May 25, 2007

A case study of the new 3-point distance

One of the best games of the 2007 NCAA Tournament wouldn't have provided quite the same thrills and chills if the 3-point line had been 20 feet, 9 inches - as it will be in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Rivals.com examined a copy of the second-round game between Vanderbilt and Washington State won by the Commodores 78-74 in double overtime. Our research determined that Vanderbilt would have won 59-57 in regulation because the Cougars would have lost three of their 3-pointers while the Commodores would have lost only one.

We also broke down another Vanderbilt game, the Commodores' 99-90 overtime victory at South Carolina. It's a game in which the teams combined to hit a remarkable 29 of 56 from 3-point range. We chose these two thrilling overtime games to show the dramatic effect that moving the 3-point line back a foot will have.

The Vandy-WSU game was tied at 60 at the end of regulation. Vanderbilt had connected on 9-of-23 3-pointers in the first 40 minutes, while WSU was 5-for-12. But in the judgment of Rivals.com editors, two of Daven Harmeling's treys would have been worth only two points (at 9:23 of the first half and 7:17 of the second half).

Also, Derrick Low's 3 at the 4:01 mark of the first half would have been downgraded. The only 3 that would have been reduced to a two for the Commodores was one sunk by Shan Foster with 1:11 to play.

The Commodores-Gamecocks game featured sizzling shooting from both teams. The first half alone had 18 3-pointers, with Vandy connecting on a sublime 11 of 16. The teams cooled in the second half but still combined to hit 11 3s.

However, the number of 3-pointers would have been significantly reduced with a line that was one foot farther back. By Rivals.com's estimation, a game that had 29 3-pointers would have had only 17 from 20-9. South Carolina would have had seven baskets reduced to two points, and Vanderbilt would have had five. The game, which went to overtime tied at 81, would have been won by the Commodores in regulation by a score of 77-74 (Vandy hit a 3 in overtime that would have been a two).

"That's a night I remember very well where both teams shot it well and often," Gamecocks coach Dave Odom said. "That, as you know, is not always true.

"I think what you're gonna find is that with the new line teams are going to edge their way into a comfort zone, and it will take 2-3 years before we begin to get a real feel for the effects of the new line. There will be some differences early on; I don't believe you'll see as many 3s next year. Players are comfortable at 19-9, 20, maybe 20-2, but once you get that extra step they become uncomfortable."

Gamecocks starting forward Dominique Archie would have been shortchanged the most. All three of his 3-pointers would have been just long two-pointers because he was barely behind the line on each of his attempts.

Odom said Archie was a "good example" of a player who would be greatly affected by the line moving out a foot. The 6-foot-7 freshman swingman took just 32 attempts from 3-point range last season but made 11, a respectable 34.3 percent. But his coach believes his confidence would diminish at 20-9.

"He's lengthened (his shot range) a little bit, but at that time he was just starting to feel comfortable there," Odom said. "He's a guy who will have to spend a lot of time in the gym if he's going to get used to the new line in a couple of years."

Below is a look at the actual box score from the game, and next to it is a look at how it would have changed.

Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina
2/28/07, 7:30 p.m. at Columbia, S.C.

Visitors: Vanderbilt 20-9, 10-5 SEC Adjusted (no overtime)
Name FG 3-PT FT TP FG 3-PT FT TP
Derrick Byars 4-12 3-6 7-10 18 2-9 1-4 5-8 10
Shan Foster 11-21 5-12 6-6 33 10-20 3-10 2-2 25
Ross Neltner 6-13 0-0 2-2 14 6-13 0-0 2-2 14
Alex Gordon 2-4 2-4 1-2 7 2-4 2-4 0-0 6
Dan Cage 4-7 4-6 0-0 12 4-7 3-5 0-0 11
Jermaine Beal 2-2 2-2 0-0 6 2-2 1-1 0-0 5
JeJuan Brown 4-6 0-0 1-2 9 3-4 0-0 0-0 6
George Drake 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0
Ted Skuchas 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0-2 0-0 0-0 0
TOTALS: 33-67 16-30 17-22 99 29-61 10-24 9-12 77
Home: South Carolina 14-14, 4-11 SEC Adjusted (no overtime)
Name FG 3-PT FT TP FG 3-PT FT TP
Bryce Sheldon 3-7 3-6 4-5 13 3-7 1-4 4-5 11
D. Archie 7-8 3-3 4-4 21 7-8 0-0 2-3 16
B. Wallace 2-5 0-2 0-0 4 2-5 0-2 0-0 4
Tre' Kelley 9-18 3-4 11-13 32 8-15 1-1 9-9 26
B. Raley-Ross 3-6 3-6 0-0 9 3-6 2-5 0-0 8
Chad Gray 2-3 0-0 0-0 4 1-2 0-0 0-0 2
Dwayne Day 3-8 1-5 0-0 7 3-5 1-3 0-0 7
TOTALS: 29-55 13-26 19-22 90 27-48 5-15 15-17 74


Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.




 

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