HUNTINGTON — The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel announced Tuesday a rule change that pushed the men’s basketball 3-point line back to the international 3-point line — a shift from 20 feet, 9 inches to 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches.
As word came down Tuesday of the NCAA’s change, which takes place in the 2019-20 season for Division I and 2020-21 for Divisions II and III, many wondered the effect it may have on Marshall’s men’s basketball program, one Division I’s of the most prolific 3-point shooting teams. Considering that Marshall was in the top 10 in Division I in 3-point attempts (1,058, 5th) and 3-pointers made (362, 9th), the move could easily be seen as a detriment to the Thundering Herd’s style.
Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni, however, just smiled at that notion, saying he’s happy about the move.
“I’m glad they did,” D’Antoni said. “That just spaces the floor even more. What I’m hoping is that other teams go, ‘Oh shoot, we can’t shoot 3s now. We’ve got to post up.’ Good! Go ahead.”
In the NCAA release, the NCAA cited three reasons for doing so — one of which was “slowing the trend of the 3-point shot becoming too prevalent in men’s college basketball by making the shot a bit more challenging, while at the same time, keeping the shot an integral part of the game.”
Instead of being a hindrance to D’Antoni’s style of play, the veteran coach feels it is a blessing in disguise. The move forces opposing defenses to move out further to defend, which takes away the opportunity for teams to “pack it in” and protect their post players on the defensive end. As the defense moves out, there is more space for guards to work, which in turn can create opportunities for penetration or kick-outs off of pick-and-rolls, which is what D’Antoni likes to see within the framework of his offense.
The change also means post players have to be more versatile, which is something that D’Antoni’s scheme already promotes with big men routinely out at the 3-point line on both ends, looking for the 3-point shot and also defending it with their length.
“Positionless basketball is here to stay,” D’Antoni said. “It’s not going anywhere.”
The NCAA’s last change in 3-point distance came more than a decade ago. Prior to the 2008-09 season, the line was moved from 19 feet, 9 inches, to 20 feet, 9 inches. At the time, 3-point shooting went from 35.2 percent to 34.4 percent.
However, the percent of made 3-point field goals had increased back to 35.2 percent by the 2017-18 season. This move is 16 3/4 inches, which means the percentage could again decrease in the interim.
A trial run of the rule was conducted at the 2018-19 National Invitational Tournament and there was a difference in shooting. Teams involved in the NIT shot just 33 percent from 3-point range, compared to their collective regular-season average of 35.2 percent.
“I’m hoping other people take the bait,” D’Antoni said. “For our guys, right now, we are telling them to get a little deeper and don’t toe the line out there. That’s all.”
According to Marshall women’s basketball coach Tony Kemper, the women’s basketball 3-point line will stay at 20 feet, 9 inches for now, but experimentation has begun on a potential shift back to the international line, as well.
Starting in the 2018-19 season, NCAA women’s basketball approved the use of the international 3-point line in the Preseason WNIT and other pre-season and post-season tournaments to gauge the impact on the game.