When Ladan Ricketts has run the floor this summer, he’s searched for slightly different locations. And when he sprints to the corner, he’s noticed he’s had to be a little more careful than in the past.

“The corner’s a little less room so you kind of got to be aware of where you’re at so you’re not stepping over the line, you’re not out of bounds and everything,” Ricketts said while discussing the NCAA’s new 3-point line. “It’s going to take some time, but guys are starting to get the hang of it.”

As Montana State has practiced this summer, the Bobcats have adjusted to the new distance for the 3-point arc, which has been extended to the international mark for men’s basketball. The move takes the line from 20 feet, 9 inches away from the basket to 22 feet, 1¾ inches.

The change, announced by the NCAA in early June, is intended to make the 3-point shot more challenging, open more room in the lane and assist offensive spacing.

But the farther distance may counteract improved spacing as defenses then may opt to sag off when shooting percentages decrease, MSU head coach Danny Sprinkle said.

“If teams aren’t shooting as good, we’re just going to pack the defense even tighter,” Sprinkle said. “Hopefully you do shoot that deeper 3. We’re going to give that up and just contest it where it’s going to be harder.”

While there’s no exact way to know how the adjustment will affect the 2019-20 season, the Bobcats are doing their best to adjust this summer. The team has used tape to indicate the new line on the Worthington Arena court, and players like Ricketts have noticed a difference.

Ricketts shot 45.7% on 3-pointers as a junior last season, ranking fourth in the Big Sky, and MSU made 37.4% of its 3s, which ranked 41st nationally.

Though the Bobcats’ shooting percentages haven’t been as high as Sprinkle would like throughout summer practices, he and his coaching staff have prioritized defensive fundamentals early on. As they install more offensive principles and players acclimate to the deeper distance for 3s, Sprinkle hopes the percentages will rise.

The international line was used as part of experimental rules during the National Invitation Tournament this past spring, and teams shot 33% compared to their regular season average of 35.2%.

The last time the line was moved, from 19-9 to 20-9 prior to 2008-09, the Division I 3-point percentage dropped from 35.2% to 34.4% the following season. It took nine years for that nationwide percentage to climb back to 35.2%.

“One thing that’s good, teaching our motion, it’s actually better because our guys are getting out wider and the spacing is better with that when nobody’s guarding us,” Sprinkle said. “But I think once teams start guarding, packing it in, we’re going to have to shrink it in a little bit too.”

The change will be most drastic for incoming freshmen transitioning from the high school line, but two of MSU’s freshmen (Finn Fleute and Borja Fernandez) are already coming from playing internationally.

Sprinkle added the adjustment may also affect forwards and centers more since they often shoot close to the 3-point line. Guards like senior Harald Frey, for example, made a habit of converting from well beyond the line anyway last season and has spent time this summer playing for the Norwegian national team in international competition.

“I think everybody on our team is going to take some adjustment, but I don’t think it’ll be too big of a problem,” Ricketts said. “It’ll definitely open up the game and change the game a bit, which will be a good change.”


— With Sprinkle in his first offseason as MSU’s head coach, he’s continued learning about the Bobcats’ roster while players have learned what he and his staff are looking for.

The group has focused on critical basics such as ball-screen defense and staying in a defensive stance for 35 seconds, elements that can decide games, Sprinkle said.

MSU returns just five scholarship players and only three of them averaged more than eight minutes per game last season. With Frey away from MSU, only Ricketts, a senior, and redshirt junior Devin Kirby have experience playing significant minutes for the Bobcats.

“We’re throwing a lot of new concepts at them, and they’re going to screw up. I told them I know you’re going to screw up because they’re not habits yet,” Sprinkle said. “But by the time we get to the fall, they’re going to have so many reps of doing it, it’s going to become second nature to them.”

— Former MSU players Tyler Hall (Chicago Bulls) and Keljin Blevins (Portland Trail Blazers) wrapped up their stints in the NBA Summer League. Hall appeared in two games, averaged 3.5 minutes and went 0 for 2 from the field. In three games, Blevins went 2 for 5 from the field while averaging 1.7 points and 9.3 minutes.

— Frey competed with Norway in the International University Sports Foundation Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy. He averaged 14 points in six games and scored 29 in a 79-77 win against Mexico in the 15th-place game.

Paul Schwedelson can be reached at pschwedelson@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.