Chris Mullin scored 2,440 points in his four seasons at St. John’s from 1981-85 without the benefit of a three-point line. He just missed out, as the NCAA started using it in all conferences in 1986-87.
Lou Carnesecca was unimpressed, calling it “A Mickey Mouse shot” because of its close proximity to the basket.
In recent years, the long-range shot has exploded in college and the NBA. Celtics All-Star Antoine Walker may have been ahead of his time in the early 2000s when he said that he attempted so many threes “because there are no fours”.
“It’s probably the biggest evolution of the game of basketball, the three point shot,” Mullin said after his St. John’s squad put up a 77-61 win over New Orleans in the season opener at Carnesecca Arena on Friday night. “There’s no denying that.”
The Red Storm hit 12 shots from beyond the arc, six in each half. Meanwhile, New Orleans made four threes in the entire game.
Marcus LoVett, wearing the number 20 that Mullin wore, made five of his 10 three-point attempts on his way to a game-high 23 points. “We’ve got guys that can shoot outside shots and also, they can be inside, versatile,” LoVett said. “We’ve got people that can pick and pop so it’s about what we want to do as a team and what works best for us.”
Marvin Clark II, Shamorie Ponds and Bashir Ahmed all hit two threes apiece, and Bryan Trimble Jr. connected on one.
With Carnesecca in attendance, the Red Storm attempted 30 three-pointers in the game, meaning more than half of the Johnnies 56 shots were threes. Mullin likes the Warriors-style, up-tempo offense. Of course, before Curry, Thompson and Durant, it was Mullin, Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond piling up the points. But it’s not just about putting up the shots. “It’s really how you generate those opportunities,” Mullin said. “Do it off a drive and kick, post-ups, screens and transitions are all good looks for the three point shots. What we want to stay away from is just coming down, shaking and baking and launching. That’s just a launch, that’s not a real field goal attempt.”
Ponds missed seven of his nine three-point attempts but made up got that with a 12-point, seven-rebound, six-assist performance.
A three-point barrage can make up for a number of problems. St. John’s outscoring New Orleans by 24 from beyond the arc helps erase being out rebounded 42-27 by New Orleans.
St. John’s led 30-28 late in the first, and ended the half on a 7-0 run before dominating most of the second half and going up by as many as 22 with under six minutes left. New Orleans cut the lead to 11 but St. John’s held on for the 16-point win.
Central Connecticut State comes to Carnesecca Arena on Tuesday. They should expect a three-point barrage.