ERAN GANOT, University of Hawaii men’s coach:
DR: Any thoughts on why there’s been an explosion overall in 3-point shots taken in pros and college only recent years?
EG: Shot distribution, shot selection is so key. It’s added another element. But this has been coming on … the balance, throwing it into the post.
People coming accustomed to it. Everything that happens is not overnight. The international players, the Dream Team, big guys gravitating to working on the perimeter and everyone wanting to shoot 3s, it’s all changed.
DR: Dirk Nowitzki. Was he perhaps the tipping point in this?
EG: One of the best we’ve seen obviously. I think, I don’t know, go back to the Dream Team and how they changed the game, and internationals. A lot of that was the ball screen, extra passes, and the shooting. In the NBA it goes back-and-forth and the NBA incorporated that. Not just in terms of bringing a lot of players, but a lot of times great coaches internationally and great styles and I think we’ve incorporated that.
American NBA style and European, international overseas style. Dirk, Larry Bird 6-9, 6-10, the way he shot the ball and influenced the game. Like anything else, the way it goes in waves.
DR: What about a guy like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? How good would have been as a 3-point shooter?
EG: The big guys work on it now. I’m sure Jabbar would’ve found a way to be good at it. He’s good at anything. If he worked on it. That’s why it’s good to see the old-school back-to-the-basket big men too.
I think more than anything, growing up you see so much double-post, you don’t see it anymore.
How often do you see a (college) team finding a a stretch 4? We’re fortunate to have a guy like Jack Purchase in our program the last several years. Even a guy, my first year here, always played with a good back to the basket 5 player, we had one in (Stefan Jankovic), who is 6-10, 6-11. And it’s a problem (for defenses). The combination of the 3-point shooting and the ball screens and the spread have made defenses adjust quite a bit. So people are looking for that obviously.
Three key things, 3-point shooting, obviously. You have to have shooters. And not just shooters, but makers.
Then there’s ball screens. More because there are so many nuances because of ball screens, so many ways to move shooters around the court. So when you have that combination, with the bigs who can roll. When you have effective point guard play with rollers and shooters around, where’s your help coming from? We’re not different than other teams now. Everyone’s adjusting to us and using it to their advantage based on their personnel. How are you gonna guard ball screens, who are the shooters on the floor?
DR: What do you look for in shooters?
EG: Shooting is about shot selection. Obviously, No. 1, it’s about shooting talent. No. 2, it’s about shot selection. and 3 obviously is about guys who can make the right reads to get those guys good shots. I know it’s tougher to guard when we have more shooters out there. But I think you see that across the country. When you have people talk about parity and upset bids in tournaments, more and more of that every year and part of that is the 3-point shot. But I think you see that across the country. Because it’s allowed the margin for error and separation between smaller and larger programs to shorten.
DR: You were born in 1981, a year after the 3-pointer was introduced to the NBA and just a few years before college. That makes you part of a wave of coaches who have very little familiarity with the game without it. Has that affected the way you coach, since you never had to adjust from pre-3?
EG: Maybe, but something I’ll say and note is I do have some old school. We play inside-out. You see that at pro level now, and how much the 5 position, the center position has changed.
There’s still room for posting. I think inside-out allows you to shoot more 3s and better shots.
There are different ways to play inside. Throw it to the post, penetrate, offensive rebounds. Everybody thinks we just throw it to the post.
DR: Some of this predated the 3-pointer, correct?
EG: Look, they were shooting the ball. Just not getting credit for 3. You do what you can to play to your strength to win a game. But there’s a balance there where you can’t live and die by the 3. That’s when you talk about a good program we talk about taking care of the ball and getting the rebound first.
And the spread. Spreading people out. I should say spacing. You don’t want one guy to be able to guard two guys. I know everyone in the country is figuring out how can we defend this style when you don’t have guys who can help off of it … It goes back and forth. All of a sudden you shoot well and the lanes open up. At the end of the day you want a good balance. It’s fun to watch other teams, how they incorporate it. More and more players started working on their shot, from the 1 to 5 positions. Ball screens became more prevalent. Then nuances to moving people around. You had to adjust on both ends. It’s a really tough cover.
It’s always a copy-cat kind of thing in the game. Different waves come in and you learn and adjust. Different rules come in and you learn and adjust. You see people have success and you try to mimic that. I think the Spurs, before the Warriors, had a lot to do with that. Obviously the Warriors have some similarities. The Spurs have won five championships, the Warriors have won three in the last four years so that’s going to continue to push.
DR: Who is your next big guy who will be out popping 3s after Jack is gone?
EG: Owen Hulland has the shooting potential. Owen is the hybrid 5. Janks was a hybrid 5. he might be playing the 5 spot, but a hybrid 5. He was player of the year because of his versatility. He was underrated in the post, and he became a matchup situation, could finish with both hands and had good footwork. A guy who could roll AND pop. And could take guys off the bounce and shoot the 3. So the combination of those things made him really good, made us really good.
LAURA BEEMAN, UH women’s coach
DR: How much of long-range shooting is about technique?
LB: There are stats that prove (proper footwork) is very important. It’s part of what we call being shot-ready. Being ready for the ball instead of getting set after the ball is in our hands. There’s a whole lot that goes into the mechanics of shooting in general, 3-point shooting as well.”
DR: Why has there only recently been a spike in teams using the 3-point shot as a major part of their offenses?
LB: I think people figured out the value of the 3, and the game has gotten to the point where very few people work on the mid-range game. What you put time into is what you get good at. The hype from (Steph) Curry, (Klay) Thompson, kids will follow that pattern. Shooting 3s instead of 2s gets you one more point, and you’ll get a lot more highlights.
And whether it’s NBA, college, the internationals outside shooting from a young age has really influenced basketball in the U.S.
Bigs realize now, ‘Why not shoot the 3? It just makes you more versatile, right?’ Whether they can be a Purchase that can take it off the dribble or a Purchase that just shoots the 3. That’s going to depend on how much work they put in to make it part of their game. Yeah, there’s no reason for bigs not to shoot 3s anymore.
DR: What’s the most important key to an effective inside-out game?
LB: The spacing. And reading what the defense does. … You force different kinds of close-outs, and that allows you to attack in different ways.
DR: Leah Salanoa had a tremendous season shooting 3-pointers. Why is she so improved?
LB: She put the work in for the last five to six years, in high school and college. We’ve cleaned up some of her footwork over the last couple years to get her more shot-ready and make it a first thought versus an afterthought. You put in as much time as she did on footwork, follow-through, eyes-to-rim, being ready, being confident, knowing that we’re giving her the green light. If she’s shot ready she can shoot the ball any time she wants. If she’s not shot-ready she can’t, I don’t care what her percentage is. I think with that confidence she knows that she will make the right read.
DR: Could you talk about how effective outside shooting from several players helps the rest of the offense?
LB: They’re all going to get hard close outs and they’re going to run us off the line. Are we then going to put the ball on the floor? Take a midrange jumper, are we gonna go to the basket? Or are we gonna do what we prefer, get into paint and kick it out for another shooter because we usually have multiple shooters on the floor? The feeling is that if we’re shot ready, we’ll hit 3s.”
JACK PURCHASE, UH senior forward
DR: I remember a game where you took 14 shots, and all were 3-point attempts. The S-word, specialist came to mind, but then I saw you led your team with 10 rebounds. Do you feel you get labeled as a specialist?
JP: I do rely on the 3 a lot, but I’m trying to be an all-around player, get all the boys involved. I feel like some teams scout me as just a shooter. I get more joy out of an assist than hitting a 3.
DR: What was Auburn like? Did you meet Charles Barkley?
JP: (Big smile) I met Barkley a few times. He’s a character. I got ‘wowed’ on my visit. I probably should’ve taken more visits.
It’s more structured here than there. For my game style and the way I play this is definitely better. The culture, the coaches. Coach Ganot was the first coach to call me when the transfer list came out.
He had that Australia connection with Saint Mary’s, so we definitely knew who each other was. Saint Mary’s tried to recruit me out of high school.
DR: The offense you guys run is not as easy as it looks, right?
JP: It looks simple, but it’s not. Spacing is very important. You have to know when to cut, where to move. Our goal is to keep the hot man hot.
DR: You seem to always be in the right spot. Is that muscle memory through reps, or is it something else?
JP: I’ve always had a good sense of where the line is. Maybe helped that my dad and mom were both pros.
DR: With so many 3-point shooters around, including Coach (Adam) Jacobsen, what’s that like? Some fun competitions?
JP: We have shoot-offs. Brocke (Stepteau) and I talk a little trash. I think I’ve got (Jacobsen) covered, but he’ll tell you otherwise.
DR: Good to have a coach who was very good at what you’re very good at?
JP: When you have a coach like that you respect what he has to say.
EDDIE STANSBERRY, UH junior wing
DR: What is it like, being labeled by some as a “3-point specialist?” Were you always known primarily as a shooter?
ES: Growing up I was more of an attacker, a driver. As I grew up, my shot got better. When I went to City College (of San Francisco) the coaches said that to be an all-around player, you’ve got to shoot ‘em and knock ‘em down.
DR: Are things a lot different here than they were at your previous school regarding when to take shots?
ES: No, I’ve always been taught to work it inside-out, don’t shoot us out of the game by just jacking them up.
DR: Where do you land on the great shooters are born or made debate?
ES: There’s a lot of work involved. We emphasize shooting the same shot, every time. Coach Jacobsen challenges me to keep my rhythm. Follow-through and rhythm.
ADAM JACOBSEN, UH assistant coach and Big West Conference No. 2 all-time in 3-point shooting:
DR: Are you at a point now where the goal is to have everyone on the team able to shoot the long shot effectively? And how much of it is guys come here already 3-point shooters and how much of it is developed when they get here?
AJ: For us here, we develop all of our guys as shooters. Maybe not so that they’re making it this year, but maybe next year or the year after.
DR: Is there such a thing as a 3-point specialist anymore?
AJ: (Stefan) Jankovic was such a great player because he could shoot and drive. Jack’s more of a shooter and passer. Guys that can do multiple things are valuable.
For us here, Eddie is really kind of a guy who we didn’t recruit just as a shooter. But that’s been kind of his niche. He’s now becoming a better playmaker, better defender. The way people are guarding him is a big adjustment from JC, where people aren’t spending 40 hours a week studying how to take away his shot.
BOBBY CURRAN, radio voice of UH basketball and shooting guard in the pre-3 era:
DR: Why is it only in recent years that offenses are built around the 3-point shot?
BC: I think more now it’s because of the analytics and metrics. They believe now the worst shot you can take is a deep 2. Although I would tell anyone if they’re completely sold on that, look at Jack Purchase running back and forth between the elbows and wearing it out. What they’re talking about is a 20-footer. some people like a Purchase will crush you. Isaac Fotu was a great mid-range shooter. He beat Irvine by himself once. Mamadou (Ndiaye) wouldn’t come out to 17 feet with him. It’s interesting because, even now you would think everyone would know how you go about it. An example of a guy who took shots longer than needed was Jankovic. Stefan would never step into the pass. He’d end up taking NBA 3s when he didn’t have to. It’s a real art form to teach people.
DR: So there are long shots, and then there are long shots, right?
BC: When I was in high school (no 3-pointer yet), they were OK with top of the key. Other than that, the coaches looked askance. I would debate with my high school coach, because he’d want me to get a closer shot. I’d tell him you’re better of with me from 20 than so-and-so from 8 feet. It’s not about how far it is, it’s about who is shooting it.
When I went off to college that same coach said, ‘Remember everything I told you? Ignore that. Shoot the ball whenever you can, wherever you can.’ I was walking on at William and Mary and they formed a JV. I was told, ‘Work on your whole game, but the last guy they’ll cut is a shooter.’
DR: What was the hottest streak you ever had as a shooter?
BC: I had strep throat. We were losing to VaTech, down 10 or 11 points. Coach says, ‘I’m putting you in. Shoot it every time you get your hands on it.’ I scored 11 points in 4 1/2 minutes.
DR: Is there anything unique about what UH is doing offensively?
BC: Most coaches, Eran one of them, want you to go inside-out. Get the ball to the post player on the block, inside. If there’s player movement by the defense you have shooters who can get to a space on the 3-point line.
RYAN HIRATA, Mid-Pacific boys coach, former shooting guard at ‘Iolani and Chaminade
DR: How did you become such an effective shooter from way behind the 3-point line?
RH: Because I have short arms and had to figure out a way to get the ball to the basket. That’s a joke, but when I was growing up I wasn’t very tall, always the shortest on the court. My dad said I had to do something to make up for that, and I found out I had a knack for shooting. My dad would take me to Kilauea Gym. I would step back, step back some more, kept stepping back. It got so I was comfortable shooting it from 26 and 27 feet and could use that as a weapon.
DR: Playing with Derrick Low as your backcourt mate helped you get open shots, too, right?
RH: It was funny, because playing for Doc (Mugiishi), he was a master at getting people to buy into their roles, how they could contribute to a team. He told me, ‘Ryan, if you’re dribbling, you’re not shooting.’ He was telling me I didn’t need to dribble to get my shot, just be ready to get the kickout from Derrick.
DR: What’s your perception on how extensive use of the 3-point shot has changed basketball?
RH: It’s kind of like the run-and-shoot in football. It means you’re always in the game, but it can shoot you out of games, too. The defense is going to be tired. … A barrage can separate your team by 10-12 points very quickly. That’s why the (Golden State) Warriors, they’re never out of the game. There are three or four guys who can come down court and jack shots. It’s small ball now. I can’t really name you a great back-to-the-basket player, but can name you a ton of 3-point shooters. A team with good 3-point shooters can cause massive problems in transition. It allows the more unathletic teams to stay in games.