Last season, Idaho women’s basketball was second among all Division I teams for three-point field goals made and was one of only four teams to take at least 1000 threes.
Even after just one scrimmage, this team’s identity is clear — these Vandals are going to maintain that identity and do their best to make it rain.
In Sunday’s exhibition against Lewis and Clark State College, the Vandals took 33 three-point attempts and averaged a three-point attempt once every minute and ten seconds. Six different Vandals made threes, and three shot 50 percent or better from beyond the arc. Those numbers actually project as improvements on Idaho’s scalding pace from the 2016-17 season. Idaho averaged nearly 30 attempts per game last season and shot about 31 percent from three, and tonight they finished shooting 39.4 percent from three. Although this game was an exhibition and coaches were doing their best to get players in and not necessarily play to win, fans should take solace in the fact that this team is going to do their best to pour it in from beyond the arc like last year.
“Without a doubt, we like the three ball and we’re going to keep shooting it from deep,” Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said after the exhibition. “We’d like to develop more of an inside presence, but shooting from deep is a huge part of our game.”
That is exactly how it should be.
It is no secret that basketball as a whole has migrated toward high-efficiency offenses capable of sinking lots of threes. J. R. Smith made it cool to shoot at will from behind the arc, and the Warriors made it overwhelmingly successful. Why shouldn’t this team want to follow the three-heavy formula that has propelled many teams and individuals to success? If the splash brothers can do it, so can the splash sisters.
These Vandals have the shooters necessary to be a successful three-point shooting team. Junior guard Taylor Pierce set a school record for three-pointers made in a season and was 20th in the entire NCAA for the same metric. Junior Mikayla Ferenz led the conference in points, which was in large part due to her proficiency from three. Pierce and Ferenz finished second and third respectively in the Big Sky Conference for three-point field goals made.
Four out of the roster’s 11 players are freshmen, but it does not appear as if there will be any problems keeping that three-focused approach. This year’s newcomers seem to be fitting in nicely to the three-focused culture. Allison Kirby, Nina Carlson and Haley Blankenship all took shots from beyond the arc and the freshmen accounted for three of the team’s 13 makes with all but Kirby coming off the bench.
“I thought the freshman performed well,” said Newlee. “Kirby and Haley can shoot the basketball and even though nerves played into some of their performances I thought it was great to get them in there and get them some minutes.”
This year’s team has three-point shooting up and down the roster. Plenty of established snipers combined with capable new blood should make for an electric, high-scoring team with no fear of throwing it up from beyond the arc.
Jonah Baker can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jonahpbaker