By Marcus Thompson
Monday, November 27th, 2006 at 7:55 pm in Uncategorized.
I’ve figured out the cure. Well, that’s too far. How about this. I’ve figured out a new tactic for the Warriors to try in their efforts to MAKE SOME FREE THROWS! It’s really quite simple, but hard to pull off. It’s a tactic often applied in other sports.
The Warriors have tried everything else. As my colleague, Geoff Lepper, aptly pointed out in today’s paper, Nelson has tried everything from a shooting to monetary wagers, trying to simulate game pressure. As a result, the Warriors are shooting even worse from the free throw line than last year.
So how about taking the pressure off? Maybe if everyone, including Nelson, stopped talking about it, the pressure would lessen. Maybe if everyone, including Nelson, accepted the fact that this is a poor free throw shooting team, the noose of that is expectations will loosen.
Free throw shooting is such a mental task. Sound technique and repetition helps, but it comes down to mental fortitude and focus. You can have text book form, but if your head is jacked up, you’re going to be a 60 percent shooter. You can have some hideous stroke, but if your focus and will is strong enough, you’ll be OK.
In the case of the Warriors, the players are often defeated before they get to the free throw line. The pressure is obviously buckling them. It is most evident in Jason Richardson. You can see the doubt in his stance, in his motion.
So maybe the answer is to avoid the topic, let the free throws be the elephant in the room. It’s just one of those mental parts of the game that is left up to the player. It works that way in golf when someone is struggling with their putter. The more it’s talked about, the more they struggle. See Greg Norman. And Phil Mickelson. The same is true with place kickers. Ever since Mike Vanderjagt, who was once automatic, missed that field goal in the playoffs, he hasn’t been the same. The more it became an issue, the worst he got. Remember Chuck Knoblauch’s throwing problems? A Gold Glove second baseman had to be moved to the outfield because scrutiny and pressure paralyzed him mentally. He couldn’t even throw to first. Do I need to bring up Rick Ankiel? Or Mackey Sasser?
I know it’s hard thing to do. One of the most frustrating thing in basketball is watching players, especially guards, miss free throws. It seems so easy, so wasteful. But maybe if no one booed, if Nelson stopped expressing his frustration in it, if the players stopped fretting over it, the pressure will ease up, helping them to shoot better.
If Chris Mullin ever gets tired of watching cats brick free throws, he’ll just have to ship ‘em out. The best way to improve the team’s free throw shooting is to bring in some good free throw shooters.
You see Dallas cut Vanderjagt today.