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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

GETTING TO THE FREE THROW LINE

While at LSU, we believe a tremendous part of our offensive success was the ability to get to the free throw line. To verify our belief we have charted the following statistics from the 2002-2003 through 2008-2009:

LSU RECORD WHEN SHOOTING
MORE FT’S THAN OPPONENTS: 120-14 (89.6%)

LSU RECORD WHEN OPPONENT
SHOOTS MORE FREE THROWS: 50-35 (58.8%)

LSU RECORD WHEN SHOOTING
20 OR MORE FREE THROWS: 91-15 (85.9)

Free throw trips are critically important.  If we were to tally a .85 point per possession on offense, we'd be highly successful.  That means if we had 100 possessions in a game, we'd score 85 points.  Dean Smith, while at North Carolina. set a goal of .85 for his Tar Heels.  Hypothetically, if you were to come down the court 100 times and create a 2-shot foul on each possession, you could shoot a mere 50% and your point per possession would be a staggering 1.00.  In that same 100 possession game you'd score 100 points!

Getting to the free throw line is huge!

If getting to the free throw line is so important we need to understand how we can get there on a consistent basis. The first part of that is that we want to emphasize getting to the free throw line.  We can do this a variety of ways:

1. Make sure our team knows it is a priority and why.

2. Making sure we are emphasizing it in practice.  Possibly working on our offense and utilizing the list below as some restrictions.

3. Talk to them statistically in practice and games about your trips to the free throw line.  We also created a Free Throw Trip Percentage Per Possession to go along with Points and Turnovers Per Possession via Dean Smith's Possession Chart.

4. Make sure when showing video both individually as well as to your team that you point out good and bad possessions based on doing things to help you get to the free throw line.  It needs to be a part of their basketball IQ as to how to get there and why it is important.

The following is a list of ways to put pressure on the defense and create situations where they will foul us.

#1 TRANSITION
Intelligently but aggressively beating your opponent down the floor...running the lanes...sprinting to the rim...passing ahead...attacking the goal.

#2 LOW POST TOUCHES
This starts with our post players’ ability to “get a piece” of the paint — to bury the defender...we then need for a proper feed to the post...the combination of these two leaves the defense with basically two choices — allow the easy shot or foul.

#3 PATIENCE
Aggressively but patiently attacking the defense...having great shot selection...ball reversal…give the defense an opportunity to foul...quick shot teams don’t get to the free throw line...this of course would also cover shot selection.

#4 TAKE CARE OF THE BASKETBALL
You can’t get to the free throw line if you don’t take care of the ball...be strong with the ball...utilize your sweeps...pass away from the defense.

#5 SPACING
Keep the defense spread...this allows us room to cut and drive which puts the defense in poor position to defense which leads to fouling.

#6 CUTTING & SCREENING
There is nothing more difficult for the defense to handle than cutting and screening when it is executed well -- including screens on the ball as well as off the ball.

#7 PERIMETER POSTING
Few perimeters players know how to defend on the block.

#8 OFFENSIVE BOARDS
A great number of 3-point plays occur on put backs...it is difficult to defend an offensive rebound.

#9 SHOT FAKE/PASS FAKE
Best was to get a defender out of stance and out of position.

#10 DRIBBLE USAGE
Attack the gaps of a zone defense with the dribble puts pressure on the defense...driving the basketball is also effective in getting to the free throw line it combined with good spacing.

#11 PERIMETER FLASHES
Flashing into the middle of the zone — paint touches — forces the defense to play in a very reactionary manner.

#12 GOOD BALL MOVEMENT
Create closeout situations...inside-out or ball reversal.

MAJOR KEY: Combine several of the previous mentioned factors and not only will you get to the free throw line but you will also have great offensive possessions. An example would be a possession of good SPACING, with BALL MOVEMENT, tied in with CUTTING & SCREENING. There is nothing more difficult to defend than cutting & screening when coupled with ball movement.

Of course, a solid separation in free throw shooting between you and your opponent is also an indicator as to how well you are playing defense and we will discuss this at another time.