While the players and coaches at the South regional in Houston have been reluctant to place any blame for poor shooting on the weird setup of NRG Stadium, the number shows that the cavernous, domed arena is having a real effect on team’s ability to shoot from outside.
Duke fared better than any other team on Friday and still shot just 44.4 percent as teams had combined to shoot just 39.8 percent in nine NCAA tournament games at the venue prior to Friday’s games, according to the Associated Press.
After Friday, there have been 15 NCAA college games played at NRG Stadium since 2002 and teams have combined to make just 32.1 percent of their 3-point attempts according to KenPom.com’s data. That percentage would have been good for 210th in Division I this season.
Black curtains have been dropped behind the baskets to eliminate some of the depth perception issues that arise in playing such a large venue. In the fall, NRG Stadium is the home of the NFL’s Houston Texans.
But the bright lights placed at the top of the arena are more concentrated than a typical college venue and shine brightly, seemingly at the eye-level of the players.
“Only at a certain angle,” Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos said. “There are a couple spots where if you look at the rim the lights are right there.”
But considering that the winner of today’s game will be heading to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Final Four, it’s the chance to get some practice.
Coaches sitting high
The coaches have also had to make some adjustments this week in Houston. Because the court is raised significantly above ground level, the benches where the players and assistant coaches is below it.
But the head coaches are allowed to stay up on the platform, with a single stool provided for them to sit. This gets them closer to the action but makes it difficult for them to talk with their players on the benches and to control substitutions and other actions.
“What happens is, you don’t get the players on the bench into it, they aren’t excited and putting that energy in and having it transfer to the players on the floor,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “You’re not getting those guys up on the floor so that the team (on the floor) feels it.”
“I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s good for the game to change anything that you don’t normally do during the season,” Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski added. “Like I’m not – I don’t usually stand up during a game. I like to communicate with my staff while the game is going on, and so I hardly ever have a timeout, a coaches’ meeting and then come forward because I’m talking to my guys. So, it takes away from your normal, you know, communication patterns and I don’t like it. But you have to do it, and I wish there was something different instead of sitting on a stool there like you did something wrong.”
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