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Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - Hoops Mailbag

Hoops mailbag: Believing in the Bruins
By Andrew Skwara, College Basketball Staff Writer

Wondering about Rose
There has been a lot of hype surrounding Derrick Rose of Memphis. What is the biggest challenge a freshman point guard faces?

-- Thomas from Roanoke, Va.

Strangely enough, I think 3-point shooting often is the biggest problem for freshman point guards in college. Guys often are so used to beating defenders easily off the dribble in high school that they haven't put in the necessary work on their outside shot. Plus, they normally aren't the first or second offensive option anymore, so it's tougher to get enough shot attempts to get into a rhythm.

Remember how ugly Raymond Felton's shooting form was when he first got to North Carolina? Felton shot 35.8 percent from 3-point range as a freshman. That number dipped to 32.1 the following year. After some adjustments (mainly moving his elbow further in) and diligent practice (Felton hoisted up 500-plus jumpers a day that offseason), he led the ACC with a 44 percent mark as a junior and helped the Tar Heels to the 2005 national title.

Check out Virginia's Sean Singletary, currently the best point guard in the ACC. Singletary was a subpar shooter as a freshman, shooting 31.2 percent from beyond the arc. That number climbed to 34.1 during his sophomore campaign, then jumped to a solid 38.9 last season

UCLA's Darren Collison had a reputation as a poor shooter entering last season. Collison made 32.8 percent of his 3-point attempts as a freshman. That number rose to 44.7 percent in 2006-07.

Even Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr., who enjoyed one of the smoothest transitions we have seen for a freshman point guard from high school to college, shied away from shooting 3-pointers. Conley, the No. 4 pick in the NBA draft, took just 63 3-pointers last season and made 19 (30.2 percent).

Decision-making and learning how to control the tempo certainly are difficult for freshmen point guards to master, as well. But for point guards, especially elite-level guys like Rose, it's tougher to consistently knock down 3-pointers. Rose has an incredible first step and is a great finisher around the basket, so defenses will sag off him and force him to shoot the ball. His ability to prove he can do that may be what it takes for a loaded Memphis team to win it all.

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