Three decades ago Loyola-Marymount gave college basketball an adrenaline overdose by reaching the NCAA Elite Eight in 1990 with a hyper-drive, fire-at-will offense that averaged 122 points per game.
That team shot 737 three-pointers, which then seemed beyond comical. Last season, nearly half of D-1, 165 teams, shot more than 737 and seven shot more than 1,000. The Tigers of Savannah State jacked up 1,199, or a seemingly impossible 38 a game.
Villanova made 35 percent of the 1,081 threes it shot in 2017-18 on the way to the national championship.
It’s a chuck-and-duck world. It’s hard to even remember the slow, clogged-up game to which the three-point shot was the antidote, but you don’t have to be Bobby Knight to feel that the pendulum has now swung too far in the other direction.
So it is that the NCAA has approved moving the three-point line back. It’s hardly a radical move; the line has been at 20 feet, nine inches since 2008. Now it’s going to 22 feet, one and ¾ inches, which is the international basketball standard.
But it is likely to change the way the game is played and coached and even recruited. Two local college coaches, Franklin & Marshall’s Glenn Robinson and Casey Stitzel of Millersville, gave the change a conditional thumbs-up last week.
“I’m for balance,’’ Robinson said Friday.
“We still teach the midrange game, but a lot of people don’t. The three was becoming too big part of our game, and moving it back could possibly reign in the bombing.’’
“As with everything, there are pros and cons,’’ said Stitzel. “It should help with spacing, make it easier of coaches trying to create space for their players to get to the rim. Of course, you have to defend that, too.’’
The rule will be effective for the 2019-20 season in Division I, but not until 2020-21 in Divisions II and III, “due to the potential financial impact of placing a new line on courts,’’ according to an NCAA release.
It appears to be part of a general move toward standard international rules for all levels below the NBA.
Robinson coached a team of college players in Spain two summers ago, and has taken F&M on summer playing tours of Canada, Costa Rica and Great Britain. He’s familiar, of not entirely comfortable with, international rules.
“It’s a lot to throw at the kids all at once, but the three-point line was the least of our worries,’’ he said.
Millersville made nearly eight threes per game last year and shot 36 percent from the arc, but Stitzel’s standards are high.
As a player at Lansdale Catholic and Widener University, Stitzel was the kind of player - a perimeter forward who could shoot - the modern game loves. As an assistant coach at Philadelphia University, he worked under Hall of Fame coach Herb Magee, considered one of the country’s best shooting coaches.
“Very rarely do we have somebody come to us who has a really good stroke,’’ Stitzel said. “Our No. 1 offseason priority was improving shooting, in terms of recruiting and player development.
“It’s not easy to upgrade, but our guys are hard workers. We have a couple guys who can really shoot, and I’m confident going into (the change) with my roster.’’
When the NCAA moved the arc back a feet in 2008, the three-point field goal percentage in Division I dropped from 35.2 percent to 34.4 percent, but was back up to 35.2 percent by 2017-18.
“(The longer arc) will affect average to good shooters, not great shooters,’’ Stitzel said. “The great ones will be able to adapt.’’