First a note about some stats: Ken Pomeroy has flipped his magic switch so advanced player stats are available for all the college players and teams you could desire, meaning that you don't have to rely on my half-cocked analysis gleaned from downloaded box scores and haphazardly rigged spreadsheets. I highly recommend using this site for the majority of your college hoops stats needs. Now, back to the matter at hand.
The UNC men's basketball team needs to shoot more threes. We've suffered some tough losses and horrific halves due to an unwillingness, originating either by the players or the coaching staff, to shoot three pointers. Let me break it down, point by point.
1. We don't shoot a lot of threes.
2. We are a pretty good three point shooting team.
3. Shouldn't we should shoot more threes?
We don't shoot a lot of threes
UNC has a reputation for this. We are known for hammering it down low when we can, relying on the athleticism and talent of our players rather than hoisting up a lot of long bombs and praying for the best. This is a apparently a conscious stylistic decision by our coaching staff and one that has often served us well. There are 347 Division I NCAA teams that Ken Pomeroy tracks with his stats. UNC ranks 344th in percentage of shots that are threes. There are only three teams in all of Division I that shot less threes than us right now. Wow.
We are a pretty good three point shooting team
It's true. People don't want to believe this, but it's absolutely true. Think of it this way: Last season we shot the three pretty well right? Ty, Wayne, and Danny could all shoot pretty well. Ty Lawson almost led the ACC in three-point shooting last season, shooting a blistering 47.2% from beyond the arc. Larry Drew is shooting 47.1%. What about the shooting guard and the wing? Wayne Ellington and Danny Green shot 41.7% and 41.8% respectively. Marcus Ginyard is shooting 44.1% from beyond the arc (consistent with his 44.8% he shot in 2008 as a starter). Okay, so sure, Will Graves is "only" shooting 39.7%, but don't let that throw you too far off the trail: This team has the players to shoot the three as well as last year's team.
Shouldn't we shoot more threes?
Yes. Now, I'm not advocating a barrage of threes, I'm simply asking for Roy Williams to give Drew II and Marcus the go-ahead to shoot an open three point shot when available. Too often have I seen these two pass up three point shots for ill-fated, turn-over-prone drive and kicks or other mismanaged plays. The point of a drive-and-kick is to hit an open three point shooter for an easy shot- following that with another drive and kick is usually nonsensical. The open three is a good shot, and honestly, at the rate these two guys are hitting them, there really are few better shots we can get.
This strategy has other advantages that help us. Our team is astoundingly turnover prone: Shooting open threes usually means a shot earlier in the shot-clock and reduces the opportunities for turnovers. It means less putting the ball on the court and dribbling into traffic (another opportunity for turnovers). But isn't a miss really just a turnover too? It is, but fortunately, we are one of the absolute best at offensive rebounding: We get the ball back on an astounding 40.5 % of misses. For us, a miss is SIGNIFICANTLY better than a turnover.
Most importantly, our unwillingness to shoot the three is handicapping our offense. The best offensive option on this team is still Ed Davis in the low post. Without the threat of outside shooting, teams are feeling free to double team him and collapse into the point with impunity. If we can shoot just enough threes per game to stretch defenses, Ed Davis will become even more devastatingly effective.
Marcus and Drew need to shoot when they are open, otherwise a lot of games are going to look like the Clemson game.