INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – College basketball continues a trend toward more emphasis on three-point shooting.
ESPN recently reported that last season, nearly 38% of all shots attempted were from behind the arc, that’s compared to just 16% when the three-point line was adopted in the 1986-87 season.
But there’s one NCAA record that’s as old as the three-point line itself, held by former Butler guard and Indianapolis native Darrin Fitzgerald.
“That’s one thing I don’t think will ever leave me is shooting,” the George Washington High School graduate explained. “My legs may give way on me or my knees may give out on me but shooting becomes natural.”
To be specific, it’s Fitz’s three-point shooting forte that’s made him an NCAA record holder for more than three decades.
College basketball implemented the three-point line just in time for his senior season. Already a long range sharp shooter, he had coach’s blessing to make the most of the newly adopted arc.
“Coach (Joe) Sexson wanted me to take full advantage of the three-pointer,” Fitzgerald said with a smile. “We would design plays to get me in spots that I wanted to shoot at. If you can get three instead of two, the game becomes a lot easier.”
It didn’t become easy without the extra effort.
“I’d practice 1,000 three-pointers after two hours of practice,” Fitzgerald said of his shooting routine. “It was putting in the repetition, so my shot would always be the same when I shot it.”
Fitzgerald sunk 158 three-pointers that season, a record that stood until 2008, when it was broken by Davidson guard and future NBA MVP Steph Curry.
“I am really proud that it is someone like Steph Curry because anyone else I would have felt cheated,” Fitzgerald said.
However his average of 5.6 threes made per game still stands.
“Shooting was my passion, so I take pride in it and I am really proud that it’s still holding.”
Fitzgerald, who still plays a few times a week in leagues around town, enjoys watching players gain appreciation for the three-point game all these years later.
“We figured it out in 1987 and now it’s 2018,” Fitzgerald laughed. “I really get a kick out of it just watching the seven-footers shooting threes. The game is so fast paced and how many points are scored in a game, just makes it more exciting to see people shooting threes now.”
In addition to his NCAA record, Fitzgerald still holds two Hinkle Fieldhouse records, both of which he set in the same game.
His 54 points against Detroit in 1987 is a Hinkle record, as well as the 12 three-pointers he drained in that contest.