Since its introduction in 1986, three-point shooting has not only changed the game of college basketball, it has also given the smaller-size players a chance to become “Legendary Sharpshooters” of this, somewhat, ancient sport. These ‘sharpshooters,’ a term in basketball referring to players who can shoot the basketball from far away with sniper precision, have an almost threatening presence when they step onto the court because of their ability to score points fast with ease.
The NCAA has had their fair share of shooters throughout the years, but I narrowed it down to two:
Stephen Curry, the former Davidson University guard (2006-2009), holds the record for most three-point shots made in an NCAA season (162). Being 6 feet 3 inches tall, which is typically considered “short” in both NCAA and NBA, has given Curry the opportunity to inspire younger players to never think that height is a crucial aspect of the game. No one, including coaches, expect the short guy to be the one scoring all the points. Curry proved to the world that you don’t need to be 6 feet 11 inches tall to be a great basketball player.
His shooting ability can be described as unstoppable and superhuman-like. Curry can catch a basketball and have it be inside the hoop in a matter of seconds. Even sports scientists on ESPN have tried to calculate how a human can develop such a talent. Curry, over the span of his playing career, has taken lessons from the concepts of trajectory and physics to develop his play style, which is an actual part of training for most shooters. He can score from any angle on the court because of his “Albert Einstein-like” approach to the game. With his shooting ability being accompanied by a surreal style of dribbling and crossover moves, he went on to be the NBA’s MVP with the Golden State Warriors…twice.
Kyle Korver, the former Creighton University guard, is another outstanding shooter to mention. Unlike Curry, Korver wasn’t a “master dribbler” who could get his shot off in a matter of milliseconds after a series of crazy crossovers, but he was a great “catch and release shooter.” Meaning, he can come catch the ball and already be in his shooting form and have the ball in the air before the defender can put a hand on him.
Korver is 6 feet 7 inches, which is a perfect height for his certain brand of shooting. He used his height to overcome the overbearing pressure from defenders. The use of pick and rolls is what usually gives Korver a chance to become open for a shot; mostly because of his lack of dribbling skills. Even though he does have his downfalls with ballhandling and strength, he makes it up with an unstoppable shooting form and having the ability to hit shots from the three-point line all season long.
Before being drafted out of Creighton University in 2003 by the New Jersey Nets, Korver held the record for most three-pointers made in school history (371) over a four-year period, a record that will most likely never be broken. After the draft, he went to the NBA to break more shooting records, only to have them surpassed by, guess who, Stephen Curry.
Even though this scoreline in basketball has transformed players into almost mythic human beings-through the eyes of fans around the world, it has faced some harsh criticism from both professional and college basketball programs. Coaches like Greg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, have called out the shot as Pop called the three-point shot a “circus shot”, during an interview before a game in Toronto, in 2015. This comment was coming from a coach who mainly focuses on hard-defense to win games seems unfairly biased. Yes, this kind of shot has a low-percentage chance of going in the hoop during a game, so it makes sense that coaches, like Popovich, hate this kind of offense. However, it does give teams a better chance of coming back during games and, more importantly, it keeps the fans interested.
The future of basketball is changing everytime a new shooter is introduced to the court. Will some teams go to this new style of offense and put more shooters, like Curry, onto the court? Should teams open up a ‘circus’ outside the arena so that they can show the world that this way of scoring is faster and easier?
I guess they will have to take a shot to find out.