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Sep 22 2013

Billy Lange likes 3-pointers, free throws

Several media outlets have reported that Villanova assistant Billy Lange is joining the Sixers coaching staff. If you’re a fan of 3-pointers and free throws, that’s a good thing.

Lange, 41, coached under Jay Wright the last two seasons, but from 2004-2011 he was a head coach at Navy. He never made THE BIG DANCE with the Midshipmen, which went 93-113 during his seven-year tenure. But for a military academy competing against scholarship institutions – even ones from the Patriot League – that’s not bad.

I suspect you’re not jumping out of your seat after hearing about his moderate success against low-tier Division I competition, but if anything can get you excited about a new assistant coach, it’s this excerpt from his Navy bio.

What sets Lange’s teams apart from others is the ability and clearance to shoot the three-pointer. Four of the top five single-season three-point totals have come in the last five seasons, and Navy has had 20 instances of 13 or more three-pointers in a game under Lange. Before Lange arrived, Navy had just five such outings.

Thanks in large part to the success beyond the arc and at the free throw stripe and the up-tempo approach, Navy has led the league in scoring in four of the six years Lange has been in charge.”

Yesss. Lange digs the long ball, almost to a fault. In his final season with Navy, the Midshipmen attempted the sixth most 3-pointers in the entire country. (So what if they converted them at an abysmal 29 percent en route to an 11-19 season.) They were good at getting to the line too, in Patriot League terms, ranking second only to Lehigh.

The Midshipmen went 3-26 the year after Lange left. There are plenty of factors, aside from the coach and the offensive strategy, that could explain Navy’s win decline. Recruiting, the implementation of a new system, variance, just to name a few. But Lange’s effect on Navy’s offensive style was clear. The team’s 3-point attempts and free-throw attempts dropped by about 200, and their scoring went down by a full 10 points per game, from 68 to 58.

The Sixers are moving away from the Doug Collinsey attack, and towards a style that’s more reliant on 3-point shooting and free throws. Having someone on the staff with experiencing executing the 3-point heavy system at a Division 1 level should only ease the offense’s transition.