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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

January 6, 2008 at 7:57 PM

More on free throws

As has already been well-discussed here, for want of a few more free throws, the Huskies might have beaten the Cougars Saturday night.
UW was 5-13 for the game, and 2-9 in the second half.
I had a note on this for the notebook that was cut out, including this quote from UW coach Lorenzo Romar who said he is wary of making too big an issue of it because “then you’ll go from 58 percent to 12 percent because you are thinking about it too much. You just have to keep shooting and stay positive and hope they eventually go in.’’
Romar has hoped that all season, insisting earlier in the year that his team would snap out of it and turn into a good free throw shooting team.
But the season is close to the halfway point — UW has played 14 games with 18 guaranteed remaining — and the Huskies remain under 60 percent, at 59.5.
I wanted to check if that is among the worst in the nation — I’m sure it is — but the official NCAA stats haven’t been updated since Dec. 16. Maybe they’re too busy counting their BCS money or something. For what it’s worth, UW was 313th out of 328 teams on Dec. 16 when the Huskies were shooting 59 percent.
What we do know is that if the Huskies don’t improve, this season will rank as among the worst free throw shooting seasons in school history.
In fact, going back to 1953, UW has been under 60 percent only once — 57.5 percent in the 2000-2001 season, Bob Bender’s second-to-last as Washington’s coach.
As noted here last night, Romar’s teams have always been good at it since he came to UW for the 2002-03 season.
Here are the precentages since Romar’s arrival:
2002-03 — 66.4
2003-04 — 71.3
2004-05 — 73.3
2005-06 — 74.9
2006-07 — 72.4
The 2005-06 season is a UW school record, the 04-05 season is third on the list, and the 06-07 season (last year, obviously) is fifth.
So seemingly overnight, UW has gone from one of the best free throw shooting teams in school history to one of the worst.
A few possible reasons:
— UW lost three pretty good free throw shooters from last season. Spencer Hawes shot 75.5 percent (74-98), Phil Nelson 71.4 (though in only seven attempts, making five) and Adrian Oliver 77.1 percent (27-35).
— The team’s best career free throw shooter, Ryan Appleby (58-66, 87.9 percent) has taken only two free throws this season.
— The two guys who shoot the most free throws, Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon, simply aren’t doing it as well this season. Brockman is 48-82 this year, 58.5 percent, compared to 66.2 percent his first two seasons. Dentmon is a still solid 71.4 percent (45-63, the second-most attempts on the team) but that is down from 80.6 percent his first two years.
Tim Morris, Quincy Pondexter and Joel Smith are also below their career averages as is Artem Wallace, though he has never been good at it, making 21-58 his first two years, and just 1-12 this season.
— Morris may be the most critical as he is suddenly shooting a fair amount of free throws, though he’s still had just 22 attempts on the season, making 12, for 54.5 percent, compared to 63.6 for his career. But Morris was an erratic free throw shooter at Stanford, making 17-18 as a freshmen in 2005 and 11-26 his next season.
— Of the freshmen, Matthew Bryan-Amaning has gotten the most attempts, but has made just 21-39.
We’ll see where it goes from here. But there’s little doubt UW has go get better at this to make something of the season.

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