“It’s not a lack of putting in the extra effort,” Pastner said. “We’re doing as much as we can on all the shooting. We’re shooting a lot in practice, after practice, making guys have to shoot (and) make a certain amount. And we’re getting great shots. It’d be easier if the shot selection was terrible. It’s great looks. It’s just they’re not going in.”
Pastner said he and his staff have considered giving playing time to freshman forward Kristian Sjolund, who has played a total of 58 minutes this season but has a good stroke and has been shooting well in practice. While Pastner has concerns about Sjolund’s ability to defend, Tech’s need for perimeter scoring is dire.
“That option is on the table,” Pastner said. “He’s got to stay ready.”
And, rather than more work, Pastner has felt that maybe less work could be the answer. Shooting the night before games at McCamish or at the opposing arena apparently hasn’t been the solution.
“Maybe the night before, we won’t do any shooting,” Pastner said. “We won’t come back and do anything. That’s our next phase.”
It already has impacted players’ frame of mind. Pastner has seen guard Jose Alvarado, who last season shot 37 percent from 3-point range but now is at 27.9 percent, pass up open 3-pointers. He was 0-for-5 on Saturday and was 0-for-10 overall in his first scoreless game of the season. Pastner has encouraged Alvarado to keep shooting.
Guard Michael Devoe is faring well, shooting 39.3 percent from 3 in ACC play. And Alvarado actually is shooting better in league play than he did in the non-conference schedule. But the highlights are few.
“It’s like there’s a little bit of a lid on the basket,” he said. “It’s due for the lid to be lifted.”
Getting the 3-point game going is critical not only because the Jackets rank last in the ACC in scoring. The more that the Jackets can draw defenses out, the more the interior will be open for post players James Banks and Abdoulaye Gueye. The latter has become the Jackets’ best scoring option, with 56 points on 49 shots in the past four games.
Tech isn’t alone in its struggles. Five teams in the ACC are shooting under 30 percent from 3 in league play. Since the 3-point arc was extended to 20 feet, 9 inches before the 2008-09 season, there has never been a season in which more than one team finished under 30 percent in ACC play.
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, whose team shot 22.9 percent from 3 in its first four ACC games, understands Pastner’s uncertainty.
“I wish I had an answer for that question, because I go out and I watch our kids do all our shooting drills, and we got ’em going full speed, we have four or five different baskets, we’re getting a high volume of shots, and I’m looking and saying, ‘Wow, we really can shoot the ball,’” Hamilton said.
The Seminoles have since improved, shooting 41 percent in the past eight games, despite being held to 4-for-16 shooting by Tech on Saturday. Hamilton recognized that his team didn’t suddenly become a better shooting team.
“That’s why I’m saying a lot of it is a maturity process, where kids have just got to play with a little more confidence,” Hamilton said.