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The Three-Point Shot : Ruling Scores High With Coaches Who Have the Good Shooters; Others See Curtailed Zone Defenses and Less Rough Inside Play

August 06, 1987|MITCH POLIN | Times Staff Writer

For John Goffredo, basketball coach at Crescenta Valley High, there is irony in a decision to adopt the three-point field goal for the 1987-88 season.

Over the years Crescenta Valley has had brilliant outside shooters who never had the opportunity to play with a three-point line, including Brad Holland, Greg Goorjian, Harvey Mason and most recently Barrie Eget.

"We've had great shooters but this year we don't have a lot of shooters," Goffredo said. "The Goorjians, Hollands and Masons would have drilled that shot."

But that has not dampened Goffredo's enthusiasm for the three-point rule, which was approved in March by the National Federation Basketball Rules Committee. The rule, similar to one adopted by NCAA schools last year, says that any successful field goal from beyond 19 feet, 9 inches will count for three points.

"Some coaches don't like it, but I think it's great," Goffredo said. "I think it will add excitement."

Most coaches agree with Goffredo, although some are not quite as enthusiastic. Most agree the rule will bring about positive changes.

"When I first heard about it I wasn't in favor, but I think it's going to make for a more enjoyable game," Serra Coach George McDaniel said. "I think it will get better when we get a clock (team must shoot within specified seconds), but this is a step in the right direction."

"I think it's going to make the game a little more exciting because teams are going to be able to come back quicker (from deficits) and it should also add to the scoring," Bosco Tech Coach Jorge Calienes added.

Calienes was so excited that he had three-point lines painted on the Bosco Tech gym floor. He purchased a weight machine to help his players improve their range in jump shots and has them practicing the shot this summer. "It's important to try it out in the summer because none of the high school teams have used it before and coaches will have to experiment with it," Calienes said. (The Sunset and Freeway leagues in Orange County used the shot on an experimental basis last season.)

St. Monica Coach Leo Klemm was not nearly as gung-ho.

"I'll have to wait and see about it," Klemm said. "My first reaction, when it was adopted by the colleges, was that I didn't like it. I thought it would take away from the team concept. But I think as long as you take it only when it's there, it's OK."

What impact will the three-point shot have for most teams?

"If you don't make mistakes (on defense), I think it will play a normal role," Glendora Coach Mike LeDuc said. "If you make mistakes it will cost you. I think it's going to have a lot of impact on the teams that underestimate it."

Coaches say the new shot may have the most significant impact against teams that primarily use zone defenses.

"I think it will cause teams to play a little more aggressively on the perimeter," Klemm said. "It can hurt a team that likes to sit back in a zone. They're going to have to go more to a man-to-man."

"I don't think you'll see any more zones--at least not the straight zones," Goffredo said. "It will force teams to be more creative on defense. Teams that play a straight zone will pay the price."

Calienes said special defenses against hot shooters, such as the box-and-one, may come more into use. "If a team has more than one good shooter you'll have to play them man to man, but with one good shooter I could see teams playing box-and-one and diamond-and-one."

Not to mention what the shot should do to play underneath the basket, which many coaches say has become too physical.

"It takes away from guys beating the heck out of each other inside," LeDuc said. "It's the same reason I liked it when it came into the college game. I don't like that kind of game and I think this is a step in the right direction."

"I think it will help clean up the inside game and help unplug the middle," Calienes said. "It will be nice to see some kids driving to the basket again."

Added Goffredo: "It will also help teams who have a big man. If you collapse on him and they have a shooter, you will pay the price."

Klemm is not ready to give his players carte blanche to use the shot.

"It has to be in the rhythm of our offense," Klemm said. "We have a couple of guys who can shoot it (including guard Jason Joe) and we're not going to groom anybody for it, but we would like it to become just another part of our repertoire."

McDaniel has an outstanding three-point shooter in forward James Moses but said his team will use the shot only in selected situations.

"It will be a specialty shot for us--like when we're three points down in the final seconds or we're trying to get back into a game," he said. "We're still trying to stay in our regular offense.

McDaniel does not think the three-point shot will have as much impact as some people are predicting--at least not in the beginning. "I don't think it's going to have that much of an effect because there aren't that many kids who can shoot that shot (consistently)," he said.

There are those who will disagree.

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