Tennessee vs Purdue : The Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament will be high-scoring Purdue guard Carsen Edwards, who leads the Big Ten in scoring. The Vols escaped against Iowa in the second round. Tennessee was up by 21 points at halftime.
Anyone thinking about launching a shot can’t help but wonder if Haarms is in the vicinity. Despite his size advantage, he doesn’t camp out beneath the goal and wait for the offense to come to him. He seeks it out — moving up and back, intent on disrupting shooters of all sizes.
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“Any guard want space, so they can pull the trigger,” Harms said after a Wednesday practice. “So, I want to try and smother them.”As a basketball player, he has come a long way literally and figuratively. The Amsterdam native picked up the sport when he was 11 years old, honed his skills by watching Pete Maravich DVDs and just kept growing.“I was about 12 or 13 when the first guy that really worked with me (in basketball) gave me those DVDs,” he said.“He probably burned them,” Haarms said, laughing. “They probably weren’t fully legal, so I won’t mention his name.”
Never mind the origin of the videos. Haarms, like so many others, was amazed at Maravich’s ball-handling and shooting skills. He couldn’t resist trying to emulate them.“I tried to do that shot where he throws it between his legs and it goes in (the basket),” Haarms said. “Mine didn’t go in.”Haarms’ game is still in the developmental stage. Last year, as a freshman, he averaged 4.8 points per game as a backup center. This season, he has almost doubled that, averaging 9.4 points per game.
He has improved in every facet of the game, according to Purdue coach Matt Painter.“He has kind of an uncanny knack ability to be around the basketball,” Painter said. “Whether that’s playing in the post, catching and shooting on the perimeter or getting put-backs.”And, as Tennessee coach Rick Barnes points out, “(Haarms) can affect the game at both ends of the court.”In Purdue’s 87-61 victory over Villanova in the second round of the tournament, Haarms had 18 points. Against Old Dominion in the first round, he scored 13. In two NCAA Tournament games, he has made 13 of 18 field-goal attempts.A number of those baskets came on pick-and-roll plays after Haarms had set screens. He appreciates that element of the game now more than ever.
“It’s extremely important for me to set screens (on the perimeter),” he said. “A lot of big men don’t want to move. They don’t want to go out on the perimeter. That’s exhausting.Haarms can still impact a game more defensively, though. He alters more shots than he blocks.In the NCAA Tournament, he has avoided foul trouble despite playing aggressive defense. He has totaled five fouls while playing more than 30 minutes in each tournament game.