Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Get a Gun

We don't have a Shooting Gun at NCC.

When I discovered this unfortunate fact late last summer, Michelle and I talked about the possibility of buying one, but we didn't have any budget money available.  So, we have done our best to develop three point shooting skills without The Gun, and for the most part we are pretty happy with our perimeter shooting.

But one thing I've learned as a result of going Gunless this season is that The Gun doesn't just improve 3FG percentage.  (I suppose it does, but can't even be certain of that because as much as we used it at ONU, we never shot much above 31% from the arc.)  No, the thing The Gun really improves is timing. 

At Lake Forest last week vs. a tight 3-2 zone, our shooters passed up lots of opportunities to shoot the three because they weren't comfortable taking the shot off the bunny hop. The result? Our transition game became stagnant because we kept having to run half-court offense to create a shot, since we didn't have time to shoot without utilizing the bunny hop.  So how does a player gain confidence in shooting off the hop?  The Gun.

At ONU, we had a tradition called "Three Point Week" in which players (using the Gun) took as many shots as possible from the arc over a five day span, on their own time.  We usually held Three Point Week near the end of preseason conditioning, right before we started regular practices, and after we had given them plenty of instruction on shooting off the hop.  We even created a spread sheet, and posted a printout of our totals at the end of each day.  This spreadsheet also calculated each player's total shots for the week, and the team's total shots for each day, and for the week.  In addition, we used the "sort" function to rank players by total cumulative shot attempts at the end of each day, providing some serious motivation.  Nobody wanted to be at the bottom of the list.

But as I said, I didn't see a huge payoff in terms of FG% from this tradition, despite the fact that some years we put up close to 30,000 shots in a week using the Gun.  What we did see was an obvious increase in our player's comfort level with shooting off the bunny hop.  As a result, we had little trouble getting off a three versus most defenses... our players didn't hesitate at all on the arc!

At NCC, we are still hesitating, and this may be due to their unfamiliarity with the technique as a first year System team, or it may be due to our lack of a Shooting Gun.  It's expensive, yes.  But I'm convinced that the ability to shoot a three off the hop, with good rhythm, is a core fundamental in the System, and essential for creating quick shots.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to be a Big Shot, you have to get a Gun.

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