Sunday, April 21, 2013

A New Iceman at the Line?

Baye Keita entered his junior season as a 56% career free throw shooter, making only 31 of 55 career attempts. He was not the worst free throw shooter in Syracuse history; there are several worst, with Herman Harried, Arinze Onuaku and Derek Brower leading the way.  But he was a poor shooter.

After the first three games of the 2012-2013 season, Keita was even worse, shooing 49% from the charity stripe, making only 18 of 37 free throws.  He was at that point a 53% career free throw shooter.

I do not know what got into Keita at that point. Perhaps extensive practice was finally paying off. Maybe he got a DNA swap with Gerry McNamara (Syracuse's all-time free throw shooter at 89%).  Maybe extensive praying paid off.  Who knows?

What we do know is that Keita would shoot seven for seven from the line against Georgetown in the Big East semi-finals, helping to propel the Orange into the Big East Championship.  Without each and everyone one of those made free throws, Syracuse does not go into overtime in that game. 

But Keita did not stop there.  He shot an okay 4 for 6 against Louisville in the Big East tournament.  A mere 0-1 against Montana in the first round of the NCAA.  Then a decent 7 of 10 versus California in the NCAA 2nd round.  Keita followed that up with a 3 for 4 effort against Indiana in the Elite Eight.

Not only was Keita making his free throws, but his form looked good in those games. He would made 21 of 28 free throws in his last seven games of the season, a nice 75%.  I do not know about you, but I honestly felt more comfortable down the stretch with him at the free throw line than Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche.

Hopefully Keita has found his shooting touch, and this will be a sign of good shooting for 2013-2014.

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