With a long break until IU basketball returns to the floor next week, it seems like a good time to check in on each player on the roster and examine how they are performing.
Today we look at sophomore guard Tamar Bates. See also: Jordan Geronimo
Tamar Bates’ traditional numbers through 13 games:
- MPG: 22.0
- PPG: 9.2
- RPG: 2.2
- APG: 1.5
- BPG: 0.1
- SPG: 0.6
- TPG: 1.0
- FG%: 52.3
- 3FG%: 41.7
The preseason chatter: For a player who came to IU with high expectations, it was reasonable to call Bates’ freshman season a mild disappointment. But Bates’ first year at IU was particularly challenging as he learned he would become a father before it began, and also lost a close family member along the way. Coming into year two, the question was whether the father of a newborn baby girl could sharpen his focus and make a sophomore jump.
What is going well: Bates has been highly efficient on the offensive end of the floor. For a 6-foot-5 guard, he’s making an incredible 65.8 percent of his 2-point shots, including a perfect 20-of-20 on dunks and “close twos” according to Bart Torvik’s data. For comparison, Bates made just 37 percent of his twos a year ago.
His efficiency drops off as he gets further away from the rim — as you’d expect — but he’s still making 48 percent of “far twos” and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc. Also, it’s only ten shots, but Bates is perfect from the free throw line so far as well.
Bates’ career two highest number of field goal attempts in a game (12) came in the last few weeks. It will ultimately drive down his efficiency, but IU needs that increased volume because of his ability to score at all three levels — something that is unique on this team.
Tamar Bates has provided a much needed spark for Indiana off the bench. Making a case to be moved into the starting lineup.
The lefty is instant offense. Last night he finished with 19PTS (7-12FG, 3-7 3PT). Indiana defeats KSU and moves to 10-3 on the season.
6’5 sophomore. pic.twitter.com/XcDrN7jQED
— GREENLIGHT MEDIA (@atlgreenlight) December 24, 2022
What needs to improve: While Bates has been shooting the ball very well this season, that hasn’t been the case in IU’s three losses. He’s just 2-of-11 from three in those three games. Moreover, while he isn’t turning it over at a high rate overall, five of Bates’ 13 turnovers on the season came against Kansas and Arizona. Against top-50 opponents, Bates’ turnover rate is 23.9 percent, compared to just 15 percent overall for the season.
While Bates is perfect at the line, he’s only gone to the stripe in four games — and none of those were high major opponents. Bates’ free throw rate is second lowest on the team. That’s one of many indicators that he’ll need to be more aggressive looking to create scoring opportunities going forward in what should be an expanded role. The remainder of IU’s schedule is almost entirely top-50 foes, so Bates will have to show he can be an impact player against high-end competition on a consistent basis.
Final thoughts: With Xavier Johnson out for what appears to be most of the regular season, Indiana needs several players to step up and replace his scoring production and defensive impact on the perimeter. Bates is improving as a defender, but that still isn’t a strength of his game at this point, both from a physicality and technique standpoint, along with staying locked in on the gameplan. With more than five fouls called on him per 40 minutes against top-tier opponents, Bates will have to clean up that part of his game just to stay on the floor.
Bates started the season with an injury, but he seems to be in peak form right now. There will be hiccups along the way, but Indiana needs to continue to expand Bates’ minutes and let him play through mistakes.
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