By Ashleigh Sargent
Think of it as one step – literally a 12” stride – toward gender equity. This year for the first time, women and men will shoot from the same 20’9” three-point line.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel decided to move the women’s three-point arc from 19’9” after tracking the location of shots from three-point land. The NCAA’s study showed that the majority of three pointers taken by female players last season were taken from behind the (former) men’s three-point line.
In fact, the data show women shot an impressive 33% from this further distance, which is a higher percentage than from the 19’9” arc.
I got in touch with Kamile Nacickaite, a senior guard at Drexel University, who shot a stunning 47.8 percent from the three last year, giving her the best three-point shooting percentage of any returning NCAA DI player.
She’s game for the deeper arc. “I like this change,” she says. “It challenges players to work on their shot more.”
Nacickaite, originally from Siauliai, Lithuania, grew up shooting from the further three point line. And while that gives her an edge, she also believes the change will improve play. “The offense is more spread out, so it opens lanes for players to drive,” she says.
Drexel Coach Denise Dillon has mixed feelings. While she agrees with moving the line to make it consistent with the men’s game, she thinks it could be tough for shooters.
“The shooting percentage from the three-point line will drop. It will take time for the players to become consistent from the new line,” says Dillon, who has noticed many shots being taken from just inside or right on the line, resulting in only two points. As a result, she thinks there may be fewer attempted threes than in the past.
To prepare, Dillon has her team doing more shooting drills from the line. “During drills the team appears comfortable with the distance, but in game-like situations many struggle with the range.” We’ll soon find out how the new line shapes play: The Drexel Dragon’s season begins November 6.
Any big change requires time to adjust. Initial struggles are to be expected. But putting the women’s three-point mark in line with the men’s only makes sense.