Loyal Cougars

Haws missing FTs at Gonzaga was stunning…or was it?

When Tyler Haws missed two free throws in the closing seconds of BYU’s dramatic win over Gonzaga, Cougar fans everywhere were stunned.  Haws is one of the greatest basketball players to ever play at BYU.  He is BYU’s all-time leader in points, free throw percentage, free throws made, minutes played, and games started.  He’s done it all…except make a game-winning shot.  [Note: 4 days after this article was written, Haws hit is first game-winning shot vs. Santa Clara in the WCC tournament…]

How could this be?

Haws will always be remembered for his consistency.  Nearly every night, he scores 20 points.  However, in close games this year, his shot is failing him.

BYU has played in 14 games this year decided by fewer than 10 points.  In these single-digit games, in the final 2 minutes, Haws has shot 4-21 (19%) from the field, and only 1-10 (10%) from three-point range.  From the free throw line, he’s shooting 73%.

Compare this with his career averages:

(full game)
Senior Yr. Close Games
(last 2 minutes)
FG 47.7% 19.0%
3pt 37.9% 10.0%
FT 88.3% 72.7%

Clearly, making shots at the end of games, especially against good opponents, is difficult for anyone.  Danny Ainge recently said: “The hardest guys to find…are scorers at the ends of the games who can finish”.  But this is Tyler Haws, the leading scorer in BYU history we are talking about.  The drop-off is dramatic.

I’ve wondered many times why Tyler Haws does not have even a fraction of the national recognition that Jimmer had.  One reason is Jimmer won championships, and NCAA tournament games.  Another is Jimmer’s ridiculous range on 3-pointers.  Jimmer also had a different name and an interesting background.  But, one of the major reasons, I believe, is because Jimmer was clutch.  When the game was on the line, he delivered.

Here are Jimmer’s comparative stats:

(full game)
Senior Yr. Close Games
(last 2 minutes)
FG 45.5% 44.4%
3pt 39.4% 55.6%
FT 88.2% 91.3%

In baseball terms, Haws is an amazing middle reliever.  He does all of his work in the middle of the game.  He’s had a Hall of fame career.  And I’ll love him forever.

He’s just not a closer.


Follow John Ahlander on twitter at @NoneTheYser

Source stats here


  1. Sanpete

    March 3, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Haws works harder physically on both defense and offense than Jimmer had to, and looks pretty beat by the end of a hard game. That may account for the difference.

    • Minnesota Coug

      March 3, 2015 at 11:37 am

      Haws is great working off the ball but he is not nor never has been a great defender. That said, I don’t think it is a matter of choking or being clutch. The biggest problem Haws has had in tight games has been shot selection. In most of the tight games down the stretch, he has settled for very difficult low percentage shots that very few could make instead of taking the ball to the rim and drawing a foul.

      • Keith Moore

        March 4, 2015 at 9:22 am

        Haws’ shots aren’t low percentage. If you take a look at the shots he takes and makes during games compared with the shots that Rose has gotten him in crunch time this year, you could argue that the crunch time shots were more wide open. Also free throws don’t lie. There isn’t an easier shot than that. It doesn’t take away from his value to the team if we recognize that he isn’t as clutch as others, because we wouldn’t be in a position to win without him. But there is a reason that as the season has gone on, Kyle has taken more shots at the end of games instead of Haws.
        And the fatigue argument isn’t a factor. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are historically two of the most clutch players in the game, and they gave it there all on defense. If we remember, it was Jordan’s steal against the Jazz that set him up for his game winner.
        Haws is more than great, he’s amazing. But he’s been pedestrian late in close games.

    • John Ahlander

      March 3, 2015 at 11:44 am

      That’s a great point. Rose shielded Jimmer in the middle of the zone defense to save his energy for offensive output. Haws works much harder on defense.

  2. Brett Amidan

    March 3, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Those missed free throws were not due to fatigue. It was clearly mental. I don’t recall him ever missing a free throw left or right, it’s always short or long, except for those last 2 free throws. Left/right missed free throws are due to mental focus. Excellent article and observations.

  3. Calvin Wells

    March 3, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Jimmer always had an easier time freeing himself up for open looks. Haws just doesn’t have that ability (at least, not to that extent). So, Haws ends up with very difficult looks when the defense is intensely focussed on him, as it is at the end of games. Jimmer routinely faced, and smoked, double-teams, and had no problem finding good shots even down the stretch. They’re two different players.

    • Dennis Bean

      March 4, 2015 at 8:03 am

      Yes, but you absolutely cannot explain away the drop in free throw %. Those are unguarded free points. For an almost 90% FT shooter to drop down to 72% FT % late in games says a lot and I’ll let you fill in the blanks. The author of the article is spot on with his analysis. Hey BYU never gets to where they are without Haws. All he’s saying is that they could go farther with a higher % of makes at games end. One thing not said here is that opponents definitely know who the ball is going to for buzzer beater shots. If I were Rose, I would rethink that strategy. Particularly if Haws is tired at games end and with shooters like Halford, Winder and maybe even Fisher at your disposal.

  4. Roby Hunt

    March 3, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Don’t forget he would have had a crucial game winning shot last year had it not be for Delavadova’s 3/4 court shot. Tyler’s shot by all accounts was extremely difficult and clutch.

    • John Ahlander

      March 3, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      Yes, he was robbed by the Dellavadagger. That game probably would have been Tyler’s signature game. Also his Jr. year, he scored the last 7 points to beat Texas. It’s strange that its hard to remember Haw’s best games. With Jimmer, everyone can come up with 2 or 3 (or 10) games they remember.

      Haws missed game winning shots against Oregon and Portland as a Junior and against San Diego St. and Purdue this year. Enough opportunities that one should have dropped. Maybe the next couple weeks will give him another opportunity.

  5. Hoops Daddy

    March 4, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Factor in that Haws has a much higher turn over ratio than Jimmer–and he isn’t even a point guard–and the gap widens between them. We appreciate all that Tyler has done, heckuva player, but forgive for not buying the press’s over-the-top adulation for the scoring record. Tyler is a top 20 BYU player, but he’s more akin to Timo Saaralinen and Mekeli Wesley, not Jimmer, Danny and Smitty.

  6. Mike

    March 4, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Haws works way harder than Jimmer did. If you watch him without the ball he is constantly running and fighting through holds and screens. He is physically tired at the end of the games. If you remember watching Jimmer, he would sit outside and dribble and then do a cross-over and shoot. His game was much less physical most of the time (except when he drove into the basket) than Tylers. As a coach, I would take Tyler’s game over Jimmers … and I am going to give Tyler a break on being exhausted at the end of the game, which is also a time he is most tightly guarded and thus more exhausted.

  7. Keith Moore

    March 4, 2015 at 9:24 am

    The fatigue argument isn’t valid. No one does more than Kyle and he’s been clutch and has even hit his free throws.

  8. Ole Dunn

    March 4, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Two thoughts: Just because Collinsworth works as hard doesn’t mean Haws isn’t worn out by games end. Bodies have different fatigue factors as well as jumping ability and quickness. It’s alright for Haws to get fatigued. Point two, I agree with the comparison of the middle pitcher vs the closer. Determining just what each players unique factor is requires coaches to really know each player and how he reacts under the many different circumstances presented him during the game. Refreshing to hear the diverse thoughts on this fantastic player.

  9. steve williams

    March 4, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I’ve wondered the same thing; why misses in the last 2 minutes. I think the pressure gets to him just like it gets to most of us. the rest of the game, he’s free flowing, shooting, and scoring….. all very necessary and essential. the next step in his game is to fix the last 2 minutes.

  10. Jeff T

    March 4, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Two thoughts:

    1. From a coaching/strategic standpoint, it doesn’t really matter why it is that production falls off for Ty, the point is that it is.

    With the possible (but disputed) exception of shot selection, nobody has offered a reason for the dropoff that is correctable. If he’s tired, he’s just tired: It’d be a bad idea to pull him out from the time period of the game when he does best (minutes 20-38) to put him in when he’s tired.

    And giving him the ball at the end of the game may also not be a good idea. Strategically, this could work to BYU’s advantage. Everyone knows that Haws and Collinsworth are the best players by total production, but at the end of the game you want the guy that gives you the best chance by probability of making it. Ty and Ky could be a great distraction while dishing it out to Sky. (I don’t like the idea of going to Winder, because in tense moments when BYU needs a bucket, he tends to try to ‘put the team on his shoulders’ and slash to the basket and take a poor shot and miss. He gets blinders on.)

    2. …Unless it isn’t.

    Rather than compare how Ty has done at the end of close games to all other games, it’d be useful to see how he does compared to the other 38 minutes of those close games. Sometimes, even consistent guys just have an off night. Like Saturday. Haws’ last two minutes didn’t really seem that different from the rest of the game: he had a rough night the whole time. Maybe that’s just chance, maybe it’s because a particular team has a really good strategy against him that’s working that night. But if we’re looking at whether or not he’s struggling at the end of games, it seems like we’d want to compare it to how he did in the rest of those tight games.

  11. marc

    March 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Great article. Interesting comparisons. I would imagine Tyler has a bit of a monkey on his back mentally in this regard. He has to be aware of it. Hopefully he can turn a corner in the tournament.

  12. zoozoo24

    March 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Interesting comments, all. Been curious if others have noticed Haws’ struggles in the clutch. One of the greats, definitely. But the scoring record is a two-edged sword. It puts him in the same sentence as others who were more collected in waning moments of close games.

  13. David Stephens

    March 4, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Haws’ worst clutch miss was the last shot in the Purdue game. The next worst was missing a decent three-point look from the top of the key near the end (about 40 second mark as I recall) of the home game against Pepperdine, when the Cougars had close to within just one point. These two free throws at Gonzaga were mental misses for sure but it didn’t matter because barring a miracle the game was already in the refrigerator. It would have been more psychologically comfortable for us intense BYU fans if he had made them for sure.

    DBS ’68

  14. Kurt Hill

    March 4, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    By biggest gripe with Haws play is his shot selection, especially at key times. How many times has he driven right at the opponent’s Big Man and gone straight up into him for an easy block? He seems to do this at least once every game. (In all fairness, a few others have done this, too, including Collinsworth. The worst was Halford’s fast break 1-on-1 against the 6’9″ forward and Halford….. does a forward finger roll right into the guy’s face??? Easy swat. Lots of head scratching.) At least a few of Haws last minute chokes have been forced shots right into the face of the defense. I could excuse this for a freshman and even a sophomore, but a senior of his caliber? That is at best overconfidence and at worst pure arrogance.

    • Sanpete

      March 4, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      No doubt he and others are told to draw fouls inside, and Haws is very good at it. Doesn’t always work, though.

  15. Kurt Hill

    March 4, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    To be clear, Fredette regularly went straight at Big Men, too, but he didn’t go face first. He either used his body to shield the ball or at least (like the U of U 7 footer) showed the ball to draw their attention then looped around or under their block attempt. Or he would go back door and use the basket to neutralize the block attempt.

  16. Gloria Robertson

    March 4, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Ty=Greatest all time scorer
    Ty=Greatest all time CHOCKER

  17. Gloria Robertson

    March 4, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    The above was not Gloria

  18. KF Baxter

    April 29, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Haws is one of if not the hardest workers in BYU History. Not gifted but works hard.

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