We are ridiculously close to the start of the 2019-20 Virginia Men’s Basketball season as the Hoos travel to Syracuse in just FIVE days. Today, we’re taking a look at transfer Sam Hauser. He came to Charlottesville from Marquette University and will have to sit out a year per NCAA rules.
Hauser was widely coveted on the transfer market, and for awhile it looked as if he and his brother, Joey, would try and stay together. Instead, Sam came to Charlottesville and Joey joined Tom Izzo’s squad at Michigan State. Virginia’s Hauser averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season with Marquette and shot 40% from three and 46% from the field.
His turnover rate was low (11.9% per KenPom), and he committed just 2.5 fouls per 40 minutes. At the free throw line, Hauser was nearly automatic with a 92.4% conversion rate (73-for-79).
“Basketball is the easy part,” Hauser said of adjusting to his life in Charlottesville. “Adjusting to his [Coach Bennett’s] philosophy, offense, defense, whatever, it’s been pretty smooth. I can’t complain.”
He certainly is excited to not be in the impending winter weather of Wisconsin. “Nothing I haven’t done before,” Hauser stated when talking about adjusting to the classes and course load at Virginia. “Kind of just getting adjusted to the south instead of the midwest where it’s 30 degrees and snowing right now, and it’s 60 here, so I can’t complain.”
In lieu of the typical player profiles we have been doing as part of THE BIG COUNTDOWN, we instead reached out to Andrew Fleck, the site manager at our Marquette sister site, Anonymous Eagle. He helps us get a better understanding of what we’ll get from Hauser, even if we have to wait a year to see it.
STL: From the overall perspective, what makes Sam a great fit for Virginia?
Anonymous Eagle: I think it’s a pretty simple answer, honestly. Sam Hauser is the kind of college basketball player that if he’s not contributing in an important way every single night, it’s the coach that’s screwing it up. When you pair a smart and resourceful player like Sam Hauser with a smart and resourceful coach like Tony Bennett, it’s a match made in heaven.
He’s a 6’8, 225 pound efficiency machine who can give you a little bit of everything on the floor and had a down year as a junior when he “only” shot 40% from behind the arc. Defenses can’t leave him open, and they can’t let him see open passing lanes. He’s not afraid of mixing it up inside on both offense and defense, and it’ll be a cold day in hell before someone you catch someone thinking Sam Hauser made a bad decision on the court.
STL: Let’s talk more defense. What is his biggest strength defensively, and what’s the biggest weakness?
AE: Sam is going to know the scouting report, he’s going to know his assignment, and he’s going to execute his role to the best of his ability. He’s not going to get into foul trouble (only six games in the last two years with 4+ fouls), and he’s going to make the right decision almost every single time.
His biggest flaw on defense is probably his biggest flaw as a player: A lack of elite athleticism, particularly in the foot speed department. If he’s playing as the 3 and gets paired up with an athletic wing to defend, he’s going to struggle to stay in front of his man. One of the most horrific memories of the past three years of Hauser at Marquette is watching Shamorie Ponds from St. John’s treating him like a turnstile. With that said, Hauser was guarding Ponds at the time in that game because literally no one else on the roster could stay in front of Ponds either.
STL: What area does Sam need to improve in his game?
AE: I think the biggest thing for him to work on while sitting out during the 2019-20 season will be creating his own shot, whether it’s on the perimeter or going to the rim. He comes off screens ready to shoot and he has some nifty high post work that turns into a slightly awkward looking but very effective leaner in the lane, but shaking his man off balance to shoot a three or go past him to the rim is the one thing that’s missing from his game. It’s not exactly a crucial developing point, particularly since a lot of that is going to be tied to his athleticism level that I talked about a moment ago. It might just not be something he can ever master or even rely on.
I think the biggest thing for him is going to be spending a year in Charlottesville working out how he fits into Bennett’s defensive structure so he can react and make decisions at game speed when he’s done with his redshirt year.
STL: What will y’all miss most about Sam/what should Virginia fans be most excited about?
AE: He just always seems to make the right play at the right time.
Two stories, don’t worry, they’re both short. I don’t remember which game it was, but I know it was a home game in either his freshman or sophomore year. Sam was defending a guy who was in the deep left corner, and he managed to deflect a pass that was essentially thrown at his back because he was watching his man and had his arms up. Had no idea the skip pass was coming, but he cut off the lane just with defensive fundamentals.
Second: His freshman year, Marquette knocked off #1 Villanova in Milwaukee. Nova had the ball last, and so MU needed a stop to win the game. Who came down with the game winning rebound and had the ball when time expired? Sam Hauser.
He’s just always doing something beneficial. Right place, right time, right thing. It’s a knack that you can’t really teach, and hopefully Marquette figures out a way to paper over the loss of that kind of instinct.
STL: Is Sam now your favorite Hauser since he came to Virginia and didn’t go to Michigan State?
AE: I mean, that implies that he wasn’t already. All due respect to Joey, but we got to watch and cheer for Sam for three years. He leaves Milwaukee as Marquette’s #29 all-time scorer and #4 on the all-time made three-pointers chart. He’s been terrific for Marquette, whereas Joey merely was good for a freshman, but not even as good as some of the freshmen that MU has had under Steve Wojciechowski.
But yes, the edge goes to Sam and Virginia here. What kind of weirdo willingly volunteers to go play basketball in the Big Ten?
Huge thanks to Anonymous Eagle for their help! Virginia and Syracuse tips off at 9pm on November 6 on the ACC Network.