When you dive into the statistical data of free throw shooting in college basketball one thing sticks out… free throw rate is more important than free throw percentage. It is more important that a team takes a huge amount of free throws than has a super high free throw percentage average from the charity stripe. Think about it. If you take a high volume of free throws, you are going to have a higher probability to make more points on the scoreboard. What good is it to shoot 90% from the line, if you hardly ever get to it for a chance to shoot?
Next, we get into the debate of what the threshold is for when you take the gamble to foul, and have a better statistical probability to get a win by putting the opponent on the line while stopping the game clock. In college basketball this usually only happens in the final seconds when a team is in desperation mode in a last ditch effort to win or tie the game.
I have been looking into these things because one thing is clear so far this season with our Red Raiders… we are stinking it up from the free throw line on making our shots. It has been something that has been brought up numerous times by all of us here on STP. I do not want to throw rocks at our team in regard to this matter, we are having one hell of a season so far. A Top 25 team with only one loss to a really good Seton Hall squad is amazing. Yet, I am happy we finally are having to nitpick at some of the minor problems on the team rather than talking about moral victories.
Texas Tech is currently shooting #225 in the nation on free throws percentage. We are making 68.8% of all the free shots at the line each game. To be comfortable, I would like to see at least a 5% increase in this stat. That would put us back in the top 100. Our strongest players from the line (that play significant minutes) are Moretti, Zhaire Smith, and Justin Gray. They are all shooting above 80% from the charity stripe. Evans is right there behind them at almost 80%. The weak links that drag the average down are Hamilton, Stevenson, Culver, and Odiase. All of those guys are shooting under 70%.
That last group needs to step it up, and get some practice to work on their technique. Hamilton has a nice touch and has been to the line only 15 times, but the other players on the under 70% list have some things to work on. I heard yesterday during the game that when a player misses a free throw in a game, that player must shoot 50 free throws for each miss in front of a coach at practice. This is a good thing, and I also hope the players are using their own personal time to work on their shots from the free throw line.
Our Red Raiders will be able to turn it around, and I know that adjustments will be made and shots will start falling. The good news is that we make it to the free throw line at an average of over 22 times per game. That ranks us as the #83 spot in the nation to get that many attempts at the charity stripe per game. Remember, based on the stats it is better to get to the line more than how well you are a free throw shooter. Texas Tech basketball has that covered.
Going into Big 12 play soon, we will need to improve this free throw shooting percentage issue to give us a better chance at winning our conference games. i have faith that Coach Beard and staff will fix it, and our guys will put in the time and effort to make it happen. When one of these big games comes down to a last second clutch free throw, I know we will be ready to sink it for the win. Wreck ’em Tech!!!