Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Is the 3-point shot killing Maryland?

One of the major criticisms of Gary Williams' teams towards the end of his era at Maryland was that his teams never seemed to emphasize the 3-point shot. It was no secret that Williams despised the introduction of the 3-point shot in college basketball. Even decades after the rule was instituted he would still bemoan the over emphasis of the perimeter shot compared to old fashion basketball that wasn't just drive and kick to open shooters camped at the 3-point line.

In year three of Mark Turgeon's reign at Maryland it is clear a new sheriff is in town.

As you can see the proportion of 3-point attempts has risen significantly since Turgeon took over, see the red line above, and the percentage of points that come from 3-point shots has increased every year as well, see the orange line. What has not increased that much is the 3-point shooting percentage, the blue line. The current rate of 34.6% this season is just below that of the 2010-11 season which was 34.8% to finish the year. That team consisting of shooters like Cliff Tucker, Terrell Stoglin, Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley would not have been considered an particularly good group of shooters but there you have it. It is obvious that players like Smotrycz and Layman are better shooters than anyone on the 2010-11 squad but as a group the numbers so far this year are not superior.

Taking more 3-point shots is not a bad thing, so far as you make more of them. Not only is the current Maryland team not making more 3-pointers than some of the past Gary Williams teams but they are less efficient to boot. Teams like Duke can be successful shooting threes because they have better shooters and have much better spacing and half court offense than Maryland. Teams that shoot lots of outside shots also need to be better defending teams otherwise they will be stuck in lots of high scoring shootouts, which is usually not a recipe for winning. The Terps are second in the ACC behind Duke in 3-point attempts in conference games. Right behind them are Notre Dame (2-5) and Virginia Tech (1-6). Poor defense and poor shot selection on offense are not unrelated.

Perhaps Turgeon will continue to bring in better shooters than he currently has and his emphasis on the 3-point shot will start to bear fruit next season. Perhaps he will also get this group to improve on defense when they are not taking ill advised jumpers that lead to fast break points for the opponent. It is clear that this current group cannot execute the style of play that Turgeon wants his program to run. They will continue to shoot their way into games and out of games. The imbalance on offense with little production from a disappointing frontcourt and an over reliance on inconsistent wing players has made for an up and down season. Has the disappointing season been the result of poor player development, overrate players who are not living up to their recruit rankings, a offensive scheme that doesn't fit the current squad or perhaps all three?

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