Two Cents: NCAA Wants to Make it Harder for Johnny to Shoot (5/6/05)

(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)

Is the NCAA one of the most inept organizations since the Warren Commission? With each passing year, I’m becoming more and more convinced that NCAA stands for Not Cognizant Alert or Aware.

The current collegiate 3-point line was granted a brief stay of execution Wednesday when the NCAA decided not to extend it from its current distance of 19-feet 9-inches. Many believe that it’s just a matter of time before it’s changed, but not until everyone can figure out how much the lane is going to be widened.

The length that seems most desirable to everyone is the international distance of 20-feet 6-inches. I guess the knuckleheads at the NCAA think that if we match the distance of their 3’s, that we’ll be able to compete in the Olympics again.

At first glance it looks like a case of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ and it is. Because the international line might change in a couple of years, the NCAA is afraid they might not be twinkies if they move first.

There is really no other reason I can think of anyway. Shooting percentages are definitely not dictating a change. In the last 10 years, 3-point field goal percentages have hovered around a 37-percent average for Division I teams. Only four teams shot better than 40-percent from the arc in 2004-05.

On my planet, that would indicate that the line is right where it needs to be. If the averages for 3-point percentage equaled overall field goal percentage – 11 teams finished last season shooting 49-percent or better; no one in the top 50 shot less than 46-percent – then a change would be in order.

However, that’s not the case. Most of you probably watched the Razorbacks last year. How do you think they would have fared with the line pushed back? Considering long-range threat Preston Cranford was red-shirting, I would say not very well.

And why widen the lane? If the rulebook has to be changed each time a new generation of players gets bigger, pretty soon regulation rims will be raised to 12-foot.

If the NCAA wants to get people out of the lane, then they should send an edict to their coaches to only recruit pure shooters.

Until people can knock down the three at better than a 37-percent clip, big guys will continue to draw double teams and defenses will be geared at taking the lane away.

Did anyone see Louisville on their way to the Final Four? The lane was never congested the way they shot the trey. Garcia, O’Bannon, and Dean made Ellis Myles make look like a first-round draft pick.

The lane in international play is too wide. It’s not even a lane; it’s more like a trapezoid or something. And besides, I don’t want to watch the Tigers and think I’m watching FC Barcelona.

As far as getting Americans ready for international play, stretching the arc isn’t going to solve anything. The handfuls of superstars that get selected for those teams usually have the range to shoot from most anywhere.

College guys who get drafted – the all-star players – have no problem adjusting to the NBA arc. Ben Gordon is shooting the three just as easily as he did while wearing a UCONN uniform.

There really is no reason to even consider changing the lane and 3-point arc right now. They can’t convene again on the subject until May of 2006. My guess is that for the most part, the average college player still won’t be able to shoot.

They shouldn’t even be wasting meetings on this topic. Not when they could be addressing graduation rates, the sale of alcohol at NCAA events, hazing, player stipend options and last but not least a way to name a true national championship in football.

But what am I thinking? This is the Non-stop Confusion and Agony Association.



Categories: Basketball, sports

Tags: , , , ,

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