Shhh! Terps Are Making Their Free Throws
Gary Williams probably wishes I wouldn't publish this particular blog post. (Okay, to be honest, Gary Williams probably wishes I wouldn't publish a lot of my blog posts, but that's a separate issue.) You see, the Terps are shooting fairly well from the free-throw line. In fact, they currently are leading the ACC in free throw shooting percentage at 79.1 percent. But don't tell anybody. In fact, for those of you who like to read this blog out loud -- and I know you're out there -- keep it to a whisper this time, okay?
"You know, really, you get superstitious," Williams said. "You hate to talk about it. We have some good shooters, some guys that can make open shots. Obviously, a foul shot’s an open shot. We try to approach it with that in mind."
Last season, Maryland made 70.3 percent of their free throws -- not great, but not horrible either. But this year the Terps appear more confident at the line and that has translated into a higher conversion rate, to the point where it's a little suprising to see them miss.
With just more than 16 minutes to play and Maryland up by 11 last night against Elon, senior forward Dave Neal missed a pair of free throws. He seemed shocked. His teammates seemed shocked. Williams seemed shocked. The crowd seemed shocked. After all, Maryland missed three free throws total all night (11 for 14).
"Look, if you’re a good open shooter, then you should be a good free throw shooter," Williams said. "Dave Neal’s a very good shooter, so he should be a good free throw shooter. I think he missed a couple tonight, but he’s a very good free throw shooter."
Agreed. Neal is hitting 77.8 percent of his free throws on the season (14 for 18).
Williams would not go into too much detail last night about the keys to his team's success from the charity stripe (the gods of basketball fortune may have been tuning in to the postgame press conference's Internet video stream), but he did point out a few players who have performed admirably in that area.
Eric Hayes leads the team with a 95.5 percent mark from the free-throw line (21 for 22). Greivis Vasquez is hitting 91.3 percent (42 for 46), while Landon Milbourne is converting 83.3 percent (30 for 36).
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