Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s basketball struggling with 3-point shooting so far this season

Minutemen shooting 32 percent from deep
Parker Peters/Daily Collegian

Shooting 3-pointers certainly has not been a strong suit for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team this season, and some will even say it has come as a surprise.

The Minutemen (4-3, 3-1 Atlantic 10) have the weapons to knock down shots beyond the arc. Looking at the stat sheet one would think they are well equipped in the likes of TJ Weeks and Carl Pierre. That hasn’t been the case for UMass this season, and quite frankly it may just be the reason why some of those close games this season have ended up as losses.

In their most recent game, the Minutemen shot an abysmal 6-of-30 from deep, numbers you wouldn’t expect considering the fire power UMass has including Pierre and Weeks.

The problem with UMass’ 3-point shooting has solely been that Weeks hasn’t found his stride yet. The team is shooting only 31.1 percent beyond the arc altogether. Considering the season is still young, it isn’t much to be concerned with given that the Minutemen currently sit in fourth place in the A-10. However, it will give them headaches down the road if the shooting struggles continue.

Weeks came out with fire power in his freshman year, shooting almost 50 percent beyond the arc. Now as a redshirt freshman, he has struggled to find his groove through seven games played. Expectations were set high on Weeks to come out of the gate emulating his success from last season, but a knee injury from last year and a COVID-19 plagued season certainly hasn’t helped in the process of getting into rhythm.

“The expectations that were placed on [Weeks] coming into this year because of what he did through such a short amount of games last year, really aren’t fair for him,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “Getting caught up in that, ‘I’ve got to make every shot,’ can distract you from defending, rebounding, doing those things.”

“I want him to put his focus there and I want him to play the game with a tremendous amount of joy. When he is playing, and he’s got the smile on his face, that is when he is at his best. I want him to focus on those things and when he does, the shots will start falling.”

Before he got injured, Weeks was shooting 48.5 percent from deep. At the time, it felt like he was connecting on all shots from beyond the arc. As a clutch shooter who could shoot off the dribble or even in a catch and shoot action, he made it look effortless.

Weeks had two games where he notched over 20-plus points, one of them coming in his opening night of his collegiate basketball debut against UMass Lowell. Seven games into this season, Weeks is shooting just over 20 percent from three, certainly not a rate he is accustomed to and neither is his fellow shot-maker Pierre.

Pierre has been the steady shot maker for UMass over the course of his career, shooting above 33 percent from deep in all three of his seasons at UMass. In his freshman year Pierre broke out onto the scene shooting 47.2 percent beyond the arc and shot 38.1 percent his second season, but last season shot just 33.5 percent.

Pierre has still shot 34 percent from deep this season, proving his ability to knock down shots from deep here and there, albeit still a regression from his freshman and sophomore year numbers. However, Pierre cannot be relied on as the only player knocking down shots from deep for UMass.

The struggles haven’t been finding the open shots either as UMass has had good looks from three. However, as Weeks looks to find his groove the Minutemen must continue their balanced scoring attack. Moving forward the key will be sinking more threes to bury away its opponents or as the last few games have gone, driving to the rim or getting the ball into the post.

“When you have a 15-point lead, how do you extend that? We are struggling shooting the ball from behind the 3-point line, so not rushing shots and getting the ball to the paint first whether it is off a post feed or a penetration and try to extend that by running good offense and getting fouled. Not by bombing and cranking threes,” McCall said.

UMass hits the road to take on Fordham Jan. 17th with tipoff scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

Frederick Hanna III can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @FrederickHIII

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