The Impact of the 3-Ball

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At halftime of the JV game Friday night in Hoosic Valley I walked over to the scorer’s table to see a friend and former teammate from back in the day at the Valley.  The first thing John said to me was., “Has this game changed much or what?”.  And I knew exactly what he meant.

We’d just watched a half of basketball where both teams time and again pulled up from three point land, and this was a JV game.

When we played in the late 70’s there was no three point line and the importance of taking a quality shot was stressed.  Take one bad shot and you heard about, take another and you were coming out of the game. Not saying it was right or wrong, just saying that’s the way it was.

But since the addition of the three point line back in 1988, an open look from beyond the arc has become a good look for many.  Sure, it depends on time, and score, and who’s letting it go, but the analytics say it’s something all teams should embrace, and most have, over the course of two decades of playing with the arc.

I crunched some numbers over the weekend looking at the top five girls and boys teams in both the Wasaren and Section II, regarding made three pointers .  After finding what each of the teams averaged in scoring, I set up three categories for each team looking at made threes per game, the percentage of a teams total points scored on threes, and the teams won/loss record.

Girls – Wasaren

Team                            Made threes/game           % of total points from 3’s                record

Cambridge                             8.7                                           39%                                     9-0

Stillwater                               3.5                                           26%                                     3-8

Hoosic Valley                        3.5                                            23%                                     6-4

Greenwich                             3.1                                            16%                                    8-2

Mechanicville                        3.1                                            16%                                    7-3

Section II

Shenendahowa                     9.3                                             35%                                   9-0

Cambridge                             8.7                                             39%                                   9-0

Guilderland                           6.8                                             36%                                   3-8

Mekeel Christian                   7.3                                             37%                                    9-1

Mayfield                                5.9                                             36%                                  5-6

 

Boys

Hoosic Valley                         8.1                                             42%                                   4-3

Spa Catholic                           7.8                                             36%                                   5-4

Greenwich                              7.3                                             41%                                   4-4

Tamarac                                 4.6                                              26%                                   1-9

Hoosick Falls                          4.5                                             13.5%                                 9-1

 

Section II

Argyle                                     11.6                                           44%                                   10-1

Niskayuna                               9.0                                             51%                                    7-3

Schoharie                                8.8                                             41%                                    6-4

Fonda                                      9.6                                              48%                                   8-1

Ballston Spa                            8.8                                              46%                                    3-6

What stands out to me is the percentage of total points scored on three point shots for the top five teams in Section II.

All of the girls teams are scoring between 35-39% of their total points on triples with Cambridge leading the pack at 39%.

The top five boys squads in the section rely even more so on the long ball with a range of 41-51% of their points coming from beyond the arc.  Those percentages are higher than I would have guessed.

In terms of won-loss records, while you can find an outlier in each category, 15 of the 20 teams listed have winning records.

While everyone knows you can make numbers say almost anything you’d like, we all realize that the three-pointer and the ability to shoot it well, and limit it defensively, is a huge part of today’s high school game.

I personally like the 3-ball when used effectively, just like any other strategy in basketball. It adds excitement to the game and would have been fun to have played with back in the day.

But exciting or not, miss a couple of off balance shots from beyond the arc, and that scorer’s horn is for me, as I go and sit next to Coach Wilsey and am reminded, in no uncertain terms, what a quality shot is supposed to look like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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