Saturday, April 19, 2014

Just another BRICK in the wall


I have to wonder if while writing the lyrics for the Pink Floyd mega classic "Another Brick in the wall" they had to be watching their favorite basketball player clang free throw after free throw after free throw. 

Obviously this is really not the case but when I am clutching my hands together during crunch time of a basketball game and player after player can't hit a 15 foot free throw it is nauseating.  I mean 15 feet and there is not one sole in front of you.   

I have been watching basketball for almost my entire life and have found the art of shooting free throws to be the most confusing aspect of the game.

Wrapping your mind around why a player can't hit at a high percentage a wide open uncontested glorified jump shot is mind blowing. 

After watching Game one of Clippers and Warriors the end of the game was disgusting if you are an instructor of shooting free throws.  In the last 30 seconds of the game there were 6 free throws attempted and guess how many were made.

Here is a is the loneliest number!

That is right!  ONE!

It was horrifying that these multimillionaire professional basketball players can't even make a free throw.  One of the unfortunate bricklayers was none other than Chris Paul.  Shooting his foul shots he looked more like Cliff Paul. 


Games are won and lost on the free throw line.  Good teams can become great teams just by sinking free throws. 

This was never more evident during this past NCAA tournament.  The UConn men's team was deadly from the foul line as Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright sank not only foul shots at an alarming rate but their opponents hearts as well.  I wish I would have counted the number of times the announcers said if they had a late lead it would be hard to beat them as they are so good from the free throw line. 

In the championship game they missed, oh wait, they didn't miss any free throws.  Yes they were 100% on the night they needed to be great.  Kentucky was not so fortunate on the charity stripe.  They were 13/24 for 54%. 

In a game with a winning margin of 6 points if they make even three more then it is a one possession game and Kentucky had shown during their march to the Final Four they were lucky as hell in those situations. 
Even when they played Wisconsin they were able to capitalize on the only missed free throw the Badgers had to hit a game winning three.  Wisconsin goes 19/20 and it wasn't enough as Traevon Jackson's miss proved the difference in ultimately losing.

Missed free throws will kill you in this game.  They seem so simple and yet they are obviously so hard.

Coaches will tell you it is all repetition.  Do the same thing over and over and over.  Practice makes perfect.  For those of you out there who were coached by Jack Cowgill he would stress BEEF.  No not "Where's the Beef?" but B.E.E.F., Balance, Elbow, Extension, and Follow through. 

The visualization of putting the ball just over the front of the rim.  The psychological aspect to the free throw.

This is where the money players rise and the others fall.

The best free throw shooter by percentage in the NBA this year was New Orleans' Brian Roberts at 94%.  He missed 8 free throws all year.

The worst free throw shooter by percentage in the NBA this year was Detroit's Andre Drummand at 42%.  He missed 191.

courtesy blacksportsonlinecom

It is not shocking to be able to guess what positions these two players are.  Roberts being a point guard and Drummand a center. 

If you are going to have the ball in your hands as a point guard directing your team and making plays you better be able to put the ball in the basket during winning time.

The top ten best free throw shooters this year in the NBA were all guards except two of them.  The two who cracked the top ten future hall of fame players in PF Dirk Nowitzki and SF Kevin Durant.  The rest were point/shooting guards. 

Conversely the ten bottom feeders were dominated by centers and power forwards.  With one shooting guard, Tony Wroten Philadelphia 76ers who were historically bad this year, and one small forward, Josh Smith of Detroit Pistons fame who along with Mr. Drummond should have opened a masonry company with all the bricks they laid this year. 

Between the two of them they missed 332 foul shots. 

Seeing these stats must make old timer Rick Barry pull out what hair he has left on his head!  Do you remember Rick Barry?   Are you sure you remember Rick Barry?

Well let me refresh your memory.  He was the super accurate free throw shooter who just so happened to shoot his free throws underhanded.  Some might call it "granny style".  He didn't care what his shot looked like he just wanted to make it. 


And make them he did.  To the point of being elected to the Hall of Fame.  When  he retired his 90% career free-throw percentage was the best in NBA history. In 1978-79, he missed only 9 free-throw attempts the entire year.  He had 8 years of being the free throw percentage champion during the 1970's.

I like to use Rick Barry as my example when ever discussing free throws for two reasons.  One, he was 90% in his career.  Two, he shot them the way he did, underhanded. 

The amount of players who struggle so mightily at the line couldn't do any worse than to at least try this style of shot.  The problem with today's athlete is that this "style" wouldn't hold street cred with their homies or would make them less of a player. 

Who gives a chiz.  If it really came down to shooting a foul shot successfully like Rick Barry or shooting a foul shot like Shaq, career 53%, then who would you rather choose?

Hell teams used to "Hack a Shaq" for a reason.  They felt it was better to constantly foul him each time down the floor and take the percentage of him missing almost half the shots.  Getting 2pts compared to Shaq's 1pt sounded pretty good to just about every team in the league.


I don't know where the solution is but maybe some of these bottom feeding bricklayers should get a new style to their game.  If they want the reward they have to put in the time to either change or get better.

Like Pink Floyd said, "If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding."

Rick Barry had his pudding and it was served "granny style".

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