Sunday, June 8, 2008

My first pet peeve

I'm posting a new blog for two reasons. The first is to tell you that the second All-Star game (AA vs. AAA) will be finished and submitted to my co-worker for a draft review by Monday. I will then begin work on the AAU games.

Second, to keep you folks interested for a while, I thought I'd chime in with my biggest pet peeve in the sport of basketball. I've mentioned this to a few people, but I still don't understand why post players or centers don't work on their free throw shooting at high school. Georgie Jones, Central's premiere center for the last two years, shot a mere 53% from the free throw line in 2007-08 yet led the team in free throw attempts. Bridget Schuneman of Centennial converted just 33% of her free throws and was tied for 2nd on the team with Emily Becken in 2007-08. Cretin-Derham Hall's Kendra Harris made only 55 attempts in 2007-08 and sank 29 for a free throw percentage of 53%.

Perhaps other top teams don't post their players' free throw percentage on Maxpreps out of concern that a secret or two may leak. Good coaching can fix that problem, but I digress.

Post players likely (or should) understand that they will get a lot of trips to the free throw line as a byproduct of their position. Time and again we have seen the difference free throws can make in a single game, from the battles between Central and South this season, especially in the state championship, to the NCAA men's championship game where Memphis gave just enough of a window for Kansas to steal the national title. In critical situations where post players are relied upon for an inside look, it's not very comforting to the coach or fans that their chance of making a free throw is as good as a flip of a coin.

There are a few who have a better grip on their free throw shooting and it often shows. Ashley Ellis-Milan of the Gophers was 68% from the line in her senior year at Central and continues to shoot around 70% as a Gopher. As a result, she averaged more points per game than Korrine Campbell last year (the only other post who started at some point during the season), 9.9 ppg to 6.4 ppg respectively. Over at Cretin, Sarah Hendricks made 69% of her free throws last year and finished ahead of Harris in points per game. Central's Megan Howard improved her free throw shooting from 49% to 68% between 2006-07 and 2007-08 while also seeing an increase in scoring. Jenna Smith, the Kennedy graduate turned Fighting Illini, was second in the Big Ten in free throw shooting last year with a 78% conversion rate.

With any team, there are always other factors that can affect a player's performance. One of the biggest are the departing players, returning players and newcomers. Many other elements can also complicate why one thing happened one year and another happened the following year. Regardless of how big a team's to-do list is, FREE THROWS DO MATTER AND SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED. Free throws should not be tossed aside to focus on scoring short-range shots or putting up blocks; individual statistics mean nothing to the player that owns them if there is little to show for it.

Of course, free throws should matter to everyone on the team, not just post players.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


It's a big problem at all levels and all positions in basketball. Kids today are more interested in practicing 3-pointers and dunks (in the men's game). Fundamentals are not being practiced. I think USA Basketball getting their butts kicked a few years ago opened up a few eyes that we are slipping.

Programs available for DVD purchase

Autism Part 1 DVD cover

Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits - Award-winning documentary series providing insights on autism rarely seen in contemporary media. Produced by someone on the spectrum, this series is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to learn about autism.
$15 for one episode, $50 for the complete series (4 episodes)

What Are You DVD cover

What Are You? A Dialogue on Mixed Race - Originally a school assignment, this one-hour documentary explores a population that existed for many years but didn't get much focus until recently. This program examines how a small but growing segment of the population could shift racial and cultural identity. Screened at the 2009 Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and will be screened at the inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University. $15

Vices to Verses promo

From Vices to Verses: Featuring Voices Merging - From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action is a biannual conference held at the University of Minnesota. The goal is to promote the culture and history of hip-hop, which is often lost in the corporate mainstream representation. In this program, you'll see how the Voices Merging student group absorbed what they witnessed and how their experience will transform them as a group and as individuals. DVD copies come with 14 minutes of bonus footage not seen online or on TV. $15

Machine 2010 highlight promo

Minnesota Machine: 2010 - Geared for Greatness - Join the professional women's football team in their historic 2nd season. Despite several injuries that depleted the roster, the Machine finished 2010 with a 6-3 record and their first division title in franchise history, edging the Iowa Thunder in the Midwest Division of the American Conference. This highlight reel includes clips from the 2010 season and their interview on the cable television show Rollin' and Tumblin' - $15


Silhouettes by RZI Couture - The inaugural breast cancer benefit fashion premiere took place in St. Paul and was met with a fabulous response. All the models were breast cancer survivors or relatives of someone affected by breast cancer and all the clothing was designed by Rosalyn Smaller, owner of RZI Couture and currently fighting breast cancer herself. The TV version features testimonials from the models and co-host Miss Georgia of KMOJ. $10 of every purchase will be donated to RZI Couture to help the breast cancer fight! $15