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When stats cook your brain: 3-point % defense


Mike Miller

Few teams can match Arizona in terms of perimeter production and limiting perimeter production.

The Wildcats made 38.2 percent of their 3-pointers (32nd among all D-I teams) and do it while taking a fair amount, too. Almost 38 percent of their attempted field goals are 3s (68th in D-I). Senior Brandon Lavender is their best shooter (53 percent), but Kyle Fogg (45.6 percent) and Nick Johnson (34 percent) are more likely to take a 3 because they play more often.

This is by design, too. Coach Sean Miller watched his term do the same thing last season; they just made more shots.

But that’s the easy stuff to target.

What’s more difficult to break down is why Arizona only allows teams to shoot 27.6 percent from deep, 4th best among D-I teams. Normally, I’d say this is because the Wildcats’ defense is filled with athletic, perimeter oriented players who do a terrific job guarding the 3. Their frontcourt is short, but they’re guards can … guard.

Except then Ken Pomeroy goes and does something like this. Defense has little control over how well an opponent shoots from deep? That fries my brain. I swear I’ve watched teams force opponents into bad looks and stupid shots.

But if all that defense doesn’t have a significant correlation into how a team shoots, I guess it’d explain nights like this. Maybe that’s why a team like Carolina – and its lousy perimeter defenders – can still hold teams to 31.9 from beyond the arc.

Still. I remain skeptical. Maybe.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.