It has taken about half the season, but Paul Drecksel has made his coach a fan of the three-point shot.
Drecksel scored 23 points--15 on three-pointers--Saturday to lead Cal State Northridge to a 58-55 win over Cal Poly Pomona before a gathering of 684 in a hut called Poly (never to be mistaken for Pauley) Pavilion.
Northridge's Pete Cassidy, the coach in question, is the Wally George of basketball mentors. He has been known to lovingly refer to this year's new three-point shot rule with words like "ridiculous" and phrases like "not real basketball."
So what did he have to say about the rule after Drecksel and Jimmy Daniels combined to hit 7 of 10 attempts?
"At this point in time," Cassidy said with a slight smile, "I think it's wonderful."
Northridge improved to 2-1 in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. and 6-10 overall. Pomona dropped to 1-2 and 8-8.
The Matadors trailed by 10 with nine minutes left in the game. Two minutes and three three-pointers later, they were down by two.
Drecksel, who had 18 points in the second half, said Cassidy just recently gave him permission to attempt three-pointers.
"He's a conservative coach," Drecksel explained. "But we had been beaten by three-pointers so many times early this season we had to consider it ourselves."
Expect to see it some more. Drecksel has made 30 of 58 (51.7%) three-point attempts this season.
Pomona led at the half, 20-16, despite shooting 28.6% and commiting seven turnovers. The reason: Northridge shot 25% and had eight turnovers.
The Broncos lengthened their lead to 12 at the midway mark of the second half after Bill Dobbs hit back-to-back three-pointers, but Pomona then went nine minutes with only one field goal.
In the meantime, Drecksel and Daniels played Can You Top This from three-point country. When Drecksel dropped in a 25-footer with 6:43 left, the score was 47-45.
Well, it was actually 47-43. Earlier in the half, the Matadors had picked up a phantom basket by Drecksel that appeared nowhere but in the official book and on the scoreboard.
Pomona clung to a 53-52 lead with a minute left, but Ray Horwath was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound and hit two free throws to give CSUN the lead with 46 seconds remaining.
The teams then traded free throws until the Matadors put the game away as Horwath fed Drecksel for a breakaway layup with 10 seconds left.