Hoops analysis: More guys with 3s, more wins
How about USF's 3-point shooting this weekend in Daytona Beach?
Consider this: Last season's Bulls -- with senior Melvin Buckley taking and making more 3s than the rest of the roster combined -- hit no more than eight 3s in any game, and that was in the opener. This season? USF hit 10 threes against Florida Atlantic, then 11 against Florida State. In 30 games last season, the Bulls had six games where they hit seven or more threes; through five games this season, the Bulls have done it four times already.
What impressed FSU coach Leonard Hamilton the most Sunday was the depth of USF's perimeter game, with five different Bulls hitting at least two 3-pointers. He said he didn't know if he'd ever coached against a team that had that many players stepping up and hitting 3s. In 30 games last season, USF had zero games in which more than three players hit a 3-pointer; they've done that three times in five games this season. Last year, there was a direct correlation between the number of player who hit 3s and the result on the scoreboard.
Players with 3s # of games Record
3 11 7-4 (.636)
2 12 4-8 (.333)
1 7 1-6 (.143)
If you were impressed with five guys hitting 3s, USF had six in Saturday's win against Florida Atlantic, and four in the loss to Buffalo. Last year, Buckley, Solomon Bozeman and Jesus Verdejo hit all but 10 of USF's 3-pointers; this year, if you take away the top three perimeter shooters, the rest already have 12. The supporting outside shooters have already hit more 3s in five games than they did in 30 last season.
And USF isn't really taking more 3-pointers -- they're averaging 16.0 per game, up from 14.3 last season. The Bulls are just hitting them almost half again as good as they did last year, going from 32.5 percent to 47.5 this season. (Of course they won't keep going at that clip, but it's where they are right now.) The absolute best 3-point percentage of any USF player last year was Buckley at 34.6 percent. The Bulls' top five 3-point shooters are all easily above that mark: Orane Chin is a perfect 6-for-6, Bozeman is a ridiculous 13-for-19, Dominique Jones 6-for-13, Chris Howard 5-for-11 and Verdejo 7-for-18.
Look at 2006-07 in terms of "Games With Three-Pointers" and watch the quick dropoff: Buckley 27, Bozeman 19, Verdejo 10, Chris Capko 3, Chris Howard 2, Amu Saaka 2, Eddie Lovett 1. Now look at the same stat for this year's five games: Bozeman 5, Verdejo 4, Howard 4, Jones 3, Chin 3, Dante Curry 1.
As defenses collapse inside to limit the touches for center Kentrell Gransberry, outside shooting will be crucial to USF's success. If the Bulls can continue to hit perimeter shots at the rate they've started, opponents will have to decide whether it's worth doubling down on Gransberry after all.