Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Free Throw Shooting - Whoas!
Syracuse has been shooting a blistering 88% from the free throw line in Maui, hitting 45 of 51 free throws against Minnesota and California. Whether it is the friendly rims, the friendly confines of the small gym, the great weather, the low altitude, or whatever, it would be wonderful if this were a sign of the season to come.
It won't be, as the shooting will tend to return to the norm, but for now it feels like the Orange are fielding a team of Gerry McNamaras.
Four Syracuse starters now are shooting 80% or better from the free throw line. C.J. Fair at 88% leads the way. Trevor Cooney is at 85%, Tyler Ennis 82% and Rakeem Christmas also at 82%. Baye Keita comes in at 75%.
Christmas is just an aberration and will eventually return to his norm of 57% or so; it would be great if he were to have developed into a 70% shooter. It may have happened.
Fair has improved every year, and has been about a 75% free throw shooter the past two years. If he could hover around 80%, that would be fantastic considering how often he will get to the line.
Cooney only took 15 free throws his freshman year, making 11 for 73%. We really don't know what type of free throw shooter he is, if given enough repetitions to remove anomalies. However, considering he is a three point shooting specialist, I would not be surprised if 83-85% was his capable range.
Ennis is a freshman, and we have no collegiate experience to fall back upon for him. If he could stay at 80%, that would be fantastic.
Keita is about a 65% free throw shooter, so he will regress, though he has had a habit of making the clutch free throws.
Bottom line is that there is hope that Maui isn't just an illusion. The Orange aren't going to hit 23 of 24 free throws routinely, like they did against California. But, perhaps, they can hit 75% as a team? It does help that the backcourt of Cooney and Ennis has a potential of hitting 80%, and if you combine that with a mean scorer of Fair hitting about the same, that's a lot of free throw shots from good shooters during clutch moments in the game.