LAFAYETTE — Inevitably, Hayward Register’s phone will ding with a message from his father, Harold, after a poor shooting performance.
“He texts me and tries to clown with me, talking about how I’m building a brick house, trying to make fun of me, talking about how he could do better than me out there,” Register said.
But those text messages aren’t meant to dampen his son’s confidence — if that were even possible. They serve as a challenge to be defiant and keep throwing up jumpers like Register’s ability to breathe depended on it.
And they’ve been coming in much less frequently nowadays.
Register has started the past eight games for the Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball team as its designated sniper, and he has acquitted himself well.
Since being shifted into the starting lineup, Register has attempted 54 shots from 3-point range and made 24 of them — a 44.4 percent clip.
“He’s got a lot of confidence in his ability,” coach Bob Marlin said. “I think when you know you’re going to play some, it certainly helps.”
That confidence does not waver either, even after a three-game stretch when Register went 4-for-16 from deep, surely drawing a couple of friendly jabs from his father.
How did Register respond to that mini-slump? Well, he shot the ball. A lot.
In the two games since, he has attempted 16 shots from deep and made nine of them. Register never feels like he’s about to have an off night, even if he’s coming off a few of them in a row.
“To be honest, I feel like I’m going to be on every night,” he said. “There’s not a really special process I go through for it. I guess it’s a gift.”
It’s not always perfect. Sometimes, even during games, doubt will start to creep in after a couple of missed jumpers.
When that happens, his teammates come to the rescue and remind him what his role is. Here comes that confidence again.
“I’ll be like, ‘Man, I need to stop shooting the ball; I’m missing all my shots,’ ” Register said. “They’re constantly patting me on the back, saying, ‘Just keep shooting it, man. That’s what you do.’ … They always give me confidence, every game.”
Marlin knows what a confident and productive shooter can do for a team, especially in critical tournament settings.
“You look and think, ‘Man, if that guy comes in and makes four or five 3s, he changes the game in a heartbeat,’ ” Marlin said. “That’s what happens in the NCAA and conference tournaments. We feel like he can be that guy.”
But for Register to display his shooting touch on the court in regular minutes, he had to prove to his coaches that he wasn’t a liability on defense. He has made strides in recent weeks, especially in practice, to show coaches that he can be counted on.
“He has been consistent on the defensive end, and I think it’s carried over,” Marlin said. “He’s practicing better. I think he knows he’s going to get the opportunity to play.”
Defense has been the challenge for Register, and his phone will go off with reminders to stay focused on that part of his game as well.
“My high school coach still texts me: ‘Are you getting better on defense?’ ” Register said. “I’ve got to get better on that end. ... I’m trying to get better.”
Things, in general, are starting to go better for Register these days. He’s even starting to look forward to his postgame messages from his dad, who mixes his compliments and playful jabs with the ease of his son launching a 3-pointer.
“ ‘Great game, son! I knew you could do it!’ ” a beaming Register said. “That’s my Dad, so he’ll try to make me feel good whatever way he can.”