A lack of true post players and an abundance of above-average shooters are bringing a national basketball trend to Carroll this winter.
Teams are shooting 3-pointers. Lots of them.
From the NBA's Golden State Warriors to the University of Oklahoma in the NCAA ranks, it's becoming more popular than ever to play guard-heavy lineups and shoot 3's. Now, high school teams are giving that style of play a shot.
"You saw that in the NBA Finals with the Warriors constantly going small, and that kind of trickles down to college and into high school where coaches are willing to try to take more risks with trying different kinds of lineups," Francis Scott Key coach Ryan Kimble said. "This year, with us, we would be dumb to try to not shoot 3-pointers. We'd be taking away from one of our biggest advantages."
The Eagles are having the most success at a 3-point heavy offense this season. They entered their game against Liberty last Thursday averaging 25 3's attempted per game, making 8.8 of them for a county-best 35.2 percent.
Of the top eight 3-point shooters in the county, FSK has three of them, including the two best in seniors Rashad Giles (42.2 percent) and Carson Garvis (41.5).
"When we get started, it can get pretty difficult to stop us," Garvis said. "It's the way we move the ball that really helps, too, and the way we can spread the floor and attack."
Since the NBA adopted the 3-point shot for the 1979-80 season and the NCAA added it in 1986-87, it's been an upward trend for the sport. No longer do most teams and coaches see the shot as a gimmick, but more so as an important weapon for their offense.
Entering Monday, according to information on nba.com, all but six of the 30 NBA teams were averaging at least 20 3-pointers attempted per game. The Rockets and Warriors were both attempting more than 30 a game.
In NCAA Division I, the number of average 3's attempted a game has more than doubled in the 20 years since its introduction, according to information on ncaa.com. And that number has increased slightly in each of the last four seasons. Last year, the average number of attempted 3's were 18.58.
But perhaps no team has made the strategy as popular as the reigning NBA champions, who used 36-percent 3-point shooting on 186 attempts to down LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in the Finals last season.
"The 3-pointer is one of the quick ways to get back in a game," Liberty sophomore guard Colin Rimel said. "Seeing players like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the way they shoot, a lot of people look up to them."
Rimel ranked fourth in the county in 3-point percentage prior to last Thursday, shooting 38.8 percent. The Lions were fourth in the county, but were still shooting 32 percent on an average of 18.1 attempts per game.
Century's George Wunder is the longest tenured coach in the county. He's been with the Knights since the program's first season in 2002-03.
During his tenure, he's seen a lot of trends go through Carroll, and one right now that is contributing to the abundance of 3-point shooting is smaller, guard-oriented lineups. Part of that is due to the lack of true post players on team's rosters.
Wunder had one of those in 6-foot-8 Matt Duerr, a 2009 Century graduate and former Times Player of the Year.
"You don't see a lot of those types of players around," Wunder said. "I think coaches are putting their best players out on the court at one time, and that may be a guard-heavy lineup at times."
Even though Wunder's Knights are fifth in 3-point percentage in Carroll this winter, they do have the third-best 3-point shooter currently in junior Adam Rolfes (40.9 percent).
In order to benefit the most from a plethora of talented 3-point shooters, Kimble and his FSK coaching staff emphasize to their players advanced basketball metrics, which show the layup and the uncontested 3 as two of the best shots to take.
"Those baskets tend to net you the most reward," Kimble said. "We try to develop good shooters, we work hard at that, and then we tell them to let it fly."
Top 3-point shooting has also translated to success for most teams in the county this season. The five best squads from long range, percentage-wise, are the teams with the five best records (Winters Mill, Century, SC, FSK, Liberty).
And for Kimble's team, it's not a style of play that took much convincing to his players.
"We definitely believe that if we keep shooting that they're going to fall," Kimble said. "It's a fun style for the kids to play, too. They like having the green light."