Charity Stripe: There is a Reason it is Called "Charity!"

  • Okay, we’ve played just two exhibition games, and there are many areas of the game needing improvement. Usually it takes a while before someone brings up FTs… like a near-loss (or actual loss) created from poor FT shooting down the stretch.

    I’d like to address it early, and I have my reasons why.

    First, even from watching just two exhibition games, it is clear that we will be shooting a ton of FTs this year. We shot 39 last night against FHSU and we shot 31 against PSU last week. And had we made a higher % of FTs, we would have enjoyed more FTs by getting the second of a 1-and-1. Considering the rule changes this year, basically banning all hand checks and further restricting body contact against the shooter, it is safe to say that FTs will become a bigger part of the game and will have a higher percentage of weight in determining outcomes.

    Second, we are already exhibiting a poor team FT%. Granted, we’ve only been on the court twice now, but let’s face facts; exhibition games are a lot less stressful than conference and post season play. If we can’t hit our FTs now, what are the chances we hit them later on? Our FT% last night was a mere 64% and 67% last week.

    Third, we have certain players that will get targeted for being intentionally-fouled to help opposing teams catch up down the stretch. Tarik Black has a history of poor FT%. Joel Embiid hardly has a history attempting or practicing FTs. These players appear to be poised to play most of the minutes at the 5-spot this year. Doesn’t that create a potential threat to dropping more games this year when we always have a weak link from the line on the court at all times? Their combined FT#s through two games: 7 of 18 for a whopping 38.8%!

    Fourth, there are other players who may develop issues at the line this year, too. Any of the freshmen could develop “freshmanitis” when counted to hit FTs in key situations. I might withhold Frankamp from this list… but even Conner is a maybe until we see him nail FTs under pressure.

    Last year’s team shot 73.8% from the line. Considerably better than what we’ve seen from this year’s team through two easy home exhibition games.

    When we weigh the importance of possessing an experienced team over a team full of newbies, isn’t a big part of that consideration calculated from potential effectiveness from the FT line? Most college players lift their FT% from year-to-year as they advance with experience.

    Can we afford to shoot a low team FT% this year and expect a positive outcome in conference and post season play?

    Can we afford to always keep a low FT% player on the court, especially down the stretch?

  • (cough) … (cough) … (cough) … Syracuse … (cough)

    Some of us were there!

  • drgn,

    I was there too. I remember thinking, and I read an article not that long ago, that the FTs did not cost us as much as everyone thinks. There were several instances where we rebounded misses and got 2 points. I don’t remember the stats, but these put backs negated the missed free to a large extent. As to this years team…Perry, Tharpe will be good. Selden and Wiggins will need to be good as much as the ball will be in their hands. After that it gets murky. White…needs to be good but unproven. Traylor…improving and shouldn’t be at the line a lot. Black’s history suggests he may have problems and Embiid has not been good so far. Both of these guys could be a problem in that regard.

  • I was there also, and I remember Collison who had good ft stats missed a buttload of ft’s and don’t remember that many putbacks off his misses. My opinion was that unusually poor performance at the line cost us the NC.

  • @hawk8086 I don’t care how many offensive rebounds there were… If you shoot under 50% from the stripe and lose by 3 pts, free throws cost you in a big way.

  • Even if you don’t buy into the “free throws cost us the 2003 championship” excuse, I don’t think anyone could deny that free throws cost Memphis the 2008 championship.

    @drgnslyr this is a great post and none to early. I’ve had the same thought watching the first two games. Embiid clearly has not practiced as much. Tarik’s FT history is well documented. Perhaps he can reform that aspect of his game this year.

    Anyway, you have brought up a legitimate concern. Great post.

    To answer your final questions: No. and No.

    I suspect Coach will have some tough decisions to make late in the game… In a close game, you want a big guy in the lane able to take the high-percentage shot who can also be an asset on the defensive side of the floor: playing good defense, looking for a block, at least altering shots…

    And we may not be able to put one in the game because of the risk of being fouled and losing a possession without points.

    Will that lead us to have a small lineup late in the game? A group full of good FT shooters? Is that maybe a reason for thinking about not redshirting Connor?

    I think it could be.

    It might even be a better theory than the one that we need him in case everyone else fouls out.

    That could lead to some very unusual game ending possessions… Ones that look a lot different from the days of Cole, T-Rob and Withey.

    Imagine that final Missouri game, at the end of regulation, without T-Rob in the lane… Or so many games last year where Withey’s presence led to forced jumpers rather than drives to the basket to close the game. The only team that benefited from that was Michigan. Statistically, that was a fluke because the high-percentage opportunities were not available to opponents given our seasoned bigs.

    This year, the odds may not be in our favor.

    Black and Embiid must improve their FTs in order for us to reach our goals.

    Their performance at the line will matter sooner or later because so many decisions are predicated on it. Their FT% will determine whether they are in late-game situations. And I think we’ll have our fair share of late-game situations this year.

  • And why I bring it all up now?

    Because these guys need to practice banging down a couple hundred FT attempts every day. If they start doing it now, in November, all the way through March, the work will pay off.

    If they start working on it in February, furgitabout.

    Good FT shooting is all about muscle memory, focus and confidence… something you don’t acquire in a week or two.

    NOW is the time for these guys to do the right reps that will pay off in March!

  • Embiid appears to have a good stroke so I “feel” like he should be 70+%. Also, his overall game looks more polished than I expected this early. Left hand jump hook from the left side is silly, especially from a footer.

  • Interesting topic. I agree the art of free throw shooting may be more appreciated with the new rules. I went back and looked at KU’s two exhibition games from last season to see if your concern is warranted. The first game, they shot 62% and the second game they shot 59% from the stripe. So hopefully, like last year, the exhibition game FT shooting is not representative of the regular season!

    Having said that–Will Black compare to Withey in terms of FT percentage? Probably not. Embiid? Too early to tell, but he seems to have a fairly smooth shooting motion.

    Hope you sleep better tonight.

  • Konkey, If you miss a free throw, but get a 2 pt stickback, it is the same as making both free throws.

  • @Hawk8086 Only if it’s the second miss of two or the front end of a 1 and 1. Missing then making leaves a point on the table. KU was 12 for 30 from the stripe. In order to have not lost any points, 9 of the 24 offensive rebounds KU had in the game would have had to have been converted after a two miss scenario. There may have been a few times that it happened, but I’m willing to bet it didn’t happen 9 times, so no, free throws very much cost KU a title.

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