View Full Version : Decline of Shooting in NCAA Basketball

08-21-2007, 02:35 PM
Interesting article on A Sea of Blue (http://www.aseaofblue.com/story/2007/8/21/141320/051), a site for Kentucky fans:

By Truzenzuzex Section: Basketball
Posted on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 02:13:20 PM EDT

Ever wonder why you hear so many basketball fans in general, and Kentucky fans in particular, claim that they wish we would recruit a "shooter?" I have heard it many times, and some may wonder why. Is shooting a lost art? How lost is it?

This isn't really a pressing question, but I think it deserves a little analysis.

First, let's look at shooting historically in the NCAA. Has it improved or degraded over the years? Thanks to the NCAA, who provides some of these aggregated statistics, I have performed a few analyses just for ASoB readers.
The article then goes on to present some interesting graphs and statistical analysis, most interesting to me being this comment:

But perhaps the most striking graph of them all is this one, which shows 3-point attempts vs. 3-point shots made. 3 point attempts have risen continuously since 1987, first sharply and then less so after 1995. But made 3-pointers has risen only very slightly since 1995.

So if it seems to you that shooting is worse now than ever in NCAA basketball, it's pretty much because it is. Shooters like Rotnei Clarke and Alex Legion are at a premium these days, it seems. If I were to posit a reason, I would guess that it is because young players work harder now on their moves to the basket and athleticism than shooting. This is most likely the fault of the AAU system and the changes wrought during the Sonny Vacarro years, where AAU teams began to play a faster style that focuses more on individual athleticism and getting off lots of shots, versus working the ball into the best possible position to score.

It remains to be seen whether or not shooting percentages and overall shooting skills will undergo a further decline in coming years, but given what we see here, we must really wonder what moving the 3-point line back is going to do to shooting percentage. My feeling is that if a guy can't make a 19'9" shot at better than 35%, his odds of shooting a higher percentage from further out are nonexistant.

Will the new line represent a return to more 2 point shooting, and stem the rise of 3-point shooting? Given this data, I would have to say the answer is likely to be "Yes".

Butler Guy
08-21-2007, 05:01 PM
If a program chooses to recruit And-1-emulating idiots, who practice alley-oop passes more than their 12-foot bank shot, of course you are going to see a degradation in the finer aspects of basketball.

I have a lot of gratitude for AAU and the sleaze ball coaches that populate it, without them the success at my alma mater wouldn't be possible.

It is my sincere hope that college basketball coaches buy into the basic premise that the author of this article obviously has; that solid, team-oriented players just aren't out there to be had. Because they ARE out there, and not only do you get their skill set added to your program but also the chips on their shoulders from being shunned and passed over by lesser players.

08-21-2007, 10:32 PM
Wait! I thought nobody in the NBA knew how to shoot anymore because all teams care about now is how high you can jump? And college was the last bastion of "skill over athleticism".

Actually, if you look at the FACTS, NBA players convert free throws at a higher clip than they did in the 1960's. . .And NBA players shoot 3 pointers at a much HIGHER percentage than they did when the line was first used in the 80's?

go figure.


08-22-2007, 08:21 AM
I expect the percentages to change quite a bit - in a positive direction - when the new 3 point line is put in place. College coaches throughout the land, as well as many pundits, have said that the problem is not that shooting is getting worse, but that the college 3 point line is so close that people who are not adept at long distance shooting are being tempted to launch the shot.

I have a feeling the new line is going to discourage some of this. The amount of players who have a green light will likely be reduced.