Dome effect?

There's something about the cavernous nature of domes that throws off shooters - even very good ones. Call it the 'dome effect. What effect will the Superdome have on Rick Pitino and John Calipari's players in the biggest game of the year?

The basket will stand 10' feet at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Saturday when Louisville and Kentucky and tip-off at 6:09 p.m.

The three-point line will measure 20'9, the same distance it's been all season. The free throw line will still be 15 feet from the basket.

But there's something about the cavernous nature of domes that throws off shooters - even very good ones. Last year's champion, UConn, shot 2 of 23 from three on its way to the title. Runner-up Butler shot 18.8 percent in the championship game. Call it the 'dome effect.'

It's reasonable to wonder what effect the Superdome will have on Rick Pitino and John Calipari's players in the biggest game of the year?

"The depth perception [is different]," said Pitino. "Somebody mentioned that the court is raised too.  Everything is different.  But the good thing for us is we played at Syracuse. We understand what its like to play in a dome….it's different."


Perhaps the Superdome will have the opposite effect on the often wayward shooting Cardinals. Though if Louisville's only other dome performance this season is an indication, the Cardinals might want to get as close to the basket as they can before hoisting shots in the Superdome.

On March 3 in the Carrier Dome, Louisville made only 21 of 62 field goals against Syracuse. The Cardinals, who fell to the Orange 58-49 on senior day, made just 2 of 23 threes against the Orange, a paltry 8.7 percent. Starting guard/forward Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric were a combined 4 of 17 from the floor.

"The backdrop is really deep and you have to find an in-between with your arch…pretty much its the perception," Smith said. "If you can shoot, you can shoot it anywhere. It doesn't really matter. God willing hopefully I'll make them all."

Kentucky knows how tricky dome shooting can be. The Wildcats made 21 of 62 (33 percent) shots in 56-55 loss to UConn in the national semifinals last year in Houston's Reliant Stadium, a cavernous building that held a Final Four-record crowd of 75,421. Darius Miller made only 1 of 7 shots (one of four three-pointers), though Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb were a combined 10-of-18. The Wildcats made only four of 12 free throws against the Huskies.

"The arena's with these raised floors change things somewhat," Calipari said. "I think you've got to get in there and do as much shooting as you can do. Last year I didn't realize that."

If the dome does have a negative effect on shooting in Saturday's game, rebounding will be crucial. Kentucky out-rebounded Louisville 57-31 in a 69-62 win over the Cardinals in late December at Rupp Arena.


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