"Arc" device gives new angle on shooting [Virginian - Pilot]
(Virginian - Pilot Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By Whitey Reid
The Daily Progress
Mounted on a wall near one of the baskets inside of the Virginia basketball practice gym is an 18-by-22-inch black box.
Inside the box is a camera, a computer and a speaker.
The camera records a shot's flight pattern, which allows the computer, in real time, to calculate the shot's arc. The speaker, in a voice similar to the one you hear on a GPS device, spits out a number loud enough for the player who is shooting it to hear.
That number, which is usually in the 40s, is the degree of arc on the shot. An optimal arc is considered 45 degrees.
As players go through their shooting drills, they can adjust their arcs based on what the voice is telling him.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett and his players are taking advantage of the latest in technology with their use of Noah's Arc - a training mechanism invented by a former physics teacher, a software developer and a rocket scientist.
Yeah, you can rightly say shooting is part rocket science.
"As a coach, you're always saying, 'Get some arc; get some arc,' " Bennett said. "You say that, but after a while (the players) shut you out.
"With this, when they're shooting, it gives them audio feedback every time they shoot. It just kind of makes them focus on getting the right arc and getting a repeatable stroke. I like that."
So do Bennett's players.
"It helps with your consistency because you have somebody telling you whether you're shooting it lower or higher," said senior guard Joe Harris, who has typically used the device to tinker with his stroke in the offseason. "It's good to try and gauge yourself and just try and be as consistent as possible."
Bennett started using Noah's Arc when he was coaching at Washington State. He ordered his first at Virginia in 2011. In October, he purchased a mobile version of the device, which is able to measure shots taken from anywhere on the floor.
The machine was dreamed up 12 years ago by Alan Marty, a former physics professor who wanted a better way to teach his daughter the proper arc for her shot.
Marty brought in fellow church members and weekend basketball players Tom Edwards and Ridge McGhee. Edwards worked for NASA and knew a thing or two about tracking moving objects. McGhee was a computer vision consultant. Before long, they had a prototype.
Over the next several months, the men - who would team up with CEO John Carter - studied the jump shots of some of the game's great shooters, among them Chris Mullin, Reggie Miller and Ray Allen, and determined that the ideal arc had an entry angle of 45 degrees.
Today, Noah's Arc is used by teams at the high school, college and NBA levels.
Bennett is the first Division I college coach to endorse the product.
"We're a very picky company as far as somebody we want to associate our name with," Carter said, "and Coach Bennett is just such a great guy, a high-integrity guy, and also a great shooting coach because he was a great shooter himself."
Bennett can often be found on the team's John Paul Jones Arena practice court using Noah's Arc.
"I'll just come down here and mess around with it," said Bennett. "It's almost addicting."
One of Virginia's most interesting case studies is guard Malcolm Brogdon, who, coming out of high school, had one of the more flat shots you'll ever see.
As a freshman, Brogdon's shot consistently registered in the 39- degree range. He shot 40 percent from the field, 32 percent from 3- point range and 80 percent from free-throw line.
While sitting out last season with a foot injury, Brogdon made a concerted effort to get more arc on his shot and says he's now in the 42- to 43-degree range.
So far this season, there has been noticeable improvement. Brogdon has shot 41 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3 and 91 percent from the line.
Brogdon says Bennett and assistant coach Ritchie Mc-Kay have helped him, but he also gives Noah's Arc a lot of the credit.
"It was huge for me," Brogdon said. "I came in and Coach Bennett immediately put me on the Noah's Arc and it's really helped my arc since.
"That's really been one of the changes to the mechanics of my shot since I've been here, and it's really paid off."
Why is arc so important?
"When your shot is flatter, there's less of a chance for the ball to go in and less room for error," Brogdon explained. "When the ball's higher, you can get more bounces in between the rim, you have more space that the ball can go through the rim."
While shooting with the proper arc is a major fundamental, there is such a thing as having too much arc. That's actually just as detrimental as not having enough.
The company says the key is to build the muscle memory so you can consistently shoot as closely as possible to 45 degrees.
The second important variable that Noah measures and gives instant feedback on is the depth of the shot. Believe it or not, the correct depth is not the center of the rim. Rather, it's two inches inches past the center - or 11 inches past the front of the rim.
Noah spits out a number that's typically in the 7-15 range, letting players know if they are too long or too short with their shot.
Carter and his cohorts use the catchy phrase "45 deep and 11 steep" in describing the ideal shot.
According to Carter, only 50 percent of players at the college level are shooting with the correct arc and depth. And at the high school level, Carter says that number dips to under 9 percent.
For basketball-crazed parents who are already thinking about Noah's Arc for next Christmas, well, start saving your money.
The wall-mounted unit costs $4,600, while the mobile version goes for $5,600.
Clearly, Bennett feels his program is getting its money's worth.
"It's not the end-all, be-all," Bennett said. "But it's a good teaching tool."
Basketball players on Virginia's squad are benefiting from Noah's Arc, a device that records the arc of a shot and speaks out a number. An optimal entry angle of 45 degrees was determined by studying some NBA greats such as Chris Mullin, Reggie Miller and Ray Allen.
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