•The rule rewards mediocrity and penalizes fundamentalists. "I would have preferred a rule that awards three points for layups," says Georgetown coach John Thompson.
Most of the dissenting coaches will quiet down sooner or later because the three-point shot is probably here to stay—even the International Amateur Basketball Federation adopted it (at a distance of 6.25 meters, or approximately 20'6"), a year after the 1984 Olympics. "There's no sense in being dragged into the arena kicking and screaming," says Wyoming coach Jim Brandenburg. "If it's in, you might as well make the most of it." So, in keeping with that spirit, let's dribble around and see where the three-pointer will have the most impact. Herewith our preseason Brandenburg Concerto Awards, to the player, team and conference likely to make the sweetest string music:
•Player: Reggie Miller, who's finally out—way out—from sister Cheryl's (ex of USC) shadow. In fact, Miller's range is so extraordinary that a 19'9" line is almost wasted on him. Little Kevin Presto of Miami, Fla., gets honorable mention, if only because his uniform jersey already carries a sort of credo for the season. It reads PRESTO 3.
•Team: Arkansas. The Razorbacks were Wart Hogs last season, Nolan Richardson's first as coach. But this year's recruits will be prize Hogs thanks to the three-pointer. Expect newcomers Ron Huery, Phillip McKeller and the irresistibly named Cannon Whitby, a 6-foot guard from Obion County, Tenn., to fire often and from long range. "The day they passed the three-point rule, Cannon gained superstar status," says Arkansas assistant Andy Stoglin. Consider: In a recent Memphis 19-and-under AAU game, Whitby made 11 of 18 three-pointers for 33 of his 39 points. Pig, shooty shooty shooty shooty.
•Conference: Southeastern. The SEC was once a wellspring for NBA forwards. How things change. This season, Kentucky will start three guards. So will Alabama. Florida will start four. At Kentucky, where freshman Rex Chapman joins James Blackmon and Ed Davender, they're still talking about how the Wildcats played with a three-point rule during a summer tour of the Orient, suffering only one loss, to the Czech national team. The Czechs made 8 of 20 three-pointers; UK attempted none. Afterward, says Lexington Herald-Leader sportswriter Jerry Tipton, "UK coaches had the look of people who had first witnessed the potential for harnessing atomic energy."
As we try to get accustomed to the idea of skinny little guys—nerds—providing excitement, we might recall how Montana State beat Montana 82-77 for last season's Big Sky championship by firing in 9 three-pointers, including 6 of 7 by Kral Ferch.
You dance with the one that brung you, and it's not outside the realm of possibilities—not by a long shot—that the fans of some team like the Bobcats will end up closing down every joint on Bourbon Street on the night of March 30, 1987. Thanks to someone like Kral Ferch.