Extended 3-point arc doesn’t faze Illini

Mike Tisdale shoots from the new line at the Ubben Practice Facility on Thursday. Wes Anderson

Mike Tisdale shoots from the new line at the Ubben Practice Facility on Thursday. Wes Anderson

By Jeremy Werner

Jamar Smith has range.

The Illini sharpshooter frequently shoots behind the NBA 3-point line that is marked by a thin, white-taped line at Ubben Basketball Facility.

Teammate Mike Tisdale said although Smith doesn’t need to shoot that far, “it just looks better when he makes it.”

With a range that extends out to the 23-foot-9-inch NBA line, Smith probably won’t worry too much about making it from the new college distance.

The NCAA will extend the men’s 3-point arc to a distance of 20 feet, 9 inches, a full foot behind the high school distance that had been a staple since the 3-point line was adopted in 1986.

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The women’s 3-point line will remain at 19 feet, 9 inches and will be marked separately on the court.

A foot can make a big difference in basketball. You won’t see 6-foot-1 sophomore Jeff Jordan grabbing a rebound too often over the 7-foot-1 Tisdale. Without a one-foot growth spurt when he was 20 years old, Dennis Rodman would have never have been the menacing NBA player he became.

But the one-foot difference between last year’s 3-point line and this year’s doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal to the Illini.

“People don’t shoot up on the (old) line anyways,” senior Chester Frazier said. “(The new line is) probably where people shoot anyways. If you look at people during the game, they don’t look down at their feet to see where they’re shooting, so they’re probably behind that (new) line anyways.”

Frazier said the added foot will also spread the floor so guards can penetrate more.

“People can’t just sit in the paint, especially when you got shooters out there,” Frazier said.” With Trent (Meacham), Alex (Legion) and Jamar, it’ll make it a lot easier to drive the lane.”

Sophomore guard Demetri McCamey said he has always tried to shoot a couple steps behind the line, so the new distance should not be a problem.

But he said the added foot could become more difficult halfway through the season “after fatigue sets in.”

With shooters lining up a foot further, the big guys may find more room in the post.

“It opens it up, lets people roam a little more,” Tisdale said.

Most of the Illini believe extending the line will help the team in running coach Bruce Weber’s motion offense.

“The motion is basically space, and if you have space in the motion offense and everyone’s moving correctly, you’ll get easy lay ups, easy three-point shots, easy backdoor (lay ups),” McCamey said.

Legion said the added distance will help him in the long run, adding range to his shot.

“It obviously would help guys who have dreams of the NBA because it gets you more practice to push your shot further than what you’re used to,” Legion said.

Jamar Smith’s been pushing his shot further and further.

“For (Jamar’s) shot it doesn’t matter,” Tisdale said. “He could shoot from half court like a jump shot and still make them.”