The Art of the Three

Hear From Some of the Best Sharpshooters in NU Basketball History

By Josh Chaskes

Shannon Todd shoots from three-point range off a handoff in the women’s basketball game against Boston University. Jordan Roland unloads from well behind the arc in the men’s matchup with Davidson. Bolden Brace steps back and launches a three from the right wing against Towson. Stella Clark gets her three off before the College of Charleston defender can get over to block it.

Different players. Different shots. Same result.

There’s nothing in basketball quite like a made three-pointer. In addition to the obvious benefit of an extra point over normal shots, there’s an added thrill to watching someone hit the mark from so far away. Professional players like Stephen Curry, Reggie Miller, and Kyle Korver have become stars for their performances that make three-point shooting look easy. It’s not.

“Make sure your mechanics are in order, get reps, and make sure you’re working hard every day,” said Roland, a redshirt senior, outlining the steps to become a good shooter. He holds the record for made threes in a season for Northeastern’s men’s team with 99. 

The game of basketball has changed over the past 20 years to favor sharpshooters more than big, physical centers, doubtlessly influenced by the long-range shooting revolution in the NBA. Basketball teams today shoot 37.5% of their shots from behind the three-point line, as opposed to just 15.7% in 1986-1987, the first season it existed. For smaller guards like Roland and Clark, who both have a lethal long-range game, this change is welcome.

“I think it creates another level to the game,” Clark, a junior, said. “It just makes it harder for the defense to guard because there’s so many more options.” 

Coming from Manasquan High School in New Jersey, she developed her game while playing alongside some elite shooters.

“On my high school team I played with Marina Mabrey, who’s actually in the WNBA now, she plays for the LA Sparks,” she said. “She was just an excellent shooter, so were all of her sisters, so I feel like they were role models for me.”

It can be easy to just rely on the three point shot with all the shooting talent the women’s team boasts, but head coach Kelly Cole loves to use her arsenal of deep threats to open up the paint and make it difficult for opposing teams.

“Either they’re going to stay out on your shooters so they can’t hit the threes and they’re going to leave you one on one in the paint, or vice versa,” Cole said. “When you’ve got a versatile team that can do both, that’s when teams really struggle.”

Todd, a senior, shares Clark’s ability to hit long shots, ranking in the top five in made three-pointers in program history, but her career could have gone very differently. Todd was fairly tall in high school and could’ve played as a big, but other reasons made her stick to playing guard.

“When I was really young I grew up as a point guard because I was a lot shorter than everyone,” Todd said. “I hit a growth spurt late middle school, early high school, so that’s one of the reasons I stayed as a guard, because I’d already established my position.”

A sniper’s range also runs in the family, apparently. Her father, Glenn, played three years at the University of Southern Maine (1981-84), where he averaged 8.9 points per game and shot .528 from the field while appearing in 62 games.

Her father’s impact extended beyond the box score as well. After his senior year, Glenn Todd was described in the year end reports as the “heart and soul of the team” with invaluable leadership on and off the court, whose “aggressive style of play became a personal trademark.” Sound familiar?

“My dad‘s like an insane shooter,” Todd recounted with a laugh. “His game is kind of my game.

Brace is also a bigger guard who’s risen to prominence shooting threes, also coming in at fifth in made threes in program history, but Brace, a senior, recognizes the importance of locking down the opponent’s shooters.

“It’s tough,” he said. “I mean, when you play against a guy who can really shoot it, it opens up a lot of other stuff. You just try to focus on not letting the guy get open and helping off when you need to.”

As far as the future of the program goes, Brace is confident that the team’s long-range success will continue.

“I think as long as Coach [Bill] Coen is coaching in his system there’s always going to be a lot of made threes,” he said, “and there’s always going to have to be guys that can shoot it.”

Coen seems to agree.

“That’s the way most offenses are devised,” the 15-year coach said, “That’s not to say the post up game and the inside game and the penetration game are not valuable, but I think you have to have a balance and you certainly have to be mindful of how you’re creating three point shots.”

In an era where more and more points come from behind the arc, the Huskies are prepared and willing to go get them. Both teams have adapted well to the changing strategies of the game, and Cole said the three isn’t going away any time soon. 

“I think it’s a great addition to the game,” Cole said. “We’re looking forward to continuing to be good at it and bringing in the right people to take advantage.”

If the last few seasons are any indication, they’re on the right track.