Mathis: Game of threes

Anthony Mathis has recorded 24 out of the 71 three-pointers the Lobos have scored this season. Scott Forman/The Lobo Lair

Isabel Gonzalez

Shooters shoot. And for now, that’s what the plan is going to be.
New Mexico head coach Paul Weir said he has a weapon in senior guard Anthony Mathis’ ability to shoot from way downtown. Now it’s just a matter of learning how to fully take advantage of it. The game of basketball is constantly evolving and Weir is not blind to the fact that three-pointers are a big part of the new era.
Three games ago, Mathis scored seven shots from beyond the arc against Bradley. This took him to the top of the NCAA list for three-point field goal percentage. He had scored four three-pointers in each of the four games before that one. This seemed to be a continuation of his junior year when he broke the school’s record for most three-pointers in a conference season with 66 (he finished the overall season with 98).
Unfortunately for the Lobos, the hot streak seems to have cooled off, at least momentarily. After Bradley, Mathis only hit one three-pointer against the New Mexico State Aggies. He followed this by going 0-8 against Saint Mary’s. Those two games resulted in devastating losses for the Lobos, and although many things went wrong, it’s clear that the team could’ve used some of Mathis’ magic.
“I’m going to quote Gregg Popovich,” Weir said. “When you get the box score, the first thing you do is you look at the three-pointers. If you make them, you win. If you miss them, you lose. Someone like Anthony is so powerful because of his ability to win you basketball games.”

The coach said he has broken down every single part of Mathis’ shots and that there are no noticeable trends so far. He admitted that coaching a three-point shooter of his “volume and proficiency” is new to him, especially now that three-pointers have become such a big part of the game.
Weir said Mathis has clearly become a primary weapon for the team and that he hopes the last two games were just isolated incidents.
“If this becomes something where this is going up and down all year, I’m going to learn more as a coach. How to coach him, how to manage it, how to get him in those places,” Weir said. “But his three-point percentage is higher than his two-point percentage so it’s hard for me to start saying, ‘hey lets get you to look somewhere else’ or whatever. He’s a great three-point shooter, he needs to keep shooting them. Hopefully they’ll go in more often than not.”