Vernon: Bigger stadiums, bigger basketball, bigger problems
- Mar. 29, 2013
- 1 Comment
ARLINGTON, Texas — Like it or not, we’re in a new era of NCAA Tournament basketball.
This is the age of bigger stadiums, more fans and more money. This is the age of playing a Regional Final at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where the famous video board has another, “smaller,” video board hanging below it.
This is the age of basketball games in football stadiums. Where there’s more air from the backboard to the stands than there is in all of Allen Fieldhouse. Where the fans have to squint to see the rims.
And as this new age begins to affect play on the court, it becomes a problem.
TNT Analyst, five-time NBA Champion and well-known 3-point shooter Steve Kerr is no stranger to shooting in domes. He played for Arizona from 1983-1988, which included an Elite Eight matchup against North Carolina in the Kingdome in Seattle.
That was back when a curtain cut the stadium in half, and stands were brought in to give the game a more intimate feel. The Kingdome has a capacity of 66,000 for football, but 40,000 for basketball.
Even then, it would bother Kerr.
Still, he never played in a stadium that seats 80,000 people with a raised court in the center of the stadium.
“The shooting backdrop is different,” Kerr said. “Everything is different. People on the floor are down below, you chase a loose ball out of bounds; you have to jump off a ledge. It’s uncomfortable.”
Kerr’s not alone, either. The numbers back him up.
Tyshawn Taylor alone backs him up.
Taylor became a talking point last season for those who believe that it’s harder to shoot in domes. Taylor missed his first 18 NCAA Tournament 3-point shots in domed arenas from 2009-2012. He made one, his only make, against Kentucky in the championship game last year.
However, Taylor was just the centerpiece of a phenomena that occurred across college basketball last season. According to USA Today, in the first eight domed games in last year’s tournament, teams made just under 30 percent of their 3-point shots. That’s down from 35 percent in the regular season and 41percent in non-dome tournament games.
Michigan’s freshman guard Nik Stauskas, a 43 percent 3-point shooter, said he felt comfortable in the gym by the end of his shoot-around, but he didn’t start that way.
“It took a couple of minutes to get the touch going just because of the depth perception,” Stauskas said. “But once you’re going, it’s all right.”
The contrasting styles of Michigan and Kansas will clash in Cowboys Stadium tonight. Michigan is a run-and-gun team that likes to shoot the ball from outside the lane. Kansas is best when it plays a little smash mouth and wins inside.
If last year’s numbers are any indicator and it’s tough to shoot in Dallas, the advantage goes to Kansas.
Even further, the Jayhawks played two games at the Edward Jones dome in St. Louis last season and another two in the Superdome in New Orleans.
“It probably does favor [Kansas] just because they’ve experienced it before,” Kerr said.
As the Jayhawks wrapped up their open practice Thursday — their first time shooting at Cowboys stadium — Ben McLemore and Naadir Tharpe both wanted one last shot. McLemore made a three from the stadium’s far corner.
Tharpe had a bit more ambition. He launched a shot from half court and not only did it go in, it only touched nylon.
A nothing-but-net half court shot in Cowboys Stadium. Imagine that.