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Villanova Basketball Burning Questions: 3-Point Shooting

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Corollary and yB go back and forth on what to look for in the upcoming season

Villanova will look for sophomore Kris Jenkins to shoulder more of the three point load
Villanova will look for sophomore Kris Jenkins to shoulder more of the three point load
Joe Robbins

From: Corollary

To: youngBUCK

What was the country's 122nd best 3 point shooting team doing launching the 4th most 3's in the country? Will this change? Should we be worried about such an offense when there are only 2 players who project to be above average volume shooters from deep? Do you think Jenkins will be enough?

From: youngBUCK

To: Corollary

2014 3P% RANK 3P Dist (%) RANK 3PA RANK
Connecticut Huskies 38.7 24 30 93 741 35
Kentucky Wildcats 33.2 215 20.4 323 611 136
Florida Gators 35.9 99 28.1 134 711 51
Wisconsin Badgers 37.6 57 31.9 53 790 15
Villanova Wildcats * 35.6 118 34.4 27 855 4

2013 3P% RANK 3P Dist (%) RANK 3PA RANK
Louisville Cardinals 33.3 200 23.2 287 691 67
Michigan Wolverines 37.9 25 30.1 105 769 18
Syracuse Orange 33.5 187 24.8 245 696 61
Wichita State Shockers 33.9 167 28.6 145 765 20

2012 3P% RANK 3P Dist (%) RANK 3PA RANK
Kentucky Wildcats 37.8 37 21.8 307 595 159
Kansas Jayhawks 34.5 149 23.2 274 643 157
Ohio State Buckeyes 33.3 212 20.5 322 596 157
Louisville Cardinals 31.8 270 25.6 213 733 32

2011 3P% RANK 3P Dist (%) RANK 3PA RANK
UConn 32.9 237 23.7 258 711 44
Butler Bulldogs 35.2 123 32.1 64 822 10
Kentucky Wildcats 39.7 9 29.6 107 707 50
Virginia Commonwealth Rams 37 55 35.5 21 917 2

*technically not a Final Four team

italics=projections

AND WE'RE BACK. We can finally start watching real basketball games again instead of lamenting post-season and pre-season awards. Luckily our girlfriends don't like us that much anyway. Now, to your first question of the 2014-2015 season. For the sake of brevity, I refer you to the table above (compiled from our internet friends at KenPom and Sports Reference).  Here we have the respective 3 point shooting percentage, the 3 point scoring distribution, and three point attempts (along with national rank) of the last 16 teams to make the Final Four.

There is a very clear disparity between three pointers attempted and three pointers...

I think we can agree that that’s our goal every season, and a relatively fair measuring stick for success. The data variance is high, and there are clearly team by team factors (2012 Kentucky, Kansas, and OSU all leaned on their star-laden front-courts, 2014 Kentucky didn't start making threes until tournament time, etc.). However, my main draw is this: ‘living and dying by the three’ has been a better route to the Final Four than ‘dying.’ Having a team accustomed to chucking (with varying degrees of success), i.e. 2014 UConn, 2012 Kentucky, 2013 Wichita State, 2012 Louisville, is not the end of the world. In fact, teams are likely better off being experienced in relying on the three ball when the time comes when it is necessary for them to win a certain match-up.

There is a very clear disparity between three pointers attempted and three pointers made on this list, and that did not prevent the corresponding team from making it to college basketball’s biggest stage. Whether or not this LED to their success is an impossible argument to make. But the fact remains that, at the very least, they reached the Final Four despite shooting a higher volume of threes than their percentage seems to afford them.

2014 Villanova was on the high end of this list for threes attempted (fourth), and in the middle of the pack for percentage (118th). This is not exactly the end of the world. The ‘why?’ aspect likely boils down to Jay’s offensive philosophy. We have covered this topic ad nauseum, so I will keep this explanation brief. In order to create a ‘comfortable’ on-court environment for Guard U to thrive, players are given free reign to shoot whenever open. Some (Ryan Arcidacono & Dylan Ennis) shoot too much, some shoot too little (Darrun Hilliard, Kris Jenkins). It is ultimately up to the player, and at least part of their offensive success has to be attributed to this egalitarianism.

This leads us to the next part of your question: will this change? My answer is, quite simply, ‘no.’

Villanova is coming off a 28-3 regular season where two of the losses came against the white boy buzz-saw that was Creighton. When Villanova’s offense was firing on all cylinders and the threes were falling, they looked deserving of a top 10 ranking.  Unfortunately, their shooters pretty much all went cold (as a team!) when it mattered most, which contributed to early exits in both post-season tournaments.

That does not mean that they can’t advance with this style of play. It merely means they didn't advance last year with this style of play. Villanova was a couple of Napier misses away from beating the eventual national champion in the round of 32. The sky is not falling. While they could certainly do a better job of distributing who is taking the majority of threes (Arch taking more than Hilliard last season was painful), the high volume is not why they lost.

In summary, I don’t expect the 3-heavy shot distribution to change, and I’m not mad about it either. The successful teams of late were almost all similarly set up, and the main difference was they got hot at the right time. With the exception of a few, none shot the lights out in the regular season.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Player Year1 3PA Year1 3P% Year1 PPG Year2 3PA Year2 3P% Year2 PPG
Corey Stokes 135 29.6 6.4 182 41.8 9.3
Kris Jenkins 81 37 4.1 109 40 9.3

In regards to Jenkins, I am expecting a break out year. I've cataloged Corey Stokes’ jump from his freshman to sophomore year, and matched it up against Jenkins' first year. Obviously there is not a direct correlation as they played on different teams, but he is the last real gunner we had at our disposal. Using Stokes’ theorem (HAHAHAHA), I gather Jenkins will take at least one more three a game, and he is already making them at a much higher rate than Stokes was at this point in his career.

Jenkins’ stroke and mechanics are near-perfect, and expecting his percentages to go nowhere but up is absolutely reasonable. This should help make up for the three point shooting that we graduated last year. Tony Chennault: decent filmmaker, not a shooter. James Bell was a well-rounded basketball player, but was never confused as a three point stud. He increased his shots as a senior, and made them at a higher clip than previous seasons. But lets not fool ourselves: he was never a pure shooter, only a streaky one. Replacing his numbers in this department will not be an issue, and I expect Jenkins to caulk this hole almost entirely on his own.

nova

Summary

Villanova will continue to take threes on the majority of their possessions, and they have adequate personnel to continue to thrive doing as much. History tells us that this is half the battle in advancing in the tournament. The rest is a matter of good match-ups and getting hot. Let’s not let a 3 game sample size out-weigh reason.

Shoot em up, sleep in the streets.