No. 10 Miami to meet match in bad free throw shooting
Miami coach Jim Larranaga has lamented his team’s woes at the free-throw line through this early season, noting after one recent game that he has told his players that their goal is to become the most improved free throw shooting team in the country by February.
Boston University coach Joe Jones knows the feeling
His Terriers (3-3) are shooting only 52.7 percent from the stripe as they head into Tuesday night’s game against the No. 10 Hurricanes (7-0) in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes are just a little better, shooting 57.8 percent. Through games of last weekend, 346 out of 351 Division I teams had a better free throw percentage than Miami’s.
Boston U.’s was No. 351.
“We are a much better free throw shooting team than this,” Jones said after the Terriers went only 8 of 21 from the line in their last outing, a 70-69 win over New Hampshire. “There are some guys that need to improve drastically, but we’re not as bad as it looks.
“I think right now it’s just something we’ve got to get over. I think once we start making some it’s going to turn the other way.”
Ironically, it was freshman guard Javante McCoy’s free throw with 2.6 seconds left that gave the Terriers their one-point win over New Hampshire, their third straight win after an 0-3 start
As it is with Miami, which competes in a free throw competition in every practice, it’s not like his team has been ignoring free throws, Jones said.
“We’ve been taking 100 a day,” Jones said. “Most of the guys are making 80 to 85 percent, but we’re just not making them in a game. It’s early. We’ll make them.”
Larranaga did not address free throws following Miami’s 80-52 win over Princeton on Saturday night. For one thing, the Hurricanes went to the line only nine times, hitting six to make them 67 of 116 for the season. For another, he was more pleased with his team’s defense and ability to adjust to different styles of play they have encountered in the early season.
The Hurricanes were coming off their first true road win against a Minnesota team with a strong inside game before taking on a Princeton club that likes to stretch things out and penetrate the defense.
“When you’re so young, especially your freshmen have no idea that every team is so different,” said Larranaga, whose nine-man rotation features three freshmen and three sophomores. “You play a team that shoots a lot of 3s, then a team that pounds it inside, then you play a team that’s very, very small, then a team that’s very, very big.
“Every game is a challenge.”
Miami placed only three players in double figures against Princeton after routinely having five or even six players in a game. One was freshman guard Lonnie Walker, whose game seems to keep developing since having knee surgery in the summer and recently dealing with an ankle injury.
Walker had a season-high 12 points, his first game in double figures since scoring 10 in the opener, and he missed only one of his four 3-point tries.
“Lonnie Walker I’ll say is inching forward,” Larranaga said. “He’s not leaps and bounds, but by inches. Hopefully, that growth will keep materializing.”