As he had done hundreds of times before in his career, Shane Richards curled around a screen; received a pass; and connected on a three-pointer.
This three-pointer, however, was unlike the hundreds he had hit in his career. This one was special. It was three number 166, which made Richards Manhattan College’s new three-point king.
“I’m happy. I’m ecstatic that I’ve done it,” Richards said. “It’s a great accomplishment for the school and for myself. I hope we can just build on that from there.”
From the onset of the game against Morgan State, it seemed that Richards was determined to become Manhattan’s all-time three-point leader. An aggressive Richards connected on three of four three-point attempts in the first half and with his third three-pointer he tied Devon Austin with 165 threes in his career.
Believe it or not, a humble Richards admitted that his early aggressiveness on offense was not a result of him chasing the record.
“To be honest, I almost forgot about the record before the game,” he said. “I really was just trying to come out aggressive and just get our team off to a fast start.”
In the second half, Richards wasted no time in breaking the record.
Less than a minute into the second half Richards rose from the center of the court and hit that elusive three for the 166th time in his career.
After the game, head coach Steve Masiello had nothing but praise for his junior guard.
“That’s the great thing about Shane. He doesn’t care. He cares more about the win,” he said. “I think the fact that he has [broken the record] by his junior year and he’s won doing it, which is something Jeff [Xavier] and Luis [Flores] both did. I think that’s what makes those three guys so special: is that they won doing it.”
Xavier, whose school record of 77 three-pointers in a season was tied by Richards last year, led Manhattan to a MAAC-best 14-4 regular season record in the 2005-’06 season–a season in which Manhattan made the second round of the NIT Tournament.
Flores, widely regarded as the best player in Manhattan’s history, in three seasons led Manhattan to an NIT Tournament and the only consecutive NCAA Tournament bids in the school’s history in the ’02-’03 and ’03-’04 seasons.
But Richards’ resume does not fall too far behind Xavier’s and Flores’. In Richards’ first season at Manhattan, the team fell 60-57 to Iona in the MAAC Championship game, a game that if Manhattan had won would have clinched an NCAA Tournament bid.
In his second season, Manhattan did reach the NCAA Tournament, losing in the second round to No. 4 seed Louisville by the score 71-64. A game when Manhattan nearly pulled off an upset but let the game slip away in the final two minutes.
Now Richards has two seasons left to add to his success, which makes the swiftness with which he broke the three-point record that much more impressive.
It is usually never a foregone conclusion that a record will be broken but it was a certainty that Richards would break Austin’s school record for threes made.
Richards, who entered this season just 23 three-pointers away from Austin’s mark of 165, was slated to break the record at some point this year barring an early season-ending injury.
The record seemed like it would be placed on hold for some time when there was in fact an injury scare, a right hand fracture on Dec. 7, that caused Richards to struggle over his next three games–limiting him to an average of just 3.67 points over that stretch.
“You always got to give credit to the defense when they shut you down, but my hand is in a lot of pain right now,” Richards said. “I’ve been playing through it, but it’s just part of the game. You’re just going to have to play through pain and hopefully I can continue doing that.”
Richards did play through pain and needing just four three-pointers to set a new record, and he got exactly that mark in the win against Morgan State on Saturday.
At his current 2.2 three-pointers per game mark, Richards is on pace to shatter Austin’s previous record of 165 three.
It is hard to predict how many more games Richards will play in his career since it is impossible to foresee a potential injury. He played in 32 games his first season and 33 games his second season, but those high totals were due to Manhattan reaching at least the MAAC Championship game in both seasons.
But assuming Richards stays healthy and plays in every game this season and next, and Manhattan does not get to play the extra games it would play during a deep run in a MAAC Championship. Richards is still on pace to hit over 250 three-pointers in his career.
That is a number very few players have reached in the history of college basketball and if Richards were to reach 250 career three-pointers he would place 13th in MAAC history from 1997 to present day. To reach the top ten, he would have to get to 274 three-pointers, according to basketball-reference.com.
It is a tough task, but if anyone can do it, Richards can.
He is a player who until Manhattan offered a scholarship, had received zero scholarship offers to play Division 1 college basketball, and wears that number to remind himself of all the schools who passed on him.
Richards has defied his naysayers by becoming a productive player at Manhattan College and now has NCAA Tournament appearance and a school record for three-pointers made in a single season and career on his resume.
Despite all his accolades, Richards remains humble.
“I feel any record is important to you because it’s a school record,” he said. “Records are meant to be broken and I’m sure some day someone will break my record.”