There is no shortage of theories when it comes to the perceptible decline in points scored among Indiana boys basketball programs from the 1994-95 season until now.
Only 21 seasons ago winning and losing teams combined to total 124.1 points a game, while the sum had dropped significantly to 111.1 by the conclusion of the 2006-07 season.
There has been a minor spike in the numbers recently — 112.6 in 2011-12 and 112.5 in games played so far this season.
Is it a matter of improved defensive mechanics, increased dependency on the 3-point basket or more patience on offense?
All of the above? None of the above?
As dean of Johnson County boys basketball coaches, Greenwood coach Bruce Hensley — who’s in his 26th season — has witnessed more changes in the sport than have his contemporaries.
To him, it all comes down to the lost art of shooting the basketball.
“I definitely think shooting was more consistent back then. The 3-point arc has hurt shooting, especially in high school kids. They get out there and throw it up, which develops bad habits,” Hensley said.
“Sometimes we don’t take as good of shots as we did maybe 25 years ago.”
Franklin coach Brad Dickey, a spindly guard for coach Larry Angle at Tipton High School in his younger years, believes the reduced scoring goes back to the manner in which games are called.
“It’s the officiating and the nature of the game. I enjoy our game right now, but as a skinny player I appreciated shooting eight or 10 free throws a night. We don’t shoot free throws like we used to. You don’t get that call,” said Dickey, a 1988 graduate who surpassed 1,000 career points in a Blue Devils uniform.
“I don’t blame officials at all. It’s just the nature of the sport. We definitely call fewer fouls, and the players have gotten much stronger and quicker.”
Indian Creek coach Derek Perry said he thinks a greater number of defensive-minded head coaches has played a role, as well.
“You do see a lot of low scores, even with some of the (Class) 4A teams like Brownsburg and Franklin Central,” Perry said.
“You think about kids today, and all they want to do is shoot the 3-pointer, so I thought maybe the numbers would be the other way around. But I do think a lot of coaches now are defense first.”
Center Grove coach Zach Hahn agrees with all three.
“Teams are becoming more defensive-minded. Offensively, teams understand they can use the clock to keep the game low-scoring if they are playing an opponent that likes to transition. Games tend to be more physical than in years past, and officials are letting teams play quite a bit, so less free throws are being shot,” Hahn said.
“I also think there used to be such a high emphasis on shooting the basketball that everyone could shoot. In today’s game, there are players that only score in transition or driving to the basket, where in years past everyone that played could shoot the basketball.”
Edinburgh boys basketball coach Drew Glentzer takes an altogether different approach. He’s confident technology has had a hand in the numbers drop.
“I think it’s just better scouting where everything is just so much more accessible. I might watch 20 hours of film a week now on my iPad, where back in the day it might be where you have to meet a guy in Greenfield at 9:30 in the morning to pick up a tape,” Glentzer said.
“Everything is so much more readily available, and it’s a whole lot easier to stop what you know. And in our conference (Mid-Hoosier), the coaches talk to each other. It’s kind of like the NFL where one team figures it out and then everyone else tries it.”
A NUMBERS GAME
The scoring averages of the county’s six public high schools in 10-year intervals (not counting Tuesday’s games):
1995 2005 2015
Center Grove 64.8 55.4 54.4
Edinburgh 48.9 45.8 60.9
Franklin 71.3 63.8 57.2
Greenwood 49.9 55.1 47.1
Indian Creek 54.7 56.5 69.1
Whiteland 62.7 57.0 61.8