NCAA goes international on 3-pt line

Archie Miller isn’t one to tinker.

When it comes to solving the shooting woes that have plagued Indiana over his first two seasons as coach, Miller has a simple solution.

“Shoot more,” he said. “Shoot more.”

The NCAA, meanwhile, isn’t making the act of shooting any easier on the Hoosiers. On Wednesday, the Indianapolis-based organization announced that it will move the 3-point line from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international distance of 22 feet, 13/4 inches in time for the 2019-20 season.

It’s a move made in part to slow the trend of 3-point shots becoming too prevalent in the men’s college game, something that could help level the playing field for Indiana in the immediate future. But for a team that has posted its worst long-distance shooting figures in program history over the past two seasons, getting those shots to fall just became more difficult.

The Hoosiers will enter next season with recent experience shooting from the new 3-point line. As part of a series of experimental rules implemented to give the Division I Men’s Basketball Competition Committee data to evaluate, the line was moved to the international distance for the entirety of last season’s National Invitation Tournament.

Indiana, however, became an even more troubled long-range team during its three-game run in the NIT, shooting merely 29.5 percent (18-for-61) from beyond the arc against the likes of St. Francis, Arkansas and Wichita State.

For the season, Indiana shot only 31.2 percent from 3-point range, beating the program-worst shooting mark of 32.2 percent set during Miller’s first season in 2017-18.

Indiana’s shooting woes weren’t limited to the perimeter, either. The Hoosiers shot merely 65.5 percent from the free throw line, a paltry success rate that ranked 328th nationally.

Miller, though, is optimistic that IU has the players to develop more consistent shooting rates in the coming moths.

The Indiana coach cited sophomore Damezi Anderson as one of the Hoosiers equipped to help. Billed as long-distance threat coming out of high school, Anderson was not ready to earn a role in IU’s rotation this past winter. He shot only 7-for-30 from beyond the arc in 21 games, looking more like a liability than an asset in his limited action. The hope now is that a full offseason inside IU’s program will help Anderson develop the confidence and skills to consistently tap into his best attribute.

Miller is also hopeful that incoming freshman guard Armaan Franklin will give IU a boost from outside. The Cathedral product shot 39 percent from 3-point range as a senior last year, while averaging 23.8 points per game for the Fighting Irish.

Indiana also believes that if redshirt freshman wing Jerome Hunter is cleared to play during the 2019-20 season, he could help, too. Hunter was lauded as a shot-maker during preseason workouts before suffering a lower leg condition that cost him his freshman year.

“I think Armaan coming in has a chance to help us behind the line,” Miller said. “Damezi getting a year older and Jerome, depending on where he’s at, are all good perimeter shooters that are young. They’ve got to develop. But we’ll work hard. Our individual plan and our team guys all summer long will be hitting the gym. That’s a big focus for everyone, to continue to become a better shooting team, a better long-distance shooting team with more confidence.”

Meanwhile, Miller also trusts that returning players such as Devonte Green, Al Durham and Rob Phinisee can take strides in their shooting development. Green emerged as one of IU’s best players down the stretch of the 2018-19 season, scoring in double figures in each of the final seven games, while shooting 51 percent (23-for-45) from 3-point range in that span.

Durham improved on his freshman season, during which he shot 28 percent from deep, by posting a 34.8 percent 3-point shooting mark as a sophomore. And while Phinisee finished his first season as a 31 percent long-range shooter, he was hitting at a 44 percent clip (13-for-29) prior to suffering a concussion at the end of non-conference play.

To take the next step as a shooting team — and make no mistake that Indiana must — Miller’s solution is simple, in theory.

Just keep shooting.

“The biggest thing is repetition,” Miller said. “Guys got to get in the gym and do it every day and shoot the shots that you’re shooting in the game. We’ve had some guys really progress to difference percentages in our first two years and it’s going to have to keep going.”

One comment

  1. That is a different kind of shooter. Long range bomber vs what was not all that long of a 3 point shot in half or over half of the 3 point shots taken.

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