With the shot clock ticking down early in the first half, Emerson Freshman forward Brian Hurley planted his feet and threw up a high arching three-pointer as the buzzer sounded. The big man’s first three point attempt of the seasonswished through the net, and Hurley trotted back on defense with a bewildered look on his face.
“You should have seen the look on coach’s face after that shot,” said Mike Lucas, a guard and a sophomore journalism major. “But apart from normal Hurley we have a bunch of good shooters on this team and [Emmanuel] packed the middle defensively, they made us shoot threes and we made them.”
Emerson tied a season high earlier this week attempting 24 three-pointers, eight attempts above the Lion's season average of 17 attempts per game.
The Lions drained nine threes in the game, four more than their season average.
Assistant Coach Drew Venter said the three-pointers helped the team overcome one of its main struggles this season.
“We have trouble scoring,” Venter said. “But when we have our shooters throwing up that many threes it changes the game entirely. These kids are great shooters, and if we give them minutes and give them the opportunity it spreads the floor and allows everything to run much smoother.”
But Venter also said he does not want his shooters to get carried away with their three-pointers.
“We try to emphasize that if you're open shoot it but don't force it,” Venter said. “These kids are still young so we still have to discipline them and coach them because they will shoot every three-pointer if they get the chance and we don't want that. But the coaching staff is pleased with the number of threes we are putting up.”
Michael Thorpe, a freshman guard and the leading scorer for the Lion's, said the emphasis on three-pointers is dependent on the flow of the game.
“It's tough, it really depends on who we are playing and what type of game it is,” said Thorpe, a writing, literature, and publishing major. “Tonight's game was really up and down, and a very high paced game in which we will score a lot. In other games it'll slow down and we have to grind it out inside so it really just depends on the game.”
Emerson has attempted 288 three-pointers on the season, according to the GNAC online score book, seventh most in the conference. The team also is ranked seventh in the conference with an average of five made three-pointers per game
“My first look is always to get looks closer to the basket,” said Head Coach Jim O’Brien. “But lately we have been playing Jimmy Rhodes and Michael Carbone a little bit more, and they give us legitimate three-point threats. So the threes are just a function of who is in the game, and we have a lot of faith in those two guys to shoot the ball.”
O'Brien said the three-point shot helped jump-start the offense, but the main focus going forward is to develop a consistency both offensively and defensively.
“We have had any number of games where we have had leads and just can't sustain it for 40 minutes,” O'Brien said. “Right now we are probably a 30 minute team, and we will go through stretches where we play really good, but then we will have stretches where it'll be a combination of letting the other guys get open looks and we stop scoring, and next thing you know the game is out of reach.”
The Lions now have a GNAC Conference record of 7-3 and an overall record of 9-8.