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Louisville Needs to Limit Luke Hancock's 3-Point Attempts, Utilize Him Better

Louisville is forcing Luke Hancock to play the role of a three-point specialist,  a role at which he is incapable of doing well.
Louisville is forcing Luke Hancock to play the role of a three-point specialist, a role at which he is incapable of doing well.Andy Lyons/Getty Images
David BarbourContributor IIIJanuary 29, 2013

In Luke Hancock's first season with the Louisville Cardinals after transferring from George Mason, he is posting career-lows in almost every single statistical category, most problematically in his shooting percentage numbers. For the season, Hancock only possesses an effective field goal percentage of 46.5 percent and a true shooting percentage of 49.4 percent, but at least Hancock can console himself with the knowledge that his shooting woes are not entirely his fault. The way in which Louisville is using him is mostly to blame for his struggles so far this season.

After all, it is not as if Hancock is actually a poor shooter. In his freshman season, Hancock put together an effective field goal percentage of 53.4 percent and a true shooting percentage of 56.7 percent en route to averaging 7.7 points per game. He bettered each of those statistics in his sophomore campaign, shooting his way to an effective field goal percentage of 54.1 percent and a true shooting percentage of 60.1 percent while scoring 10.9 points per game.

With such an efficient level of scoring on his résumé, the way in which the Louisville coaching staff has put him in a position to fail is truly disheartening. Instead of allowing Hancock to play to his strengths, which would be beneficial to the team's offense, Louisville is instead illuminating one of the weaker points of Hancock's game.

Louisville has handicapped Hancock's ability by trying to turn him into a three-point specialist, a position in which he is unequipped to thrive. This season, fully 71.1 percent of his field goal attempts have come from behind the arc, despite the fact he is only making 32.1 percent of them for an effective field goal percentage of 48.1 percent.

Such a prolific level of three-point attempts is unprecedented for Hancock, who only shot three-pointers on 23.3 percent of his field goal attempts at George Mason. 

For an elite three-point shooter, a high volume of three-point attempts would not necessarily be a problem, but Hancock, even when he was scoring so efficiently at George Mason, never gave any indication he was above-average at three-point shooting. 

At best, Hancock was merely capable, converting 34.7 percent of his three-point attempts, which translates to an effective field goal percentage of 52.0 percent. Even with the advantage making three-pointers gave him, Hancock was still better on two-point field goal attempts, as evidenced by his 54.3 percent shooting on two-point field goals.

Since he was not shoehorned into a three-point specialist role at George Mason, Hancock was also better at getting to the free throw line and creating shots for his teammates. This season, he has been severely lacking in both areas.

Yet, in spite of the statistical background that clearly states that Hancock is a player who is best served by taking a limited number of three-point attempts per game and creating his own shot more, Louisville seems intent on forcing him to camp out beyond the three-point arc on almost every possession.

As long as the Cardinals continue to treat him as if he is a three-point specialist, which he is clearly not, Hancock will continue to struggle with his offensive production.

Perhaps playing with two ball-dominating guards like Peyton Siva and Russ Smith is serving to limit the independence Hancock is given within Louisville's offense, and if that is the case, then Louisville would be better served not even playing Hancock.

If the Cardinals will not utilize him properly, then the team is hurting itself on offense, and damaging Hancock's value, by playing him.

The whole point of coaching is to put players in the best position for them to succeed, and in the case of Hancock, Rick Pitino and his coaching staff have failed. They are forcing Hancock to be something he is not and are paying for it through his poor shooting and general ineffectiveness.

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