When a reporter informed Kansas University senior guard Tyshawn Taylor the day before the North Carolina game that he never had hit a three-pointer in a dome, more stewing than laughing took place on the platform at which the coach and five starters sat.
Such a fact had not made its way into Taylor’s head, and once it did, it wasn’t likely to leave until he hit one.
Taylor played well in Sunday’s 80-67 victory against the Tar Heels that sent KU to the Final Four, but his bizarre NCAA Tournament long-range shooting slump continued.
He made 10 of 14 two-pointers, had six rebounds, five assists and five steals, but missed all five three-pointers and had three turnovers in a 22-point game. As usual, some of the high numbers were in the right places, some in the wrong places, but when they all were added up, the positives outweighed the negatives.
“When he doesn’t play well he gets a lot of attention, and when he does play well he gets a lot of attention,” KU coach Bill Self said Monday. “He’s one of those kind of kids. I’m so proud of him and how far he’s come.”
Taylor’s atypical three-point shooting stats compiled in four NCAA Tournaments: 3-for-37 overall; 0-for-17 in domes; 0-for-17 in this season’s tournament.
Taylor has the loudest, friendliest personality on the team. One day after being informed of his shooting futility, he was able to laugh about it.
“I don’t even care,” he said. “I don’t care one bit. I don’t like domes, but they love me, it seems like, because we won, you know.”
Proving he had not spent much time looking ahead, Taylor asked a question in hopes the answer would set him dome-free the rest of the way.
“Is New Orleans a dome, too?” Taylor asked.
Yes, the Superdome is indeed a dome.
“Oh, man,” Taylor said, disappointed.
Although it’s rare for a player to shoot 8 percent from three in NCAA Tourney games and 41 percent in all others, as has Taylor, poor dome shooting afflicts many.
“It’s depth perception, no question about it,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said on a Monday conference call that featured the Final Four head coaches. “It’s the wide-open space. It’s something you need to get a little practice in and get used to, and I think you’ll feel comfortable in it.”
Taylor’s next assignment pits one of the toughest guards to guard against Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, one of the guarding guards. In the Dec. 10 game won by Kansas, 78-67, in which injured Buckeyes center Jared Sullinger didn’t play, the point guards played to a stalemate. Taylor had 13 assists, seven turnovers and did not attempt a three-pointer. If he can trim a few turnovers, repeating the other two stats might make for a ticket to the title game for Taylor and teammates.