Before the season, University of Denver men's basketball coach Joe Scott did the math, and the results were irrefutable.
Simply put, Scott decided that sophomore guard Brett Olson needed to shoot the ball more. It didn't take Scott too much number-crunching to come up with this revelation.
After a standout freshman campaign in which Olson did a more than commendable job of running the Pioneers' offense as a rookie, Olson will be tasked as one of the players to help fill the scoring void left behind by the graduation of Brian Stafford.
"I don't think as a coach I need to say to him, 'Do more.' In certain respects, I have to say, 'Do less,'" Scott said. "Just be who you are. What he is is very calm. He helps everybody out on the court. The more he does that, I think in time he will take more shots. And the shots he takes, he makes. Obviously I want him to take more of them, because his go in. That's key. But again, they have to be the right shots, and they have to be the right shots for him. He can't be pressing and forcing them, thinking that's what this team needs. This team needs Brett Olson to be Brett Olson. He's a very good player. He makes others around him better. People feed off of that."
Olson turned in a remarkably steady freshman season, starting all 31 games while recording 62 assists and 26 steals. He averaged 7.6 points a game overall and 8.8 during conference play, a sign that Olson grew more comfortable and aggressive as his rookie season wore on.
Yet the stat that likely encouraged Scott the most heading into the 2012-13 campaign was Olson's .488 shooting percentage, which included a .462 mark (54-for-117) from three-point range. Olson averaged only about 5.4 shot attempts a game but, as Scott points out, a solid percentage of those shots tended to go in. That's why Olson will seek his shot more frequently this year as the Pioneers attempt to use a team-wide approach in replacing the production of Stafford, who left the program ranked fourth on DU's all-time scoring list.
Being more assertive on offense will also allow Olson to get to the free throw line more frequently. He compiled an impressive .875 free throw percentage last year, but he earned that mark while going just 21-for-24 the entire season. Averaging less than one free throw attempt per game isn't something Olson wants to duplicate this year.
"Coach came to me and said, 'You need to get more shots off,'" Olson said. "He said I'm a great shooter when my shots are there but to not force anything. When the shot is there, I have to take them. With the people we have and being young, you don't usually look for your shot. But you don't have to force anything. You just have to be yourself."
Olson was one bright spots of Denver's season-opening 65-58 loss at Iona. Olson shot 4-for-9 from the floor, which included a 4-for-8 mark from three-point range. Continuing that pace throughout the season would give Olson roughly 288 shot attempts, which is 122 more than he attempted as a freshman.
"I just have to know when my shots come within our offense," Olson said. "With our offense, we don't have to force anything. We know we're going to get open shots. I just have to stay with that and know that when the shots are there, take them.
"I'm kind of known as a three-point shooter, but I'm looking to get to the hole more, too. I want to get fouled and get to the line, because I'm a pretty good free throw shooter. I don't want to just focus on three's. I want to be more aggressive all-around."
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07