Dec. 22, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois sophomore Anthony Beane has no idea how many 3-point jump shots he's launched since last season ended. It's surely in the thousands. That's what a gym rat does when he becomes determined to improve a certain aspect of his game.
All the extra hours Beane has spent on his own time have paid dividends through 11 games this year. He leads the team and ranks sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference in 3-point shooting at 41 percent.
Beane made the All-Freshman team last season, averaging nine points, but he shot only 31 percent from 3-point and word quickly spread that to contain the athletic 6-foot-2 guard, all you had to do was keeping him out of the paint.
"The scouting report on me was to let him beat you from the 3-point line," Beane admitted.
Through the first three games of this season, that strategy worked nicely for opponents, as Beane began the year 0-for-5 from outside the arc. He discovered that his early slump wasn't a matter of shooting technique, but rather shot selection.
"In the first three games, I was shooting a lot of contested threes that weren't wide open," he explained. "My dad (assistant coach Anthony Beane Sr.) preaches shot selection. He tells me the three will be there, you just have to know when to shoot it and when not to shoot it. You have to let the game come to you and let your teammates kick the ball to you. I try to stick to wide-open threes."
He succeeded with that approach during the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament, in which he made an amazing 8-of-12 tries from downtown. He connected on 4-of-7 in the win over Stetson.
Teams quickly altered their defensive strategy once Beane proved himself as a 3-point threat, and he responded with a counter-move.
"They're starting to close out and be there on the catch, so the driving lanes are wide open," he said.
Although Beane is having a better season personally, the team is not. Last year's squad started the year 7-4, but its strength of schedule was 318th out of 351 teams. This year's club is 3-8 against a strength of schedule that currently stands at 254.
"Our schedule is harder than last year, but I feel that once we get a few wins, we'll get the feeling going," Beane said. "We have to get tougher and play harder during the crunch-time parts of the game."
The soft schedule last season may have created a false sense of confidence as the Salukis began MVC play with a 1-10 record. Beane expects a much-improved Valley start this year.
"I think we'll be a lot more focused than last year's team," he said. "At this point last year we had a pretty good record and were feeling good about ourselves. Then when the MVC season started at Missouri State, that's the first time our team hit some adversity. We didn't know how to handle it. This team has had so much adversity that I think we'll be ready for Valley play."
Beane said the recent furor over head coach Barry Hinson's press conference remarks critical of the team have had little impact upon him and his teammates.
"We're going to come upon a lot tougher situations than that during a game, so we can't let something off the court like that get us down," he said. "The only thing I really focus on is getting better each day and doing whatever it takes to help our team win."