"I just let 'em shoot the ball, man."
These are the words of Savannah State basketball coach Horace Broadnax, the man at the helm of the most prolific three-point shooting offense in college basketball. Through nine games so far, the Tigers are 144-of-365 from three-point range — 85 more attempts and 51 more makes than any other team in the country.
If they maintain this pace, they'll match their total three-point output from last year by the end of December, and break the single-season NCAA record for three-point field goals in their 28th game.
The current single-season record belongs to VMI, with 442 makes in 1,383 attempts in 2006-07. Savannah State is on pace to finish with 464 in 1,176 attempts — 22 more than VMI … in four fewer games.
"I really don't criticize them for taking shots," coach Broadnax explained. "I may ask them, 'were your feet set? Did you feel comfortable? Were you rushed?' We want to take every quality open shot we can get, and fortunately we're making some of them."
'Some' might be an understatement.
The Tigers actually boast one of the better three-point shooting percentages in the country at .395. It should come as no surprise to hear that they average 88.6 points per game.
"We work on shooting a lot," Broadnax said, "and we just try to create shots for one another … make the extra pass."
Savannah State's assist percentage of 68.4 is the sixth best in the country.
This isn't a case of one or two volume shooters either — on this team, everybody has the green light. Nine of the 12 Tigers who see regular playing time have attempted at least 20 threes this season.
The most prolific among them is senior guard Casey Wells (pictured right, courtesy of Savannah State Athletics). He's 27-for-64 from deep, and 0-for-1 from inside the arc.
Wells' shot selection pattern is extreme, but not all that out of the ordinary for a Savannah State player. More than half of the Tigers have taken more threes than twos this season, and as a team, two-thirds of their field goal attempts have been from three-point range.
"It's not like we're dragging them," coach Broadnax said. "Sometimes you have to drag 'em, and encourage 'em, because kids don't naturally want to play defense. I've never had a kid come to me and say, 'hey coach you're messin' with my defense.' [They say] 'hey coach, you're messin' up my offensive game.' They don't have no reason to say that now."
Unfortunately, the gaudy offensive numbers haven't translated into wins just yet — Savannah State fell to 2-7 after Thursday night's loss to Georgia Southern. But they're trying something pretty revolutionary here. Some bumps and bruises are to be expected along the way.
"It goes against a lot of what I've been doing the last 11 years as a basketball coach," Broadnax said. "But if we get a clean, open look, and the kid (isn't) rushing himself — if everything is calm and clean and they're not forcing the shot, then they can take it."
Coach Broadnax likes the idea of turning this proclivity for the longball into a legitimate strategy, but admits his team needs to work on their defense. It's tough to win when the other team scores 102.6 points per game on average.
"We might have to expend some of that offensive energy on the defensive end," Broadnax said. "So it may take away from it. Hopefully we try to develop it into a system to win some ballgames. We struggled in a couple of games we coulda won, so we just have to make those adjustments."
So while it might be unrealistic to think the Tigers can keep up this pace, coach Broadnax and his players think they're on to something here.
"If a kid doesn't have to think, they play a lot better," Broadnax said. "Last year I might've had maybe 15 plays and you'd see this kind of glossed look in their face when we called the plays. But right now if they're open and trying to create, they don't have to think that much. All they gotta do is set their feet and shoot."
Joshua Floyd is 11-33 from deep this season, making him the sixth most prolific shooter on the team (Savannah State Athletics).