College Three-Pointer Likely To Be Tougher

By Blair Kerkhoff
Updated: May 5, 2007

NCAA Basketball Logo KANSAS CITY — The three-point shot in college basketball probably is going to get more difficult.

The men’s basketball rules committee approved a measure Thursday that will move the arc back 1 foot to 20 feet, 9 inches for the 2008-09 season. But don’t look for a dramatic change in strategy or even shooting percentage.

“I don’t think you’ll see a drastic difference in attempts and percentage,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “You will have an adjustment period, but the kids will adjust.”

Statistics support Anderson. The line has been extended on an experimental basis in early-season tournaments over the last decade, and there has been little change in the shooting percentages.

The new distance won’t alter the game plan at Missouri.

“We’ll continue to play the way we always have,” Anderson said. “Hopefully, penetrate and find guys who can knock down shots. I don’t think the rule will affect that.”

But the longer shot should open the floor more.

“We believe this alteration will provide more space between the perimeter players and post players,” said Kansas associate athletic director Larry Keating, chairman of the rules committee.

The proposal needs approval from the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which meets May 25, but Keating said he expects smooth sailing.

The women’s rules committee elected to keep their three-point line at 19-9.

“The current court dimensions are meeting the needs of the women’s games,” said Ronda Seagraves, chair of the women’s committee.

No word on whether high schools will follow the men’s change.

The Big 12 had some of the best three-point shooters in the nation last season, including Texas A&M freshman Josh Carter, who led the country at 50 percent. Others who lit it up from long distance were Missouri sophomore Matt Lawrence (44.3 percent) and Texas sophomore A.J. Abrams (42.3 percent).

The decision to change comes after the 20th anniversary of the line’s implementation. That season, 1986-87, Indiana won the national championship thanks in part to the three-point shooting of guard Steve Alford.

The rules committee began studying a longer three-point shot in 1996, going to the international distance of 20 feet, 6 inches in some early tournament games.

Keating said that distance was considered for the college game.

“But we made it a point to come up with a distance that was correct for us and that didn’t necessarily mimic the international line,” Keating said.

The reason for the one year delay: funding. It’s not as simple as opening a can of paint. Sanding a floor, painting new lines and refinishing the court can cost $15,000 to $20,000, according to school officials. While that’s pocket change for a major program it could be a significant chunk at smaller schools, and many have already fixed budgets for next year.

FREE THROWS TWEAKED: Another rule change approved on Thursday involves lining up at the free-throw line. Beginning next season, nobody will stand in the first lane space on each side of the basket during free throws, the same rule used in the women’s game.

REPLAY EXPANDED: The committee also passed measures that would allow officials to use replay to determine flagrant fouls and to determine who started a fight. Those rules changes will be effective beginning next season.