Since Minnesota’s free throw induced loss at home to Indiana, Tubby Smith has banned any sort of pause, movement, or chest pat (sorry Lawrence McKenzie) before free throws. Instead, barely a second after catching the ball from the referee, the Gophers must shoot.
After another mediocre day at the line today, many are wondering why the free throw woes persist, and if Tubby’s mandate is making a difference.
After a bit of number crunching (could the Oscars have been any more boring?) here are the results (since the Indiana game, excluding today’s game).
Stats are in following format: Player makes-attempts (percentage, departure from season average)
- Coleman is 19-27 (70%, -7%)
- McKenzie is 15-19 (79% +1%)
- Spencer is 19-29 (65%, +13)
- Blake is 8-10 (80%, +7)
- Westbrook is 15-22 (68% -6)
- Johnson is 11-21 (52%, -6)
- Al Nolen is 5-10 (50%, -22)
- Jamal is 6-8 (75%, +1)
- Williams is 8-12 (67%, +23)
- Kevin Payton 0-1 (sample size issues anyone?)
- Travis Busch is 2-2 (more sample size issues)
Excluding Busch and Payton, the players that have improved have done so by an average of 9%. Those who have gotten worse have done so by an average of 10%.
It is difficult to say whether the experiment has been a success. Dan Coleman and Al Nolen, the two players who have apparently suffered the most from the mandate, have generally playing below average in the mid to late part of the season. When a player is struggling with their entire game, it isn’t surprising that their free throw shooting would struggle. Tollackson and Williams have improved the most, but they also had the most room to improve.
Since the mandate, as a team they are 108-161 (67%), a 1% improvement over their season average.
If you are curious how today’s game would have impacted these percentages, Williams, Johnson, and Hoffarber would have lowered their percentages. Spencer would have kept his the same, and Westbrook, McKenzie, and Nolen would have improved.
So, keep or can the mandate, and how many free throws out of ten do you usually make?
Full disclosure, I’d be about 70%, about 4% better than the Gophers. In front of 14,000 people, I’d be thrilled to just hit the backboard.