Larry Anderson was bouncing a basketball as he walked across the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus. "I'm serious," he said. "It seems like the farther out I am, the better I feel it. Sometimes I shoot it and it feels so natural that when I look down I'm surprised at how far out I am. For me, 25 feet is the same as 19 feet. I mean that."
Anderson, a senior guard, has led UNLV in scoring the last two years with averages of 15.5 and 17.2. This season, the Rebels' first in the PCAA, he can get three points every time he makes a shot from 19'9". For Anderson, a career 49.3% shooter—which is excellent for a bomber—and for a dozen or so similarly talented "pure" shooters at other schools, the three-point line is a candy store and they're five years old again. "When I first heard about the three-pointer I figured they meant the pro distance [23'9"]," he says. "I thought, 'Hey, this is all right. That's my range.' Then I saw how close the line really is. I thought, 'Oh my goodness!' I'm telling you, I can just stand here and put that shot in all day!"
Anderson has arrived at UNLV's North Gym wearing sneakers and street clothes. It's two in the afternoon, an hour before regular practice. "I need to shoot a couple to get loose," he says, as a visitor stands under the basket to retrieve his shots. Looking on is Danny Tarkanian, UNLV's junior point guard, one of whose jobs this season will be to get Anderson the ball in candy-store range. "I just like to sit here and watch Larry shoot," Tarkanian says, "His shot is so pretty. It's like a work of art."
Upon loosening up, Anderson works his way around the circle, making shot after shot from three-point range. Each jumper is the same. He goes up easily, with his arms extended, though not stretched out fully, and with his right, or guide, hand barely on the ball until he releases it with his left. The rotation of the ball is textbook perfect every time. "I'm not really around to my favorite spot yet," says Anderson between shots. "I like that left corner the best." After 12 shots, he finally misses from the left side about halfway between the top of the key and the corner.
November 29, 1982
Now he's in the left corner, the spot where they keep the jelly beans. Swish. Bounce pass. Swish. Bounce pass. Swish. Bounce pass. Read that 13 times because that's how many in a row Anderson makes before a shot goes in and out to end the streak. "Is that enough?" he asks.
Of course, it will be more difficult when nine other players are crowded into the candy store, but the test was relevant to this experimental season. This year players with Anderson's touch will have the capacity to dictate the outcome of many, many more games than usual. Not every sharpshooter will automatically become a three-point scorer. But the rule is tailor-made for Anderson. Although he's 6'6" and a good leaper, he's almost exclusively a perimeter player. "Larry's better off not even taking the ball inside," says Tarkanian, sounding like the coach's son he is. "He's much more accurate from 25 feet."
"I've already seen that I don't have to think about the line," says Anderson. "Most of my shots today must've come from 21 or 22 feet, because the times I've looked down after I've shot, my feet are well behind the line."
Anderson's coach, Jerry Tarkanian, has lived in Las Vegas long enough to know a winning edge when he sees one. He's going to let Anderson pull up and take his jumper off the break. Tarkanian says he won't design any special three-point plays—unless one is specifically needed to win or tie a game—but Anderson can get into the candy store in Vegas' normal offense. "I'd bet that half of Larry's  field goals last year were from the three-point range," says the elder Tarkanian. "That's fine with us."
Anderson's teammates have total confidence in his shot. Sid Green, UNLV's second leading scorer and a fine outside shooter himself despite being 6'9", says, "Larry's the best shooter in the nation. We're going to get rich on his three-point shot." And Anderson could get fat on all that candy.