For a college basketball coach, bringing in transfers can be a little like playing roulette — there are a large number of possible scenarios for how things could work out (for better or worse), and there's no way of knowing which one will come to fruition. Nevertheless, you still put your chips down as best you can and hope the ball bounces your way.
BYU coach Dave Rose hasn't had much luck with this game lately — to keep the metaphor going, it seems he's been betting on red, but the wheel keeps coming up black. Rose has brought in several transfers in the past few seasons, most often in search of knockdown shooters to flesh out his rotation, and none have quite panned out as hoped.
Stephen Rogers never realized his potential due to chronic injury problems. A trio of junior college sharpshooters (Raul Delgado, Agustin Ambrosino and, most recently, Skyler Halford) struggled to find their range and perform at the Division I level. Even Matt Carlino, likely Rose's most successful transfer in recent memory, eventually became one of the most polarizing players in program history and now plays for Marquette.
It's been a run of bad luck, but Rose isn't prepared to stop spinning the wheel. After all, BYU still needs perimeter shooters — perhaps now more than ever.
Into that void steps junior Chase Fischer. The former Wake Forest marksman differs from his transferring forebears in that he arrives in Provo having already proven capable of making shots at an elite level. He's done it before.
In his sophomore season, he connected on 42.2 percent of his long-range attempts for the Demon Deacons — a spectacular conversion rate that, if he can duplicate it with a higher shot volume, would make Fischer the program's most deadly deep threat in several years. In fact, the last Cougar to convert a reasonable number of 3-point attempts at such a high rate was Noah Hartsock when he made 43.3 percent of his treys all the way back in the 2010-2011 season.
So it's been awhile since BYU had a significant perimeter presence. That much shouldn't surprise anyone who has watched the team in recent years. The Cougars haven't been able to find their range from beyond the arc — converting only 31.8, 33.8 and 35.5 percent of their long balls in the last three seasons. That's quite a dip for a team that was once nationally recognized as much for its proficiency from downtown as it was for its breakneck offensive pace.
Rose's men are in desperate need of sharpshooting reinforcements. Their success likely depends on not only shooting threes better, but also shooting them more often. As their efficiency has eroded, BYU's collective confidence in their outside shooting has also waned, resulting in the team taking fewer and fewer from those areas.
The numbers bear this out: the team's 3-point attempts have steadily fallen year-over-year, from a high of 38.2 percent of their total field goal attempts in 2010-2011 to only 22.8 percent last season. Taking more 2-point shots wouldn't necessarily be such a huge problem if the additional point afforded for a made 3-point basket weren't so valuable and essential to keeping pace with high-level opponents.
Fischer has been brought in to help address that crisis of confidence, and he should be uniquely suited to do so. He is, first and foremost, a spot-up shooter. In his final season in Winston-Salem, 69.7 percent of Fischer's shot attempts came from beyond the arc (compared to a nationwide average of 32.3 percent), and 94.3 percent of his 3-point makes were assisted, according to Hoop-Math. Or in other words, if you let him set his feet and serve him up an open look, there's a pretty good chance Chase will knock it down.
To be sure, Wake fans often complained that Fischer struggled to create his own looks against long, athletic ACC defenders, but that shouldn't be a pressing issue at BYU. Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth will draw the lion's share of opponents' defensive attention — and when teams commit one or two additional defenders in an attempt to stymie one of the Cougars' stars, it should be easy for them to simply reverse the ball and find a wide-open Fischer waiting on the backside, ready to fire. Such a role is ideally suited to Chase's strengths and should give him a great opportunity to succeed.
But as much as BYU needs him to revitalize its perimeter attack, there's an additional void that Fischer can help fill — and interestingly enough, it's one left by Matt Carlino's exit. Whether you loved or hated the divisive point guard's game, it was hard to deny that he provided strong vocal leadership on the floor. That was an essential role, particularly because Carlino's co-captains, Haws and Collinsworth, weren't (and still aren't) known for being particularly expressive — Tyler tends to be the quiet, lead-by-example type, while Kyle commands his teammates' respect when he speaks by doing so relatively sparingly. Someone had to fill that vocal vacuum, and Matt did a nice job complementing the Cougars' primary stars in that way.
With Carlino now in Milwaukee, the role seems poised to fall to Fischer, an experienced player and noted chatterbox who is popular with his teammates. In theory, Chase's loquacious leadership style should slot in well alongside his fellow co-captains. As Haws himself put it:
"We all come from different backgrounds so we have a lot to offer for the team," Haws said. "Kyle and Chase bring different styles of leadership. When Kyle talks, everyone listens, and Chase never stops talking."
Word out of practice so far is that the Cougars are taking well to Fischer's more talkative approach and have been looking to him for leadership in early scrimmages. Those are great signs for Dave Rose, who should be encouraged by how much his latest transfer is owning his intangible role on the squad and by the extent to which his teammates are responding to a strong new voice.
And if Chase Fischer can fulfill his other, more tangible role by living up to his reputation and knocking down some open threes once real games roll around? Then Rose will really be playing with house money.