Jamion Christian and his Mount St. Mary's team spent time together over the summer reading about basketball. One day the Mountaineers read that if you want to be very good at a skill you need to repeat it 10,000 times.
"And so our guys all made the commitment to make 10,000 shots on their own each month," Christian said.
The work has paid off. Over the past 11 games, the Mount (9-12, 5-3 NEC) is shooting 41.3 percent from 3-point range while averaging 10.6 3-pointers made per game.
“We really practice shooting,” Christian said. “That sounds really simple, but a lot of teams don’t. We’ve really spent a lot of time shooting the basketball.”
Two days before a game, the Mountaineers will shoot for 45 minutes. The day before a game, they will shoot for an hour and 15 minutes.
“Doing so with the proper mechanics,” Christian said. “You know, catch the ball a certain way, put [the ball] to shirt level, finish the same way every time. We harp on those things.”
When Christian played for Mount St. Mary's from 2000-2004, he shot just 74-for-253 (29.2 percent) from beyond the arc. He believes that if he had a coach preaching shooting every day, he would have been a better shooter.
So, as a head coach for the past two years, Christian has implemented a shooting philosophy modeled off of the nation’s top basketball programs.
“I think if you look at high-major basketball teams like North Carolina or Kentucky, you play these teams, it becomes about how much you can score,” Christian said.
"Their offense really dictates how the game is being played. I really wanted to model our team and our program on the best in the country, and I felt we could do that by really valuing the 3-pointer and playing at a really fast tempo.”
This season, the Mountaineers rank sixth in the nation with 9.4 3-pointers made per game and 10th in total three-pointers made (198). Last season they set a school record with 274 three pointers made.
Senior guards Julian Norfleet (38 percent), Rashad Whack (35.5 percent) and Sam Prescott (34.6 pecent) lead the way from beyond the arc.
Prescott drained a 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left to defeat LIU Brooklyn on Saturday. It was one of the Mountaineers' 16 three-pointers in the 95-92 victory. They tied a school record with 11 three-pointers in the first half. Whack and Norfleet each made five triples in the win, combining to shoot 10-of-15 (.667) from beyond the arc in the game.
Christian says he's always thought that it's easier to find five or six guys who can really score than to find five guys who can really lock guys down defensively. He recruits shooters and plays to their strength.
“We have over 200 plays in our playbook,” Christian said. “That’s a lot of plays but they all are based on helping our guys getting to spots on the floor where they can really shoot the ball well and be effective."