I didn’t want to write this post. I know Saturday’s loss to Seton Hall is still fresh in the minds of the BBN, and I know how the comment section can look when avid KSR readers get more than a little upset. I am never one to trash players – that is absolutely not what I am here to do, in this article or ever.
And yet, I think it’s time to analyze Tyler Herro’s recent performances, specifically his recent struggles from behind the three-point line.
Against Seton Hall, Herro was 0-6 from behind-the-arc for a crushing zero percent. In some instances, he quickly fired up a crooked shot as soon as the ball landed in his hands but, in other instances, he missed a wide-open trey. He’s been labeled as a catch-and-release shooter, but that inconsistency is worrisome. So what gives?
Tyler Herro hit the court running this season – he thrived in the Bahamas, surprising most fans (myself included) with his scoring abilities and his smooth shot against professional competition. In our minds, he was always meant to be a multi-year player under John Calipari. But after the Bahamas, he landed a spot in the starting five and even joined the list of potential one-and-done players. At the conclusion of the four-game run, he ended the trip 8-18 for 44 percent from the three-point land. He averaged 21.8 minutes per game.
Then, Herro (and the rest of the BBN) got a dose of reality. He had to give up the safe confines of the more familiar, high school-like gym in the Bahamas for much larger venues like Rupp Arena, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Madison Square Garden. This can’t be an easy transition for many 18-year-olds.
Herro had one of his worst performances of the season against Duke, at least when you isolate his three-point shooting. He finished 1-6 for 16.7 percent from behind-the-arc against the Blue Devils. From then on, it’s been mostly bleak. His best performance came in the Cats’ exhibition win over IUP (5-for-7 three pointers) and he found a decent shooting rhythm against Winthrop, where he finished 3-8. Other than that, it’s averaged out to about two three-pointers per night for the freshman. Which is not bad.
What is bad, however, is his completion percentage. Making two shots a night is fine when you’re tossing up two or three or even four. But consistently going 2-5 or 2-6 (as he did against Monmouth and UNC-Greensboro) is hurting Kentucky. And an 0-6 performance against Seton Hall has to be considered unacceptable. Can you imagine the outcome of the game if he had hit just one or two of those?
On the season, he now checks in at 27.3 percent. In other words, he makes 1.3 three-point shots for every 4.9 he attempts.
In the Bahamas, when he was playing his best and most consistent basketball, Tyler Herro was averaging 21.8 minutes per game. Since the official beginning of the season, he’s averaged 26.3 minutes per game. The rest of 2017 should be used as a test – increase efficiency by choosing to take better shots and making the easy ones, or lose those five minutes of play as the Cats enter SEC play. Coach Calipari has often stated his “just keep shooting” mentality, but at what point is enough, enough?
It could be argued Herro’s more recent performances are having an effect on his mental state going into games. Fan expectations are high thanks to his outstanding Bahamas showcase and (to be fair) unrealistic comparisons to all-time greats like Rex Chapman and Jeff Sheppard. For now, it’s best to sit back and let Tyler Herro just be Tyler Herro.
After Kentucky beat Southern Illinois University back in November, their head coach put it perfectly: “No matter how much you stick Tyler Herro in a microwave, he’s not going to get older faster. He’s just going to have to play through it.”
For now, that’s what we have to do.