Emerson’s James Rhodes, a junior marketing communication major, opened last Wednesday’s game against Lasell College with a three- pointer a little over a minute into the contest, despite having a defender's hand in his face.
He and freshman teammate Michael Carbone, also a marketing communication major, are used to taking shots like this, ones that many would have to think twice about. But for them, they don't even think—it’s just instinct.
The two have become the top shooters on the men's basketball team this season — about three quarters of their shot attempts have come from beyond the arc. They are each fluctuating around 35 percent shooting from both inside and outside, a fact Rhodes is familiar with.
“I'm definitely aware of that. I get told that almost every day in practice,” Rhodes said. “Two threes [is the same as] three baskets: six points.”
Head Coach Jim O'Brien said the scoring tactic was not planned, but that it is working well for the team.
“That's their game,” O'Brien said. “I like the idea that both of them have their confidence in the three-point shooting.”
As of Feb. fifth, Rhodes and Carbone alone have combined for 63 made threes this season—more than half of their team's total.
Carbone said being a good three-point shooter is attributed to form and repetition.
“I would say form [is the key],” said Carbone. “Even if you have ugly form or an uncharacteristic form, it's just important to keep practicing the same form over and over.”
But Rhodes said mentality is a more important factor than perfect form when it comes to being a three-point shooter.
“I think form is definitely important,” Rhodes said. “But I think the biggest [key], for me at least, is just pure confidence. I think as long as you're confident ... you're golden.”
Carbone goes by the phrase “three's more than two,” and Rhodes has a few different sayings that reflect his confidence on the court.
Rhodes has been a big believer in his own shooting philosophy, known as the hand-down, man-down approach. He also tells himself that “no three is a bad three.”
Freshman communication studies major Brian Hurley, a forward, said he knows how important the duo’s success is to their offense.
“It makes things so much easier,” said Hurley. “Having guys who can spread the defense as well as those two makes a world of difference for me inside.”
Hurley said the team also really feeds off Carbone and Rhodes' energy when they are making shots.
“Whenever I see Jimmy hit a three, it's like the flip of a switch,” said Hurley. “Same with [Carbone]; when he hit six threes at Norwich, I have never seen the team get more excited.”
Ever since Carbone dropped six threes against the Cadets at Norwich on Jan. 8, Emerson has taken a turn for the better, accruing an 8-3 record. Emerson now stands at 12-9 overall and 10-4 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.
The Lions still have some challenges ahead of them though, as their last three games of the season come against the 5th, 6th, and 7th ranked teams in the conference.
“I would like for both of them to work on their overall guard skills, and I think that their numbers, their three-point numbers, kind of reflect where they are with their games,” said O'Brien. “I don't think either one of them has the greatest ability with the ball.”