You don’t need me to tell you just how successful Rick Pitino has been in recent years. The proof is there. In the last six seasons, Pitino has one national championship, two Final Four appearances and two Regional Final appearances. He was just recently inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
See where I’m going here?
Although many have noticed and credited Pitino’s great coaching over the years, one thing that doesn’t seem to get recognized was the fact that he’s done it without having good three point shooting teams. Despite winning a national title this past season, three-point shooting wasn’t one of the team’s strengths.
“I feel like I’ve lost one of my closest friends in life without the three-point shot, but that’s the nature of our team right now,” Pitino said midway through the 2012-13 season.
Statistically, Pitino’s best three point shooting team was the 2004-05 Final Four team that featured the likes of Francisco Garcia, Taquan Dean and Larry O’Bannon. That team shot 41% from behind the three-point line which ranked top ten in the country. Since then, Pitino’s teams haven’t been close to being as efficient from three-point range.
3-PT % Since 2006
2005-06: 35% (Thanks, Taquan)
The man who had previously used the three-point shot to revolutionize the game and propel his coaching career has been putting together some impressive seasons in the past eight years, despite not having one of the main weapons he’s known for.
Just imagine what he’s going to do with a line-up full of shooters.
I realize it was just one intrasquad scrimmage, but the main thing that I took away from this past Saturday was that this team has a lot of guys who can knock down the three-ball. I’m not sure if there is one “elite shooter,” but guys like Russ Smith, Terry Rozier, Chris Jones, Anton Gill, Wayne Blackshear and Luke Hancock can all shoot the ball.
If you combine consistent outside shooting with the defensive tenacity that we’ve seen from Pitino’s team in recent years, it could get scary for the rest of college basketball.