The legend of the Wymantula grew.
As perhaps the team that matched up best with the No. 4-ranked Carroll College Saints came to town in the Frontier Conference championship game, Matt Wyman, an unorthodox matchup in his own right, gave the Warriors fits.
Wyman hit his first shot, his second -- a 3 -- this third … fourth … fifth … sixth and seventh. By the time he missed his first shot, with 18 minutes left in the game, the Saints had disabled the once-dangerous Warriors, a group that had played the Saints tight in three previous matchups. Wyman, en route to a career-high 28 points, took his efficient ways to another plane and helped the Saints land their first postseason title since the 2005-06 season.
“Matt Wyman was an offensive monster,” Saints coach Carson Cunningham said after the game. “I think he has a nickname, Wymantula. Maybe that’s what was happening (on the court). He was fun to watch.”
The Saints’ sophomore forward, a product of Great Falls High praised for his versatility by teammates and coaches, had been a steady bit all season. His scoring and rebounding wouldn’t lead a box-score snooper to fully understand the impact and depth of his contributions. A skim toward his shooting percentage, a staggering 64 percent, gives a better indication of his performance, but no one number will ever sum it up.
Wyman’s length and athleticism give him enough reason for fans to pay attention. At any time, he’s likely to explode to the rim for a dunk or high-flying play -- a mindset he said he has on every offensive possession. It’s partly how he earned his nickname. Similar to the nickname coined for the sinewy Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant -- “Durantula” -- Wyman shares some similarities with the NBA superstar.
His dunks have become so routine in Saints games, fellow flyer Ryan Imhoff almost bristled when asked if Wyman’s dunk later in the season bettered any of his previous work.
“He’s had a lot of good ones,” Imhoff said. “We’ve come to expect that from him.”
The ways Wyman scores are seemingly endless and becoming more consistent. While the dunks rile crowds up, the 6-foot-7 guard has tortured teams that don’t keep track of him off the ball, cutting to the hoop for lay-ins. His jumper has proven to be reliable this season, too. Really, the only thing that limits Wyman is himself, a point that is exemplified by fans, teammates and others who implore him to look for his own shot more often.
Even then, describing Wyman beyond the box score can be a chore. It’s part of the reason the Saints subscribe to advanced metrics. Cunningham and Co. sift through a variety metrics to better understand the game, and keep with the growing trend in basketball: Quantifying actions that are not easily recorded in the sport.
“I'd love to get my hands on some of the super high-level stuff going on in NBA front offices and at private firms that are apparently literally hiring rocket scientists,” Cunningham said. “But most of that stuff is proprietary.”
With stats like player efficiency rating, true shooting percentage and true field goal percentage, the Saints get a better idea of what cogs cause their machine to hum. In a few advanced areas, Wyman scores quite high.
True shooting percentage is a metric that acknowledges each field goal is different and more accurately describes a player’s shooting percentage without looking individually at field goal percentage, free throw percentage and 3-point percentage. The formula for the metric is TS% = Pts/(2*(FGA + (.44*FTA))).
Of course, there isn’t one tell-all stat, but in the case of true shooting percentage Wyman's 69 percent is remarkable. It would put him up in the Top 15 of all NCAA Division I players. At the NBA level, that figure puts him in the top three among qualified players.
“A pretty well-known stat in the advanced-stat space would be true field goal percentage,” Cunningham said. “Matt's is off-the-charts good, especially for a guard, at 69 percent."
Efficiency has been the crux of the Saints’ offense this season. Yes, Carroll plays a great brand of defense and, yes, those bulldogging sequences often led to points in transition and easier scoring opportunities. But make no mistake, the Saints focused on defense to complement an already efficient offense, not supplant it.
Wyman is the poster child for that efficiency, an efficiency that has the Saints ranked No. 1 in the nation in field goal percentage, free throw percentage and No. 3 in 3-point percentage.
Carroll forces its opponents to pick its poison, and in Lewis-Clark State’s case in the Frontier championship, the Warriors elected to use Wyman’s defender to help off and defend Imhoff’s post-up threat. The result was Wyman’s career night.
Frontier coaches had their cracks to figure out the Saints, and Carroll, with only a slight bump in the road, was unrelenting in its attack.
Now, starting Wednesday, some of the best in the NAIA have a chance to try and rattle the Saints.