As this season has progressed, Virginia Tech has gone away from the three-point shot more and more.Â I am not sure if this was a conscious decision at the urging of Coach Greenberg, or if it just a result of the defenses Tech has seen and the confidence of the shooters.Â Let’s look at this more in-depth.
For the purpose of this article, I have drawn a line in the sand between the unc-greensboro and first unc games.Â This marks the midpoint of VT’s season to date, with 16 games before and after that point.Â Here’s a look at Virginia Tech’s three-point shooting before and after that point in time for their five main three-point shooters (Vassallo, Dowdell, Washington, Gordon, and Munson).Â No one else on the team has more than five attempts for the season.
|Three Point Shooting|
|First 16 Games||90/229 – 39%|
|Last 16 Games||62/177 – 35%|
That is a significant drop-off.Â The Hokies had been averaging 5.6 makes per game on 14.3 attempts during the mostly non-conference part of their schedule.Â But in the last 16 games, all against ACC opponents, that has dropped to 3.9 makes on 11.1 attempts per game.Â That is almost two fewer made threes per game.Â
When you look at it from an individual standpoint, you can really see where the drop-off occured.
|Player||3′s (First 16 Games)||3′s (Last 16 Games)|
|Vassallo||29/71 – 41%||35/74 – 47%|
|Dowdell||31/70 – 44%||12/41 – 29%|
|Gordon||12/33 – 36%||2/20 – 10%|
|Washington||7/30 – 23%||9/29 – 31%|
|Munson||11/25 – 44%||4/13 – 31%|
|Totals (whole team)||90/229 – 39%||62/177 – 35%|
The most obvious drop-off is with Zabian Dowdell.Â Coming into this season, he had shot between 151 and 156 threes in each of his three seasons.Â He was on pace for that at the halfway mark, but attempted just 40 threes in the second half and saw his three-point percentage drop by 15%.Â He has made more than one three-pointer in just two of his last 15 games.Â Compare that to his first 17 games where he made multiple threes in 12 of those games.
Zabe’sÂ shot has looked very flat with insufficient arc, a problem he had last year that caused his percentage on threes to drop from 42% in 2004-05 to 36%.Â He also just doesn’t have the same confidence and swagger outside.Â
Jamon Gordon has just been awful from behind the arc in the second half.Â He has never been much of a three-point shooter, never shooting even 30% or making more than 23 threes in a season.Â But the 2 for 20 run has allowed teams to back off of him and cut down on his penetration to the hoop, hurting his scoring.
With Nigel Munson, the reason for his lack of threes in the second half is easy: lack of playing time.Â Nigel has had no fear at stroking the long ball, hitting a key three at carolina and also in the ACC Semi-Final game against nc state.Â
Deron’s just been Deron.Â Not afraid to shoot the three, not making very many of them.Â At least he’s consistent.
No one can blame A.D. Vassallo for VTâ€™s drop-off in three-pointers.Â The Puerto Rican assassin is pulling the trigger from the time he gets off the bus.Â His attempts are very similar in both halves, while his percentage in the second half is an amazing 47%.Â Look for him to be one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC next year along with McClinton of miami and singletary of uva.
So why the drop off?Â The answer for Dowdell is fairly obvious.Â Since ACC play got hot and heavy, he has relied much more on going to the hoop.Â This has resulted in many more free throws for him.Â The same can be said for Gordon.Â The table below shows their free throw attempts this season.
|Player||FT AttemptsÂ (First 16 Games)||FT AttemptsÂ (Last 16 Games)|
In summary, it is hard to throw stones at the Hokies approach in the second half of the season.Â The Hokies went 9-7 in those games against the best conference in the land and were scoring over 70 points per game.Â Where it has hurt the Hokies is when they are coming from behind.Â As I have pointed out all season, the Hokies are nearly unbeatable when ahead early: 6-1 when leading at the first TV timeout in ACC play and 8-0 when leading at the half in ACC games.Â Compare that to VT’s 3-7 record when trailing at the half, and you see that Tech is not a good come-from-behind team.Â One certainly can attribute that to their lack of three-point shooting, which helps get teams back in games.Â
Let’s just hope Zabian can regain his magic touch from earlier this season and that the Hokies can stay ahead in their NCAA Tournament games.