Cal Basketball: Mark Fox Expects Transfers to Help 3-Point Shooting
Cal's transfers have eased coach Mark Fox's pain.
"It's a lot more enjoyable to watch our shooting drills, because these kids can make three-point shots," the Bears coach said this week regarding the transfers.
Fox is hoping grad transfers Ryan Betley and Makale Foreman can solve one of Cal's major shortcomings of last season, when Cal finished 14-18 in Fox's first season. The Bears made just 160 of 477 three-point shots in 2019-20, and their 160 made threes ranked tied for 339th of the 350 Division I schools that were ranked. All 10 of the schools that averaged fewer than Cal's 5.0 made treys per game were from conferences that typically get only one NCAA tournament bid.
Part of the low number resulted from Cal's patient style, which produced fewer possessions. But 33.5 percent shooting on three-point attempts was part of it too. Leading scorer Matt Bradley shot a respectable 38.5 percent from beyond the arc, but starting guards Paris Austin and Kareem South, who were second and third on the team in scoring, both shot below 30 percent from deep.
The latter two players are gone, and perimeter shooting was a major focus of the offseason, in terms of recruiting and improvement by the returning players.
The COVID-19 pandemic limited players' opportunity to get in the gym and work on their shooting, but Fox thinks he made some immediate improvements by way of recruiting, with transfers Foreman, Betley and Jarred Hyder coming in. The Bears have not received word on whether Hyder, a transfer from Fresno State, will have to sit out this season, but Foreman and Betley should help immediately with their outside shooting.
"We do have some guys who've come in with experience and the ability to shoot the ball," Fox said.
Foreman set Stony Brook’s single season-record for three-pointers made with 104 triples last season, when he averaged 15.6 points. (Bradley had the most made three-pointers for Cal last season with just 66.)
More than half of Foreman's 455 field-goal attempts last season were three-point shots, and though he shot just 36.5 percent overall he was a respectable 36.0 percent from long range.
Cal will be the third college for Foreman, who played his first two seasons at Chattanooga, shooting 38.2 percent on three-pointers as a sophomore.
"Makale really I believe transitioned well," Fox said. "He has the ability to shoot, and he's got a lot of experience, he's a good ball screen player. I think he's strong physically, so I've been really encouraged by his start."
Foreman is a 6-foot-1 combo guard who is likely to get a lot playing time at the point, especially if Hyder is not eligible this season.
**Foreman shows off his smooth shooting stroke while at Stony Brook:
**Foreman talks about himself in December 2019 interview
Betley made 169 three-pointers in his three seasons at Penn, including 84 as a sophomore when he led the team in scoring (14.3 points) and hit 39.1 percent of his treys. Of his 355 field goal attempts that seasn, 60.1 percent were three-pointers.
He missed the 2018-19 season with an ankle injury, then made 36.0 percent of his three-point attempts in 2019-20, when he averaged 11.3 points. Of his 212 field-goal attempts last season, 136 (or 64.2 percent) were three-point shots.
"Ryan Betley is a terrific shooter," Fox said, "with obviously a degree from the Wharton School of Business, you know he's a smart guy, but not all smart people are smart players, but he's both. His ability to shoot and his experience has been welcomed, and he's fit in rather seamlessly."
The 6-foot-5 Betley is a wing player who might be a starter.
**Betley (No. 00) shows off his range in the first 1:30 of this Penn game against Providence:
Hyder is not the shooter Betley and Foreman are, but he may have more long-term potential overall.
He started 24 games as a true freshman at Fresno State last season, when he averaged 9.1 points. Most of his shots came from inside the three-point line, and his shooting percentages (38.0 overall, 30.2 on three-pointers) need improvement. So does his assist-to-turnover ratio after averaging 3.4 assists and 2.6 assists at Fresno State.
Hyder scored seven points on 3-for-10 shooting with no turnovers in the Bulldogs' victory at Cal last December.
He is a young player with plenty of room for improvement, and Fox likes his basketball instincts.
"His natural IQ for the game, really was apparent in his early walk-thoughs," Fox said, "and he's got the versatility to play a couple different places."
The 6-foot-3 Hyder probably will get most of his playing time at the point, although he could play off the ball as wel.l.
**Hyder (No. 3) had 23 points in this game against San Diego State
**Hyder calls himself a point guard in this video prior to his freshman season:
Cover photo of Makale Foreman by Vincent Carchietta, USA TODAY Sports
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