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Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies.

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March 20, 2008 12:02 PM

Final free throw numbers

Posted by Bob Condotta

As became obvious long ago, the single-biggest problem the Huskies had this season was shooting free throws.

Now that the season is over, let's look at some of the numbers.

UW hit 403-688 for the season, a percentage of 58.6 that is the worst in school history except for a 57.5 mark in 2000-01.

It was a 14 percent drop from last season when the Huskies hit 460-635 (72.4), interestingly attempting 53 more free throws this year (playing just one more game) despite all those missed front ends of one-and-ones that surely would have resulted in an average of one or two more attempts per game (UW missed the front ends of three straight one-and-ones down the stretch last night, for instance).

Part of the reason for the drop is that UW lost a few of its better FT shooters after last season --- Spencer Hawes shot 75 percent, Adrian Oliver 77 percent and Hans Gasser 77 percent among players who shot enough free throws to make a difference statistically.

But every returning player this year was simply worse at the line than they had been previously, most by a significant percentage. Here's a look:

Jon Brockman --- 66 percent in 2007 (103-156); 51.9 percent in 2008 (94-181)

Justin Dentmon --- 79.8 percent in 2007 (83-104); 70.6 percent in 2008 (77-109)

Quincy Pondexter --- 76 percent in 2007 (76-100): 68.5 percent in 2008 (76-111)

Ryan Appleby --- 92.7 percent in 2007 (38-41); 85.2 percent in 2008 (23-27);

Artem Wallace --- 35.9 percent in 2007 (14-39); 23.3 percent in 2008 (10-43).

And the Huskies replaced some of the guys who left with players who weren't as good at the line.

Tim Morris shot 59.1 percent (26-44), Venoy Overton 65.9 percent (60-91), and Matthew Bryan-Amaning 34.8 percent (16-46). Even Joel Smith, a 76 percent shooter his first two years before missing last season, returned to a much worse percentage, shooting 57.9 percent (11-19).

All the things I hear other coaches say they do to improve their team's free throw shooting are the things UW coaches say they do --- shoot before and after practice; attempt to simulate game conditions by shooting free throws in the middle of practice or during practice, etc.

Players seemed to say it was a mental thing, something that grew contagious after a while.

"That's one of the things we need to focus on this summer as a whole,'' Smith said after the Valpo loss.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar says the Huskies will make it a definite focus of the off-season. But he also said the team should be better next year simply because the three incoming guards --- Isaiah Thomas, Elston Turner Jr. and Scott Suggs --- are all good free throw shooters.

He also wonders if Brockman's troubles might have been due in part to having to do so much this season, and Dentmon maybe not being as comfortable while adjusting to a new role.

Whatever the cure, the Huskies have to hope they find one --- as of March 16, UW ranked dead last in the nation (328 out of 328 teams ranked) in free throw shooting.

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Posted by BP

2:02 PM, Mar 20, 2008

Pathetic. I would say the basketball program, is now worse off than the football program. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Posted by Dre_325

2:17 PM, Mar 20, 2008

Bob, I found it interesting that Romar said we'd be an NCAA tourney team if we had shot better free throws. Do the stats back that up? If the Dawgs shot the same percentage from the line that they shot last year (72.4%) in all of their losses this season, what would our record have been?

Posted by UW alum 06

2:32 PM, Mar 20, 2008

The new incoming guys won't effect the free throw percentage much. Romar is being overly optimistic there. Not only will those players not play as many minutes but also they attempt very few free throws since they tend to settle on jumpers and three pointers instead of getting in the lane and getting fouled, (see Appleby, Ryan). It's called confidence! if the players don't have it then there is a serious issue.

Posted by bud

2:42 PM, Mar 20, 2008

Poor FT shooting cost Bender his job. I don't understand why Romar isn't feeling some heat too.

Free throw shooting = coaching, plain and simple.

They didn't ALL forget how to shoot, so it's not the players.

Posted by Spanaway Dave

4:28 PM, Mar 20, 2008

How does a guy who shoots 35% get worse? I mean, they all got worse, but you'd think there's some kind of floor that you couldn't drop below and still think of yourself as a ballplayer.

My 12 year old nephew shoots nearly 80% from the line for his middle school team for crying out loud.

Posted by sequimdawgbob

7:58 AM, Mar 21, 2008

I support Romar and want him to be Husky coach forever. As to free throws, I agree with the guy that said ALL the players don't get worse without it being a coaching problem. Also, for too long the coaches ignored the problem thinking added focus would compound the problem. Something DRASTIC needs to be done by the coaches. I could mention some specifics but unfortunately the coaches won't look here for solutions. Fortunately they have plenty of good resources to help them.

So Get 'er done!

Go Huskies!

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