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The Three Point Line Moves

No morning coffee today, as there's simply nothing to report. Sad, I know.

Briefly, then, a note on the recent recommendation from the NCAA Rules Committee that the three point line be moved back a foot to 20 feet, 9 inches. This was brought up in the diaries, but I haven't had a chance to chime in on the topic yet.

The move itself is, in my view, a welcome one. For far too long, the college game has been disproportionately affected by the three point shot. With the line as it's currently marked, collegiate basketball teams can hardly justify any jump shot that's not a three-pointer. As close in as it is, with a full extra point attached to a successful shot, a team's field goal attempts should include a healthy number of three point attempts.

Long dubbed "the great equalizer" in college basketball, the three point shot has given inferior teams a shooter's chance at competing with anyone, should they be particularly warm from the outside.

That may all change with the new line. By adding a full foot to the three point distance, a decrease in three point field goal percentage across the board should be expected. One foot may not seem like much to add, but in a game of inches, such a change will undoubtedly have a noticable affect. In the grand scheme of things, this is probably bad news for athletically inferior teams who've heretofore had a deadly weapon to counter-balance their deficiencies in other areas. More often than not, when a smaller, less-athletic team upsets a "big school" powerhouse, they've done so with a healthy number of three pointers.

Similarly, the move's affect on teams like Michigan, now coached by former West Virginia coach and three point advocate extraordinaire John Beilein, will be interesting to observe. Credit to Brian at MGoBlog, who has stuck by his "move it back" guns despite the potential setback for UM. Predictably, Beilein's saying he doesn't expect the rule to affect his team's offense, though that's fanciful wishcasting. It's doubtful Beilein doesn't know as much, and he'll almost certainly make some adjustments to the way his team operates offensively.

That brings us, then, to Texas, which just lost the one guy who may have been immune to this particular rule change. While Durant will be shooting three pointers from three feet deeper than the proposed college line, the rest of the Texas squad will adjust to the new collegiate mark.

The most obvious question is how this will affect AJ Abrams, a player who attempted 64.4% of his shots from beyond the arc. Abrams made 120 of his 284 three pointers (42.3%), and derives almost all of his value from his ability to contribute to the team in that manner. If it's reasonable to expect that percentage to dip a bit, Abrams will lose some of his offensive value, at which point he'll really need to improve his defense if he's to justify the number of minutes Rick Barnes keeps him on the floor.

Aside from Abrams, the rest of the Longhorns weren't excessively dependent on the three point shot, so the rule should have a negligible effect on their offensive value. If anything, the rule should help a team like Texas, which has traditionally run an offense featuring shots near the rim. There's some upside here, too. Abrams is a pretty freaky three point shooter; if he's able to keep his percentage at or above 40% next year, Texas won't have to try to replace that portion of its offense.

It's replacing that Durant guy's offense that will be the bigger concern.