For Phoenix fans that did not attend Green Bay’s preseason trip to Puerto Rico, news and information about the team’s performance is hard to find.
We know from the team’s official website that Green Bay went a perfect 4-0 and averaged 98 points per game during their six day stay on the island.
But without a doubt one of the things that stood out was the team’s impressive three point shooting.
That is good news for a program that has been absolutely dreadful from behind the arc for the better part of a decade.
According to the website, Green Bay knocked down 44% of their three point attempts in Puerto Rico using the FIBA international three point line which is nearly a foot and half further from the basket than the NCAA three point line.
Now the question becomes is that a sign of what’s to come this season or was it simply a superior team taking advantage of open looks against inferior competition.
Either way, it’s a good a start for a team that finished 9th in the Horizon League in three point shooting at 32.2%, ahead of only Cleveland State’s 30.9%. Wright State led the league last season knocking down over 38% of their three point attempts.
“It was impressive to see how well we shot the ball there,” head coach Linc Darner said, via the team’s website. “In our final game we shot over 50 percent from the 3-point line, despite the activities we did that day and it being our fourth game in four days.”
While 44% is likely not sustainable – Marquette led the nation last season shooting 42.9% from downtown – if Green Bay can even boost their shooting percentage a few points from last season it will pay massive dividends.
It’s true that much of the improved three point shooting in Puerto Rico likely came from ineligible newcomers like Sandy Cohen or Cody Schwartz, who shot 38.2% from downtown last season at San Jose State but must sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules.
But despite losing their top five three point shooters to graduation or transfer, Green Bay does return capable shooters.
Khalil Small made over 40% (41/101) of his three pointers during his sophomore season in 2016 before having a crisis of confidence last season. Incoming sophomore Kameron Hankerson also showed he is capable of knocking down the outside shot last season, connecting on 37.5% of his shots from beyond the arc. David Jesperson can occasionally hit from deep as well.
It remains to be seen how much the newcomers will help, but as far as Green Bay’s three point shooting goes it can really only get better. As a team the Phoenix have only shot better than 35% from beyond the arc twice in the past seven seasons including just 29.4% in 2015, one of the worst in the entire country.
Freshman Hunter Crist can play both guard spots and made 40% of his three point attempts last season at Don Bosco Prep. Sukhjot Bains shot 35% (43/123) from beyond the arc at the JUCO level last season. Will Chevalier will help spread the floor as a stretch four and showed he can knock down threes throughout his career at nearby Kimberly High School.
Reliable three point shooting has been missing in the first two years of the RP40 era.
Thankfully, there are early signs that this season could be different.