When handball drew only four teams during the second season of IMs, the AU Intramural program looked to spice things up by introducing a new sport. With the tremendous amount of publicity that surrounded Ice Cube’s BIG3 league and the history affiliated with basketball in the state of Indiana, it only made sense that three-on-three basketball would be introduced.
Any and all expectations have been shattered. 29 teams signed up to play, far more than the program was expecting. When combined with the draw of volleyball, the turnout for season two has been exceptional.
“Three-on-three has been a pleasant surprise,” said Trent Palmer, director of student engagement. “To have nearly 30 teams sign up for the inaugural season exceeded all of our expectations.”
Intramural Coordinator Rudy Lyon called it “the most successful new sport to date.”
Cam Etzler, in his first year on IM staff, has been the straw that stirs the drink, taking care of rule changes and constantly evaluating the new sport from behind the scenes. He has been pleased with the first couple of weeks.
“I think it’s off to a good start,” he said. “Seeing as this is brand new, we are still working out some kinks, but I like the direction we are heading.”
The structure of the games is vastly different than the five-on-five basketball that is played in season three. Three-on-three is held every Tuesday and Thursday night. Games take place every 45 minutes. Games are played until one team reaches thirty points or a thirty-minute time limit is elapsed.
In addition to the standard two and three-point shots, if a player makes a shot from beyond the volleyball line, they are awarded four points.
One major difference is that this league is self-officiated. There was some concern about not scheduling referees for the sport, but so far the competitors have done a good job of calling their own fouls.
“It’s been handled well,” explained Etzler. “The game can be as cautious or as physical as the teams desire it to be.” He added that they do keep monitors close by to ensure that the games are kept under control.
A great deal of excitement has surrounded the fast-paced games, with students sitting on both baselines and showing tremendous support for the players.
In the first week of three-on-three, Jason Rowland made a game-winning layup to lead his team to an upset victory. He was immediately mobbed by students mesmerized by his performance. He had scored all but three of his team’s points. That atmosphere has become typical during three-on-three games.
“Obviously we are in a climate where basketball is beloved,” said Palmer, “but seeing the outpouring of support for this style of play has been a treat. The student engagement in each game might be the most enjoyable component of three-on-three.”
Lyon is pleased with how the sport has been received.
“With well over 100 players leeaguewide, we’ve never seen this much interest at the start,” he said. “It was really unexpected, but a good unexpected.”