FIBA investing in 3-on-3 hoops

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Volleyball has beach, cycling has BMX, swimming has open water, and badminton exists, so why not 3-on-3 hoops at the Olympics?

FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, is strongly considering a push to make 3-on-3 at the Olympics a reality as soon as the Rio Games in 2016, and the success of the world championships in Spain last week is encouraging the masses.

Serbia won both the men’s senior and under-18 tournament, with the U.S. taking bronze and silver respectively and the French ending up with whatever was left. In August, Team USA took gold at the inaugural women’s world tournament in Athens.

“What FIBA wants is to create a new generation of players,” said Jim Tooley, CEO of USA Basketball. “And take the game into new places. You saw here teams from Guam, from Nepal.”

The athletes play 10 minute or 21 point games (whichever comes first) on outdoor half-courts, with a 12 second shot clock, a ones-and-twos scoring system, and loud, pumping music that helps drive the break-neck speed of the game.

“I think it’s exciting to watch too because it’s really high-paced… it’s a great environment,” Canadian under-18 coach Shawn Swords told the Toronto Observer. “I think it’s something that would definitely draw a lot of people to watch, and it would be a fun game to play and I’m sure the players would love it.”

We’re not sure if the world is ready to give up on the 5-on-5 game that’s been around since 1936, so it might be tough to find space for both disciplines in the schedule, but if the Olympics is going to continue aiming at a younger audience with sports like beach volleyball and BMX, then 3-on-3 has to be next on the list.

Now if we could only figure out a way to add HORSE and a three-point shootout we’d be set.

Katie Ledecky beaten in NCAA Championships individual medley

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Katie Ledecky lost an NCAA Championships race for the first time in eight career finals, taking second in the 400-yard individual medley on Friday.

Stanford teammate Ella Eastin easily beat Ledecky by 3.69 seconds and grabbed the American and NCAA records from Ledecky, too. Eastin’s 3:54.60 is 1.93 seconds faster than Ledecky’s time from the Pac-12 Championships last month.

How did she do it?

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Eastin said on ESPNU. “I’ve built a lot of endurance this year, and it really showed.”

Eastin is decorated in her own right. She three-peated as NCAA 400-yard IM champion and held the American record in the event before Ledecky lowered it last month.

Eastin would have made the 2017 World Championships team had she not been disqualified for an illegal turn after finishing in second place at nationals.

Ledecky, a sophomore, has never contested the 400m IM at a U.S. Championships, Olympics or world championships, nor did she race the 400-yard IM at 2017 NCAAs. She raced the 400 IM instead of the 200 freestyle on Friday.

All of Ledecky’s races at major meets before Friday were in freestyle events. Her only defeat in a major international meet individual final was the 200m freestyle at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky won five NCAA titles last year and the last two nights anchored the 800-yard freestyle relay and captured the 500-yard freestyle by eight seconds.

Meet results are here.

Later Friday, Lilly King of Indiana three-peated in the 100-yard breaststroke, breaking her American and NCAA records and winning in 56.25 seconds. King is also the Olympic and world champion in the 100m breast, plus the world-record holder.

“Always excited to get the record, but was really hoping to break 56 today,” King said.

Louisville’s Mallory Comerford became the second woman after Missy Franklin to break 1:40 in the 200-yard freestyle, winning in 1:39.80. Co-Olympic 100m free champ Simone Manuel of Stanford was third. Comerford and Ledecky tied for the 2017 NCAA 200 free title.

Stanford’s Ally Howe won the 100-yard backstroke in 49.70, one hundredth shy of her NCAA and American records. Olympic 100m backstroke silver medalist Kathleen Baker of Cal-Berkeley was third.

NCAAs conclude Saturday. Ledecky swims the 1,650-yard freestyle. She is the overwhelming favorite, having gone 35 seconds faster than anyone this season.

Ledecky hasn’t discussed with Stanford whether she will return for her junior season or turn pro, according to the school.

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World vault champion out for all of 2018

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Maria Paseka, a two-time world vault champion and four-time Olympic medalist, said she is out for the rest of the year after December back surgery, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Paseka, 22, earned the lone Russian title at worlds in October, repeating as champion on vault by edging American Jade Carey by .084. She handed Simone Biles her only defeat in a 2015 Worlds final, also on vault.

Paseka also took vault silver and bronze medals at the last two Olympics, as well as helping Russia to team silvers in London and Rio.

As Paseka is sidelined, Russia’s two other recent headliners are on the comeback trail.

Viktoria Komova, the all-around silver medalist at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics who missed Rio due to a back injury, competed in December for the first time since 2015.

Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist with two uneven bars golds, is expected to return to competition this spring from June childbirth.

The world championships are in Doha in October.

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