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Charity Stripe Stumbles

DLFT

The case has been made, successfully and on numerous occasions, that Calipari coached teams aren’t particularly good foul shooters. It is generally understood that Cal doesn’t really have a problem with that, either. While the status quo in the free throw department is more depressing than Lohan in Playboy, how concerned should we really be? The answer seems to be “not very.” At least not in December.

The current free throw percentage is awful. The Cats were just 10-17 (58.8%) from the foul line Saturday. What is worse, their cumulative free throw percentage is just 68%, ranking the Cats at #183 in that category. Kentucky gets away with this because their adjusted offensive efficiency is so high (117, #4) and in their 1 point victory over North Carolina, UK shot 72% from the stripe. While the cumulative FT% is low, it is better than Kentucky’s roundball peers: UNC is ranked #262, Ohio State #177, Wisconsin #219 and the princes of fundamentals, Duke #217. (KenPom.com)

In my pursuit of a Cal quote on the subject, I came across this little gem:

We all know that John Calipari has been criticized by many fans about his team’s lack of elite free throw shooting.

Preceded by this:

-By BTI

The post has all the symptoms of a BTI rant: stand alone stats, words in all-caps and firm footed assumptions. BTI reasons that while Kentucky has lost games in the current and past two seasons due to poor free throw shooting (notably yesterday and in the Final Four loss to UConn), it is rare. BTI cites good evidence in reaching this conclusion. Of course, UK has only dropped 13 games in Cal’s tenure, so finding any meaningful statistical significance is difficult. The point of the post still stands though: despite poor free throw shooting, Cal’s Cats win the vast majority of their contests.

What’s more, we’ve seen these struggles before. John Clay wrote about last year’s edition of this problem in Janurary. If you’ll recall, Kentucky struggled from the charity stripe in the early season, but greatly improved by the Louisville game on New Year’s Eve. This is not to say I hope history repeats itself to the letter here, after all poor free throw shooting cost last year’s team a national title. Rather, and this goes back to BTI’s point, Kentucky’s notoriously young players seem to improve from the line as they adjust to the college game and season.

Only time will tell what changes, if any, Cal will make in response to the poor performance. Maybe he does as Cameron Mills suggests and forces guys to practice more foul shots. Or maybe he will just let time and experience iron out the kinks. For better or worse, this team can afford to struggle at the line through league play and still be very successful. Which is precisely why we should save those worries for March and be honest with ourselves about what really happened on Saturday: Cal and the boys got served a good old fashioned home cooked zebra dinner. We got hosed.

Article written by Tyler Montell

23 Comments for Charity Stripe Stumbles



  1. Ricky_P
    1:36 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    Gotta guard the 3, hit the 3, and FREE THROWS a must to get to the dance…



  2. capnmonkey
    1:38 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    I’m more concerned about Darius’ three point percentage. Wassup with that?



  3. UKWildcat831
    1:38 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    You forgot to add the last “s” on “princes” ..of fundamentals, Duke.



  4. RidgeRunner
    1:38 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    Cal is just a type of coach who doesn’t fuss at his team in public regarding free throws. I know (and I think KSR does) he does permit time for FT’s during practice and ends his scrimmages with them. If anything else, he may need to emphasize it more (it wouldn’t hurt) but he can’t shoot the FT’s for them.

    I’m just not ready to fault him or place blame anywhere regarding the percentage. He knows more than I do and his practices that I’ve seen or read about…shows he gives time for it.



  5. RidgeRunner
    1:43 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    I’d be more curious to what other coaches/teams have done as well in order to compare over the same time period of years.



  6. Inside Your Mind
    1:46 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    Free throws are what cost Cal a championship with Memphis. Free throws win you close games. We could have won the game if we hit our free throws or at the very least had a tie game even with that last second 3 pointer. I’m not sure Cal puts enough emphasis on free throws.



  7. CalifCatFan
    1:52 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    Finally, BTI surfaces.



  8. Nerd
    1:54 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    There is never any excuse to not hitting a good percentage of your free throws. I mean, when middle-schoolers can outshoot elite college players from the stripe, the world is messed up.



  9. Jaws2
    1:59 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    Tyler you can say all you want about ‘home cooked zebra dinner’, but we were out hustled in several positions yesterday and just got beat at the buzzer. The ref’s didn’t shoot the free throws we did get. I expected to get hosed Sat, and I believe we did at least on 5 calls, but that does not account for our being 50% on loose balls or rebounds. I thought it looked like iu wanted it more and they took it. This game will mean nothing in the long run if our guys develop and we take care of business the rest of the way out. We’re going to be fine.



  10. UkFaninWV
    2:09 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    You can’t blame one single thing for a win or loss. There are a bazillion different things that happen in a game that can tilt the favor of the game one way or another. To pick one thing and say that cost them the game is ludicrous. Had a guy hit one or two more shots in the Memphis vs Kansas then they would have won and the free throws don’t matter. With that said, I think poor free throw shooting was a determine factor to the Memphis loss, and to the recent Indiana loss. But you can’t say that free throw shooting is the main reason. Other factors were the hostile environment, TJ’s “day off”, poor 3 point shooting defense. Take just one of those out and we win handily. So I feel it is the culmination of all these factors that cost us the game. Not just free throws.

    Just my opinion.

    Go Big Blue!!



  11. dragonlord741
    2:10 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    #1 – Talent alone will get this team TO the dance even if they don’t greatly improve those 3 things – and if they make it to the final four, the past few years have shown that pretty much ALL of the 3 point shooters struggle to hit their shots in those cavernous stadiums they play in…at the final four a dominant inside game is important – in the sweet 16 and elite 8 the 3 becomes much more important though. In either situation though, hitting a few more FT’s would certainly put all of us at a little more ease…



  12. larry
    2:19 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    Teague’s posture and shooting motion at the line are awful. He’s not aligned properly an leans back on his release. His shots are too hard and flat. HOW ABOUT A LIL’ COACHING OF THE FUNDAMENTALS!!! If he doesn’t get it then that’s his problem. My concern with the FT % is that as a coaching staff, no one seems to take ownership of getting these guys to improve. Cal has lost 2 ‘ships due to poor free throw shooting, why is it not a PRIORITY!!!!



  13. Claw
    2:30 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    I wasn’t going to post again but thought I could help. UK players read this site. Who wouldn’t? (feel free to hire me Coach Cal)…MAKING FREETHROWS: same routine every time. Focus only on the front of the rim, blocking everything else out (even Indiana fans holding a giant head of your mother nursing you that they Photoshopped with SexnNursingHomes on the other nipple) it doesn’t matter, you don’t see it. Take the same number of dribbles every time, not looking down at the floor as you dribble, but staying focused on only the front of the rim. Your aim is to get the ball just past the front of the rim. Sounds simple, but works.



  14. Syrin
    2:55 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    Key to ALL good free throw shooters? Get your weight on your toes. Watch all great FT’ers. They are on their toes at the end of the shot.

    RE: UK FT’s

    -This comes down to the players working OT. Cal has 20 hours of practice per week, and that time won’t be spent on shooting FT’s. ANY player can get an extra 100+ FT’s in EVERY day. it comes down to individual desire.



  15. Jaws2
    3:23 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    Why does this page show 14 posts on the main page but when you go here there’s only 7? Now 8?



  16. Love the cyber day special!
    4:11 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    This team CAN NOT afford to miss free throws. U did watch the game Sat. didnt you? I cant believe anyone would still be in denial about Cal’s teams and free throws. I guess the economy is great too! geeze



  17. CalifCatFan
    4:24 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    BTI for prez.



  18. knows better
    5:49 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    They need to hire Kyle as a free throw coach. Sounds funny but close games become a free throw shooting contest. You won’t win the big dance unles you can hit 80-85%.



  19. Bigcat4453
    8:17 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    We would already have #8 hangin from the rafters if it hadn’t been for missing FT’s in the ’97 championship game in Indy… Can’t blame that one on Coach Cal though..



  20. Mack
    9:41 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    Most any player that has a basketball scholarship from UK would be considered world class player and should be able to shot FT’s; again they would like to make the FT’s but they don’t seem to really want to or maybe put forth the effort, this is just not one game but over 2+ seasons.



  21. Mack
    9:43 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    I would like to see the player’s FT% from High school and compare to their UK’s FT%. I don’t even know if they keep those stats for their AAU ball.



  22. My Thoughts
    9:44 pm December 12, 2011 Permalink

    Just my opinion but……….the reason that Cal’s teams suffer from the line is because of the dribble drive offense. Hear me out.

    I’ve played my share of tournament games and high school b-ball and I KNOW I shoot better free-throws if my heart isn’t racing hard. If you watch guys getting ready to shoot, you will see them breathe deep and let it out trying to calm down and relax. Because of the dribble drive offense, this team is constantly running around and they are breathing very hard. Try shooting free-throws when you have no wind. It’s very hard….all of you guys who have played can attest to this.

    Watch the better free-throw shooters and you will most assuredly see them very calm and relaxed looking at the line, even if they are tired and wore down. If you’ll watch Doron Lamb (he seems to be our best at the moment….exception in the IU game) he looks VERY relaxed and confident at the line.

    My point is, if your players are playing VERY HARD and at a high output, then their free-throw % will likely suffer. Case in point, look at the higher profile teams that also suffer from the stripe. It really is hard to shoot standing still at the line when you can’t get your breath.



  23. UkFaninWV
    4:45 pm December 13, 2011 Permalink

    22 – I can agree with some of what ur saying but both teams are running hard up and down the floor. So I’m not sure that is the reason for their woes. Free throw shooting comes down to repetition. The more you do it the better you get (sounds like something else that comes to mind but that is much mor fun). These kids just aren’t putting in the time it takes to make their shot habitual. They can also think about it too much when they are at the line. Block everything out and revert to your natural form. Unfortunately, most of these kids practice more on their after dunk pose than free throws. POW!! How ya like me now?!?