Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Learning Something New

Hey, TigerBlog learned something yesterday that he never even considered.

It turns out there is a reason why Arthur Loeb made 203 of Princeton's 216 foul shots in the 1921-22 season. The rules were different back then.

According to an article on the USA Basketball website, the history of the foul shot in basketball in pretty interesting. When the rules were first written, baskets were worth one point and consecutive fouls by the same team earned the other team another point. Then it was three straight fouls for a point.

Eventually baskets became three points and the point for three straight fouls was still one. Then the free throw was introduced, first at 20 feet and then moved in to 15 feet, where it remains. Keep in mind all of this happened between 1891 and 1895 and all decided on by James Naismith, who wrote the original rules of the game.

When the foul shot came into the game, it was scored the same as any other basket - three points. A year later, in 1896, a basket became two points and a free throw became one.

By the way, a little more research indicates that the three-point shot was used in a handful of college basketball games in the 1940s and 1950s but never became a rule. It wasn't until the American Basketball League in 1961 brought it on before it folded in two years that it became an actual rule, and it was popularized by the American Basketball Association - which played with a red, white and blue ball and was one of the greatest professional leagues ever - starting in the late 1960s. It became an NBA rule in 1979 and across all of college basketball for the 1986-87 season.

Meanwhile, back at the free throw, the point allocations were settled for 1896. At first, though, the rules said that if a team was awarded a free throw, then it was allowed to select which player attempted the shot. That rule changed in 1924 to have the player who was fouled have to attempt the free throw.

This explains why Arthur Loeb made 203 foul shots and his teammates combined to make 13 more in that 1921-22 season. Thanks to Jeff Yellin was sending the story along.

It's always fun to learn new things, right? The entire USA Basketball story is HERE.

If you're interested in a small piece of trivia, who had the first three-point basket in Princeton men's basketball history? That same person ranks first in career three-point field goal percentage at Princeton.

In fact, he also has the single-season record for three-point percentage, which was 54.5 percent in his senior year of 1988. Think about that. He made 60 of 110 three-point shots that season.

How many players could make 60 of 110 with no defense on the court?

That 54.5 percent is the Ivy League single-season record, and it ranks 17th in Division I history. Of the 16 players in front of him, TB had heard of four of them.

The most interesting one is Christian Laettner of all people, who was 54 for 97 (55.7 percent) in 1992. TB would have guessed JJ Redick would have Duke's best percentage, but Redick never shot better than 42.1 percent in a season.

Others on the list include Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors now, who shot 114 for 199 (57.3 percent) in 1988 for Arizona. Also, former Monmouth head coach Dave Calloway was 58.5 percent in 1988 as well.

The line then was 19 feet, nine inches. It stayed that way in the men's game until 2007, when it backed up a foot, and then two years ago, when it moved back to 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches, which is the international distance.

The women's college game, by the way, didn't add the three-point line until a season after the men did.

The person who holds the Princeton record finished his career with 975 points. He also was part of the 1988 team that was probably the best in the Ivy League but was derailed by three straight one-point losses in midseason. The Tigers did finish the season with a 21-point home win over Cornell, which had already clinched the Ivy title that year. Princeton then won the next four championships.

And the answer to the trivia question?

Dave Orlandini.

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