Bloomington – Matt Roth has been taking an addition by subtraction approach to his game this off-season.
While the summer months are often spent trying to improve a young player's shooting range, Roth has actually taken the opposite approach. The sophomore shooting guard has been working on inching a little bit closer to the 3-point arc and…dare I say…inside of it as well.
That's relatively unfamiliar territory for the Washington, Ill., native. A year ago Roth attempted 174 shots from the field, and all but 21 of them were from behind the 3-point arc. Most of those 153 3-pointers weren't with both toes nestled up against the 3-point stripe, either. Roth's seemingly limitless range was there for everyone to see, as he often hoisted shots from 25 feet and out.
Roth will still be a 3-point weapon whenever he's on the floor, but Coach Tom Crean is also hoping he can do some things a little bit closer to the hoop this season.
"He is trying to do more than just shoot 3s," said IU Coach Tom Crean. "We're actually trying to get him to move his range in."
One thing that will help in that pursuit is the influx of talent with the arrival of the 2009 recruiting class. While still unproven, the likes of Maurice Creek, Christian Watford, Derek Elston and Jordan Hulls will put some other players on the floor that opposing defenses will have to be concerned about. Hulls and transfer Jeremiah Rivers, meanwhile, are creators at the point guard position who will be able to break down a defense and then kick it out to Roth a little closer to the arc.
"Jordy is one of the smartest players I've played with," Roth said. "His understanding of the game and for his teammates and what their tendencies are is phenomenal."
While Roth will benefit from those additions to the roster, he's made some improvements of his own. Most notable is some additional weight – he's now up to 186 pounds, a nearly 20-pound gain from where he was when he first arrived last summer. On top of that, he's spent countless hours working on being less deliberate with his shot.
"I've really worked on my shot and getting it off quicker," Roth said.
Last year, Roth would often have to inch further and further away from the basket in an effort to get enough separation to get his shot off. He lacked the ability to elevate over long defenders or to threaten them with an ability to attack off the dribble, so opposing defenders would generally get up into Roth no matter how far away he ventured from the basket.
Now, a quicker release and a few more tricks should allow Roth to get more quality looks from somewhere other than the neighboring zip code.
"He has a quicker release and at points in time can break you down off a shot fake," Crean said.
Roth has managed to expand his game by being a regular visitor to Assembly Hall. While the IU coaching staff is only allowed to spend two hours a week with him on the practice floor since the semester started, there haven't been too many days since last season ended that Roth hasn't been in Assembly Hall either lifting weights or working on his shot, or more likely, doing both.
"I like to think about being in the gym and getting shots up,"Roth said. "It's a way to get better every day, and that's what I'm trying to do."
For Roth, It's About Addition by Subtraction
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