- - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Gary Williams is in both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the College Basketball Hall of Fame. He has 668 career wins at four different stops in college basketball. He was a two-time ACC Coach of the Year when the ACC meant something. He won conference regular season championships in both the ACC with Maryland and the Big East with Boston College — when the Big East meant something as well.

And let me mention, too, that he won a national championship in 2002 with a Maryland program that had been all but dead and buried when he arrived in 1989.

I know most of you know all this. But I felt it was important to establish Gary Williams‘ bonafides again here to make sure you are aware of the weight of his words here when he speaks about college basketball — and his idea to change it.

Gary Williams wants to get rid of the three-point shot.



There. I wrote it. The greatest get-off-my-lawn declaration we have seen perhaps since Dr. Archie Jones, a professor of music at the University of Texas, said rock and roll was a “passing fad, a matter of no importance which, when gone, would leave nothing as a memory.”

Dr. Jones was wrong.

Gary Williams is right.

As the NCAA tournament is about to begin, Williams is not happy with the state of the game — and he thinks the three-point shot is partly to blame.

He wants the NCAA to play an exhibition game without the three-point shot, which he believes would help make his case.

“I am a one man lobbyist,” Williams said in a conversation on my Cigars & Curveballs podcast. “You know in the D.C. area there are a lot of lobbyists. I am a one man lobbyist. I’m trying to get the NCAA to play an exhibition game next year without the three point line. I think it’s not needed anymore.”

The three-point shot in college basketball goes back to 1945, when it was tested in a game between Fordham and Columbia, but it wasn’t implemented beyond that experiment. It is believed to have showed up again in the old American Basketball League in 1961, then again in the Easter Professional Basketball League two years later.

But it came to the forefront when it was adopted by the new American Basketball Association in 1967, and became part of the league’s marketing effort. The NBA wouldn’t get on board until 1979. FIBA, the sport’s international governing body, adopted the three point shot in 1984.

It was first introduced into college basketball in the Southern Conference in 1980, and was first used in the NCAA tournament in 1987.

Over the last 30 years, a generation of basketball players has emerged that has become dependent on the three-point shot, to the point it has changed the way basketball is played — a game that now exists around the perimeter of the three-point line.

It hasn’t been a change for the better. In effect, it is just watching guys shooting the ball. They shoot it very well, better than anyone we have ever seen before. But when it comes down to it, it is a shooting contest. And when they don’t shoot well, this generation of players are lost when it comes to other options.

“If I want to watch a shooting contest, why not just watch the NBA All Star Game skills competition with the best shooters in the world?” Williams said. “That’s what it has become a lot of times.

“You look at a lot of teams, the teams that are ranked this year — when they make threes, they are a good team.” Williams said. “When they don’t make three, they have an off night, they don’t have any way to go. They don’t know how to get the ball inside. It just bothers me a lot because when we won it we were inside out. And I had great guards. I had Steve Blake and Juan Dixon, two guys who played a long time in the NBA. But they knew the ball should go inside first.
“I’ve never seen so many teams that are really good, then you watch them play next week and they don’t play well,” he said. “The consistency level has really gone down in college basketball.”

Williams said other rule changes and the way play is enforced have accomplished what the three-point shot was supposed to do — to open up the game.

“I think it’s not needed anymore,” he said. “The way the rules have changed where you can’t be as physical on the perimeter and inside and things like that, that was the reason for the three point line, to widen the game. The court is small. The court hasn’t changed size. Guys have gotten bigger, they’ve gotten quicker. I understand that. But with the rule changes, I think there is enough in play right now where you don’t need the three point line to stretch the court to give more room to the players.”

It’s hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube, though. You have this next generation of players in youth basketball now shooting three pointers, all wanting to be Steph Curry.

No one wants to be Patrick Ewing.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes and Google Play.

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