Defenses can hold dangerous scorers in check, sometimes literally. A deadly perimeter shooter like Duke's J.J. Redick rarely gets open for a shot without being bumped, grabbed or elbowed along the way. Defenses are allowed far more contact than they were in the days of the gunner. "I was watching tape recently of the 103-100 game between North Carolina State and Maryland [in the 1974 ACC tournament], and you could see how free-flowing it was," says ESPN commentator and former coach Fran Fraschilla. "The refs didn't let you play the physical defense then that you can today."
SKILLS THAT HAVE HIT THE SKIDS
Many coaches and former players believe that the advent of the three-point shot has actually hindered shooting. After years of toeing the three-point arc, players can drain the standstill shot, but they don't have the variety of moves that the gunners had, nor do they have the desire to develop such a repertoire. "I don't see anyone who can score as soon as he crosses half-court, as soon as he gets to three-point range," says Miami Heat assistant and former North Carolina star Bob McAdoo, a versatile scorer in his day. "I don't see the guys who can shoot it or drive it or make the midrange shot, who can hit from every corner on the court."
That's because young players today are more likely to imitate the flashy moves and alley-oops that they see on SportsCenter than they are to work on their midrange game or their pull-up jumper. "Kids today think they can learn the crossover dribble, dunk and put on a headband and make it to the NBA," says Houston coach Tom Penders.
TEAMMATES WHO WANT THE BALL
At a Portland State reunion game a few years ago Mike Richardson grabbed a rebound and threw an outlet pass to his old teammate Williams. "He put up the shot before I even reached half-court," Richardson says. "I thought to myself, I remember this feeling quite well." More important, he remembered it fondly. Players of earlier eras were far more willing to let the star gorge himself on shots while they made do with a diet of rebounding, screen-setting and feeding him the ball. (Part of the reason for their unselfishness was that few of them had NBA aspirations.) "I never had a teammate say anything to me about taking too many shots," says Williams, who hoisted 42.5% of the Vikings' shots in 1976-77. "If I scored 40, 45 points, they seemed to enjoy just being a part of that." The same appeared to be true of the teammates who watched as Maravich took more than half of LSU's shots in his three-year career.
Today, any coach who centered his offense so completely on one player would have a stream of transfer papers crossing his desk. "How are you going to recruit guys to your school when you tell them, 'Your job is to pass it to this guy, and he is going to shoot it every time? Enjoy your role,'" says Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser.
Maravich's average of 37.7 shots a game in 1969-70 seems astounding today, when a 30-shot game would be cause for headlines. For instance, Duke's Redick, who has a gunner's skills, averaged only 11.0 field goal attempts (and 15.9 points) last season for the Blue Devils. He finds it hard to imagine ever pulling the trigger 30 times in a game. The 61 shots that DaJuan Wagner (now with the Cavaliers) put up when he scored 100 points in a game for Camden (N.J.) High in 2001 boggles Redick's mind.
"If I did that," Redick says, "my teammates would beat my tail."
COACHES WHO WON'T LET GO