Threes Please for Bronchos

Threes Please for Bronchos

Josh Holliday, 11, shoots a 3-pointer against OBU Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. (Hayden Barzditis/The Vista)

The University of Central Oklahoma men’s basketball team is having one of their best 3-point shooting seasons ever.

The Bronchos are currently shooting 38 percent from long range, which is up from 35 percent last year. Bronchosports.com has team statistics dating back to the 2006-07 season, and this year’s Broncho team has the best 3-point percentage of any team shown on the site.

UCO Head Coach Tom Hankins said a lot of credit for their 3-point success has to go to his players spending time practicing and improving their shots. He said that they have talented centers and power forwards, which has allowed them to play their inside-out style of basketball, by driving the lane or passing it to their big men and letting them find the open man on the perimeter.

“We’ve added some depth in the frontcourt so now people will have to pay even more attention to our big guys, which gives our guards open looks,” Hankins said.

Jordan Hemphill, Jordan London, Josh Holliday and Kole Talbott are all shooting above 40 percent from three this year. Last year, the Bronchos had just one player shoot above that threshold.

With the bigs helping the guards, Hankins said it also works vice versa.

“It opens up the lane, helps you get opportunities to the basket and get easy shots,” Hankins said.

Corbin Byford, a power forward, is the leading scorer for the Bronchos, averaging 13.4 points per game. When UCO is able to knock down three’s, Hankins said it makes life easier for Byford and the other big men by forcing the defense to spread out more.

While Hankins said recruiting hasn’t really changed, he said it is hard for them to recruit guards who are poor shooters, unless they are really talented athletes and can get to the basket.

“We’ve always emphasized recruiting shooters and hopefully we continue to get better,” Hankins said.

With the three point shot getting more popular, statistics show that the midrange shot is not as efficient as taking a 3-pointer.

“A lot of people’s philosophy is we’re either gonna shoot layups, dunks or threes,” Hankins said. “I don’t believe in that. Some guys are really good midrange shooters and you have to honor that.”

Hankins said his team has a lot of great midrange shooters and that coaches have to play to the strength of their team.

“I don’t really buy into it that the midrange shot is a bad shot or a thing of the past,” Hankins said. “I still think it’s a big part of the game and can really help you win games.”

One thing Hankins said has changed due to the popularization of the 3-pointer is the versatile players that are playing. Hankins said these players can shoot the three, but also have the ability to guard multiple positions. Anthony Roberson, who plays for the Bronchos, is one of those versatile players, Hankins said.

“Because the NBA is going to it, guys like that are starting to develop more and more,” Hankins said. “You see them more in high levels of college and it will trickle down to Division II.”

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