Long Range Lament
What Does The Future Hold For The Three-Point Shot?
Billy Tubbs, Oklahoma's colorful coach, says fans "eat it (the three-pointer) up" and "kids
want to play for a team that scores."
By LINDA ROBERTSON
College basketball's three-point shot
experiment needs a little tinkering,
most coaches and fans say, three
years after it was introduced to open up a
game being played too close to the hoop.
According to an informal poll, 66 percent
of college basketball fans and the vast majority of coaches think the shot should be
more difficult and the three-point line
should be moved from its present 19-foot,
9-inch distance from the basket. Most advocate the international distance of 20-6.
"Teams are making a travesty of it,"
UCLA coach Jim Harrick said. "It's become a chip shot. We're rewarding players
for something that's too easy."
During the first round of the 1989 NCAA
championship, the NCAA conducted a call-
in survey of fans watching the games on tel
evision. It was the second year a call-in
question was posed on the screen. In 1988,
fans overwhelmingly voted for showing
more women's basketball games on television.
Last year, 12,169 callers responded to the
question: "What should be the distance for
the men's college basketball three-point
The NCAA tallied 3,861 callers in favor
of leaving the line where it is; 6,307 who
want it moved to the international distance,
and 2,001 who would like to see it shoved
all the way back to the 23-9 NBA distance.
Miami (Florida) coach Bill Foster agrees
with fans who favor the status quo.
"It makes the game so darn exciting," he
said. "The games are never over. It think
eventually it will move to the international
distance, but by that time kids will be so
used to shooting threes it won't be a hard
The NCAA Men's Basketball Rules
Committee is polling coaches on the three-
pointer with a questionnaire. The results
will be discussed during the annual coaches' meeting at the Final Four in Denver.
The three-point field goal was introduced
at the start of the 1986-87 season after being
used by 11 conferences the year before.
The goal of the new field goal was to
bring the outside shooter back into a game
that was being dominated by big, physical
post players. Houston's Phi Slamma Jamma
style of play has given way to the run-and-
shoot style of Oklahoma, Loyola Marymount and Kentucky.
Partly because of the three-pointer, scoring in last year's NCAA championship
jumped 15 points, from an average of 143
points per game (two teams) in 1988, to
158. During last season, scoring per game
averaged 151.4 points, the highest total
Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs set out to
smash halftime and game scoring records
"The fans eat it up and the players want
to play for a team that scores," Tubbs said.
The three-point field goal was not adopted without first undergoing a test. During
the tryout period, about 38 percent of the
attempts were made.
During its inaugural NCAA season, an
average of 18.3 three-point shots were taken
per game and seven were made for a shooting percentage of 38.4.
In 1987-88, an average of 20.8 shots were
taken and eight were made for a shooting
percentage of 38.2.
Last season, attempts were up to 23.6,
with 8.9 made for a shooting percentage of
"I think the number of attempts is up because the first year you had one or two specialists per team who took the shot," said
Gary Johnson, assistant statistics coordinator for the NCAA. "Now if anyone is open
in three-point land, he takes the shot.
"I like it where it is. Put it at a distance
where nobody can make it and that
wouldn't be any fun."
Harrick said the statistics are somewhat
misleading because so many teams take
desperation shots toward the end of a game
they are losing.
"The stats include prayers at the end of a