to Sam Hauser shooting 74 percent from behind the arc this season
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018-19 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let’s get into the Marquette Golden Eagles basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We’ll be going through the players one by one: First MU’s lone true freshman, then the lone graduate transfer, followed by the three players who redshirted last season for one reason or another, and then wrapping up with the returning players, going in order of average minutes played per game last season from lowest to highest.

We’re going to organize our thoughts about the upcoming season as it relates to each player into categories:

  • Reasonable Expectations
  • Why You Should Get Excited
  • Potential Pitfalls

With that out of the way, we turn our attention to The Most Efficient Player In The World…

Sam Hauser

Junior - #10 - Guard/Forward - 6’8” - 225 lb. - Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Uuuuuhhhhh I don’t think we need to spend a whole lot of time on Sam Hauser, do we? Hauser is good at basketball. Really good. Really efficient too. In fact, his offensive efficiency rating was the 11th highest in the country (4th highest in the Big East, which reminds me that the Big East is very good). We, meaning Marquette fans, fawn over Sam almost daily, especially during the season, about how colossally underrated he is (because he is), how important he was to last year’s team, etc. When I looked back on his 2017-18 stats to prep for this, I was…underwhelmed? 14.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists. That’s great, don’t get me wrong. But it seemed like he always played bigger than that. He had a couple games in which he dropped 30 points, rarely had a bad shooting night (I mean, when you shoot 48.7 percent from deep, those are gonna be rare) and was always generally performing well. So, I was a little shocked that the numbers weren’t higher.

I suppose it makes sense, what with his role as third banana to two 20-plus-point scorers, but c’est la vie. When the third option is who you are, you’ve gotta be reliable, and Sam was exactly that last season. This season is, of course, different. He’s the second scoring option, which is only one option higher than the third, but with the lack of proven scorers in this lineup, that burden immediately becomes so much heavier. It’s not outlandish to reasonably expect big-time stats this season. Speaking of which…

Reasonable Expectations

Like I did with Jamal Cain’s preview, I’m just going to throw out a projected stat line using data from my brain according to games I’ve watched Sam Hauser play. Let’s sayyyyyy….19.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. His percentages will still be high. I think it’s fair to guess that his 3-point percentage will drop a bit, likely because he’ll be taking more of them. But I also think his field goal percentage will climb, since I hope he’ll actually start taking some more shots around the rim. Reducing Hauser to a catch-and-shoot guy on the arc wastes so much of his offensive ability. I think he can back some guys down and show off more of his soft touch around the rim, which can definitely get softer. He’s also great at passing out of the post, but the issue there is to whom does he pass that’s making an outside shot, besides Markus Howard? Nobody else, definitively, yet. That’s why I’m not totally sure his assists go up, if by much. If Joseph Chartouny is going to be doing most of the distributing, I don’t think Sam’s adept passing will be as much in demand. No matter. He’s still going to be great.

Defensively, Hauser is not outstanding, but he is solid, as he is with almost everything else that he’s not already great at. He’s not super athletic, but he’s smart with his positioning and his footwork. He only averaged 2 fouls last year while playing 32.6 minutes per game, so he’s at least an intelligent defender, if not a voracious one. And with this defense, that’s more than fine. I think Hauser is going to have a very good year, one that will certainly have him in the conversation for Big East Player of the Year. That idea has been thrown out in our roundtable series this week, and while I wouldn’t bank on it happening, it’s certainly possible. He’s a tremendously skilled player who’s going to play a huge role on a good team. As long as he delivers, he may not fly so under-the-radar anymore.

Reasons To Get Excited

Any reason to get excited about Hauser is among the things I just talked about. He’s lights-out efficient and has only continued to get better. While it would be truly astounding, I don’t think anyone would be shocked if he shot more than 50 percent from behind the 3-point line. It just always feels like he’s on. Speaking of percentages, the holy grail of a slash line in basketball is 50/40/90. That’s 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from behind the arc and 90 percent from the free throw line. A really tough thing to manage at a high volume. But Sam can do it. The hang-up is that most of his shots are form the outside, so he’d have to shoot really well from out there while also being hyper-efficient inside to guarantee it’s above 50 percent. He also has only shot in the low-80s from the stripe, but it’s on a small sample size. Anyway, he shouldn’t be walking into every game thinking “gotta get that 50/40/90 line,” so Sam, if you’re reading this, just play your game, my guy. It’ll happen naturally.

To wrap up the excitement, I mentioned above how Hauser will be in the conference POY conversation. He can absolutely win it. Averaging 20+ points with a lot of rebounds and a lot of minutes played with wild percentages on a good team is a pretty solid invitation to Award SZN. It’s not outrageous to think that Sam’s scoring and his overall game could make him a more important player than Markus Howard (Hauser had 4.6 win shares last season to Howard’s 3.9), and provided Marquette is hanging around the top-25 most of the season, he could find himself edging into All American conversations. That’s how good he can be. He may not hit that ceiling this year, but there are always a few guys every year who continue to take steps forward, and Hauser is the type of guy that can do it.

Potential Pitfalls

Hauser’s shortcomings, or potential shortcomings, are really only able to be spoken in generalities. Yeah, maybe he just doesn’t shoot as well this year, that’s fair. Maybe he doesn’t change much about his game or develop a killer instinct or something. Maybe. But we know who Sam Hauser is at this point and I don’t seem him regressing in some major way. My biggest concern is stepping up into that second guy, especially when Howard, as streaky as they come, is having an off night. When Andrew Rowsey was here last year, it seemed like he and Howard would trade off who had an offensive explosion that night, and Hauser would just quietly chip in his 14.1 points and 5.7 rebounds. But Rowsey’s not here anymore and I don’t see anyone becoming that same player, so Hauser’s 14.1 points and 5.7 rebounds has to become a lot more if Marquette’s offense is going to be leaning on Howard even more. He still has to be Mr. Reliable while doing almost everything at a higher volume. Do I have faith he’ll do it? Yeah, I do. But it’s not a guarantee. Some people were born third bananas. This season is a chance to find out if Sam Hauser is one of those people, or if he can rise to the occasion.