PRODUCTS: Todd Lichti (1986-89), Dion Cross (1993-96), Kris Weems (1996-99), Ryan Mendez (1997-01), David Moseley (1997-00), Casey Jacobsen (2000-02), Matt Lottich (2001-04), Dan Grunfeld (2003-).
When Stanford senior wing Dan Grunfeld was in third grade, he had a technically sound shot -- thanks to his dad, former NBA guard Ernie -- and a habit of playing basketball with bigger fifth-graders. He couldn't bang with them inside, so he launched bombs from the outside. "I couldn't do much else because I was so small and so young," he says. "I was the designated kid to come in and shoot the ball."
Even as Grunfeld, who is now 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, got bigger than the peers he eventually played with and added other offensive elements to his game, he relished the designated assassin role. "When I started looking at colleges I thought, there's nothing wrong with being a Casey Jacobsen-type at Stanford, a scoring wing," he says. "That's something I definitely wanted to do. Casey had a good size to him, and I was big at that position, too."
Jacobsen, whose 222 3-pointers were the second most in school history (behind Dion Cross, who had 241), was the classic Stanford Sharpshooter, the guy who put the finishing touch on a beautifully executed offensive play. "The screen is set, the ball is delivered on time, the guy catches it on the baseline and hits the open shot," says assistant coach Eric Reveno. "Todd Lichti filled that role for Stanford's 1989 team, our first NCAA tournament team in 47 years. Every successful team we've had since then we've had someone filling that role. We've always had guys who could come off a nice, executed offensive play and hit the shot."
The half court offensive system that coach Mike Montgomery instituted when he arrived at Stanford in 1986 -- and that second-year coach Trent Johnson still, by and large, employs -- is nirvana for good perimeter shooters, particularly those who need help getting open shots. "Stanford plays in the halfcourt with a true point, and the bigs are always going to set screens," says Johnson. "We run a lot of sets out of the halfcourt system where you have a big-on-little screen. Shooters have probably looked at that during the recruiting process. I know we have tried to attract guys by telling them, 'Look, in our system, you are going to get a chance to get an open shot. If you can shoot the ball, you are going to be plugged in and you will be able to do certain things here.'"
Lichti is the career leader in 3-point percentage (47.7) in Stanford history, but he was not just a shooter. "If you flew at him, he'd drive by you and dunk on you," says Reveno. Cross, Jacobsen and Matt Lottich were pure shooters, but Grunfeld is a throwback to the Lichti model. "Dan is really more of a scorer, " says Reveno. "He may not dunk on you, but if you take away his shot, he can do other things."
The sharpshooters who have thrived the most in Stanford's system have been on well-balanced teams. The more NBA draft picks there are in the post for opponents to worry about, the more open looks the shooter gets. "Peter Dukes shot 47 percent in 1991-92 when (future NBA draft pick) Adam Keefe was in the post," says Reveno. "When Keefe graduated the next year, Peter's percentages dropped, because opponents could adjust. One key to sharpshooter success is a balanced team."
Other keys are diligence, discipline and hard work, the hallmarks of a good shooter and, not coincidentally, the typical Stanford student. "Look at the type of people Stanford recruits," says Grunfeld. "They have to get accepted academically, so that tells you something about their work ethic. Anytime you see someone who can really shoot, you can be sure that thousands of hours and thousands of jump shots went into making that jump shot look good on the court."