Monday, November 10, 2014

Landen Lucas, Kansas struggle at line

Kansas forward Landen Lucas defends against a shot from Washburn guard Kevin House during the second half on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas defends against a shot from Washburn guard Kevin House during the second half on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas University sophomore forward Landen Lucas had a rather impressive stat line — nine points off 4-of-4 shooting, with six rebounds and two blocks in just 13 minutes — in last week’s 2014-15 exhibition basketball opener against Washburn.

The only eyesore was his 1-of-4 free-throw shooting on a night the Jayhawks hit just 16 of 32 charities in a 85-53 victory.

Will his and his teammates’ charity work improve heading into Tuesday’s 7 p.m. exhibition finale versus Emporia State?

“Yes, it will,” the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Lucas said. “We’re slowly starting to emphasize that more and more in practice. It’ll start getting better. First-game jitters ... everybody gets those.

“It’ll get better as we get into the season,” added Lucas, who hit 12 of 21 shots (.571) and 10 of 20 free throws (.500) in limited duty his freshman campaign.

“Some of them weren’t close,” KU coach Bill Self said of his squad’s free-throw work in the exhibition game played a week ago today. “There were some wide-rights and wide-lefts. I do think we’ll get better than that. We’re better shooters than that.

“I don’t know if we’ll be a great free-throw-shooting team. We’ve not had many great free-throw-shooting teams. Last year was about the best we’ve had (71.1 percent, third-best mark in 11 seasons under Self). I could see this team shooting well above 70. That’d be very realistic about this team.”

Errant from the line, the Jayhawks did hit 56.6 percent from the field against Washburn. KU’s “bigs” (Lucas, Cliff Alexander, Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, Hunter Mickelson) hit a combined 15 of 24 floor shots (62.5 percent) and scored 41 points. The bigs were a combined 10-of-17 from the line (58.8 percent).

“I think we all did well,” Portland, Oregon, native Lucas said of the frontcourt players. “I think it’s a process. We’re definitely going to play inside-out this year.”

Lucas has high hopes for 6-8 freshman Alexander, who scored 14 points and grabbed nine boards with three blocks against Washburn.

“He has raw talent,” Lucas said. “He’s coming along fast.”

Self was asked on his “Hawk Talk” radio show about Alexander’s ability to block shots.

“Cliff can be a good shot-blocker for his size,” Self said. “I don’t think we should anticipate him blocking the number of shots Joel (Embiid), Cole (Aldrich) or Jeff (Withey) did because their size allows them to do those things. I don’t know anybody who was a better shot-blocker in their time here than Jeff was his senior year. We can only hope we can sign somebody who can block or alter shots like Jeff. He totally changed the game defensively for us.”


Michael Johnson 6 years, 5 months ago

Any chance Withey could come back and play next summer when the Hawks represent the US?

Steve Kubler 6 years, 5 months ago

Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, and any younger former players would all be in the age range i believe, as long as they are taking a class at KU. It did read like anyone playing for an NBA team is out due to contract restrictions, but that might just be the way I read it.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 5 months ago

Players should practice FTs on their own time and not take up valuable practice time.

Greg Lux 6 years, 5 months ago

Ditto - And should have been all summer. Way to many close loses could have been won by making those unguarded free-throws...

Marc Frey 6 years, 5 months ago

Practice them at the end of a 90 minute practice so that they shoot them with tired legs, and arms.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 5 months ago

I knew several players that would get to practice an hour early to shoot FTs, then stay after to shoot 100. A serious player should shoot at least 100 FTs per day.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 5 months ago

Coaches during practice should be working with anyone under 65% to make sure it is not a technique issue or something with their mental approach. Maybe once or twice a week in practice is all. Give them a few things to work on, let them practice on their own, check back on them each week. You start hitting 65% or better in games, you do something else in practice. I think it would be worth it to bring in a free throw wizard early in every season to add some focus on different practice ideas or ways to improve your %.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 5 months ago

Rodney, you're putting way to much into the science of FTs. The technique is simple. It takes discipline and repetition, like thousands of FTs, to make a good FT shooter. Anyone/everyone is a FT wizard, even the "spodcasters" and that Allen fellow that post every so often.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 5 months ago

Suzi you are on quite a roll. Never seen you so completely off the mark so often on so many subjects recently. I mean this with all seriousness, see someone, soon please, I am very worried about your well being.

Let me help you out with the way sports is approached. As with any element of a sports skill certain basic elements from the Pros on down are a function of the human body and the mind. Since humans are well human, phyiscally skills can be imperfect due to poor technique, growth, injury and not just talent. In sports it is called fundamentals. All sports have them, read up on it, it is fascinating. Even the most simplest elements of any sport needs to be performed fundamentally sound for it to be performed correctly. A very very few players can do it incorrectly and be successful they of course do not need help. You yourself commented about KO's shot looking off, unique, which might effect his free throw shooting, Mick agreed. So you kind of know what I am talking about. Stay with me I know this might be hard for you to grasp right now, there is also a mental part. Confidence, routine, approach are just as important as muscle memory. Getting feedback from a different perspective is necessary when an athlete is struggling with an aspect of skill. It is called coaching. This can come from a teammate, a coach, a scout visiting, anyone other than you practicing the same thing over and over by yourself without getting better results.

Just practicing the same shooting technique does not mean you will automatically get better. You might get better at shooting them poorly. When you are by yourself you try different things hit and miss hoping you will improve. If you have a coach involved to watch and give the player some elements to work on, the mind will be more interested in the task and improvement will be accelerated. Revisiting it weekly until you see improvement sounds like a great idea. I think in education they call it tutoring, but that is your speciality I defer to you on that.

No one is born with the way to shoot a free throw, it is a learned skill. It stands to reason that young men might need help in remembering good techniques and some encouragement to get better. The mental part of hitting free throws is just as Important to practice shooting them. A coach provides that external feedback.

Since not everyone needs special attention, set a bar for everyone to be above. Once you are at a decent percentage practice by yourself is fine.

Anyone/everyone has an opinion they are not a wizard, there are actually FT specialist coaches, hired by the pros even. My point is make it interesting to the players. The visit from the Marines was a great example on giving our players a different perspective on something they thought they already knew.

Take care, my thoughts are with you... hoping for the best!

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 5 months ago

Rodney, I wouldn't be surprised if there were 10MM people on the planet Earth alone that can knows the correct shooting techniques, especially FTs. There are probably scores of U-Tubes training videos. You just go out and practice, practice and practice some more. With regards to KO's technique, yes someone needs to work with him....then he needs to shoot thousands of FTs. Self or any of the coaches are more than qualified to teach the proper FT shooting technique.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 5 months ago

Wishing you well, I am sure everything will be ok.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 5 months ago

ps - if it that easy, so many people talking about why with all that do teams still do poorly at it. Imagine that the easy way out does not work. Must be something to it more than just shooting by yourself. Don't follow the crowd, take the path less traveled, coach the guys who need it in practice.

Gerry Butler 6 years, 5 months ago

I know and its been sometime obviously since I played ball, but when I played our coach had each and everyone of us shoot 100 free throws either before or at the end of practice and for each missed free throw we had to runs a lap around the gym. needless to say made you improve your concentration and technique really quick

Bryce Landon 6 years, 5 months ago

Oooooooooooo, your coach was SO MEAN! He should have been fired and replaced with a players' coach! (sarcasm font)

Bob Bailey 6 years, 5 months ago

Free throws are about muscle-memory.

Ask any 'musician' or successful free throw shooter.

They should learn about muscle-memory then practice on their own -- including practice with eyes closed.

Walter Bridges 6 years, 5 months ago

Exactly and there are coaches who specialize in free throw shooting...the key being to simplify and repeat, repeat, repeat...

KU lost in 2003, not because of 'Melo but missed FTs

Mike Riches 6 years, 5 months ago

Whenever a team shoots a higher FG percentage than FT percentage...that's not a great sign. I'm not sure the answer is to be "slowly starting to emphasize that more and more in practice." I think my knee jerk reaction would have been to have every player shoot 300 FT the next day after the Washburn game. But then again, there's a reason why Bill Self is paid almost 5 million a year to coach the game, and I'm paid nothing to watch it...

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 5 months ago

It's unbelievable how much the mental aspect plays in to free throw shooting.

I was a pretty good free throw shooter. My coach asked me to make 50 free throws after each practice. If I missed two in a row I would run a "suicide". I almost never ran. Then one day during Christmas break, coach tells me I just have to make 10, but I have to run after each miss. I should have been able to hit 10 straight. But I got off to a bad start. Eventually I couldn't make a single shot, and coach told me to shoot with my eyes closed. I thought he was crazy, but I made the shot. It didn't turn things around for me though as I went right back to miss after miss. I don't even think I made my 10 that night.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 5 months ago

Excellent post. Nice to see your coach was involved, some above think you practice free throws on your own!

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