A new pricy high tech tool is helping some prep basketball programs close the gap on those of other larger schools, all while stoking some controversy over the ability to afford it.
As detailed by Seattle Times high school sports reporter Mason Kelley, a new machine called "Noah" has been designed to measure the arc on players' basketball shots. Using NASA technology, the waist high "shooting system machine" registers the precise arc of each shot fired by a player in its range, then announces that arc number in a computerized voice, a bit like Siri from the Apple iPhone 4S.
At the same time, the device sends data -- the shot's arc, distance and other chartable figures -- to a computer screen which can be monitored by a coach standing by. By providing unbiased data, the program clearly offers an advantage to players who have access to it. The program is also being used by a variety of NBA teams and top NCAA programs, including Kansas and Gonzaga.
"We try to give the kids every tool possible," Bear Creek (Wash.) High boys basketball coach Scott Moe told the Times. "This is something we found and we thought, 'Hey, if this truly can help ... Last year we got third in state. Maybe, if we had that last year, that would be the difference,' "
While Noah could prove to be the difference for Bear Creek, that might only stoke debate about whether using Noah at a public high school is fair to other programs which can't afford it. The system costs approximately $5,600, a sum which is hardly a budget breaker but is still expensive enough to price it out of most public high school budgets, particularly in an age of constant cutbacks where extraneous tools like Noah are the first to be eliminated. With such a small percentage of schools currently using the system, that debate has flown under the radar thus far.
If it proves to be as pivotal to improvement as Bear Creek players say it is, ethical questions about using Noah and other computerized shot aids might not fester below the surface for much longer.
"Now that I know what to do with my shot, I can actually work on it," Domas said. "Now that I know the science behind it, it helps me to be able to adjust my shot if I have to. It makes it a whole lot easier to sink my free throws.
"I can step up to the free-throw line with confidence and just nail all my shots."
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