MCGILL: Loop's Shooting Obsession Started on Ohio Hoop
The Word on the Herd -- Nov. 29, 2016
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Years ago, in the twilight of the day in South Webster, Ohio, Wes Loop would leave his little brother alone with the adjustable basketball hoop that was stationed in their driveway.
Wes headed indoors for video games and relaxation, satisfied with his time on the court. Meanwhile, Austin Loop kept shooting.
And shooting … and shooting … and shooting.
“Pretty much until he couldn’t see,” Wes Loop said. “Sometimes the light would kick on and he’d get in 20 more minutes.”
Austin Loop, a 6-foot-4 senior, is moving up the charts for career 3-pointers at Marshall University. Loop will get the chance to add to his total against another team from his home state, Ohio University, when the Herd and Bobcats meet Wednesday night at 7. He made 5 of 9 shots from 3-point land last Friday against Ohio State, giving him 12 makes in his last 21 attempts from long range.
Loop now has 197 career 3s on 495 career attempts – both of which rank No. 5 in school history. He is four 3-pointers from tying Damier Pitts (2008-12) for fourth on the career list, and 55 away from eclipsing Tamar Slay’s career record of 251. Loop is on pace to finish with 280 career 3-pointers.
“I try not to pay attention to it,” Loop said. “I have an older brother and he knows every stat that I’ve got. He doesn’t mention specifics to me. That’s one of my big flaws. I get in the game and I’m counting – I’m 3 for 5; I’m 3 for 6 – and I’m counting every make and miss. I’ve gotten better about that.”
He has gotten better at a lot when it comes to basketball.
Wes Loop remembers a scrawny kid who didn’t exactly project as a Division I record-setting shooter.
“In high school he was barely anything,” Wes Loop said. “He was so small, but you could see after his junior year he added 15 or 20 pounds of muscle and was in the gym every day. He worked hard for it.”
Austin Loop played for South Webster High School, but he wasn’t the type of player he is today. At Marshall, Loop has attempted 495 career 3-pointers and 69 career 2-point shots in 83 games (70 consecutive starts).
“In high school you have to do more, so I drove (to the basket) and posted up because I was one of the bigger guys on the team,” Loop said. “Now – you don’t catch me in the paint too often.”
After high school, Loop mulled his future. He was being recruited by Division II and D-III programs, and he seemed headed to Marietta College to pursue basketball. Then, Marshall entered the picture. He accepted a walk-on spot with the intent to redshirt and re-evaluate his options after one season.
“I had a one-year plan when I came in,” Loop said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I felt like I was good enough to play at this level and something felt right about me being here.”
Loop stayed and played sparingly during the 2013-14 season. He saw action in 13 games and made 11 threes. More importantly, he earned a scholarship after the first semester. Coach Dan D’Antoni was announced as the Herd’s new head coach on April 24, 2014, and Loop has started every game since.
“He’s as good as anybody in the NBA,” D’Antoni said. “As quick as he shoots. He’s confident … he’s as good as I’ve seen. I’ve been around some good ones, too. I feel every time he’s going to make it when he shoots it.”
It is what Loop has done since he was little. He has basketball in his DNA – his uncle, Rick Scarberry, played at Ohio University.
“I’ve been playing basketball since I can remember,” Loop said. “I’m from a basketball family, so I grew up around it.”
It all goes back to those days in Ohio, when Loop would shoot at home for hours, or make the trip to school and coerce the janitor into letting them shoot buckets while the janitor cleaned.
“Shooting is my getaway,” Loop said. “Everybody has that thing they like to do to get away from the stress of everyday life. To this day – whether I have a big test or a bad day – I’ll come in late at night and get shots up.
“It’s always been my thing.”