Long range, Longer odds: 3-point shooting at lowest point of Pearl's tenure

Tennessee's Scotty Hopson makes a three-point attempt as Kentucky's DeAndre Liggins defends.

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee's Scotty Hopson makes a three-point attempt as Kentucky's DeAndre Liggins defends.

Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson, right, attempts a 3-pointer over Florida's Alex Tyus during the Gators' 81-75 overtime win in Knoxville on Jan. 11.

Shooting effectively from the perimeter in basketball has the same effect as completing deep passes and sideline routes in football.

It stretches the defense, thus making it more vulnerable.

Tennessee's struggle to connect on 3-point shot attempts this season has enabled opponents to pack the paint, just as a football defense will load the box against offenses lacking a quarterback capable of making long throws.

The Vols have connected on 166 of 531 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc this season, marking the fewest made and lowest 3-point field-goal percentage (31.3) in UT coach Bruce Pearl's six seasons.

"If we're shooting well, it spreads the floor,'' junior Cameron Tatum said. "You spread the floor, it creates opportunities to drive, and that's our game.

"It's definitely a key for us; early in the year we were hitting our threes and winning games.''

The evidence supports as much: UT is shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point range in its 18 wins but just 28.4 percent in its 13 losses.

Pearl said 3-pointers were an area of emphasis in Tuesday's practice, as the Vols (18-13) continued preparations to play Arkansas (18-12) on Thursday (TV: MyVLT, 7:30 p.m.) in the first round of the SEC tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

"The 3-point shot is important to any offense, but it's definitely very important to mine,'' Pearl said. "I think we will shoot it better. We've got some guys that can shoot it, I just don't think we're doing a good enough job getting it to them.''

Junior Scotty Hopson leads the Vols in 3-point shooting this season, hitting at 38.3 percent and making 40.9 percent in SEC play.

Hopson was 3-for-3 shooting beyond the 3-point arc as Tennessee led by as many as 21 points in a convincing 83-76 win over then-No. 3 Pittsburgh. The team, collectively, was 7-of-11 shooting from 3-point range against the Big East regular-season champion Panthers.

In a 104-84 win over Memphis, UT was 12-of-21 shooting 3-pointers, leading the Tigers by as many as 36 points.

"I look at where our shots are coming from, off dribble handoffs, drive-draw-dish or inside-out,'' Hopson said. "Usually, when you get the ball outside in any of those situations, your feet are already squared up.

"Hitting 3-pointers obviously makes a great deal of difference to me because of my ability to get to the rim.''

Indeed, when Hopson is hitting from outside, defenses are forced to press up on him, and one of Hopson's greatest attributes is a lightning-quick first step.

Hopson said as much as the Vols have increased their shot volume in practice. He also said they also must work harder to find better 3-point shots to attempt.

"It's about guys making it, and guys sharing it, and that includes me,'' Hopson said. "We all have to do a better job of distributing the ball and finding the open man.

"We're all conscientious that teams are crashing down in the paint on us, so when that happens other guys have to relocate and want the ball.''

Tatum said there's more to it than merely being open on the perimeter.

"It's if the pass is right, and if the catch is right, and obviously, how the defense is playing you,'' Tatum said. "The way teams have been packing it in on us, we can kick it back out to open teammates.''

Special Delivery: Pearl said he's checking into modifying a seat on the team bus so that center Brian Williams can have a comfortable 3 1/2-hour ride down to Atlanta today.

"I'm going to inquire about that,'' Pearl said.

Williams took part in Tuesday's practice, but he experienced soreness and wasn't playing as well as before the injury, Pearl said.

"He went, and the results were mixed, as you would expect,'' Pearl said. "We'll see how he responds (today). You can tell he's been out.''

Williams practiced on Monday after missing the previous eight days with an injured back suffered in the Vols' Feb. 26 loss to Mississippi State.

No Melvin: Pearl said senior guard Melvin Goins missed practice on account of the flu.

"I hope to have him back (today), but he's got a pretty big bug,'' Pearl said. "It's coming out of him . . . he's a pretty tough kid, though.''

NCAA Movement: ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi has dropped UT from a No. 9 seed to a No. 10 seed in his latest projections, predicting the Vols will play Cincinnati in Denver in the West Region in Anaheim, Calif.

Other websites held firm in their projected NCAA seeding for UT: CBSSports.com (9); Foxsports.com (9); SI.com (6), Warrennolan.com (9).

3-POINT PCT. BY SEASON

Season 3FG-FGA Pct.

2010-11 166-531 31.3

2009-10 218-681 32.0

2008-09 229-728 31.5

2007-08 312-875 35.7

2006-07 327-896 36.5

2005-06 264-683 38.7

3-POINT IN SEC PLAY

Player 3FG-FGA Pct.

Hopson 27-66 40.9

Harris 12-37 32.4

McBee 11-36 30.6

Tatum 16-61 26.2

Goins 11-43 25.6

Bone 6-25 24.0

Golden 2-14 14.3

UT'S LAST FIVE GAMES

Opponent 3FG-FGA Pct.

vs. Georgia 4-17 23.5

vs. Vanderbilt 2-15 13.3

vs. Miss. State 5-21 23.8

vs. South Carolina 4-11 36.4

vs. Kentucky 2-9 22.2

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Comments » 21

BleedN_OrangE writes:

sounds like they need to take some advice from the girls on 3's....they are hammering them...i hate to hear BW is still hurting...that doesn't sound very promising...sure do hope these guys turn it around

cdldoc#211897 writes:

About 60 of 100 threes should just about return our 3 ball average to an "average" percent. And that should carry the team to the final four at least.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

lol...don't wanna see any 3s like that last game. If we can learn to set 'em up maybe they'll improve.

TNVol71 writes:

The low percentages have come it 2 instances:

1) They come down the floor and fire up a 3 without ever passing the ball.
2) They pass the ball around until there are less than 5 seconds on the shot clock and are forced to jack up a 3 from whatever position the ball handler may be in (falling away or with a defender right in their face).

A little more penetration to the lane and then kicking the ball back out would help.

Just my 2 cents.....Go Vols.

baneberry writes:

...and this is something new? This has to be the worst shooting team that will be in the NCAA's. Inside 3-5' they're horrible and forget the FT's. Whoever is working with this team on FT's needs to go. Tyler McBee is on this team for his defense and rebounding prowess; because the man takes 1-2 shots a game. A shooter shoots and he looks like he's scared to death to take a shot. That's coaching. I don't want Bruce Pearl gone and it's assinine to even think that but come on Bruce, get your assistant's asses in gear and have them coaching.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to TNVol71:

The low percentages have come it 2 instances:

1) They come down the floor and fire up a 3 without ever passing the ball.
2) They pass the ball around until there are less than 5 seconds on the shot clock and are forced to jack up a 3 from whatever position the ball handler may be in (falling away or with a defender right in their face).

A little more penetration to the lane and then kicking the ball back out would help.

Just my 2 cents.....Go Vols.

Exactly.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to cdldoc#211897:

About 60 of 100 threes should just about return our 3 ball average to an "average" percent. And that should carry the team to the final four at least.

Final Four? lol Maybe we should just work to get through the final 3 minutes! I like the enthusiasm though. Final four would be hilarious to throw in a few poster's faces! Not that I would do that.

volaholic45 writes:

I misss Chris Lofton.

GONAVY writes:

UT just needs to concentrate on one thing right now: beating Arkansas...

GreerVol22 writes:

"Hopson said as much as the Vols have increased their shot volume in practice. He also said they also must work harder to find better 3-point shots to attempt."

like toddy said above, it ain't the lack of shot opportunities...its the lack of shooters.

sheep writes:

in response to baneberry:

...and this is something new? This has to be the worst shooting team that will be in the NCAA's. Inside 3-5' they're horrible and forget the FT's. Whoever is working with this team on FT's needs to go. Tyler McBee is on this team for his defense and rebounding prowess; because the man takes 1-2 shots a game. A shooter shoots and he looks like he's scared to death to take a shot. That's coaching. I don't want Bruce Pearl gone and it's assinine to even think that but come on Bruce, get your assistant's asses in gear and have them coaching.

Agree totally, the problem with the shooters all year has been they are not allowed to turn it loose and fire away when open. When Skylar Mcbee shoots more than one shot in the game he dosent see the floor the rest of the half, and sometimes the rest of the game, and that is if he hits or misses. When he has shot the ball more than 3 times which was against Georgia, and Vandy the first time, and Alabama the only time, he is he is 7 for 17 which is 41 percent. SHOOTERS HAVE TO BE ABLE TO SHOOT WITHOUT FEAR OF BEING TAKEN OUT IF THEY MISS. That has been the problem with this teams shooting all year. We havent created an open shot for many of them, and the majority of our looks from three have been from way outside the three line,and we have forced some at the end of games, and during the game. We have to drive and finish, or drive, draw and dish the rock to the shooters. Every team in america knows that in order for shooters to shoot consistently, is for them to know they have shots comming to them. For example, if pearl would tell Mcbee that he was going to run some plays for him to get an open look, and tell the other players that they should be looking for him for the open look, I think it would improve his percentage. Goins has not thrown the ball to Mcbee when he has been in the game once for a three point attempt, and I am not the only person aware of this. Also, if you watch the highlights of the makes of many of the shooters on our team, the ones we have made have been from way out side as well, this tells me we are having to settle fot 30 footers, when there are closer three point attempts available, this is an example of poor execution and selfishness. So, we will see if it is really a point of emphasis in the comming game, if the shooters are allowed to shoot without fear, and the team creates open looks for the shooters.
BAAAAAAAAAAAA Reservations for three please! says the Sheep.

huntined#565710 writes:

VOTE FOR ANGIE TODAY!!

brod writes:

this team can't hit a bull in the a**.

hikerdude writes:

Using the numbers in the article, Hopson, Harris and McBee collectively are making 36% ot their three point attempts, the others 26.3% Take Tatum out and all the others collectively are hitting 32.7%

johnlg00 writes:

in response to TNVol71:

The low percentages have come it 2 instances:

1) They come down the floor and fire up a 3 without ever passing the ball.
2) They pass the ball around until there are less than 5 seconds on the shot clock and are forced to jack up a 3 from whatever position the ball handler may be in (falling away or with a defender right in their face).

A little more penetration to the lane and then kicking the ball back out would help.

Just my 2 cents.....Go Vols.

That is exactly right. The biggest factor in our 3-point inaccuracy is the quality of shots we are taking. It may be hard to take the ball all the way to the hoop against the packed-in defenses, but just penetrating to the foul line sucks the defense in and opens up guys to shoot in rhythm without hands in their faces.

1vavolfan writes:

Notice the 3 point stats were only good when Bruce was coaching Buzz's players. He has never recruited a pure shooter since he's been here, hopefully Jones will be as advertised next year. If my team shot 31% from 3 pt range I think that I would shoot them much less instead of shooting 20 per game.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

It's a killer to think we almost had Craft and Selby...

what a diff those two guards would make.

james#216392 writes:

in response to sheep:

Agree totally, the problem with the shooters all year has been they are not allowed to turn it loose and fire away when open. When Skylar Mcbee shoots more than one shot in the game he dosent see the floor the rest of the half, and sometimes the rest of the game, and that is if he hits or misses. When he has shot the ball more than 3 times which was against Georgia, and Vandy the first time, and Alabama the only time, he is he is 7 for 17 which is 41 percent. SHOOTERS HAVE TO BE ABLE TO SHOOT WITHOUT FEAR OF BEING TAKEN OUT IF THEY MISS. That has been the problem with this teams shooting all year. We havent created an open shot for many of them, and the majority of our looks from three have been from way outside the three line,and we have forced some at the end of games, and during the game. We have to drive and finish, or drive, draw and dish the rock to the shooters. Every team in america knows that in order for shooters to shoot consistently, is for them to know they have shots comming to them. For example, if pearl would tell Mcbee that he was going to run some plays for him to get an open look, and tell the other players that they should be looking for him for the open look, I think it would improve his percentage. Goins has not thrown the ball to Mcbee when he has been in the game once for a three point attempt, and I am not the only person aware of this. Also, if you watch the highlights of the makes of many of the shooters on our team, the ones we have made have been from way out side as well, this tells me we are having to settle fot 30 footers, when there are closer three point attempts available, this is an example of poor execution and selfishness. So, we will see if it is really a point of emphasis in the comming game, if the shooters are allowed to shoot without fear, and the team creates open looks for the shooters.
BAAAAAAAAAAAA Reservations for three please! says the Sheep.

You McBee fans haven't watched a lot of basketball. He can't guard his own shadow. That's why he doesn't play. He wouldn't see the floor for any other SEC team. Enjoy his two minutes a game. It two more than he would get else where.

ETownVol writes:

in response to brod:

this team can't hit a bull in the a**.

with a banjo, at that!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to ETownVol:

with a banjo, at that!

Why would this team WANT to hit a bull anywhere...just make him mad...and don't use a good banjo...let one of the lazy defensive players do it! Might get him going(the player not the bull). DEFENSE! "that's the ticket" smart defense though...don't make any bulls mad.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to james#216392:

You McBee fans haven't watched a lot of basketball. He can't guard his own shadow. That's why he doesn't play. He wouldn't see the floor for any other SEC team. Enjoy his two minutes a game. It two more than he would get else where.

I think both of you are correct...as far as shooting(sheep) and McBee's(james) defense.
McBee's lack of quickness compared to the other team player sometimes hurts us...but that's basketball. Against Ky. almost all our players were outquicked at times. Some of that is just plain old "want to". Maybe...I don't know but maybe if McBee was given a few shots in a series of plays he might hit a couple? It's a gamble and I'm guessing that's what all those 3s early the other night were team-wise. We just don't have any confidence in 3s as a team this year...Loften and J, Smith would shoot a 3 and everyone expected it to go in...we were surprised when they missed. These off balanced shots and hesitant 3's aren't going in for this team. Even Hopson is shaky outside. Harris who started the year out hitting them is way off now. Goins, Tatum, McBee... all in the same boat. I agree with sheep that the unwillingness to hit the open man has hurt us. It's hard to make a pass to someone though who will probably jack up a 3 and miss. So I say leave the 3s to Hopson or Harris or Cam(who can hit them). These 3 have the habit of following their shots to put it back up for 2.
I guess I'm just thinking as I type soo for what it's worth I think we can hit 3's but many times the timing of them aren't there. They just aren't Loftens or JSmiths!

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