Friday, January 30, 2009

Mid-range shot used too little


In college basketball, is the mid-range shot under-taught, under-used or under-demanded by coaches?

Kids grow up seeing dunk shots and three-point stingers featured on television highlight shows and tend to believe, no matter what coaches tell them, that the Holy Grail can be found in those categories. Trouble is that the Ricky Mounts, Bill Sharmans, Gail Goodriches, Larry Birds, Sam Joneses and Pete Maraviches who worked so hard and became so brilliant as all-around shooters are seldom found on school grounds and in gyms anymore sharpening their 10- to 15-foot weaponry.

Kansas has four or five players capable of hurting people from closer in. If the Jayhawks are looking for a role model they should study film of Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas who helped turn KU inside out in that Jan. 10 shocker. Lucas got 22 points in 29 minutes with his variety of pokes, then the other night against Ohio State he provided a textbook example of flexibility at crunch-time.

O-State was testing the Spartans and Lucas was lurking on the rim. In two instances he took advantage of the trey-conscious Buckeye defenders, ducked, then dribbled inside the arc and popped in two delicious basketball shots. The tide was turned, MSU coasted to victory.

Coaches tell me they try to get kids to work on mid-range shooting but that the focus is too much on slams and long-distance, like Mario Chalmers’ tide-turner in the 2008 NCAA title game. Kansas 2009 has the wherewithal, with Sherron Collins, Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and now Mario Little, to exploit inside-the-arc territory, a lot more often, for higher-percentage shots. Hope the Hawks will pay more attention to the mid-range and that coach Bill Self will insist on more of such. Even Tyrel and Brady can’t always work three-point miracles.

Sure, Cole Aldrich and the erratic Morris twins can do damage inside, and Collins and Co. can still plunk the bombs. But why not give defenses another solid dimension to worry about with more mid-rangers? Works for Kalin Lucas.

• Let’s not forget that Kansas put an often overlooked fingerprint on Super Bowl football history because of Larry Brown (no, not the basketball coach). Larry (KU 1968-70) won four title rings as a tight end and tackle with the 1975-76 and 1979-80 Pittsburgh Steeler champs. In a big surprise, he was the Steelers’ leading receiver in the 16-6 Super Bowl IX win over the Minnesota Vikings — at a time when a Pittsburgh tight end had to be a master blocker but seldom saw Terry Bradshaw’s passes coming his way. Not with Lynn Swann and John Stallworth there to score home runs.

Entering the ’74 playoffs, Larry from KU had only 24 catches in four years in the NFL. He caught one pass in the win over Buffalo in the first round, led the team with two catches for 37 yards in the AFC title game against Oakland. Came the Big Show and Brown caught three more passes for 49 yards including the 4-yard touchdown that iced the victory and assured the first championship in franchise history.

Perhaps KU’s best-known Super Bowl personality is John Riggins, the Washington Redskin diesel who sparked the 1983 victory over Miami. Also locally, let’s not forget Marv (Buddy) Kellum, the Lecomptonite via Wichita State. Versatile Buddy was a linebacker-special teams guy for the Steelers for four years and won two title rings with the ’75 and ’76 champs.


TheTruth08 10 years, 11 months ago

I could never dribble and I was too slow to take anybody off the dribble. So getting into the lane and attacking the basket was out of the question. I had a killer shot from the outside, deadly show like Reggie Miller. But once someone got in my face, I couldn't create my own show. That's where I developed a nice mid-range game, pull-up jumper, post up moves, up-and-under shot, crossover, giving me up enough room to shoot the jumper again. Guess you could say I'm a rare breed.

TheTruth08 10 years, 11 months ago

I always enjoy Bill Mayer. He's easily the LJW's best writer. Gary Bedore would be a close second.

Robert Brock 10 years, 11 months ago

It's good to watch (on ESPN Classic) games that were played before the 3-point line was installed. More variety of shots. Different ball movement. Today's game features weak shooters flinging up ugly shots from deep space and 5'10 guys fetching the long rebound.

lonestarjayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

I love the article on the mid-range shot disappearing. How did Mayer slip from mid-range jumpers into KU grads with Super Bowl history? I am reading along enjoying the article, waiting for the tie into our current team and he jumps to football. Next time stick to one topic, maybe throw some statictical comparisons in and how it has effected the history of the game. It is always good to re-read your article and then see if it fits the title.

Kyle Rohde 10 years, 11 months ago

For once, I completely agree with Mayer. That's one of the best things I've seen from Mario Little so far - he actually takes mid-range shots. Its also one of the most overlooked, underrated parts of Michael Jordan's game - for the last half of his career, he made an absolute killing in the 12-17 foot range. All too often, its a three or a drive to the basket and nothing in between.

Kyle Crenshaw 10 years, 11 months ago

makes me remember karl malone and that 10-12 ft turnaround he always made

jcepp 10 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, great article Bill. Except that the numbers don't back you up.From 3, KU is shooting 38% which accounts for 1.15 points per attempt.Inside the arc, KU is shooting 53% which accounts for 1.06 points per attempt.If anything, KU is more effective from the 3-point line. The point is that having an inside threat makes it easier to score from three and having three point threats make it easier to score from inside.My suggestion to the team is stay the course and continue to balance your shot attempts from inside and outside.My suggestion to readers of the Mayer coumn is to cut it into 3 x 5 strips and keep near the commode in case you are snowed or iced in.

RockChalkJayBlog 10 years, 11 months ago

No mention of Mario Little?He plays with a mid-range shot and is quite effective. It also would have made a great pun with the headline.I'm not criticizing, but I agree that it's used too little and Mario Little has made it look good for KU so far.

10 years, 11 months ago

“How did Mayer slip from mid-range jumpers into KU grads with Super Bowl history? I am reading along enjoying the article, waiting for the tie into our current team and he jumps to football.”***Lonestar ~ While I agree it would have been nice to read a tie-in to our current team, the focus slip is more the fault of not using a distinguishable character as a bullet point for Bill’s next topic of discourse. Instead of something like a tilde, an asterisk, a dash, or an arrow, they use a lower case el “l”.

David Robinett 10 years, 11 months ago

From 3, KU is shooting 38% which accounts for 1.15 points per attempt.Inside the arc, KU is shooting 53% which accounts for 1.06 points per attempt.********Remember stats can mislead. The higher % shot is more reliable when ANY basket is needed. It may be that the 38% on threes is driven by when we're hitting them in blowouts (with less pressure on the shooter).

jaybate 10 years, 11 months ago

daverinoku,Your stats are decisive. Thanks.If people want more midrange shooting, paint a ten foot stripe and make field goals from 10' stripe to the trey stripe worth 2.5 points. You will then see all the mid range game you want.For the purists, you can't just eliminate the trey stripe. The Trey stripe was put in precisely because the mid range and long range game were going the way of the dinosaur. The bigs are so dominant with the basket at only ten feet high that, without the trey stripe, they just pounded it inside increasingly.Allen, and I believe Wooden, have advocated a basket raised to 12 or 13 feet, which I think would be really terrific for basketball. For sure, with a 13 feet high rim, you could do away with the trey stripe and probably see the midrange game become dominant.

klineisanazi 10 years, 11 months ago

As long as they give 3 points for shooting behind the arc, the mid-range jumper will continue to go the way of the dinosaurs and Bill Mayer.

JBurtin 10 years, 11 months ago

While I don't disagree with Mayer, it's really funny that all of his articles are such a stereotypical example of exactly what you would expect a guy his age to say.I can sum up every Bill Mayer article written in the past ten years in one sentence."I'm an old man and I miss the olden days."I don't dislike reading his articles, but they always crack me up.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.