By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The three-pointer. A fixture of basketball as long as anyone can remember, that featured great shooters from beyond the arch with Peja Stojakovic, Allen Iverson and so on.
For the Corban University Men’s Basketball, the three-pointer has been who they are since the three-point line was put into College Basketball in the mid-1980s.
HOW IT STARTED
In 1987, the then-Western Baptist College entered the 1987-1988 season with fantastic shooters from the perimeter, but no Big Man Presence.
So then-Head Coach Tim Hills, who came back to the college after a stint at Chemeketa Community College, had the idea to make it a point of emphasis for him that year.
“It didn’t seem that hard,” said Hills. “We just had to spread people out and shoot three’s, but I thought, ‘hey we shoot pretty good from that line, why don’t we spread people out and shoot some?’ and it worked out pretty good here.”
Hills added that at Chemeketa CC, his team was shooting 16 to 17 three-pointers a game in a period of times where most teams were three to four in an attempt to come back.
Current head coach Steve Masten described how his now assistant coach came up with the strategy.
“He had some short guard teams, he didn’t have big post players,” said Masten on Hills. “So he figured out, ‘we can make a bunch of three’s, that’ll counterbalance the fact we don’t have a bunch of big guys inside’.
“So he started devising offenses, nobody did that those days. No one designed a play that’s just for shooters from the three-point line because they weren’t going to score a lot from the inside. So that’s how it started.”
On December 4, 1987, the streak started against Willamette University and it wasn’t too long until the streak turned 100 on February 6, 1990.
The Western Baptist College team had some fun with it said Hills.
“We had shirts made up one year saying ‘Three for me, Two for you’,” he said with a smile. “So I said ‘let’s guard the heck out of the three point line and take as many three’s as we can and it worked out.”
The streak continued to 200 in 1993 and 300 in 1995.
By the time Western Baptist changed its name to Corban University in 2005, the streak was well into the 600s
“I think people love it,” said Hills. “People like action, people like high scoring games and all that kind of stuff. Everything’s just ‘hey lets score more’ and the three point line was a way for a little guy to survive in a big guy’s game. “
Now the Streak has continued into the 900s, 944 games to be exact. Second best to NCAA Division-I’s University of Nevada-Las Vegas’ 948 game streak.
Reflecting on the rich tradition of the streak and Western Baptist College and Corban University’s rich history from the three-point line started by Hills, has changed how the team recruits said Masten.
“It’s been difficult here at Corban to recruit the 6’8/9/10 guys, the big post guys” said Masten. “And the result, our recruiting model is to look for guys who can shoot the three-point shots.”
From a player’s perspective, they are proud of their heritage and what they are a part of. But they don’t consciously think of it
“It’s fun, we have a great heritage here,” said junior guard Toby Roth. “We appreciate where we’ve come from but with that being said, it’s not something we think about on a game to game basis.
“We’re proud of our shooters and we know we can knockdown three’s so, it’s not something we consciously think of. With that being said, it’s something we’re proud of”
For senior Cody Crowe, he knows the importance of the streak to everything relating to Corban University
“I think it’s significant,” he said. “It’s one of the longest streaks in college basketball right now. It’s special. It’s something special that we can bring to our fans, facility and for alumni of Corban University.”
Not including playoffs or the Cascade Collegiate Conference, if Corban continues the streak they’ll crack 1,000 games during the 2017-2018 season.
But that’s 66 games away, there is still a lot of basketball ahead for the NAIA Program out of Salem, Oregon. Anything is possible.
“I think it’s neat, it’s a novelty,” said Masten. “It’s between us and UNLV as to who’s going to have the lead and the record. I don’t see it ending anytime soon.”
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81!
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