THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: Can’t move the 3-point line back far enough

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After watching basketball evolve into something like a carnival trick-shot affair, the NCAA has seen enough.

They’re a little late, but at last the suits who run college sports have noticed that hoops has turned into a long-distance shooting duel.

So after 10 years of watching teams turn down open foul-line jumpers in favor of kicking the ball out to someone behind the 3-point line, the sport’s governing body has said: “Wait, something’s not right about this.”

No kidding.

So they’re going to move back the 3-point line, theoretically making shots from downtown a bit tougher.

What’s hilarious is that the line used to be CLOSER to the basket — 19 feet, 9 inches.

That’s just a routine jump shot, and Kentucky Coach John Calipari made a telling observation.

“Why,” he asked, “should we take a 2-point shot. The 3-ball is just as easy and you get more points.”

WITH ALL kids shooting 3s — and nothing else — on playgrounds and in gyms across America, Calipari’s question was valid.

Indeed, why would you take a 2-point shot unless it was a wide-open dunk?


Moving at turtle speed as they do, the NCAA waited ages and finally pushed the line back to 20 feet, 9 inches a decade ago — exactly a foot further out than the former distance.

Perhaps the suits now have noticed that players are pouring in shots from that range just as easily, and decided to keep going in the same direction.


The NCAA now has approved to moving the 3-point line again.

The new distance will be bumped from 20 feet 9 inches, to 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches in men’s basketball.

That longer distance was tested in the NIT, and players shot roughly 33 percent — down from a tad over 37 percent with the line at the current distance.

Hey, it’s a start.

Personally, I’d like to see the line moved out to the parking lot — which is my snarky way of saying I wish they’d dump the 3-point shot entirely.

The reasoning is very simple: Doc Naismith’s idea of the game, way back to its invention, was to move and pass the ball to work for a better shot.

The 3-point line destroys that critical strategy of basketball.

It would be more logical to award three points for a dunk or layup, rather than a heave from Steph Curry range.

MY PLAN won’t ever catch on now, not with everyone who can hold a basketball launching it toward the garage door hoop from the neighbor’s front yard.

So I guess I’ll have to take the minor victory of moving the line back (to the international distance), which should make shooters — not all, but some — just a teeny bit more hesitant to fire away.

Coaches will notice guys with 3-point percentages under 25 percent and tell them to move the ball instead of taking a high-risk moon shot.

I’m hoping we can move just a bit away from teams simply alternating long-distance shots.

That might have been new and fascinating for a couple of seasons, but now it’s enough to put you to sleep.

Just as an aside, Gonzaga got knocked out of the NCAA this past season because 3-ball specialist Zach Norvell Jr. couldn’t find one when it mattered.

If the line had been further out, the Zags would have had that Texas Tech defense spread out and perhaps could have gotten some easy 2-pointers.

But my rooting for elimination of the 3-point shot (or at least making it harder) has nothing to do with Gonzaga in isolation.

It’s about returning basketball to its roots.

Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns for The Press appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Steve also contributes the “Zags Tracker” package on Gonzaga basketball once monthly during the offseason.


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