Udoka Free Throw Solutions - Photo Added

  • I wanted to jump into Udoka’s free throw shooting. It has obviously been a disaster. He is an incredibly important part of our team, perhaps indispensable. But his unusually poor free throw shooting is one element that could cripple our chances in March. Why not foul Udoka late, on purpose? Hack a Shaq? Poke a Doke as @JayHawkFanToo has mentioned?

    But there are some very simple and easy solutions to just make him better and more consistent.

    We all know that if Udoka shot free throws Rick Barry style, he’d get instantly better. But players won’t do that. So let’s discuss conventional shooting.

    Let’s start with how not to shoot free throws – Just look at Udoka below:

    alt text

    This is just before the ball left his hand, as he was rising to shoot. Just horrible.

    Six very obvious and significant flaws.

    1. Right Elbow: This is clearly the major issue. It’s called the chicken wing. A basic shooting technique requires the right elbow (for a right handed shooter) to be “tucked”, or pointing straight down to the ground, perpendicular to the court. This provides the best opportunity for accuracy. Straight lines help do that. Of course, not everyone does that perfectly. A lot of variances. But I can tell you in all my days around the game (and I bet for most of you), you have never seen anyone shoot free throws every reasonably well, liked Udoka. When you look at the photo, it is clear that shooting the ball straight will be a challenge. A lot more to that discussion, but I’ll leave it there.

    2. Right Hand/Fingers On Side Of Basketball: Clearly a product of the elbow being in the improper position, but it is huge flaw. You can still get the hand under the ball with a chicken wing, but not with the elbow where Udoka has it. The hand being on the side of the basketball just lessens the chance of accuracy. In combination with the next two items, it makes reliable accuracy nearly impossible.

    3. Improper Fingertip Release: When shooting, there are ranges of acceptability. Most all of us have played the game, many of us have coached. The ball needs to come off the fingertips reliably, in the same spot – three good options: Off the middle finger, off the index finger (even with a little pressure to the thumb), or between the index and middle finger. I don’t want to get hung up on which is best (and I guarantee some of you will argue that one or another is bad technique). My point with Udoka is that with his horrible hand angle, the ball either would have to twist (with impact accuracy), or his release between his thumb and index finger is way, way too deep to the thumb. The twisting appears to the main culprit in this specific element. He trying to get it the ball back more to the fingers.

    4. Left Hand Flat On The Ball: A number of shooters have done this, but they have the ability to ensure the flight of the ball is not impacted by the full left hand on the ball. But combined with Udoka’s right hand being on the side of the basketball, think about where the natural pressure of the ball will flow. It’s not resting on his right fingertips, it’s being subtly pushed against a flat left hand. That left hand provides no momentum to the basket. Worse, it creates a lot more friction than finger tips, which will impact ball flight. So when the ball is released, it has natural momentum just to the left of the hoop and is being impacted by more ball to skin contact. Inches here matter. The shooters you might see doing this have the ball more on the right side of their head (thus less friction). Still bad technique. Udoka being an athlete should be able to compensate a bit for that, of course. I’m sure he does. But it is not fundamentally sound, and the evidence tells us that his ability to compensate is poor. In reality, why would you put yourself in a position to need to compensate? It’s a near impossible thing to ask. Just do it fundamentally correct, and let the chips fall where they may.

    5. Right Thumb: Everyone knows that you don’t want to shoot the ball from a flat hand. You want the ball in our finger tips. But the finger tips for shooting purposes is the flat part of the upper part of the fingers, not the exact tip. Using the near tip, or top of his thumb, he has absolutely no feel. Try it sometime. He should let the ball reach down a bit more into his the thumb. This is a very subtle item, but when he releases, the ball is near the very tip, and this is a killer when comes to consistency. That thumb is a key balance point just until release.

    6. Ball On Wrong Side Of Head: You can shoot the ball well from your forehead. Anything in that straight line. Further, shooters can shoot well with the ball the right of their head (for right handed shooter). This can allow the elbow to line up perpendicular to the floor even easier. But things need to be tight. However, shooting the ball with it on the left side of the head creates atrocious angles. It negatively impacts the the alignment of the ball to the basket. Think about shooting a gun, or anything that you align. Do you align with both eyes? You need one eye to take over the alignment. Both eyes help with depth. The ball on the left side confuses that alignment a bit. Further, go back and look at Udoka’s feet when he lines up. They look nice. Right foot in front on the left by about 6 inches. But that competes directly with the ball being on the other side of the head. Heck, if you have to shoot it from the left side of the head, being square is the better option. It might even be better to have the left foot a touch forward which would inspire the left eye to take over alignment. It is a recipe for disaster. No coach would teach this. The exacerbates the negativity created by the chicken wing because now you have even more natural momentum of the ball moving to Udoka’s left side. Take that, as well, and place it moving against a flat left hand (with more friction) and one might wonder how he makes 40%.

    In sum, Udoka is attempting to make free throws where his right elbow is at a horrific angle, naturally pushing the ball to the left; his four fingers on his right hand are not able to create a consistent launch point as they are on the side of the ball; he then has the ball on the opposite side of his head, with no natural alignment, again creating a bad angle; the ball’s natural momentum is leaning to his left, and against a flat left hand that creates added friction. He will then release the ball, twisting it back at least a bit so it can come off of his fingers, and away from his thumb. And a thumb, which is more pointed into the ball than with it resting on the top pad, as it should be.

    So if Udoka insists on shooting free throws conventionally, these are the easy, basic solutions. Correct the above issues, and you’ll have a better free throw shooter.

    One thing we can’t tell is how Udoka is breathing. A nice technique is to take the deep breath, and exhale slowly through your nose as you shoot, starting your shot after you begin to exhale.

    We’ve of course not discussed his lower body to a great extent. His feet look nice, I’d bend the knees a little more. But most of this is an upper body disaster. Have to deal with that first.

    Of course, I would shift him to the Rick Barry style. He could consistently get the ball to the rim softly and more accurately, guaranteed.

    It is just baffling to me why the coaches will permit him to shoot free throws like this. You cannot send him out there with this horrible, non-fundamental form. I would not care the excuse – it is just unacceptable to even attempt free throws in this manner.

    Those would be the basics that I’d insist upon, and work from there.

    If I were to start, seeing this disaster, I’d have him:

    -Move the ball to the right side of head, shooting more from his right shoulder. Starting about four inches above the right shoulder.

    -Tuck that elbow in, straight to the floor.

    -Use a middle finger release (which is the easiest).

    -Get the thumb pad on the ball. Shooting from the finger pads, and not going below the middle knuckle.

    -Right foot in front by a full 12 inches.

    -Ensure then right eye for alignment.

    -Deep knee bend to start (and work from there). -Feel the shot to the sky, looking for a higher arc, with a straight release, wrist bending down to the floor at the release.

    Just my view on this. But what’s going on now is not working. And there are some very obvious fundamental items that can be corrected.

  • He shoots it so hard he should just try to bank it everytime, that and with how flat his shot is, banking is probably a better percentage. Heck he’s banked in like half of them anyway lol.

  • @HighEliteMajor It appears that Norm Roberts has spent many hours working with Doke on his footwork; and that Bill Self has demanded that he trace a path straight to the rim when he shoots near the basket. Also, Doke is becoming increasingly efficient in passing the ball back out with speed. Perhaps at this stage those are the only 3 things the kid can handle? You have posted some terrific suggestions, fodder for his offseason attempts to escape embarrassment and to improve at the line. I picture him as a player who is making slow but steady progress. But maybe his neural impulses cannot yet find that extra space for more input.

  • @HighEliteMajor He said this weekend that he would be willing to try underhanded.

    I don’t want to see what he could do to any KSU students chanting “Granny!” like kids did when I was in intramurals way, way, way back when…

  • Granny style is my suggestion.

  • If he makes most or the better part of his FTs, who cares what they chant. I bet he could improve his % exponentially if he finds a nice soft arc to the rim. Rick Berry’s method works. It’s not as though he’s shooting the ball from between his legs. Rather, with his size, he would simply toss the ball under handed from the mid-section. Hell, have Rick Berry himself come in and teach Doke. Who better than the master himself, or is this a violation of impermissible benefits?

    Hey it works and is effective.

  • Substitute Graham in for him…no one will notice. It’s his only chance of improving much this season.

  • I suspect the coaching staff aren’t interested in modifying his mechanics at this point because it would be disruptive. Of course, could the percentage be any worse?

    My only suggestion is to teach the rest of the team how to rebound his bricks more effectively. They are so bad they have a distinctive bounce that might be able to be covered by the forwards on the lane.

  • It’s hard to believe he’s gotten this far without extensive work being done on his shot. It’s a good thing he doesn’t shoot a ton of them where the impact of his misses is felt consistently but the blueprint is there. If a team is in the bonus and Doke gets the ball in a position to score I’d be selling out to foul him every time. The percentage’s say its as good as a turnover for the defense.

    Garrett isn’t far behind, not someone we want on the line with the game in the balance.

  • @approxinfinity Just checking … I posted this at home with a photo. On my phone, and at my second computer, I can’t see the photo. Any thoughts?

  • @HighEliteMajor on desktop you can drag and drop a photo that is on your computer into the text box. On phone it’s more of a pain; you have to go the route of tapping the picture icon, the one with the mountains, and pasting the url from a pic on the web into the link area of the generated markup. Also when you add photo the image doesn’t show sometimes until you post and reload the thread.

  • @HighEliteMajor thoroughly enjoyed your breakdown. 💯 agree that this has to be a priority for the team to avoid poke a Doke.

  • @approxinfinity Thank you. I’m referring to right now, when I’m looking at the thread I posted yesterday. At home, I can see the picture I posted of Udoka. At my second computer, and on my phone, I cannot see the photo that was posted when I initially posted the thread. There is no icon in the thread.

  • Shooting FTs underhanded is the best way to avoid changing Doke’s overall motion. It’s a completely separate thing that shouldn’t affect the other aspects of his game (it’s not like he’s going to try and shoot underhanded in the post). The only issue is whether he has the mental concentration to ignore the taunts from opposing fans, but being even a 60% FT shooter is worth 10 points on the season for him, and the returns explode even more if he can get to 70%, plus he can be more assertive around the basket because he won’t have to worry about getting fouled if he can shoot a decent percentage.

  • @HighEliteMajor I never saw the picture you reference in the opening post.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    If he can take more rules, you’ve given him the right set.

    All’s fair in war and FTs.

    He seems to like the running hook and shoots it with dexterity. No law he can’t one step and hook either.

    The thing that improved my free throw shooting most was breaking my right collar bone, and spending 9 weeks or so in a sling. I am a lefty and shot FTs one handed during that recovery time and it raised my average from 72% to 80%. It continued the rest of my life. Thus this is always my first suggestion for others: skip the fracture, but immobilize the non shooting hand, and practice one handed. It worked for me. If you analyze what one handed FT shooting requires, you realize it forces you to do much of what you laid out above. I had a wobbly elbow/shoulder, like Doke. Just did not want to stay in the same position each time. It meant I was shooting with new mechanics almost every 2-3 FTs.

    At first I sucked one handed, so I watched one of my heroes—Oscar Robertson. I recalled he lifted the ball overhead two-handed, pulled the non-shooting hand completely away, and shot it largely with a wrist. He made the arm a rock steady platform for a wrist flick. This worked for me instantly. In fact, I never really improved beyond 80%, no matter how much I practiced.

    Thx Oscar, wherever you are!!!

    Buffer 1

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Great write up on the FT technique; if the forum had a “sticky” option that is where your first post would go. I did not see a picture either.

    I am sure the staff has worked extensively with a Udoka on his FT technique but I will guess that despite all that practice, at game time he goes back to what he has always done and with which he has a level of comfort. I will also guess that the staff has made a decision to concentrate on other parts of his game that he is subconsciously more open to follow than the free throws. I don’t expect to see a change and I hope it does not end up costing games. In close games KU migh end up shuffling him in for defense and out for offense.

  • @HighEliteMajor Cannot see it either. Did you post the picture from the computer you can see it on? If so, it may only be looking locally on that PC for it, which might mean it never got uploaded. Go to that computer, hit Edit on that post, and see what the link is for the picture. Or you could just hit Edit on your work computer since it is your log-in, I guess.

  • @HighEliteMajor I never saw the pic either and when I edit your post I dont see the link. Maybe try dragging the pic into the edit box again? If you drag it into the browser outside the edit box I think your browser will render it but not add it to the post. Maybe that is what happened?

  • Doke’s free throws are much less of a problem, and cost us far fewer points, than his somewhat pedestrian rebounding percentage.

  • alt text

    OK, got the photo to load right. That’s better. I’m only a semi-idiot now.

  • HighEliteMajor said:

    alt text

    OK, got the photo to load right. That’s better.

    Holy smokes thats bad! Not to boast, but i went to state in the elks hoop shoot in high school and the third round in another. A decent form is not rocket science and it makes me wonder what they are telling him about his stroke. Shoot, just give me a half hour and I could fix several issues he has.

    I also don’t buy the “big hands” excuse. I can shoot with proper form on a nerf hoop, so I think it’s kind of a bad reason for improper technique.

  • @HighEliteMajor Oh wow, that is form is uhhgglleee

  • The worst part about the whole thing is when doke takes his practice form shot…it’s not bad. He follows a lot of the rules. But like my golf game, I’ll get 100 tips of advice, watch hours of videos, have a perfect swing in practice…hell, I’ll even hit good at the range…then showtime happens and “Bloop”. My ball is scuba steve and Im already down a couple of bucks.

    Is underhanded the right way…not sure. Underhanded is incredibly difficult. I tried it just at the local gym a couple of times just to see what it was like. I couldnt get it. Granted, using me as a basketball experimental control is not wise as I’m no d1 player…probably not even a d-61 player if that even existed.

  • The photo makes clear that someone is using microwave mind control technology to disrupt Udoka’s brain function in a way that leaves him to manifest a palsy in his shooting arm during FTs.

    The question is will the government shut down reduce the frequency of the microwave mind control interventions, because all non essential mind control staff are on unpaid leave?

    (Note: all fiction and /s. No malice.)

    Buffer 1

  • Doke is doing what most humans do when under stress, reverting to his confort zone which I am sure drives the coaching staff crazy.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Thanks a million for creating this thread!

    I wanted to do it… but figured I had already been such a nag in here.

    Eventually, we are going to pay a price for Doke’s FTs. My guess, if nothing changes it will happen in March.

    Tournament teams are not going to give away games. It’s the end of the season when you lose… who wants to lose in March? No one. In fact, if we don’t face several “poke a Doke” situations I will be shocked. I will then realize just how bad many D1 coaches are.

    What happens if Doke remains at 40-ish percent going into March and then we face “poke a Doke?”

    Most likely, Self will let it go for a while. He’ll want to see if Doke can hit enough FTs. If Doke can’t, and we start giving away a lead, or worse, if a team is ahead of us and started this to put the “icing on the cake” then Self is forced to bench Doke down the stretch.

    What we are realizing now is just how important Doke’s minutes are to our success. He continually improves and we depend on him more and more. I don’t realistically see it that Silvio is going to change that fact dramatically in the next couple months.

    And who is to say that an opposing team won’t try “poke a Doke” in the middle of game? Even in the first half?

    Let’s say Kansas goes on a 12-0 run and up by 16 with 6 minutes left in the first half. Why wouldn’t our opposition try it then? In the least, it changes the flow of the game, which will most likely kill our momentum.

    So what is the magic % number Doke must get to so we can avoid “poke a Doke?”

    I’m thinking he needs to reach the low 60s. Even then… just because Doke puts up 64% for the final month or so, who is to say he can do that in front of the big lights in March? It’s worth a try for a struggling team… definitely!

  • I have a hunch the staff is pretty much having to triage Doke’s FT shooting for now.

    They have quite a lot of coaching-up on their plates right now. Consider:

    ~teaching a high schooler how to eat right, find the Union, and drive carefully, all the while learning the offense, and how to help defend.

    ~finishing working out the kinks in the new Malik Monsters in his parallel universe offense.

    ~daily applications of facial hair grower on Lightfoot.

    ~helping LaCobra find a new weave for each game.

    ~convincing Svi that he can both dunk and defend, while still shooting 48% from trifectaville.

    ~getting around the clock hydro therapy for Mr. 40 minutes–Devonte Graham.

    ~teaching Garrett that shooting requires both confidence and mechanics.

    ~getting Cunliffe and thrice weekly appointment with a dermatologist to have his wild hairs removed by March.

    ~sweeping out and repainting Billy Prestons locker with all the Samsonite scratches.

    ~making sure the cornucopia of transfers waiting to play next year are avoiding personal scrapes on weekends.

    And so on.

    There is probably a team Outlook Calendar and Doke is probably scheduled for Free Throw Work Shop February 1 through the 8th.

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  • Have the coaches told him he should keep his eyes open while shooting?

  • Gunman said:

    Have the coaches told him he should keep his eyes open while shooting?

    Why would he want to see this?

  • @drgnslayr If I’m an opposing coach, and I see how well Kansas finishes games – even if I’m up 4 with say three minutes to play – perhaps I just foul Udoka on every KU possession. That is better odds than seeing if DG, Svi and company are going to beat me. Because they most likely will.

    Foul the opposition on purpose with the lead. Is that a crazy strategy? If Baylor had done that starting at the 2:30 mark, you think they win?

    @mayjay @approxinfinity Thanks for the help getting the pic posted.

  • I see lots of post indicating how and how often the coaching staff should be working withe Doke on his FTs.

    Honest question: Do you really think the staff has not been working withe Doke on the FT issue? Do you really think it is that incompetent that would say forget FTs let’s work on something else? Do you really think you know more than they do when it comes to Doke’s issues at the FT line? do you really think they don’t see the poke-a-Doke looming ahead as a serious strategy by opposing teams?

  • @HighEliteMajor Shhhhhhhh, maybe you should delete that post just in case 😉

  • @StLJhawk PHOF!

  • @JayHawkFanToo I personally do not think the Staff works on Doke’s Free Throw form.

    I think it would be a waste of time. Even if Doke had perfect form, do we actually think he could shoot free throws at 60%? Shaq only broke 60% once his entire career.

    Even if teams started using the strategy to “Poke-a-Doke,” I would welcome it. College teams do not have the same depth NBA teams do. Nor do they get the extra 6th foul. Long story short, it doesn’t make sense to do it in college. At least not at the level of Hack-A-Shaq.

    So, wouldn’t we be served better to improve Doke’s hook shot from 60% to 75%? Or work on his drop step to his right shoulder and go from 0% to 50% on those field goal attempts?

    Or, better yet, improve his rebounding percentage from 17% to 22%?

    Those would be far more valuable than the possible .2 points per game more we would gain from Doke MAYBE shooting free throws better.

  • KU may have to close games with an offense for defense switch, using Mitch on O and Doke on D. Mitch isn’t a great FT shooter, but he can hit them. He’s not as good as his 82% this year, but he could probably settle in around 70% or so. That’s good enough to close out games.

  • I say Poke-a-Doke at your own peril!

    Putting Doke on the line repeatedly for the remainder of the season will give him the extra FT practice he’s clearly not getting outside of a game setting, which will undoubtedly improve his conversion rate. It could be just the strategy we need to cut down the nets in April.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    “Foul the opposition on purpose with the lead. Is that a crazy strategy? If Baylor had done that starting at the 2:30 mark, you think they win?”

    Sure seems crazy… doesn’t it? Imagine a coach with a lead suddenly kicking in a very different strategy. Almost unheard of. That coach would face huge criticism if it backfires… but would also be praised if it works.

    What chance do you think we have of facing “poke a Doke” moving forward? I find it highly likely… maybe 80% or higher.

  • JayHawkFanToo said:

    Honest question: Do you really think the staff has not been working withe Doke on the FT issue? Do you really think it is that incompetent that would say forget FTs let’s work on something else? Do you really think you know more than they do when it comes to Doke’s issues at the FT line? do you really think they don’t see the poke-a-Doke looming ahead as a serious strategy by opposing teams?

    I think most of your questions have already been answered from previous years. This isn’t the first Jayhawk to struggle at the line.

    My memory sucks… but if I recall correctly, Self has shocked us before with his comments on practicing FTs. Previously, he basically detached himself from that area. He sort of skirted the issue by not addressing what is practice protocol.

    It would be great if someone in here can dig up old Self comments on this. I’m having a hard time remembering what player or players it was addressing.

    I know Self is careful about NOT trying to make mechanical changes on players’ stroke during the season. I definitely recall him talking about this in the past. I don’t understand why that should matter concerning Doke. He hasn’t taken a single straight-up jump shot on the goal all year. Adjusting his shot form on FTs shouldn’t impact his baby hook, dunk or layup form. In fact, it may help him get started on his mid-range game… something he will need to develop for the league.

  • @Kcmatt7

    Very compelling post… Bravo!

    I’m not sure we can just nest Doke in a straight comparison to Shaq. Every player is different from each other.

    From what I have seen of Doke, I think he has outrageous upside just from watching how fast his game has come along. You can almost watch every game’s performance from him and compare to his game before it and you can make a good guess of what he worked on in between. I don’t think I can recall a single player, ever, who has made these leaps of gains so quickly. JoJo was amazing to watch, but he had so much of a lead on Doke when he started at Kansas.

    I still don’t think most people give Doke the credit he deserves for how fast he has developed his game. Just consider the physical side. He has gone through a complete body transformation, replacing baby fat with muscle. And now… if you really want to see something freaky… go back and watch his first games this year and compare to now. His stamina has come an amazing distance! This is definitely the biggest area where Doke can make gains to help us. If you notice… when he gets tired he is more likely to screw up on bad fouls and his game goes soft. Note that part of the stamina issue relates directly to genetics. His lung size, oxygen retention, and other factors are largely decided through genetics. It takes a remarkable amount of work to be able to battle through genetic bumps in the road.

    I’m outrageously anxious now to see just how far he comes along this year. Let me put it to you like this… imagine Doke’s stat sheet DOUBLING between now and the beginning of April! Yep… I said “April!”

    So… through my optimistic eyes focused on Doke, I will be shocked if he can’t learn how to shoot a decent % from the line. He just hasn’t settled on ONE FORM and then start building on that. With the practice (and some success in games) his confidence will grow from the line and he’ll probably jump 10% by just being more confident. You can clearly see how he lacks confidence at the line. His facial expression looks like he’s having a tooth pulled at the dentist. (lol)

  • @Kcmatt7

    You make excellent points that go to the meat of what I asked. I have seen Doke shoot FTs during warmups and he uses a decent form which would appear to indicate the staff has worked with him, but once the game starts, he reverts to that god awful and flawed form of his.

    There are several areas where Doke’s game can be improved and I am sure the staff has looked at the return on investment and determined it is much higher improving other parts of his game. At this point, I would be happy if he could improve his rebounding; I watched the TCU - WVU game and made me wish we could rebound as well as those teams do.

  • @drgnslayr From what I can remember Self has said stuff like players work on their free throws on their own time and we don’t want to mess with mechanics mid season. In fact I can’t remember a single player drastically adjusting their form in their time at KU. (Sorry Garrett, you probably are what you are as a shooter)

  • @benshawks08 T’Rob is about the only guy I can think of that really, really improved his form and shot.

  • @Kcmatt7 I can remember several guys improving their shot (RussRob, Releford, heck even Miles his senior year) but most of them had solid mechanics to start. TRob is a good example, I just personally cannot remember much about his form when he got here.

  • @benshawks08

    Another example of a player that changed his shooting form is TT, between his junior and senior year. He went down to Houston and worked with John Lucas on his shot form and other details of his game, like finishing at the rim.

    TTs stats climbed dramatically in his senior year.

  • @HighEliteMajor so irritated right now. You?

  • @approxinfinity Now that a team has really employed the strategy, we will now take it more seriously.

  • Was Lightfoot playing so poorly that leaving Doke in was our best option? I actually thought Mitch played well.

    The real question I guess, can De Sousa develop enough by mid-March to be a guy Bill trusts at the end of the game? Because Bill clearly doesn’t trust Lightfoot.

  • @Kcmatt7 Mitch should’ve been put in late no question, but he gives up offensive rebounds like it’s candy on Halloween.

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