Go to any basketball court around the country, and there’s likely going to be groups of children hoisting up shots 50 feet from the hoop and subsequently strutting away as they hope to hear the smooth swish of the net. It’s likely those children will be donning fresh blue jerseys with the number 30 on the back.
Gone are the days of children wearing high socks with headbands and red jerseys with the number 23 on the back. Whether that be Michael Jordan or LeBron James is up to you.
In just two years, the NBA has undergone a rapid evolution as the league has looked to replicate the success of Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Led by head coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors have transcended the league with their deadly 3-point shooting. And the rest of the league has taken notice.
It’s the reason the Dallas Mavericks dished out $70 million to Wes Matthews, an injured shooting guard known for his 3-point shooting ability. It’s why the Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Kevin Love, a rare big man with a smooth touch from beyond the arc.
In college basketball, it’s more of the same.
Division I programs around the country are hoisting up more 3s than ever, and it’s working. The national champion Villanova University Wildcats shot 36.2 percent from behind the arc last season while jacking up 959 attempts.
The change has extended to Division III as well. Last season, the Ithaca College men’s basketball team suffered a 35-point loss against Nazareth College on Jan. 5 at home but only shot 4–20 on 3s. Just a game later, the Bombers shot 9–20 from beyond the arc and earned a 98–93 victory.
In the 2013–14 season, the basketball team attempted 435 3-pointers. Just a season later, that number jumped from nearly 300 attempts to 706. This past season, the team attempted about 90 fewer, but the trend is clear.
Since the Bombers began regularly shooting 3s, they’ve seen their record improve remarkably quickly. The team finished the 2013–14 season with a dismal 7–18 record, but that jumped to 12–14 in 2014–15. In 2015–16, the team’s record increased to 15–13. While they shot fewer 3s than last season, the Bombers were smarter with their 3-point shot selection.
The college’s program and similar programs need to stress the importance of 3s as they look to reach the same dominance the Warriors make look so easy.