TSU men are living large from 3-point land

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 26, 2000

Sports Editor

There’s a saying often used in basketball that you can live or die by the three, but when it comes to the Troy State, the Trojans are definitely living large.

As one of the top 3-point shooting clubs in the entire country (currently ranked second in NCAA Division I-A), Troy State can strike fear in most teams through stats alone. One glance at their 3-point shooting percentages and an opposing coach would be stupid not to play up on the Trojan shooters.

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Last season the Trojans averaged a respectable 32 percent from beyond the arc. Currently, TSU is riding a hot shooting streak into the lower 40’s and has four, count them, four shooters above 40 percent.

TSU head coach Don Maestri, while unquestionably pleased with his team’s shooting performance, says this is not something that was planned. The main component in the Trojans’ hot hands is their shot selection and that has a number of factors contributing.

"It hasn’t been by design by any means," Maestri said. "I think the fact that we have inside players that can score when given the basketball down low has given us more open attempts from 3-point range. We also have the type of offense with a lot of kids who can drive to the basket making people help out and leave our shooters open."

The shots his players have taken are also a good reason Maestri says. They haven’t forced the issue, they’ve merely taken advantage of what defenses give them.

"The one thing that this team has done is they have made good decisions on when to take the shot," he said. "They don’t shoot many forced 3-point shots. They shoot them when they get them and that and the other factors is why their percentage is so much higher this year."

The hottest 3-point artist on the team is, without a doubt sophomore guard Robert Rushing. He’s taken 99 treys and hit 45 for an incredible .455 percentage. Matt Holman is right up there with a .442 showing, point guard Detric Golden has a .410 mark as the low man in the 400 club and even forward Donnie Pemberton gets on the board with a .424 percentage.

The one thing an opposing team can’t afford to do is leave a man open on the wing when facing the Trojans. Shooting streaks come and go, but the difference with Troy State is the fact that they have four or five marksman who can put points on the board three points at a time.

Still, Maestri expresses caution to his long-range shooters. Now that the Trojans have burned each of their Trans America Athletic Conference foes once apiece from outside, he expects things will be different the second time around.

"I think the second time around we’re going to see a lot of changes," Maestri predicted. "We’ll see different defenses, much more aggressive coverage on our perimeter players. They’re not going to give our 3-point shooters those open shots.

"That just means our post players may have to take more shots the second time around," he continued. "That’s fine, because I feel that we have the players who will step up and take over that role. One thing I do know, and it’s an old saying – nothing stays the same. I really believe that’s going to be true."

Things might change, but one thing is for sure, Troy State will be respected when their feet rest beyond that thin line that changes a long jumper into a three-point play.