Citadel Kaiden Rice (copy) (copy)

The Citadel's Kaiden Rice hit 71 of 197 shots from 3-point range last season for 36 percent. Provided/Citadel Athletics

"Rhythm and range" is Citadel basketball coach Duggar Baucom's mantra when it comes to shooting 3-pointers.

That means if a Bulldog is in rhythm, he shouldn't worry too much about range.

That's also why Baucom doesn't think college basketball's new 3-point line will severely impact his team's 3-point launch rate, which was the highest in the Southern Conference last season.

The Bulldogs begin Baucom's fifth season at noon Saturday against UNC Asheville at McAlister Field House.

The 3-point line has been moved back to the international distance of 22 feet, 1¾ inches beginning this season, more than a foot longer than the former distance of 20 feet, 9 inches, which was established in 2008.

"I kind of like it, because it gives us more space for what we try to do," said Baucom, whose team put up a SoCon-leading 1,076 shots from 3-point range last season. "We were shooting back there anyway. We call it rhythm and range, so if you are in rhythm and range, you shoot it."

The Citadel took 53.5 percent of its field goal attempts from 3-point range last year, the only team in the SoCon over the 50 percent mark. The Bulldogs made a league-best 12.3 shots from 3-point range per game, shooting 34.4 percent from long distance, which was ninth in the 10-team league.

Over the last four seasons, The Citadel has made 1,516 shots from 3-point range, the most in Division I basketball. 

The Citadel lost its top two long-range shooters from last year's 12-18 team in Matt Frierson, the most prolific 3-point shooter in school history, and Connor Kern.

A lot of those shots should go to 6-6 junior guard Kaiden Rice, who hit 71 of 197 (36 percent) from 3-point range last season.

Two 6-2 freshmen, Jackson Gammons and Fletcher Abee, are fighting for the starting two-guard spot and also will be called on to shoot from long distance.

The new 3-point line also will impact the way the Bulldogs defend other teams, Baucom said.

"It might change ball-screen coverages a little bit," he said. "I don't know how many guys will jump and shoot behind ball screens now, because it is a little bit farther.

"We just want to make other teams shoot over hands, whether it's in zone or man. Make them shoot contested shots and finish over people without fouling. Those are the big concepts we've been working on since last season, keeping people out of the lane and making them shoot over hands."

With Frierson and all-Socon picks Zane Najdawi and Lew Stallworth gone, Baucom's new starting lineup is likely to include 6-3 transfer Tyson Batiste at the point guard; either Abee or Gammons at the 2, with Rice starting on the wing; and juniors Alex Reed (6-3) and Hayden Brown (6-5) up front.

Bench players in the rotation will include forwards Kaelon Harris and Derek Webster, 6-7 transfer Eddie Davis, and 6-0 freshman point guard Rudy Fitzgibbons.

"We'll probably go nine or 10 deep, with a lot of new faces," Baucom said. "Rudy will be our backup point guard, and he's a good enough shooter that he will play some with Tyson."

UNC Asheville is coached by Mike Morrell, a former VCU assistant under Shaka Smart. UNCA, which began its season with a 78-63 loss at Tennessee, was picked to finish ninth in the Big South Conference this season after going 4-27 last year in Morrell's first season.

LJ Thorpe, a 6-5 sophomore, led UNCA at Tennessee with 22 points, while Lavar Batts, a 6-3 transfer from N.C. State, added 11 points.  

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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