The analytics movement promotes 3-pointers, but how does the Bruins’ coaching staff feel about Ball hoisting shots from 30 feet?
“As long as they’re going in,” Ball said, “they don’t really care.”
With 32 seconds left against Oregon, Ball’s step-back, contested 30-footer touched nothing but the bottom of the net. It was the decisive basket in UCLA’s 82-79 win a week ago over then-No. 5 Oregon.
Twenty-six games into his college career, Ball is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range. Steve Alford learned of Ball’s penchant for 3-pointers from NBA range and beyond while recruiting him at Chino Hills High School more than three years ago. The UCLA coach never tried to rein in his freshman point guard, said he never had a reason to.
“As far out as they can go to where they consistently make them, I’m fine with,” Alford said. “Lonzo has always had that ability. He’s kind of grown up in high school and he’s had that ability. Now you’ve got to pick and choose and I think he’s done a very good job this year of understanding the ebb and flow of the game of when to do that and when not to do it.”
Ball’s go-to shot with the clock winding down has been the deep, step-back 3-pointer.
In addition to his mammoth shot against Oregon, he made similarly notable shots at the end of the first half in wins against Kentucky and Cal.
Ball said the freedom given to him by the coaching staff allows him to simply trust his instincts in all aspects of his game.
“Coach Alford has always been on my side from Day 1 and he makes it very easy for me,” Ball said. “Any time you’ve got your coach not putting any chains on you, telling you ‘You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to do that.’ As long as you can go out there and play, it helps my game tremendously.”